I have been trying to meditate for years. I paid for an annual Headspace subscription, I read up about Kirtan Kriya meditation and practiced that for several months, I subscribed to Insights Timer and used a variety of guided meditations, some in the morning and some in the evening.
No matter what I tried, meditation felt like an active process. I was trying to relax – in much the same way as you try to loosen a screw with force and through gritted teeth.
When I first started meditating, it felt like this:
I had to dive on my thoughts and wrestle them to the ground. My mind was in constant battle.
After practicing for several months, my experience was more like this:
I became quite proud of myself for shepherding and corralling my thoughts. I felt in control.
After quitting alcohol and (for a short time) sugar, I realised I still had some work to do if I wanted to master my mind and I enrolled in a Transcendental Meditation course. The course involves a one to one lesson followed by 3 group lessons (1 – 2 hours each).
Sadly, I’m not allowed to say very much about TM itself – the practice is quite protected and to find out more about it, you have to attend a course.
What is Transcendental Meditation?
It is a form of meditation that makes use of a silent mantra. Where mindfulness meditation requires you to be present in the moment and to focus on sensations, transcendental meditation is about letting go of any conscious focus.
When our instructor told us we should let go, I asked, “How do you do that? I’ve been trying for years.” He responded, “You let it feel easy.”
Although the answer isn’t necessarily that clear, I guess I must have been ready to hear it because suddenly I realised the difference between what I had been doing and what I needed to do. I couldn’t make it feel easy. I had to let it feel easy.
Such a subtle difference but what a difference it made.
Instead of chasing my thoughts away, I left them alone. Instead of forcing my mind to focus on the mantra, I let it run and if I noticed I had lost it, I let it come back.
Transcendental meditation feels like this:
There are points of interest, as opposed to total open space but the overall feeling is expansive and calm.
If meditation still feels like a chore to you, Transcendental Meditation may be worth a look.
If your experience is anything like mine, it’ll be a bit like this:
So that’s what it’s supposed to feel like!