After six months of practising the Transcendental Meditation technique, Martha Garcia says, "Whether you are looking for lower levels of stress, enlightenment, or maybe just a better way to connect with others, the Transcendental Meditation technique is worth it."
by Martha Garcia, TM Magazine, issue 9
Many people have heard of one form of meditation or another at some point in their life. Some give meditation a shot; others overlook it. I dabbled with guided meditation and a few other forms in the past, but for some reason, I was never able to really make them work for me.
I first heard about the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique on the Oprah Winfrey special (“America’s Most Unusual Town,”Oprah’s Next Chapter, OWN-TV). The show was interesting and informative, and there was something about the TM program I felt drawn to. I really yearned for a more peaceful way of life. After watching the special, I knew I needed to learn the TM technique. Maybe it was because it sounded so easy—which it is. Maybe, after I saw that even children could do the technique, I figured maybe, just maybe, I could make it work for me.
My Transcendental Meditation learning experience was different from what I had anticipated. The TM Center was located in a bungalow-style home in the heart of Beverly Hills, just down the street from lavish stores like Tiffany’s and a McLaren dealership. Yet what I found inside was cozy and calming—nothing like the bustle of commerce and high society around the corner. The room was airy and smelled wonderful, filled with fresh-cut flowers.
Over the course of my instruction, I learned exactly what TM is and what its purpose is. Dr. Patricia Young, my TM instructor, spoke about TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, about the deep state of rest that is achieved during TM practice, and how it could help “erase” the effects of bad habits and the stressors of everyday life. At the time I didn’t know about the positive effects TM practice has on our bodies, such as reducing high cholesterol and helping with insomnia, weight gain, and in some cases, depression.
During the first two days after I learned the TM technique, I was exhausted. Completely. I was tired and not quite myself. To my chagrin, I even yawned during our follow-up classes. I thought maybe the technique didn’t really work. Why was “deep rest” making me so much more exhausted? I had even fallen asleep several times while attempting to meditate.
Then everything began to change. I began to feel very rested and alert. I was energetic and felt a new sense of mental clarity and focus that I hadn’t experienced for quite some time. As a mother of two and a writer who often burns the candle at both ends to meet deadlines, I was accustomed to some very poor sleep and rest habits.
Suddenly, I didn’t feel the effects of those habits. I didn’t feel run down. My mental fog lifted. I even began to feel more creative. Ideas for articles, research, and my novel were coming to me all the time, and not just during meditation. I began working on my book again. I thought to myself, “Is this because of TM?”
Dr. Young explained to the class during one session that on occasion, one of the initial experiences of Transcendental Meditation practice can be fatigue. The body experiences deeper rest during the meditation practice. While the body catches up on what it has been missing, fatigue can be a by-product as the body works through its sleep debt during the first few days. The fatigue wears off quickly, and if the practice is continued, other benefits develop.
I was floored. That was exactly what I was feeling. The fatigue had turned into mental alertness. I quickly saw my classmates agreeing with this experience and result. Was this change really from TM practice? Was there something to this technique after all?
I began to research Transcendental Meditation even more. I found that the Maharishi Foundation cites nearly 600 studies published in many different scientific journals confirming the benefits of practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique. These studies have been conducted at 210 independent universities and research institutions, including Harvard, Yale, and UCLA Medical School.
Initially, I thought adjusting to the effects meditating had on my body would be the biggest obstacle I would face—the initial fatigue and drowsiness and eventually the increased energy, clarity, and creativity. Something I hadn’t considered, however, was how my family would adjust.
I continued my TM practice after my training sessions were finished. At times I found it difficult to keep up with meditation. Sometimes I would forget to meditate in the afternoon. Other times, the day was just so busy I couldn’t squeeze it in. As a mother of two, I found that committing to meditation twice a day for 20 minutes is quite challenging.
It seemed at first as if everyone needed me when I would begin meditation—kids running around, loud TV programs, our dog barking, and dinner waiting to be cooked. But my family slowly began to learn to negotiate the process of mom beginning a committed practice such as this.
The other challenging aspect was allowing myself to get quiet, not just vocally, but mentally quiet—real inner calmness. I began to realize the mental quietness would come. Initially, I wanted a perfectly silent house to practice in, but then I realized that wasn’t really the point.
Slowly, as my practice progressed, I was able to control my stress better. My TM practice helped me to approach stressful situations, like dealing with my ex-husband, in a new way. I was able to step back and assess the stressor and approach it more calmly. I also began to wake up feeling refreshed. I am not much of a morning person, yet I was waking up ready for the day.
Soon my family began to adjust to my meditation practice. My family would use whispers as I began my meditation, instead of the normal ruckus. One afternoon, as I settled into a comfy position and began to meditate, I overheard my son saying to our dog, who was barking, “Ssshhh, Chunkie! Mom’s meditating.” I smiled to myself and thought, “They’re getting used to it.”
My family naturally fell into my routine, even reminding me it was time to meditate. I have often walked into a room at my house to find my daughter or son sitting on the floor “meditating.” They have not yet actually learned the TM practice, but they seem to take their cue from me, and I am gratified that they have such interest and appreciation for this.
Whether you are looking for lower levels of stress, enlightenment, or maybe just a better way to connect with others, the Transcendental Meditation technique is worth it. With a practice that helps to quiet the mind, increases creativity, and offers mental clarity and other amazing benefits like lowered cholesterol, improved sleeping cycles, and better memory function, how can you go wrong?
“TM changes so many areas of our lives,” Dr. Young said during our initial instruction. “We don’t need to have expectations about what will change or what it will feel like. When we meditate, the body just naturally heals itself.”
It has been six months since I visited the Beverly Hills Transcendental Meditation Center and sat down to talk with Dr. Young. Now and then I’ve fallen out of my practice for a few days, but the great part is, that doesn’t matter. I just pick it back up, begin experiencing the wonderful effects again, and am reminded why I continue to practice the Transcendental Meditation program.
If I can experience such great results in only six months, what can a lifetime of TM practice do? Time only will tell—but if my initial experience is any indication, I have a lot to look forward to.
© Copyright 2013 Maharishi Foundation USA