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Meditation Made Easy
I’ve tried mediation on and off throughout the years — mostly off. And then, I discovered a mediation that is easy and quick to master. Why aren't more people talking about Transcendental Meditation?
I’ve tried mediation on and off throughout the years — mostly off. I understand the benefits of meditation to consciousness-raising — I do. In fact, with this understanding I’ve tried insight meditation, guided meditation, contemplation meditation, breath meditation, walking meditation and maybe a few more. But it always felt hard, and in the end, my practice was always short-lived. And then, I read about a different type of meditation that promised to be easy.
The book was Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation, which is currently a New York Times best seller, written by Dr. Norman Rosenthal. Rosenthal is not a new aged prophet or a self-help guru, but a well known psychiatrist and researcher at the Institute of Mental Health. In fact, he affectionately named the seasonal effectiveness disorder (SAD) that impacts many in the Pacific Northwest.
But anyway, Rosenthal makes a compelling case for the benefits of a specific type of meditation called transcendental meditation or TM. In addition to the obvious health benefits of meditation, he talks at length about how the simple technique of TM can allow anyone to connect to the silent core of our being – in other words, reach pure consciousness. In fact, he promised that TM would feel natural and easy and wouldn’t require lots of practice to be effective. And finally, he said it didn’t require any specific belief system or religious context. I was intrigued.
Now, for anyone who has tried other forms of meditation, like me, this declaration seemed way too good to be true. I found myself succumbing to the same skepticism that surrounds the work that I do. Just slightly ironic, I think. But, I’d tried other types of meditation and still had vivid memories of time passing too slowly and watching thoughts run through my mind….and then, opening my eyes to realize only two minutes has passed. UGH. Could this technique really be easier? I set out to find a qualified TM teacher in Seattle to learn more.
In early July I attended the information session. I learned that the technique was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who reemerged this ancient technique as a way to offer western folks a technique to find inner peace. For those who lived in the 60’s, it was actually Maharishi who introduced the Beatles to the benefits of meditation. This specific type of meditation uses a personalized mantra — which has a certain vibrational sound and quality — that guides the psyche to what it does naturally: moves toward happiness, stillness and peace. This really interested me, because much of my work uses the same principle, but I was still skeptical how this would translate to meditation. So, I decided to experience it for myself.
In my very first official training session, I was sitting in an unassuming house in the middle of suburbia Kirkland. Somehow, I’d always envisioned this would happen in an Ashram. I was guided into a very small room simply decorated with two chairs and a make-shift ceremonial shrine that adorned a picture of Maharishi. After a very brief ceremony in Sanskrit, I was left to meditate with my very own secret mantra. I didn’t need to sit in the lotus position or put an uncomfortable pillow below my butt, but encouraged to make myself comfortable in what appeared to be an old dining room chair. Apparently, there is no suffering necessary with TM.
And in fact, the theme of no suffering actually continued through the meditation technique, as well. Unlike other types of mediation I’d tried, I was encouraged to allow my thoughts to rise and meet them with my mantra. Over time, the mantra was more present than the thoughts. And then, the mantra left and I found silence. Until the cycle started again, slowing down a little each time. Before you know it, the teacher said, “Okay, you can come out of the meditation now slowly.” What appeared to be five minutes — tops — had actually been twenty.
It’s funny really. I’ve had an appointment on my schedule for the last two years for daily meditation. Every day it pops up on my calendar reminder, and I turn it off. I’ve never allowed myself to remove the appointment because I knew I wanted meditation as part of my daily self-care. And today my reminder popped up and I just smiled. I’d already done my morning 20 minute mediation. That’s right; with TM you only meditate for 20 minutes twice a day. And, as Rosenthal says in his book, he used to want a place in the country or in the mountains. Now, he just looks forward to his mediation. I couldn’t agree more. I’m already looking forward to tonight’s sitting.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s easy?
Learn more about the author, Susan Crampton Davis.
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- Maharishi Mehesh
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