Some years ago, Bruce and I began talking about Transcendental Meditation, or TM. His dad learned the TM method when he was younger, and we were well aware of the many famous people who say that TM has changed their lives. We had done our research and we learned of the many benefits of TM: reduced stress, normalized blood pressure, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved brain function, not to mention inner peace. After deliberating for years, we finally decided to do it, and we have been happily meditating for about 6 months now.
My first impressions of the TM Center were 1) everyone was very mellow, and 2) it was really, REALLY hot in there! Yup, I was that person at the informational session who raised her hand and asked if there is air conditioning in the building. They agreed to put it on at 78 degrees (I keep mine on 65, but I can’t always have it my way!). The space is dimly lit, smells like sandalwood, and is decorated with photos and quotes from the Maharishi. The information we were given on that first night was vague, and purposely so. It left us wanting to know more! When we went home that night, we were very excited to move forward with learning TM, and we couldn’t wait to see some results. The video clip below is one that we watched at the TM Center, and it’s a pretty amazing story of an urban school that incorporates TM as part of the instructional day.
On the day of our first lesson, we showed up at the TM Center with our required flowers, sweet fruit, and clean white hankies that were a necessary part of the ritual. Bruce went with the male instructor, and I went with the female instructor. It seemed odd to me that students of TM are supposed to be taught by an instructor of the same gender. As I was learning how to meditate in one room, Bruce was learning the same in another room. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was keeping an open mind and really feeling the benefit the same as I was.
When I finally saw Bruce again after we had been separated for what felt like forever, he seemed calmer and more relaxed than he had in ages. I didn’t even have to ask him how it went because it was written all over his face. His shoulders were not up by his ears anymore, and there was a visible difference in his appearance. I thought that I must have been imagining it. How could this be possible from ONE session? TM is something that has cumulative benefits, and the more regularly you practice it, the more you get out of it. In the last 6 months I have been much more dedicated to meditating than Bruce has been, but I have had weeks where I fell off. The good thing is that once I get back to the routine of it, I easily fall into that beautiful place that waits for me when I meditate.
So let me tell you what it feels like when I meditate. I enter a magnificent space that only exists in my mind, and I am weightless. I see vibrant colors behind my eyes, but there are no real thoughts. I feel my limbs get heavy and I just enjoy the feeling of pure relaxation. TM is easy. It just happens. Stress simply melts away, and afterwards I feel totally refreshed and revitalized. I notice that even though my sleep patterns are never great (Thank you, MS!), when I am meditating regularly I sleep more deeply than when I’m not. The 20 minutes (twice a day) that I spend meditating result in lasting effects of inner peace, less stress, and truly restful sleep.
The great thing about TM is that it can be done anywhere. You don’t need anything special to practice it. It’s silent. I’ve done it on an airplane, in my car (Parked, of course!), and even in the waiting area at the hospital. Obviously these are not ideal locations, but I did it. My eyes were closed, so I didn’t even see (or care) if people were looking at me funny!
TM is a lifetime commitment to my own inner self, and one that I am happy to make. The benefits became clear to me early on. The method is effortless, but the results are astounding. When I look at it objectively, what I know is that meditating faithfully has made me a better person on many different levels, and I am extremely pleased that we finally took that leap when we did. I wish we had started sooner, but I am a firm believer in the expression “better late than never.” If you want to address issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, and/or panic attacks, TM is a great non-pharmaceutical approach to manage those conditions. I endorse it whole-heartedly. I say go for it! What’s the worst thing that could happen? You find inner peace?