As we head towards the end of 2016, I naturally reflect on the year, and I think, holy cow, really? No wonder I feel so frazzled. Between running an integrative practice, seeing patients 3 days a week, publishing a book, writing another 25000 words in an 8-week period for a textbook chapter, teaching my doTERRA classes and leading my doTERRA team, doing 2 rounds of IUI and 2 rounds of IVF, and raising a toddler … I’m exhausted. Deeply exhausted. So I decided to give myself a gift to facilitate a healthier and calmer 2017 – Transcendental meditation. For me, beginning Transcendental meditation is the best Christmas gift I could give myself, and ultimately my family, patients, employees, team members and friends too. I’m only 3 days in and already I am feeling the benefit.
Transcendental meditation, or TM, has been around for years, but was brought to the U.S. in the late 1950s and was introduced to the Western world. Originating from the Vedic religion, TM today has been refined to a practice, a technique, and is not a religious practice in itself. Some 6 million people have learned TM worldwide from all religions, races, cultures, and walks of life.
It is a very simple, effortless way to practice meditation. I can vouch for that already, as someone who has tried to meditate so many times over the years, and either simply not got the hang of it, or done it for a while and then given up. I never found a form of meditation that really fit for me until now. It’s not for lack of desire – I see all the things that regular meditators have – more peace, happiness, focus, creativity, inspiration, success, inner calm, self-acceptance, etc – and I want more of all of it, but it always felt like something that was elusive because I simply couldn’t figure out how to meditate.
The analogy that resonated with me that most that I heard about TM was that of an ocean. If you’re in a little boat on rough seas, big waves will throw you around, up and down, tossing and turning. And if you’re in that boat, that’s what you might assume the entire ocean is like. But just a mile down on the bottom of the ocean, there is calm, still water, and serenity. So it is with our mind – our day-to-day mind might be like those ocean waves – ups and downs, tossed around by whatever external circumstances we encounter; chaotic and possibly even dangerous. But seemingly all there is. And yet we all have the quiet recesses of our mind, where all is calm and serene, where wisdom and creativity and pure consciousness reside. We just need a way to access it. TM provides that way.
I had heard of TM before – my Mum’s best friend has practiced it for years, and I’ve heard popular personalities such as Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen Degeneres, Dr. Oz, Cameron Diaz and Hugh Jackman sing its praises. It has helped people with depression, anxiety, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other conditions, to find healing and balance, as well as reducing hypertension, stroke and heart disease. There are several hundred published studies on the benefits of TM, including studies by institutions such as Mayo and Cleveland Clinics.
TM is taught by a certified teacher, in both one-to-one instruction, then a series of group classes. Each student is given a mantra, which is repeated over and over again silently in the meditation. What is interesting to me is that even in a few days of meditating twice daily, I don’t have to concentrate on my mantra or force it at all, it feels more like it floats around in my head. I have thoughts come and go and that’s ok, in TM you’re not asked to “empty the mind” (phew!). The 20-minute sessions are so deeply relaxing, I feel my body melting into the chair, my mind quiets (which in itself is a miracle), and I have felt more patient and calm throughout the day. If this is the effects after a few days, I can’t wait to see what a few weeks, months and years can bring.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit concerned about the 20 minute twice daily part. I have a very full life, and it’ll take some planning to get that time to myself, especially where Valentina is concerned. But I did explain to her that this is time Mummy needs to herself so that she’s relaxed and happy and can be the best Mummy she can be. I really want to make it a priority, because I know that I need what it offers, and I want those things. I want to make the time. Plus it’s such a blissful feeling, I look forward to it.
If any of you have been thinking about doing meditation, but not sure where to start, I would highly recommend TM. The website www.tm.org has lots of good information and will point you to your local chapter. TM is taught world-wide. I also am reading a book by psychiatrist Normal Rosenthal MD about how TM works called Transcendence, and some of the benefits, and he has a second book called Super Mind that is next on my list.
I will mark my calendar and post again in 60 days to report how I’m feeling and my experiences with TM. I’m excited for a calmer, more balanced 2017 and beyond.