Did you see "America's Most Unusual Town" on Oprah's "Next Chapter"? It's about Fairfield, Iowa, a town in which people collectively practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day. As a result, the community experiences no crime, but rather peace and robust health.
I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation when I was seven years old. My father had our family initiated into the practice. At seven, I received a "walking mantra" whereby I would repeat the mantra while walking--to school, on the playground, etc. At ten, students can then practicing sitting meditation. I assume it's too hard for kids under ten years old to sit still for twenty minutes a day.
Meditation stayed with me over the years. Teenage years saw me meditating less. As I grew older, I realized the need, value, and purpose of it in my life. I would call myself a sporadic TMer. I try to do it each week, sometimes I'm on par every day, other times meditation takes a back seat to self-hypnosis or listening to a Robert Monroe CD (another form of transcendental consciousness, much like guided hypnosis).
There are people like David Lynch who began practicing TM at the same time I did and has NOT MISSED ONE DAY of twice daily, twenty minute meditation. I am floored by his discipline. My dad has that kind of discipline. I don't. I have periodic discipline. Here is a wonderful little book David Lynch wrote on the influence of TM in his life and film-making: Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.
The only thing I take issue with is that in some ways TM has become elitist. It's expensive, about $2,000.00 to get initiated and receive a mantra.
Guru Dev, an enlightened Indian yogi, began transcendental meditation in order to bring a simple form of meditation to the masses. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the face of TM) was a university physics student in India when he heard about Guru Dev. He became a devotee. Guru Dev told Maharishi that his assignment was to bring meditation west. And so he did. That's when the Beatles got involved and it really took off.
I believe the intention of both Guru Dev and Maharishi were pure. I also believe most people involved in TM have pure intentions, but when our family got initiated, it cost us $25.00 a piece. Two thousand dollars is simply too expensive, in my opinion. As a hypnotherapist, I understand the value of charging enough so that people take their practice seriously. If I charge too little, I notice that clients are more inclined to cancel, not show up at all, "forget" to do the homework, and basically, put little effort into their healing. But there has to be a happy-medium. To be fair to TM, there are scholarship programs available, so anyone who sincerely wants to be a part of TM, can be. That's good.
The David Lynch Foundation, for instance, is teaching TM (giving scholarships to) inner city school kids, war veterans, homeless people, and those imprisoned, with great success.
After watching the Oprah special, I was inspired to up my TM practice to the twenty minute, twice-daily routine. My boyfriend Brad, also a TMer, is on board, as well. We particularly enjoy meditating together.
So I'm going to blog about my journey of the next thirty days of TM and let you know what changes I see in myself when I practice this technique regularly. I am hoping it motivates me to keep going for the rest of my life.
I'm sure the OWN network will be airing the segment again, and it's just a matter of time before they put the entire episode online, but here is a sneak peek at "America's Most Unusual Town."