Ewan Gilmour and Cristina Ballesteros are in love with each other, with information technology (IT), and last but not least with Transcendental Meditation.
He is from Scotland and she is from Spain, where the couple now spend most of their time, touring around in the Southern part of the country teaching the TM technique.
This is the story of how they finally found everything they had been looking for.
How did TM come into your life?
EWAN GILMOUR: I had always been looking for something—for God, for truth—even as a child. So I went to study physics to find the answers to my questions.
One day I came across a book that just briefly mentioned Transcendental Meditation. I wanted to find out what it was. With that the seed was planted.
Two months later at my parents’ house, I found lying on the table an introductory packet about Transcendental Meditation. It turned out that my sister had come across Transcendental Meditation two months before, at exactly the same time that I did, but in a different city. She had ordered the introductory packet. We got talking about it, went to an introductory lecture, and both learned in the same week.
That transformed my life! I realized that TM was what I had been looking for all those years. Later on my younger sister and my parents also learned.
What changed in you once you picked up the Transcendental Meditation practice?
EWAN GILMOUR: I learned TM for the practical benefits but discovered that there is so much more to it.
I had learned Transcendental Meditation in my second year of university. It transformed my studies. I had always had allergies and hay fever. After I learned TM it was the first time I managed to stop taking inhalers for my asthma. That was a big thing for me because I always felt held back by it a little.
I had more energy. I could actually do something with my evenings! I used to be so tired from my studies, but after TM it was wonderful—suddenly I had all these extra hours in a day.
It’s just amazing how Transcendental Meditation transforms your whole experience of life!
So TM was not taking up time but giving you time instead?
EWAN GILMOUR: After I learned the advanced TM-Sidhi program, I was doing my degree in Physics and a secondary school teacher training course at the same time. It was quite hard to fit in the Sidhis and my teacher training practice, teaching math and physics to 16-year-olds, at the same time. There were hardly enough hours in the day for lesson planning and teaching, but I always put meditation first and gave it priority.
I think when you do that, everything else just flows, even when you are busy.
What prompted you to undertake secondary school teacher training along with your degree?
EWAN GILMOUR: I always had the desire to be a teacher. Basically, I always had the desire to help. I did a lot of volunteer work when I was in university. It was very fulfilling.
Yet your career took a completely different turn than teaching?
EWAN GILMOUR: Well, I actually always had a desire to be a monk. (Cristina bursts out laughing) Let me backtrack here. I think just growing up in a Christian culture, you feel it inside, the memory of what is real and what is not. You are looking in society for what you feel inside. So for me it was the image of being a monk and spending time in meditation. I guess that’s where this desire came from.
Soon after gaining my Physics degree, I spent two years with the Transcendental Meditation organization in North Carolina on a kind of meditation retreat called Purusha. Also at that time I was working remotely as a programmer. So Purusha fulfilled all m
y hopes for what I might experience “being a monk,” and with the insight and energy gained I came back home and set up a company selling software online.
That was the start of the era of the internet as a commercial platform, in 1997–1998, so I thought, “People who use the internet need to buy software, so why don’t I sell it online?” We hit our annual sales target of $US 100,000 in just six weeks. Since then I’ve been working in internet marketing.
How did you meet Cristina?
EWAN GILMOUR: Cristina was a great family friend. Because of her marketing background we naturally clicked. We tried to convince her for years to become a meditator!
And you did succeed in the end!
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: They definitely showed me that a different life is possible. I could see this in his family! Apart from being wonderful people, they are all very relaxed, calm and loving. They always see the positive in everything.
Every time I went to their house I was thinking, “Oh there’s so much bliss here; it’s like being in a bubble, so warm and loving.” And I was like, “These people are onto something! I wonder what they do?”
Ewan’s sister is one of my best friends, and she’s a mother of two and a full-time teacher in a primary school. Yet she also had time to come and spend with me in Glasgow, go to cinema, concerts…. I asked her where she got all that energy, and she said, “TM!”
I had all the good reasons to learn, and I saw the value of it. I could experience it through Ewan’s family, his sister, himself—probably especially through Ewan. I always thought of him as a “higher” person! (both laugh)
I’m a very intuitive person, so if someone tells me to do something, I won’t do it. I have to feel it myself. So I felt it was the right time two years later.
So what did you experience once you did learn?
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: Even the first day I learned, I had never experienced so much silence in my whole LIFE! I was blown away. I’m a very active person, always thinking what’s next, wanting to create new things. Those things are good, but they also have a downside. You definitely don’t know how to switch off!
It was the first time I had switched off in a long time, and I felt really peaceful and blissful.
Obviously, once you experience it, then you think, “Right, this is so simple, anyone can do it!” I just had to stick to the routine, morning and evening, and my life changed completely.
How did you end up in Scotland in the first place?
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: I went to Glasgow to study marketing through the Erasmus program. I had studied business in Spain but wanted to switch fields. So I enrolled in Strathclyde University, which had the biggest marketing program in Europe at that time.
I liked it so much and decided to stay and finish my second degree there. Then I felt that if you know quite a lot about marketing but not about information technology (IT), you are a little bit lame, so I did my Master’s degree in IT.
I ended up selling software as marketing manager for the largest reseller of SAP in the world called ITelligence. It was a full-on job. I had to start from scratch – build my team, train the graduates, find agencies and co-marketing with others like IBM or HP. I was working from eight in the morning until eight in the evening, working also weekends and travelling around.
I was over-the-moon happy. I was working hard, playing hard. I had great holidays, I had great pay. But after two years I noticed that I was obviously accumulating a bit of stress, and I went for TM.
Did it help to deal with your demanding job?
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: In marketing you need to be very creative, thinking ahead all the time. There is a lot of co-ordination with agencies and teams. You have to be full inside to have successful relationships with people.
I was noticing that I was not that full anymore. Everything looked bigger and I was becoming smaller. I was becoming tired.
TM changed things completely. I went to work full of energy, happy, in a good mood. My relationship with my team improved, and I gave them more responsibilities. When you are stressed, you want to do everything yourself, thinking that you can do it better – and you end up exhausting yourself.
Everything started working better. Campaigns were more successful; my boss was happier. This was all because I did not go to work tired. I had energy and focus. I had all day booked in and I just went through it, and by 5 o’clock I was off to the gym!
A new world unfolded in front of me. I realized you can actually deliver all these marketing programs for different companies at the same time. In terms of creativity, focus and enhanced work relationships, TM was top—second to none!
Was there anything else outside work that changed for you after you started TM?
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: It was also good for my health. I used to smoke. Within a year after starting TM I stopped smoking. What was even more surprising, I stopped smoking with NO pain whatsoever! No anxiety, nothing.
With TM, you eliminate stress and you eliminate also the need to smoke. People who smoke do it mostly from stress and to relieve anxiety. So there was just no need to do that anymore.
What made you leave your successful career in marketing and become a TM teacher?
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: My mind had opened so much, so I thought, “I cannot just keep this to myself. I have to teach this to my family and friends.” I learned TM when I was 28, and by 30 I felt the need to give back. I wanted to do something for the world.
So how did you two eventually end up doing everything together?
EWAN GILMOUR: Since we first met, that spark was there, and it was just growing and growing.
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: It was love at first sight, there was no doubt about it. But we were just in different universes (laughs), and sometimes they came close and then they expanded again.
We met in 2007 and it was not until 2010 when we had our first weekend of love and romance.
At that time I wasn’t thinking about it, but Ewan said it would be wonderful for us both to be TM teachers and teach all over the world. But I was very much into business and my marketing career at that time! (laughs) Yet he planted a seed and it worked out.
EWAN GILMOUR: We always kept in touch and we were best friends all this time. We even discussed doing a marketing business together.
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: Now we’re doing it all together—the IT, the TM business, the life business.
My mom sometimes wonders “How can you two get along so well together day and night?” I think that it’s very important to have a friendship as a basis for a relationship. We don’t do things to please the other person. Everything we do, we do because we love it. There’s no trying and no hard work.
Ewan loves marketing, I love TM; he loves TM and I love marketing. And we love going dancing….
EWAN GILMOUR: Just naturally, we have many things in common. And having TM is a basis for all that, because there’s all this joy there.
CRISTINA BALLESTEROS: Life is bliss! Think about how lucky we were! I went to Scotland for nine months and I stayed there for 10 years. So I knew I had gone there for a reason, not only to go to the biggest marketing department or to get rained on! (laughs)
I’ve always been looking for knowledge. Ewan was looking for answers, but I was not looking for answers about the universe. I studied Business Administration in Granada University, but I did not feel I knew what I needed to know. Then I went and got another B.A. in Marketing, and I still did not feel I knew what I needed to know. And then I did a Master’s degree in IT. This fit together well, but I still did not know how you really deal with people, how you connect with people, how do you really implement things, how you manage yourself and think in an orderly way….
And then I learned TM, and that was all this. It was bridging everything together. This was the knowledge I was really looking for!
Thank you for this wonderful, insightful conversation!