It was a recurring conversation and deep down, I was worried.
My daily conversations with my nutrition and fitness coach (at MyBodyTutor) usually sounded like a broken record. “I feel great”, I told my tutor, “I have no aches or pains, I reached my ideal body weight and I have a lot of energy.” But truth be told, I needed help.
I told my tutor, “I’m struggling with mental health. I have racing thoughts and I struggle with anxiety and stress. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and my mind is full of worry about…EVERYTHING. I almost never sleep well. I could use help.”
This is when my body tutor introduced me to meditation. Admittedly, I didn’t do much at first and I had a healthy dose of skepticism, but with no other alternative, I was ready for a change and I began learning about meditation. Here’s what I discovered.
The Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
Studies showing the benefits of transcendental meditation are abundant. Many highly successful businesspersons, athletes and celebrities attribute their success to transcendental meditation. Ray Dalio (hedge fund owner), Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Jordan and Paul McCartney (and the other Beatles) attribute their success in business, comedy, sports and music to transcendental meditation. The radio celebrity, Howard Stern, kicked a 3 ½ pack per day cigarette habit within 1 month of starting to meditate.
Over 400 peer reviewed studies have shown wide-ranging benefits of transcendental meditation, including reduced high blood pressure, diminished stress and anxiety, better sleep and improved self-control, awareness and mood control and higher cognitive functioning and creativity. The American Heart Association approved transcendental meditation as a complementary treatment for high blood pressure.
“These gifts include better physical well-being and mental functioning. The joys and rewards of being in the zone and accelerated internal growth.”
Norman Rosenthal, “Super Mind”
Those who experience transcendental meditation for the first time report major changes in their lives.
- “The effect on my sleep has been profound.”
- “Meditation has sharpened both my senses and my awareness of the world around me.”
- “I experience a wonderful, restful feeling.”
- “The heightened experience stayed with me longer after the experience.”
The empirically based evidence for transcendental meditation is overwhelming. Our society treats mental illness and physical disease with an abundance of high-priced medications, but–I thought–perhaps there is a simpler and healthier solution.
Perhaps a crazy thought, but what if we could eliminate many of the conventional remedies for anxiety and stress and replace them with a technique that offers calmness of mind, less stress and greater creativity? This just might be worth a shot.
A Quick Overview of Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental meditation is not a philosophy or a religion and does not require a change in your lifestyle or diet. There is nothing to believe in. You can be skeptical and the technique works just as well. It does not focus on breathing or chanting, just a resting state of mind. Transcendental meditation is relatively quick to learn and easy to master and it can be done anywhere.
Think of the surface of the ocean. The surface of the ocean can be rough and turbulent, but even in stormy weather, the depth of the ocean is calm and peaceful. Our mind is like the ocean. Our waking thoughts are like the surface of the ocean that can be choppy and constantly changing (all of the things you’re thinking of), while a deeper level of consciousness is like the depth of the ocean that is calm and peaceful (where you have no thoughts, but yet you are awake). Transcendence is the level of the mind–much like the depth of the ocean–that is already calm.
“Meditate, dive within, and expand your consciousness. In so doing, you will change, and the world around you will follow.”
Norman Rosenthal, “Super Mind”
There are 3 well known levels of consciousness: the waking state, sleep and dreaming. But there is a 4th level of consciousness (transcendence) that transcends these levels, a state of calmness, silence and inner serenity. This 4th level of consciousness is a deeper level of consciousness that is untapped by most, yet has the potential to change our lives. Athletes refer to transcendence as “the zone” where they are locked in and focused.
The 20-Minute Mental Spa Moment
Transcendental meditation is easy to learn in just a few days. Transcendental meditation is taught by a certified instructor over the course of 4 90-minute sessions. It can be done anywhere and is a silent technique with your eyes closed. Once learned, you practice transcendental meditation on your own with some occasional refreshers from your instructor.
With transcendental meditation, you will be taught to meditate for 20 minutes twice a day–once in the morning when you wake and again in the later afternoon, ideally before dinner. Just like an important business appointment, you can schedule your 20-minute meditation into your workday. There is no concentration or control of mind required.
“Both the quality of our consciousness and the way that it affects us are keys to a good life.”
Norman Rosenthal, “Super Mind”
Your instructor will give you a mantra, a word that will give access to the calm level of the mind. You will think of your mantra as you meditate. You do not have to sit on a mat or have a specific body position. Be comfortable and as you meditate, your mind will be naturally drawn to more satisfying thoughts–places in your mind where you want to be. Sooner or later, your thoughts will be gone and you may experience stillness, quiet, and your breathing slows down and your muscles relax. Norman Rosenthal, author of “Super Mind”, refers to this as the “quiet bliss of transcendence”.
The Fourth Level of Consciousness: Transcendence
During meditation, you are not trying to control your thoughts. You let your mind go naturally where it wants, to a place that is more satisfying. And even time, you reach the point of transcendence, which is the absence of thoughts. During transcendence, you reach a state of calmness and inner peace. It is the best moment of your day.
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher levels of consciousness.”
And what happens after you meditate? Your calmness carries through the next few hours and you become less reactionary, more reflective and calmer. You don’t yell and scream when things don’t go your way and you pause and think before reacting. And perhaps most importantly, your energy levels will be boosted by twice a day meditation. The benefits of transcendental meditation accumulate as you practice it more.
Questions Everyone Asks
Why do you need a certified transcendental instructor? You can try meditating without an instructor, but that’s like trying to golf without a teacher. You’ll struggle. An instructor will guide you through the process in 4 90 minute sessions. Transcendental meditation does not take long to learn.
What if you don’t have time to meditate or you can’t meditate for the full 20 minutes. Some meditation is better than none at all. You may want to use a meditation app that alerts you when you reach 20 minutes.
Why do you spend 20 minutes in meditation? Research shows that it takes 20 minutes to reach the inner calm and absence of thoughts that transcendence offers. Why do you meditate twice daily instead of once? Research shows that you will only receive half of the benefits of transcendental meditation if you meditate once a day.
Why do you need transcendental meditation if you already have a therapist? If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety, therapy works. But therapy might be only once every 1 or 2 weeks and what do you do with the rest of the time? Transcendental meditation eases your mind and provides a boost of calmness and creativity twice a day. Transcendental meditation is a wonderful compliment to therapy.
How to Get Started
A great way to get started is to read Bob Roth’s book, “Strength in Stillness”, an excellent primer about transcendental meditation. Want to take the next step by speaking with a certified transcendental meditation instructor? There are transcendental centers throughout the U.S. Go to www.tm.org or call 888-532-7686. You can get an introductory meeting with a ™ coach and learn more about this powerful technique.
Transcendental meditation gives access to the level of the mind that is largely untapped. The potential benefits—both physical and mental—are enormous. And once learned, you will have transcendental meditation for the rest of your life.