Is this just a big mind f*ck? I'm being mind f*cked right now. Those were my exact thoughts as I sat through a four day course on transcendental meditation (TM). Then I realized, maybe just maybe, I'm actually not being mind f*cked and this is for real. My interest in TM started about a year ago after attending one of Gabby Bernstein's lectures. She swore by it and promises it leads to a more fulfilled life. The fact that it can cure migraines didn't hurt either. Enter the new year. Learning and practicing TM was one of my goals and now I can say, I'm an expert at it. So what exactly is it and more importantly, is it working?
Transcendental Meditation (according to the Mayo Clinic) is a form of meditation that allows your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace, without needing to use concentration or effort. A delve into the unconscious mind. By practicing TM for 20 minutes twice a day, the benefits – all backed by science – include reduced stress, reduced insomnia, normalized blood pressure, lower risk of a heart attack and stroke, reduced anxiety and depression and overall improvement in brain function and memory.
I began practicing meditation at my yoga studio, Integral Yoga Institute New York, about six months ago. Focusing on the breath or sometimes maybe a candle light, it came easy to me and I found a true appreciation and love for it. My anxiety has lessened and I have an overall feeling of calmness and peace afterwards. Plus, it's the ultimate version of "me" time.
After attending an introductory lecture at a TM center in NYC, I realized that if I was going to take the time to meditate, I might as well get the most out of my practice and signed up. Studies prove the benefits, so what did I have to lose? I eagerly jumped into a four day course (despite the fact that it costs $1,000) and my open mind was 100% on board.
The first meeting, I met privately with an instructor, (instructors become certified after a five month long meditation retreat, working on TM 24/7), and she preformed a ritual in Sanskrit where I gave a offering on an alter of three sweet fruits (in my case all oranges), 12 flowers (I gave yellow tulips) and a new, white handkerchief to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who bought the practice of TM to the world. Then, I was given my mantra (a vehicle for transcendence) and taught the simple, effortless technique.
Bright eyed, I went home and practiced what I learned later that afternoon. The following three days, I met with a class of about 30 people who were in the course that was lead by four teachers. This is where the mind fucking comes in. We all shared our experiences of how our TM practice was going each day, and no matter what the experiences were, (thoughts, flashing lights, even headaches) they were all positive results of TM. The answer – they're a result of stress leaving the body. All of them! As long as you use your mantra and practice two times a day for 20 minutes, you're good! So did I just pay a grand to learn how to sit still for 20 minutes? No, it's more than that, but what really got me was the fact that it's completely effortless. There was no magic spell.
And you know what, after practicing twice a day for a little over a week now, I believe in it. I believe that my TM experiences allow stress, which is the cause of so many poor health conditions, to leave my mind and body. I've been happier (living my life by the laws of The Secret, I'm a pretty happy person, but this is a more of a peaceful, blissful state), clarity has improved, I'm more productive and efficient with my time, sleep better and maybe best of all, my anxiety has settled.
Truth is, if everyone practiced TM, our world would vibrate at a higher frequency and there would be no war – within ourselves and others.