“TM – Its Effortless : Something Delicious You Sink Into.”

Sue Limb – The Guardian

I resisted TM for years. My friend Theresa Sullivan learned it in 1976 when we were teaching at a comprehensive school and in desperate need of tranquility. She hinted gently but not evangelically that it might help my head-aches. I’ve always fled evangelism since college, when a girl who dropped in for a cup of tea suddenly started praying for my immortal soul, right there on my own hearthrug among the buttered crumpets.

In my ignorance I thought transcendental meditation was a sort of austere religion. I feared I might have to give up my doughnuts and wrestle with the 4th year rebels on a meek diet of yoghurt and honey. My instincts have always been rather secular and sceptical, despite the precognitive dreams, the telepathy and the poltergeist. (But that’s another story)

I assumed that Theresa took to TM, because she’d been brought up a Catholic and was therefore – In The Habit – as it were. But I didn’t need a prop, I assured myself, as I collapsed exhausted, scrabbling for the aspirins after another day on the front line. Eventually I left the teaching to Nature’s commando, and took to a life of limp scribbling. It was the kind of relief a chicken might feel if it gave up being savaged by a mad dog. Life was pleasurable again, but from time to time, exhaustion and anxiety still reared their hydra heads.

Finally last autumn, I took the plunge. I was in a low state. Several years incessant limp scibbling and not enough time off, had taken its toll. I began haunted by a fear of collapse; of making a fool of myself in public. (Although in some senses that’s the way comedy writers earn their living.) Agoraphobia loomed; I rang my local TM teacher, booked myself an initiation, and hoped it would not be too public.

It took place in a private house in a quiet back street in Bath. TM is taught in four sessions : one private and simple ritual in which your teacher confides your mantra to you, and then three meetings with a handful of fellow learners on subsequent days for explanation, discussion and practice.

You’d think group meditation in a quiet sitting room in a back street in Bath wouldn’t be too much a strain for an agoraphobic. It was hardly the hurly-burly of the market place. A deep silence fell. It wouldn’t make great radio. But for me, the silence was the problem. It imposed a certain formality on the situation, which I was saure I would violate.

Back home, I found it a lot easier to give myself up to the simplicity of the thing. TM is just a way of resting the mind.

You don’t have to sit cross-legged, burn joss sticks or chant. You don’t have to give up doughnuts. For 20 minutes twice a day, I sit down in an armchair, close my eyes and let my brain settle down to quieter and quieter patterns.

Its hard to describe and in fact for the over-educated and the over eager, the hardest part to grasp is the simplicity and innocence of meditation. That’s why you need skilful teaching and careful follow up checks to make sure you’re not trying too hard. It’s effortless; something delicious you sink into. Perhaps Andrew Marvell’s lines come nearest to it :

“Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness.”

But the great thing about TM is that it doesn’t matter if your mind is busy with thoughts. Whatever it does in its 20 minutes is what it needs to do; thoughts are a form of stress release and therefore helpful. Still, the meditations I most enjoy are the ones where the mind settles down to a quietness so complete it is pure conciuosness, a state which the maharishi describes as “charming”. Well, I think that’s putting it mildly – but then, he would. If I go to bed on a difficult day having missed a meditation, I don’t feel I’ve neglected a duty, but denied myself an exquisite pleasure.

It hasn’t cured my headaches. But I suddenly noticed, after about three months, that I’d stopped feling tired. I’d always specialised in tiredness. At 4pm my legs used to turn to lead and my brain to fishpaste, and sometimes only a two hour sleep could revive me. Now I droop less often, but when I do, all it takes is 20 minutes TM, I sink down like a tired toad and rise like a – well, a revived toad.

Sorry to sound evangelical. It’s so un-British. We’re much more at home with irony and defeat. But there comes a time when you simply have to clench your teeth and do your duty for Martyn Lewis.

You do transcendental meditation, don’t you?
“Oh yeah, thank God. I do it every day, twice. Twenty minutes. It has changed my life, otherwise with all the travel, all the stuff that I do… without meditation I don’t think I would be in such good health.”
Angélique Kidjo ~ Singer / Songwriter.

https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/09/angelique-kidjo-says-black-lives-matters-existence-means-weve-failed-16790720/

Below a 14 minute programme from this mornings Radio 4 on meditation, specifically mindfulness with Dr Michael Mosely. Whilst I have great respect for the founder of mindfulness Jon Kabat Zinn, in making meditation more accessible to the world, this is almost a masterclass in how not to practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a reminder of the sheer simplicity and do-ability of TM : no effort, no concentration, no emptying of the mind.

Almost everyone I teach these days has struggled with various forms of “mindfulness” and are looking for something easier.  To get benefits from meditation one needs to meditate reasonably regularly, if its difficult to do, no one will keep it up.  The beauty of Transcendental Meditation (TM) is that its a pleasure to do, enjoyable and consequently people tend to look forward to it anmd thus reap the benefits

Meditate
Just One Thing – with Michael Mosley
Michael explores how mindfulness meditation can have surprising benefits for your attention, your immune system, and even change the shape of your brain for the better.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001817f?fbclid=IwAR1tZHS-IRpydTO9f4iAX5d6w6_KAQ3fYonn-UiBM1KTqeM00lDj15DZ67s

All kinds of people meditate.

I do like Ray Dalio’s description of his experience during TM :
“You’re peaceful. You’re quiet,” he said. “You’re not awake, but you’re not asleep.”

The crazy thing about Transcendental Meditation (TM) is that because it is so simple, it is actually surprisingly difficult to describe accurately.  For example when the article say :

“Transcendental Meditation is a form of mantra meditation that eschews chanting and focusing on breathing in favour of repeating a mantra in silence.”

The word “repeating” gives the impression that effort, concentration, ie : getting rid of thoughts is involved.  Wrong, that’s what make Transcendental Meditation different, even unique.  It is so easy, that it becomes effortless to practice.  Hence another favourite quote of mine from someone whom I taught on a TM course in York a few years ago :

“I really enjoyed the course, after years of struggling with thought control meditation techniques, TM feels like a breath of fresh air – it almost feels like cheating! I’m managing to practice twice a day and I’m getting a lot out of it already.”

Zara ~ Leeds

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/billionaire-ray-dalio-went-broke-in-1982-mantra-meditation-helped-in-his-comeback-8582381.html

“Normally if I have a spare 20 minutes, I’ll be on my phone, I’ll be watching something, and that’s it — now I do this. It’s great.” James Corden

I must admit sometimes it does get a bit tiresome to hear of yet another celebrity taking up TM (Transcendental Meditation), but to be fair if it had’nt been for those four young lads from Liverpool most people would never of heard of it – including me 50 years ago.

Since Covid I have been fortunate to discover that teaching TM (Transcendental Meditation) online works beautifully, just as well as face to face, enabling me to introduce people to this wonderful technique across the UK and around the world – brilliant!

Here’s a comment from someone who attended my April 2022 online TM course :

“Twice a day every day for me apart form the odd bump in the road Awesome!”
Tim ~ Richmond, North Yorkshire

https://uk.style.yahoo.com/james-corden-takes-transcendental-meditation-100000909.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAM3SENZtYi8QAWBLLOFAhr48jm8pGdjB0L1dywkeeQ7Z8401RA2Xxt3cuy2VkpRG3TBGz4AnoxR6l97vCjm3xXWIxa91L3hK1Ka8Pvbe8xEsdM8Va1KVWDujoM8uwqaEoML6xjoJ0_MddJepX1dllWqKtG0DU_fI-0bJqyYd9YKl

Danson, who has been using transcendental meditation for more than twenty years, told EveryDay Health: “Life gets more complicated and stressful the older you are.
“I no longer find [meditation] fun and interesting — I find it a lifesaver.”
Ted Danson echos the experience of tens of thousands of everyday people across the UK and around the world when he says that he finds Transcendental Meditation (TM) a lifesaver.  Having taught TM (Transcendental Meditation) courses for the last 45 years, its a comment I hear again and again from all kinds of people.  Why?  In a nutshell its because it is the easiest meditation technique, simple, effortless, absorbingly pleasant, uncomplicated – do-able.  No concentration, no emptying of the mind.
“I’ve unexpectedly kept up the daily meditations and am surprisingly enjoying them.”
Sophie ~ Whitly Bay, Tyne & Wear (Attended January 22 online TM course)

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1581235/ted-danson-health-arthritis-transcendental-meditation?fbclid=IwAR3m7n_zgBRQoTY8dDweazqubQlcAa8AIcLKGEFS2aapcI0m7sqeWwtv6Qs

Interesting article in a generally underwhelming newspaper 🙂

Below a comment from someone who has just learnt TM (Transcendental Meditation) on our last online course for 2021 followed by a link to an article about Ray Dalio, someone who has practised TM for over half a century.

“I’m two weeks in and haven’t missed one yet.  I’m feeling less stressed, happier and have more energy.  I saw this meditation quote the other day and it hit a chord with me” :

“The question is not so much, how can I afford to give up my time to meditate.  But more – how can I afford not to.”

Keith ~ Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear

https://www.twentyminutesmeditation.co.uk/billionaire-ray-…s-how-he-does-it/

Interesting article, long but very worthwhile read.  Although not about Transcendental Meditation, (TM) relevant to why it works for so many people in ways you wouldn’t always expect.                                             Of particular interest to me as someone who has taught TM (Transcendental Meditation) for over 40 years, in that it chimes with the experiences of thousands of people from all age groups, backgrounds & nationalities looking for ways to cope better with the pressures of modern day life.                                   One of the most common comments from those about to learn Transcendental Meditation is “I’ve got a very busy mind.”   They are looking for a way to truly relax on a regular basis – to give the mind a break.  In taking up TM people are often amazed at the across the board effect on mind and body.  As the author says :                                                                                                                                                                              “We need to have an open conversation in society about the mind and body, health and illness.”              Alastair Santhouse  Author

https://theconversation.com/long-covid-my-work-with-sufferers-reveals-that-western-medicine-has-reached-a-crisis-point-167417?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB&fbclid=IwAR3rKhYYO9MhAy39ldDqgsmEWQiCYbzna0Rp2pvxCax0Na2JnsaKyKeVdHE

Part of the human condition, how could you be human and not sometimes feel depressed. P.S. That includes men btw. 🙂

Many people find meditation makes a difference.  Why?  Because most people don’t realise how run down they have become through everyday wear and tear.  This results in a gradual accumalation of mental and physical fatigue, even exhaustion which can result in low moods and depression.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) gives one a simple, ultimately “effortless” and absorbing break.  Something that, importantly people don’t just enjoy, but begin to look forward to, little moments of deep mental and physical relaxation, which experienced daily can become transformational.
“The clinical watchdog also recommends mindfulness and meditation as possible alternatives to anti-depressants in new guidelines under consultation.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-59383722