“Experiencing deep silence in meditation is easy.” These were the first words I ever heard a Transcendental Meditation teacher say. “Easy for you maybe, my mind is so busy!” I thought. “And it’s effortless,” she continued. I looked at the teacher at this free introductory talk on Transcendental Meditation that my friend invited me to. “Effortless?” I thought. It can’t be! Then I looked sideways at my friend, who had learned Transcendental Meditation a month before. He smiled, in that ‘I’ve got a really good secret’ kind of way. I’d heard about Transcendental Meditation years before and had always been impressed reading about scientific studies that showed how it gave the body deep rest and evidence that affirmed what an effective natural stress control technique was. But ‘Transcendental Meditation’? It sounded so complex: the kind of thing that would demand years of practice or a hefty dose of concentration. “I don’t think I’m ready,” I told my friend. “Ready?” he laughed, “You don’t have to be ready – you just have to do it.” I looked again at the teacher. She seemed an honest down-to-earth woman, about my mum’s age and she mentioned that her children also meditated. “Oh, ok,” I said. And that was it. One little word. That ‘ok’ changed everything.
I arrived for the course that Saturday. To my surprise and delight, the first session was a one-to-one with the teacher during which I would experience meditation straight away. No do’s and don’ts, no rules, just a comfortable chair, a few simple instructions and off we went.
Twenty-eight years later, I remember my first Transcendental Meditation as though it were yesterday – many people who learn TM do. My mind seemed to settle down almost by itself and reach the state of inner calmness that had so long eluded me with the meditations I had tried on my own by reading books. I had never experienced anything quite like it; the experience was euphoric and wonderful. I left the house really excited and couldn’t wait to try meditating again by myself. As I walked down the street with my friend, everything seemed fresher, brighter. Our eyes were drawn to the vividness of the flowers in a neighbouring garden and, as we walked on, our noses twitched at the amazing scent. Always rushing to get somewhere, I’d never noticed this sort of thing before.
Now I was smiling too. Because Transcendental Meditation is like a secret: a key that unlocks the path to blissful peace within. And so simple! You can meditate anywhere: in the park, the train to work – anywhere where you have a seat and 20 minutes. I meditated on the 159 bus from central to south London everyday after work for years and I gained so much from it. I never worried about how bad the traffic was and how long the journey took; I arrived home seemingly in the blink of an eye, and, by the time I opened my eyes at the end of meditation, I’d forgotten about all the goings-on at work.
Once you know how to do Transcendental Meditation, you’ll always know how to do it and it lasts for life. It’s recommended that you meditate twice each day, morning and evening, for maximum results. And what are the maximum results? More than 650 independent scientific studies on Transcendental Meditation have shown a staggering range of health benefits, which include reduced anxiety and depression, more energy, relief from insomnia, normalisation of blood pressure, clearer thinking and an increase in creativity.
I’d need an entire magazine to list the benefits I feel I’ve gained from Transcendental Meditation. In short, the inner calmness, mental clarity and creative focus I experience after my morning meditation is the most useful start to my day that I can imagine. I work as a composer for TV, where deadlines get ever shorter, and competition ever fiercer, and morning and evening meditation ensures that I’m focused on the enjoyable parts of life and keeps a flow of creative ideas open that never seems to run out!
Two comments from people on my course last weekend reminded me of why I love my drive down the M4 to teach in Bristol. One chap got stuck in traffic on the way to his Saturday appointment, arriving late and a little flustered. An hour later, after his first meditation, I asked him to write down how it felt. “I experienced feelings of joy bubbling up,” he wrote.
In the last session, I asked the group to make a note of their experiences so far. “Wonderful,” wrote one woman, “I wish I’d learned it years ago.”
— Mike Sampey, TM teacher
This is a shortened version of the article published originally in the South-West Connections Magazine, Issue no 95 / 2013 under the title “Meditation is Easy”.