A few people have asked me about my experience of Transcendental Meditation. In my last post here, I talked about finally making it to the introductory talk – and subsequently signing up for the course.
Well it’s been a week and this is how it unfolded…
Thursday – The introductory talk.
Like I said before, it did come a bit like a hard sell. And I thought, is this a cult and am I going to be indoctrinated into a pyjama wearing free love commune? But the sweet pull of scientific statistics, and credible backers (Oprah, David Lynch, Clint Eastwood) were too much to resist, so I jumped in with both feet.
Friday to Saturday – I waited with a very positive and excited heart for Sunday, my first lesson, to come.
Sunday – A one to one with Annie.
Annie has short unruly red hair, and when she addresses you, she does so through glasses perched right on the end of her nose. She’s around 60 years old, but looks 10 years younger (an early positive sign). I don’t agree with few little things here and there, for example she’s a bit black or white, and her way / tone of voice isn’t one that gels that well with mine. But she’s the messenger, and I am here for the message. We talk about what TM is, and the theory behind the process, and then we have a small ceremony where we give thanks to the teachers of TM (as far as I can understand – it’s all in Sanskrit). But as I am Malaysian, with Sri Lankan roots, it’s all quite familiar in sounds and smells; sanskrit chants, incense, camphor and flowers. I get given my mantra (young meditators call it their Word of Wisdom, which I actually prefer), and I sit down for my first meditation, slightly guided by my teacher. It was quite normal in terms of how I felt, or my experience of it – no great moments of profound bliss. At one point I did feel a warmth and a wonderful light on my face, but I realised later it was because I was by a window and the sun was starting to come through the clouds. It doesn’t matter though because the experience was all in all, pleasant. And a ‘normal’ feeling is good, because any miraculous visions or experiences tend to be thoughts filtering through the mind, which isn’t what you want. Ideally you want a moment of ‘no thought’. It’s funny: mind-emptiness to achieve mindfulness.
Monday – Day 1
I’ve had 3 meditations by myself before my class on Monday (Sunday evening, Monday morning and Monday afternoon / eve). And I am joined by another woman, and a couple. I’ve met the couple before, as they are friends of my friend that recommended TM. He’s clearly very persuasive.
We had more on the theory behind TM, then a joint meditation. It was quite odd meditating with a group of people, in the same room. But that feeling quickly dissipated and I happily meditated – (sounds inappropriate!).
The following days were much the same, on one day I had less opportunity to meditate, I think I only managed a 10 minute session on one of the evenings, and I was interrupted on a different morning. But the best thing is that it doesn’t matter, all that matters is you keep doing it, and try to do it twice a day for twenty minutes. Annie told us one story of being in labour and trying to meditate, and ending up mantra bashing for 10 minutes between two contractions. Now this in itself is impressive, the control of mind it must take to try and meditate during labour is a feat. But the most impressive part of this story is that Annie’s blood pressure came right down, and she manage to stabilize herself through TM, even though she thought she wasn’t meditating effectively at the time.
I found a Guardian article that has a similar story to mine, a small and not mind-blowing experience of TM. But one that has stayed with me, because I do see little changes, I am much calmer, and even though things still get to me during the course of the day, they don’t get to me at a cellular level which they seemed to have before. When going got tough before, I felt it in my bones and organs, but now, it’s just experiences in the day that don’t impact on my insides. I am generally more happier to people, and I think I’m more honest with people. Some days I feel I have more energy, and some days I still feel exhausted, so I can’t definitively say whether TM has had an effect on energy levels, but I can say I’ve gotten more done in the last week than I have in a while.
All in all, I am feeling positive that I’ve found something good and I am interested in pursuing where this will lead to.
If you’re interested in meditating, or in mindfulness, or TM, here are some nice talks and excerpts that could whet your appetite:
Sadhguru speaks about how the modern mind identifies with so many things in life, that it’s hard to quieten your thoughts. He talks about creating distance from the mind through a device (such as shunya or mantra) so you can step away from the ‘noisy mind’ for a while.
Eckhart Trolle talks about how identifying with form, or over identification with the Ego can be detrimental to holistic health.
DISCLAIMER: These are just my interpretations, and I am new to all this, so please don’t think I am claiming any knowledge about anything at all.
Image Reference: Sungsook Hong Setton