On January 25, 2011, I lost the love of my life, my mother. We had a bond that can only be described at soul-mate level. And when she died, I died right along with her. My world went black and all I wanted to do was be with her . . . even if that meant downing a bottle of pills. One day, four months after she’d passed away, I broke . . . and I mean completely. As I fell down to my hands and knees in the shower, I howled out for someone, anyone, to help me either kill myself or save me. I was down to those two choices. In that moment, I completely surrendered.
Within days, someone steered me in the direction of learning Transcendental Meditation (TM), and in one, yes one, 20-minute meditation, my whole world turned around. After silently repeating the mantra my teacher gave me, I dove into a part of my soul I never knew existed. They say the Kingdom of Heaven is within—well, by the end of my first meditation, I knew exactly what that meant. When I opened my eyes, I saw the world in a completely different light. Everything was sparkling and alive. The trees, the water, the sky, the birds, insects and animals, we were all one. Made up of the same stardust flowing through everything around me, I could see it all and feel it all.
Yes, I do get I’d just received a miracle and it had come in the form of TM, and that not everyone learning to meditate was having this kind of experience. But since this major league consciousness-expansion I’d been gifted with took place quite naturally and effortlessly AND was just the beginning (so many amazing serendipities, unexpected connections and super-cool dreams-come-true have happened since that day), I thought I’d share on social media the top 5 ways Transcendental Meditation completely has rocked my world:
For 13 years (you read that right, 13 years!), I had a sleeping disorder. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my mom fought stage 4 breast cancer for 13 years, but at the time, I didn’t put the pieces together. I just knew that every night it was gonna’ be torture to try and fall asleep and actually stay asleep. It was the same routine every night. Fall asleep around midnight, wake up at 3, fall back asleep at 7 and hit the alarm at 8. Every morning I felt like I wanted to barf. No amount of wine or pills would end this nightmare for me, until I learned TM. After my first meditation session, I never—and I mean never—had another sleepless night. That first day, I went home and slept till the next day, when I had to go back for day 2 of instruction (it takes 4 days in a row to learn TM.) That went on for about 2 weeks: I was sleeping around 15 straight hours a day. Since I’d been planning on offing myself, I wasn’t working at the time. So at that point, my only job was to save myself. After the initial 2 weeks of hibernating, I fell into a routine that actually worked. At night, go to bed, fall asleep, stay asleep and-… wake up refreshed in the morning? Who the hell was I?!? Did people actually sleep all night??? Meditation had become my new, all-natural sleeping pill.
Peace in my life wasn’t something with which I was super-familiar. Before my mother passed away, I was running a popular restaurant/bar in Chicago, helping my mom, dealing with dysfunctional relationships and doing everything in my power to have an A+ social life. Between working all night, partying after work and running to the hospital a couple times a week in the morning, I didn’t really have time for peace. But how crazy does that sound? Once I learned to meditate, the chasing and the distractions and the chaos all just stopped. Nothing felt out of control to me anymore. Instead, I found a great sense of serenity and calm just being me, sitting outside, listening to the birds chirping and feeling the air on my skin. I needed nothing. I wanted nothing. I was whole. That has been one of the greatest gifts meditating has brought me. A constant stream of tranquillity.
This may sound kind of odd, but since I learned to meditate, I’ve found myself naturally moving away from constantly using my intellect as my guide through life. Now, I mainly lean on synchronicity and my intuition as my personal navigating system. I sometimes tell people I haven’t used my brain in 3 years, that I follow my soul. That approach has led me to some pretty incredible adventures. I started skydiving, because I love the feeling of flying freely. I started working with Oprah Winfrey and her team 3 weeks after I learned to meditate. The job offer came out of nowhere, and after a series of amazing synchronicities, I took the job. Next thing I knew, I was helping Ms. Winfrey and her whole staff learn how to practice TM. I followed the signs and ended up on one of the coolest adventures ever. Out of nowhere, I realized I was being guided by the Universe, and “it” took all the pressure off of me. I just had to get quiet and listen. Turn left, turn right, call this person, take this job. It just wouldn’t stop. It was always there—I just never had a powerful tool like TM to tap into it. Clearly, it was a major game changer in terms of learning how to navigate the flow (yes, the Universe’s flow).
After I learned to meditate, pure happiness started flowing through my veins 24/7. I actually would describe it as a subtle state of ecstasy. When you’re sleeping well, finding peace in your life and partnering up with the cosmos, happiness just starts filling you up. It’s not anything you need to pursue . . . it just is. I realized looking back on my life, there were many times I truly was miserable. And no amount of partying or talking to a therapist could completely change that. I needed to get in touch with the power inside myself to really turn that around. It’s not “outside” . . . everything we’re really looking for lies within. For me, Transcendental Meditation is like the key that unlocks the door to “Happy Town.”
I always felt like I had purpose in my life, but at the same time I always knew there was something more for me. I loved my job managing the restaurant, I enjoyed traveling, hanging out with my mom and all of my friends, and spending time dating. It was cool and I was relatively content, but my real purpose—my “dharma”—hadn’t revealed itself. For some unknown reason, after I learned to meditate, certain gifts started to emerge out of my soul. For instance, out of thin air, I was able to speak in public. In fact, my first speaking gig was with Oprah. I stood in front of her and her main executive, Sheri Salata, and spoke my truth like I was put on this earth to talk to them. Zero fear. The words just flew out of my mouth and were followed by intense energy and power. (At one point, Ms. Winfrey turned to Ms. Salata and said, “I want what this girl has.”) Funnily enough, after that, I began speaking all over the country about the benefits of TM. To add another interesting layer to this story, I found myself having the ability to write. I had never written anything to be shared in public. I was a comparative religious studies major in college, so I had to write a lot of papers . . . but my mom was the writer in our family. She was a published poet with mad skills. (Mom actually helped me write every single paper in school, ‘cuz I simply didn’t have the talent.) Well, I’m happy to say I just wrote my first book, entitled, Enlightenment Is Sexy: Every Woman’s Guide to a Magical Life, and it flowed out of me like water! I also have a successful blog and I now consider myself a full-blown writer. (Say what?!?!)
I attribute all of these positive changes in my life to learning Transcendental Meditation. Twice a day, every day, I sit down for 20 minutes and plug in. I connect to the Universe. It fills me up with the juice of life and it keeps me going throughout the day and into the night. Meditating has completely saved me and continuously helps me grow. I cannot recommend this life-transforming practice enough. Who knew something so simple could be so incredible?
By Valerie Gangas