I wasn’t always grateful to have been born into a family of yogis. As a preteen, I watched my dad doing “peacock pose” on the picnic table in our campsite and thought, Why can’t we just be normal?
As it turns out, it’s a good thing we weren’t, because if we had been, I’d probably be dead.
1. Meditation saved my life
“Yoga” to my parents meant more than fancy postures, and Transcendental Meditation was its most important aspect. I first learned the children’s version of TM when I was four. My dad, a certified teacher, taught me how to repeat a secret mantra silently while I wandered and played. When I practised my “word of wisdom,” I felt content. When I was ten, he gave me the grown-up version, in which I still repeated the mantra silently, only now, I did it sitting down, with my eyes closed.
In junior high school, like most kids, I was obsessed with fitting in. I didn’t like being different. Meditation was different. I quit doing it until, nearly suicidal at 16, I grabbed it like the life raft it was. When I meditated, the shards of my self-hatred melted in a sea of peace. Since then, even in my worst moments, I’ve always known the peace was there, and almost every day, twice a day, I’ve come back to it.
2. Meditation gave me strength and courage
I was born the sort of person who crumbles easily. In spite of that, I’ve managed to hold it together (mostly) through two university degrees, several cross-country moves, extensive travel, and a solid professional life. Meditation has been my glue.
3. Meditation enhances my creativity
Stress is the raw material for creative blocks. “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” and “There’s never enough time” are all stressful thoughts. TM helps dissolve them. Studies have also shown it increases neurological coherence, boosting mental clarity and focus.
I’ve been absent from the blog for a few weeks because I’ve been at the Brahmasthan of India, where guests do extended Transcendental Meditations and listen to pandits chanting from the Vedas. After a 4.5-hour taxi ride that was supposed to take 2 hours and involved the driver knowingly running over a dog, we arrived with frayed nerves and weird bacteria squirming in our stomachs. As we stumbled out of the cab, through fragrant gardens into white buildings, calm unfurled around us.
We spent 21 days there, and now I’m crackling with creative energy. All I want is to write fiction, and the ideas (to borrow David Lynch’s metaphor) are like fat fish swimming in that quiet place inside me. To catch them, I just have to dive in.
And I Still Have to Do Other Stuff
Before he left the Brahmasthan, a friend who teaches TM and is on the verge of writing a book pulled me aside and reminded me it’s still helpful to supplement meditation with other creative unblocking tools. TM is like the dynamite that breaks the blocks apart, he said, but many of us could still use a hand dealing with the rubble. And for that, you’re in the right place.
Featured Image: Photo by Kevin Urbanski.
PS: I’m writing an eBook about the creative process. Subscribe for free, and when it’s done, I’ll send send you the first chapter.
PPS: Apologies to those who were expecting a post last week. Kevin and I had originally planned to spend 2 weeks at the Brahmasthan, but once we got there, we decided to stay longer.