Transcendental Meditation (TM) – refers to a specific form of mantra meditation called the Transcendental Meditation technique, and can also refer to the organizations within the Transcendental Meditation movement and to the movement itself. The TM technique and TM movement were introduced in India in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008). The TM technique involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day. It is taught by certified teachers through a standard course of instruction, which costs a fee that varies by country. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement, it is a method for relaxation, stress reduction and self-development.
In January 2014, I decided to treat myself by learning Transcendental Meditation…or TM as it is widely known. I had heard good things about it for years from people I trusted, but due to the fee involved to learn, I never pursued it. I had tried many meditation practices over the years and nothing really stuck with me. So I heard a podcast with Jerry Seinfeld where he talked about practicing TM since the 1970s and how it changed his life. For whatever reason, this stuck with me. Seinfeld seems like a no bullshit matter of fact guy – and that is really how he delivered the TM message. It works, it’s amazing, try it, or not. That was really it.
So I Googled TM in Dallas and quickly found a local teacher who was able to schedule me in so my last class/meeting (4-5 in all) was actually on New Year’s day, January 1, 2014. I took this as a great sign to kick off the New Year. It was a very simple process and yes, it cost some money but monthly installments can be arranged. I didn’t go home to Florida for the holidays so I justified the cost (which was about the same price as an airline flight).
There are many studies, but all I can share is my own experience. So what has TM taught me? A lot….
1. The ‘zen’ moment I was always looking for during the actual meditation rarely happens – and that’s o.k. The zen moments come to me throughout my day (when I consistently practice TM, 20 minutes, twice a day) in the way of stress relief and creativity expression.
2. I have more patience and clarity. One glaring example I have was my ability to leave a job that just wasn’t working for me. I’m not saying this will be everyone’s experience – but it was mine. Do I owe it all to TM? Maybe not all of it, I had a strong support system of friends to help me through it too. I do believe the TM practice taught me how to deal with this kind of life challenge in a much better way.
3. There is enough time in the day. Sometimes 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening just seems like too much, isn’t that funny? Our minds are always go go go…and endless list of things to do. What can’t wait 20 minutes? This is something I have carried into my work life. No I don’t push things off and miss deadlines, but now I ask a lot more clarifying questions and set realistic deadlines.
4. It energizes me. This was the most surprising part – but especially in the morning – I get a rush if energy that’s (almost) as good as coffee. Yes I still love my coffee, TM energy boosts are just an added bonus.
Have I been perfect with my TM practice? No, and that’s OK because I am making the effort and I believe in the benefits. My first five months of practicing I can’t remember missing a meditation. I set timers on my phone to remind in the morning and evening. I let my dogs have some chew toys and off I went for 20 minutes.
These first five months are when I saw the most benefit. Truth be told, the last few months have been spotty. I got a new job, which I love, that requires some travel. ravel can be tricky for me – with all the time changes and busy work to do that comes with travel. But I recently had a check-in meeting with a TM teacher near my house (free check-in meetings for life is a great plus to TM) and it helped me get back on track.
In the weeks I slacked, I saw my patience grow shorter and shorter. I felt cloudy and confused. I get back to TM and that stuff goes away. That’s all the proof I need.