Do you believe that everything you need in life will come to you at the right time? Even if it doesn’t always feel that way?
I began my meditation journey when I was six years old.
My parents have practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM) for over forty years, long before meditation was cool and certainly before you could talk about it freely and easily in front of other people, without them eyeballing you as if you were about to recruit them and their first born child into some oddball cult.
When my brother and I were six we learned a child’s version of the technique.
We imitated our parent’s meditation practice a few times, but soon gave it up in favour of more interesting childhood things, like making mud pies and playing with the woodlouse (we weren’t allowed a pet).
Fast forward thirty years and I’ve just finished a course to learn the TM practice for myself.
So for someone who’s always had an open mind towards meditation, why did it take me so long?
I always had a reason. As with most things we’re not quite ready for, there’s always an obstacle we can put in our own way: lack of money, babies to care for, dogs to play with (I replaced the woodlouse when I left home).
When the pandemic came my thoughts turned to my parent’s friend and TM teacher, who taught my brother and I all those years ago.
I emailed him, we set up a zoom call and after he taught me a basic meditation practice, I began to join him via zoom for regular group meditations.
The results have been pretty amazing. Once I got the hang of the technique, I quickly began to feel more balanced and in tune with myself.
That’s not to say it was a magic cure for my overthinking tendencies, but over time I have started to trust myself more and to actually take positive action in my life, instead of waiting around for stuff to happen to me.
If I felt this good after learning a basic practice, then I was eager to learn the TM technique properly.
No sooner do you really want something than life makes it hard for you, right? It’s like it’s testing to make sure you’re fully committed.
My course was COVID cancelled twice, but I’d waited 30 years, I could wait a little longer.
During this period I got into the habit of meditating almost every day, often joining in group meditation sessions over zoom.
If I missed a session I felt it, so I tried not to miss a session.
During the group zoom meditations we are digitally connected to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people all over the world.
The group practice seems to take me deeper into meditation a lot quicker than doing it on my own, so that I find myself looking forward to these sessions.
For a one-time technophobe who hates how she looks on any kind of camera, the fact that I keep going back for more is indicative of how beneficial I find it.
If you’d have told me eighteen months ago that I’d be sitting on a video call with people I’ve never met in person and closing my eyes in unison with them for twenty minutes, I’d have looked at you with total incredulity..
But a lot can change in a year and a half, as we know all too well.
The theory around the group practice of TM is that the more people you have meditating at the same time, the more waves of bliss are generated and the greater the positive effect on everybody.
Basically, you’re not just chilling yourself out, you’re radiating positive vibes that help chill the world out. When you put it like that, it’s hard not to get on board.
Whether you believe in the theory or not, the practice still works. The analogy used by TM leaders is that you don’t need to believe in gravity to see it work.
I can’t explain how it works, I just know that it does.
During the pandemic there were noticeable shifts in people’s thinking, attitudes and emotions around similar times that, to me, indicate there is a level on which we are all connected, even though we’re not conscious of it. It makes sense, when you think about it. If emotions can be contagious, then why not the impact of meditation?
I can always do with some extra peace in my surrounding area, particularly when the kids start fighting over the TV remote.
Part of me wondered if I needed to learn TM, since I was already feeling the benefits, but my long held interest in the practice meant that I was committed to completing the course.
I’m so glad I did.
Learning TM with a certified teacher has given me a much deeper understanding of TM and how to practice meditation.
It’s so much easier than people think, once you get into a routine.
Sitting cross legged is purely optional and whilst a quiet space is nice, I’ve been able to do it with drilling, hammering and noisy children in the background.
I’ve felt the benefits so much that meditation, like exercise, is something I make the time for. It’s become a priority.
Contrary to what I believed before I started, I don’t have to empty my head of all thoughts to meditate, which is a relief: it would be a near impossibility for someone like me, who has a mind that can race faster than Lewis Hamilton in his final race of the season.
When I meditate regularly, I feel more balanced and more easily ‘me.’ I have more trust in myself, so I make decisions quicker, giving me less scope for rumination and anxiety. I’m slowly but surely becoming more of a ‘doer’ and less of a procrastinator.
A less anxious, more present me is a win for my family and friends, and so the waves of good feeling ripple outwards (whether you believe in them or not).
I’ve also made some good zoom friends through our online meditation group, who I hope to meet in person one day.
Of course, TM isn’t the only meditation practice out there. I think the trick is to find the one that works for you.
Give it a go. There’s nothing to lose and perhaps a lot to gain.
I’d love to hear your experiences of meditation, leave a comment below telling me all about it. You can also follow me on Instagram.