Over the weekend, I attended the third annual "Change Begins Within" benefit celebration, presented by the David Lynch Foundation in Los Angeles. The foundation donated $1 million to teach the Transcendental Meditation technique, TM, to active-duty military personnel and veterans and their families suffering from post-traumatic stress.
David Lynch, the film director, is a long time meditator and speaks about TM with veracity and authenticity. His message is clear: TM practice reduces negativity.
Who doesn't want that?
I want it. And can it come in a pill? I only want to take pills to make me feel better; they're so easy and convenient. Though sometimes I hate driving to CVS because I get a weird feeling from the Gower Gulch strip center in my neighborhood. But if that's the most inconvenient task, I could make it worthwhile and pick out some cool Essie nail polish or fulfill my chocolate cravings by purchasing a Snickers or, if feeling inspirational, a chocolate "health" bar. Chocolate, and trendy nail polish, make me feel good.
For a while.
Which is why I started TM.
And then quit. How was I supposed to work, work out, go out, eat out, shop, sleep and find 20 minutes morning and night to sit still and be quiet? Impossible.
Until a friend reported that I'd inspired he and his wife to take a TM class. How had I done anything of the sort?
He went on to divulge, miraculously, normal stresses from work had melted away. Things he normally would've freaked out about, he let wash over him. Then things got interesting. Jobs floated in from unexpected places. He'd had the best few months' of work and had me to thank.
Yipes, I'm a total imposter, I realized. I'd better get back to meditating fast, I thought; if not to hold my head high, then to get in a few good months.
Off I went back to the 20 minutes. I'd yo-yoed so many times that at least now I had some perspective. I realized driving to CVS, shopping for Snickers and Essie colors took about 20 minutes and nothing permanent ever came of that.
Reducing stress, anger and negativity via mediation isn't easy. Our time is occupied by so many choices. But easy choices lead to superficial and temporary fixes. Life's irony is that nothing is easy unless and until it follows selfless work. The only way work becomes less "work" is through practice: a daily, non-debated, habituated practice.
David Lynch introduced TM best at the Change Begins Within benefit:
1. Mankind was not meant to suffer. Bliss is our nature.
2. Transcendence is akin to an experienced gardener watering the root of a tree instead of the leaves, and thus the tree grows to perfection.
3. For the individual, transcending is watering the root.
4. Transcending is the experience missing from today's lives.
5. TM is a mental technique; an ancient form of meditation brought to our present time by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
6. A mantra is given with a specific sound vibrational thought.
7. The mantra is designed to do a specific thing.
8. The mantra turns the awareness within. Instead of being pointed out-out-out, it's now pointed within-in-in-in.
9. Change begins within.
10. Each deeper level of mind and intellect has more happiness and the happiness is like a magnet that pulls us within. At the border of intellect you transcend and you experience that big ocean. You begin to expand whatever kind of consciousness you had to begin with.
11. The side effect of expanding consciousness is that negativity begins to recede.
As I write this, a friend emails me from India. Tomorrow she embarks on her first TM class. She's nervous. She's never closed her eyes and just sat with people. Will her eyelids rebel, flutter and flip up? Will she internally explode? Cause a scene? Run out of the room? She doesn't feel ready.
My Dad knows vets from his small Okie town of Wagoner, population 8,000, that practice TM. It makes me want to cry to think of these good ole boys and how desperately paralyzed with trauma they must be to try "hippie meditation" but it helps them! If it can help them, I know there's a chance for me.