At first glance, this post may not be for everyone. But, I’d like you to stay with me if you can. Explore a little, and open up to learning just a smidge. I promise it won’t hurt :)
I have mentioned a few times that I started a transcendental meditation (TM) practice a few months ago and some of you were curious to learn more (yay!). Well, it’s been almost 3 months to be exact. I waited a little longer, so I could give myself some time to not only learn the practice, but leave a little time for self-guided education – aka reading.
Some basics that you should know. This isn’t what you probably automatically think of as a meditation practice where you simply sit still. It’s a conscious practice with a mantra that is given to you, that allows your brain to get to the happiest of places – and puts you into a deep state of rest (deeper than sleep, if you can believe it). If you go to tm.org, they’ll tell you, “It’s a simple, natural technique practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.”
And why would you do that? Over 380 published research studies* on the TM technique have documented its effectiveness for stress and stress-related conditions, brain function, and more.
Other benefits include**:
- greater inner calm throughout the day
- reduced cortisol (the “stress hormone”)
- normalized blood pressure
- reduced insomnia
- lower risk of heart attack and stroke
- reduced anxiety and depression
- improved brain function and memory
Seems pretty crazy, right? Well I guess, aside from all the research out there, I can give you my own thoughts so far with things I’ve noticed with my morning and evening meditation.
My ability to handle stress is changing – in a good way. A lot of things aren’t “getting to me” as they used to, and I’m able to brush them off. My day starts with meditation, which brings a sense of calm throughout the day. The art I’m producing is changing – I think you guys can see that as well. My focus is also improving.
Interesting fact: I am fairly certain that I have had an undiagnosed case of ADD for most of my life – as I’ve had a terrible problem focusing (crappy test taker right here). I have noticed that it’s becoming easier to focus on one thing or another, at one time. And lastly, I get a super burst of energy right after I meditate, along with that happy feeling. Since the body goes into a deep state of rest (even your breathing slows) – I feel awake and ready to tackle the rest of my day. And those are just a few of the changes I’ve noticed!
Another cool fact about TM is that it’s a 501(c)(3), a nonprofit org – that helps children in inner city schools as well as veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I won’t go into the stats on how veterans are affected in this post, but the studies done on how it can help reduce anxiety, insomnia and depression are staggering. Here are some other notes from the various studies I mentioned above:
- Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, November 2012, a journal of the American Heart Association: 5-year randomized controlled study on patients with established coronary heart disease reported a 48% reduction in death, heart attack, and stroke in subjects in the TM group compared to controls.
- Hypertension, June 2013, American Heart Association scientific statement, concluded that the TM technique is the only meditation practice that has been shown to lower blood pressure and recommends that TM may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
- Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, October 2013: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found significantly greater effect of TM in reducing trait anxiety than treatment-as-usual and other alternative treatments, including mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) and other meditation and relaxation practices.
At the end of the day, this is a simple practice that has some pretty rad results, and quite frankly – we all could use it in our lives. I may be only 3 months in, but I’m hooked. No, I don’t expect y’all to jump up and meditate starting tomorrow, but if you are interested, go to that website (tm.org) and do a little reading of your own. If you really want to learn more, just click on that box to find a TM teacher near you and go grill them on any questions you have. The first sesh is free.
Feel free to ask me any questions too! I will probably do a follow up post after 10 months or a year. Who knows what positive benefits I’ll receive. I’m just excited to be on the journey.
Update (8.3.15): Buzzfeed recently did a 2-month stint with meditation and they shared their experiences. It’s a good video that goes over a lot of the basics.
*More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies were conducted at many US and international universities and research centers, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, Yale Medical School, and UCLA Medical School. – source: TM.org
Editor’s note: No one has sponsored this post, nor will I gain anything from it (other than maybe spreading some joy), it is simply a personal journey of mine that I’m sharing.