Since I first learned meditation the tough way in a 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course at the end of 2017, I’ve been meditating on and off. Mostly off… Eventually, I realized the Vipassana technique is not right for me, and I started doing my own technique (on and off as well).
Recently, my friend recommended that I learn Transcendental Meditation. She told me that it was very similar to what I was already doing. The big difference is that I would get a personalized mantra.
I’ve been looking to restart meditating, so I decided to do it. I trust my friend and that is all I needed to take the course. However, many (including you perhaps) tend to do a lot more research as the course is expensive.
I won’t go into details here on whether it’s worth it or not. I’ve been only doing this meditation since I learned it in July. All I can say is that my friend has been doing it for 10+ years and I’m impressed with her ability to be joyous, positive, and resilient in any situation.
Instead, I’ll add a few lessons I learned from taking the course and my short experience with the technique:
It’s so easy, it’s hard!
Meditation itself is supposed to be very easy. You’re basically just sitting with yourself for 20 minutes, 2x per day attempting to observe your own body and mind.
But for some reason, that tends to be very very hard. I remember when I first started meditation, I could barely handle doing it for 5 minutes! There is a scene I watched recently in Eat, Pray, Love where Julia Roberts tries to meditate and all these thoughts come for what seems like forever. She looks at the clock and it’s only been 1 minute!
I’m not sure how to overcome this. I guess with time and accepting that you can’t “fail” in meditation – even if you sit for the full 20 minutes without one moment of “peace” looking at the clock to see how much time is left. We’re so used to “no pain, no gain” and trying to reach “success” that just sitting with ourselves doing nothing is the hardest thing there is.
My guess is that over time, if this “failure” is accepted and allowed, the moments of gap between thoughts will become more frequent. But that takes time, the hardest part of all for us in a society of “I want it (enlightenment) now”.
When I think of meditation, I imagine a happy peaceful Buddha. I have the conception that if I meditate, I will be like that as well:
But when I meditate this doesn’t happen… Sometimes I feel even worse during meditation. Anger might come. I might cry, I might laugh. It’s pretty rare for me to be just there content in bliss like the Buddha.
Why? The reason is that meditation releases stress. You’re in a state of complete relaxation, so your body starts working on issues, blockages in your body and mind.
Eventually, you’ll get there, maybe after many years of meditation, maybe in the next lifetime. It might get worse before it gets better.
Don’t quit. It’s ok that you’re not a Buddha.
One big issue with big long retreats like Vipassana where you meditate all day every day for 10 days in complete silence like a monk is that it’s hard to transition the same energy into daily life. I felt great at the end of Vipassana, but as soon as I went back into the real world, the “magic” faded after a few days, I got frustrated and gave up.
One very interesting thing about the TM technique is that it is very practical and is right away taught in a way where you start integrating it into your daily life. There are retreats available, but you start in a non-retreat setting!
And it is very simple – you meditate for 20 minutes 2x a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon. One issue I had right away was that it was hard to find time in the afternoon that works, so I just meditated before bed. However, on follow up, my teacher explained to me that the reason it’s important to meditate in the afternoon is that so it breaks up your day, giving you a break and then re-energizing you to keep going. It was very interesting and different from how I’ve done meditation before. But it makes sense.
My friend explained to me that meditation / spiritual practices should be more like a Zipper. You wake up, start with normal life, meditate in the middle of normal life, go on with your normal life, meditate again in the afternoon, go on with your normal life. That way, meditation is highly integrated into your day and becomes part of it vs something you do when you wake up and go to sleep, the peaceful times of the day.
That is very interesting because I have a very long morning practice / routine that I love so much, I get annoyed when I have to go out into the real world and can’t be in my peaceful bubble. Instead of using my morning practice to spread the peaceful energy to the world after I’m done, I’ve been hating that the world takes the peace away from me.
Figuring out how to integrate both the peaceful energy and the hustle and bustle of daily life that is built into the TM technique makes a lot of sense and something I’m working on.