I had been reading up on TM and how far it had come since it's slow introduction in this country in the 1950's with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, to it's blast in popularity with the "following" of the Beatles, turning some people off as being faddish, if not cultish. But it is the most scientifically studied and backed form of "treatment" for living in our modern society, to go back to the rhythm and flow of our own Nature, and it is most decidedly NOT a religion.
I was incredibly excited - as you all know, I am a seeker, fascinated with all things metaphysical. I thrilled at the thought of having my own personal mantra, and my own guide. Yet I was also feeling anxious about my overloaded schedule. How again did I think I could fit this in?
Yet taking care of oneself is a highly esteemable act. Although I consider myself a "happy" person, I am no stranger to bouts of anxiety, depression in my youth, and sleep deficits. And how about full brain potential? I know that I have more creativity, intelligence, and executive skills to tap into. Who can't do with more flexibility of body, mind and spirit?
So I approached my first of four sessions on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday with both excitement and trepidation. Each lasting 90 minutes, the first session was a 1:1 with a teacher who has been practicing for over forty years, Melody Katz, a lovely, ageless woman. (She, along with her husband Sam, are the directors of the Bedford Hills TM Center.) I felt a kinship right away. After some instruction and quietness together, Melody gave me my own personal mantra, a sound-word-vibration. I found it easy - easier than any other meditation I have ever tried.
The next morning though, I was due at the TM center at 9am and it proved to be not quite as easy. I had a terrible night of sleep and I felt worn down. I started meditating at 8:30am, again in my back yard, and my thoughts were racing with my to do list, my increased anxiety about not sleeping. Although my stream of consciousness didn't stop, my thoughts slowed down and I did feel more peaceful.
The morning was the first in a series of three group classes. There were two recent college grads, and two Wall Street commuters as well as myself. First we each met with our teacher privately to check our mantras. Everyone had a similar experience of a "busy" meditation and had to be reminded that this meditation did not involve any concentration or effort—and not to fight it. I was a little shocked by how stressed out I was in the morning and then after a day in the city, I settled down into a quiet calm and almost fell asleep during my second meditation right before dinner.
On Monday morning I woke up with a cold, but I had to be at work so I was determined to muscle through it. I had exactly twenty minutes until I hit the road, so I sat through twenty minutes of the racing thoughts and received some relief when they slowed down and felt more calm.
After work and before our third TM class, I meditated before practicing yoga, and found my postures to somehow be more relaxing. In this class we explored the connection to the body, and how the stress is actually released from the body. It's tautological - the more the mind relaxes, so does the body - the more the body relaxes, so does the mind. It is then that we can experience transcendence, which I am coming to understand as a merging of mind, body and spirit. We watched a short video of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and I was glad of the chance to finally hear him.
Unfortunately, by Tuesday morning, I was sick. I worked from home in the morning and meditated in a chair in my room. I went to work in the afternoon and meditated outside when I got home. Tuesday was also my last class at the TM center. We explored the lasting effects of meditation, and we each had an individual TM Checking. Even though it had only been four days and I was sick, I was a believer. It was a revelation to see the transformation on my classmates. They reported greater energy, increased clarity of mind and an overall calmness in the midst of their busy lives.
I have been sick all week - I have bronchitis AND a sinus infection, something that had clearly been building up for a long time. Yet, through meditation and taking the mornings off, I have been able to hold workshops in the afternoons and give my best to my students.
Part of me is wondering: what took me so long to do this? But I think that actually this came at just the right time. I am older and already comfortable in my own skin, fulfilled by my work and my family yes, but also knowing there is so much more within and without to explore. If I was able to accomplish this much this week when I was sick, how much more effective will I be when I am well?
2. Transcendental Meditation by Jack Forem.