Why I Practice Transcendental Meditation
In case you’re living under a rock, Transcendental Meditation (now referred to simply as TM), is having a bit of “a moment”. Even though the practice originated in India over 5,000 years ago and has been on the public’s radar since the 1960’s (thanks to the Beatles), until recently it was primarily thought of (if at all) as another strange, cultish, hippie-culture wellness “trend of the moment”. Much like yoga before it though, the “fad” gradually caught the interest of many highly successful businesspeople, entrepreneurs and celebrities. To hear them touting the incredible mind and body boosting benefits was all it needed to gain traction into the mainstream.
Of course I’m always open to trying anything health and wellness-related, so it would seem perfectly natural that my path would eventually lead me to TM. However, at the time, it was actually my eight-year old daughter that inspired me to begin the research process and eventually become trained in the practice. Several years ago, I was reading extensively about stress and anxiety management tools for young girls when I came upon a very compelling article about the benefits of Transcendental Meditation for children. I had always understood the importance of mindfulness and meditation and tried my best to make it a part of all of our daily routines, but nothing seemed to really “click” for my young daughters in the way I had hoped. So, I decided to enroll one of my twins (my “middle child”) in the beginner course at our local TM Center—not knowing much but hoping for the best.
What transpired over the next three days was nothing short of awesome. By the end of the second day, both my daughter and I had already achieved that state (to an initial degree) and felt the immediate effects of stress melting away. After we were done, we felt happier, calmer and less reactive, yet also more focused and energized. We were sold. Now, we both practice daily (she even begins her school day with a ten-minute session) and have experienced a significant reduction in stress and anxiety and a greater sense of emotional balance- both straightaway after practicing and overall. I even think I look more rested and youthful after those 20 minutes!
Read on for 5 reasons why I recommend making Transcendental Meditation a daily practice for the whole family:
- You don’t actually have to “believe” in anything. You don’t have to subscribe to any particular philosophy or spiritual belief system, nor does it require any lengthy training, concentration or contemplation of secular ideas. It’s been practiced for hundreds of years by atheists, agnostics, and people of many different religions and cultures around the world. TM is a completely effortless and mechanical mental technique with absolutely no ties to any one religion. And whereas mindfulness requires active self-reflection, Transcendental Meditation is just about letting go.
- You don’t need to give anything up. Whereas some forms of meditation advise giving up alcohol, sex or recreational drug use, TM does not require any of this. Rather, addictions tend to decrease organically as a result of regular practice because TM enhances inner peace and contentment without reliance on outside sources to provide that joy.
- Children as young as 5 years old can do it. Typically children under the age of 10 can not sit still with their eyes closed for an extended period of time; however, they can learn the “walking technique” which simply involves repeating their mantra while walking around the room or performing another relaxing activity (i.e./drawing, coloring, etc.). By the age of 10, most children can advance to the sitting form of the practice -but just for the number of minutes equivalent to their age (for instance, a 10-year old child will practice for ten minutes, twice daily).
- It’s easy!- You simply sit silently in a chair for twenty minutes, twice a day- closing your eyes and allowing your mind to quiet. And if 40 minutes just sounds completely unrealistic, that’s okay too- it’s the maximum time needed to get all of the benefits that would otherwise require hours with other forms of mindfulness/mediation methods. Once comfortably seated, begin mentally repeating your mantra – a Sanskrit sound assigned by your teacher and based on interview, age and gender – at a comfortable pace. Thoughts may enter and leave your mind periodically, you may become distracted, and you may even lose track of the mantra. This is totally normal! Just bring yourself back to the repetition and continue for the remaining minutes. Eventually, when practiced correctly, your body and mind fill with a warm, blissful feeling and you will enter a state of total mental stillness- otherwise known as transcendence.
- There are incredible scientifically-proven health benefits to practicing. Daily TM can help ease pain, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, lower cortisol (and hence support weight-loss), reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, improve brain function, creativity & memory, and slow the visible signs of aging. In fact, TM is one of the best ways to cope with daily stress as a result of an over-anxious mind. You learn how to separate yourself from your thoughts- allowing them to drift in and out- and simply observe. Essentially, it is one of the most simple tools to help people achieve an optimal state of wellness for their mind, body and soul. Not yet a believer? Check out TM.org to learn more about this life-altering practice or to find a TM center near you.
*Please note: we are not medical professionals, nor should this be regarded as medical advice. We do not endorse or reject any one particular dietary theory or method; we simply believe in the power of eating whole, real organic foods as nature intended. Always consult with your physician before embarking on any new diet or supplement regime.