You could say I was always a prime target for TM. During the late sixties and early seventies I had hair down to my shoulders. Now I’m 53 and I still have hair on my shoulders – but because it’s falling out. Anyhow, I always had an interest in TM, if only because of the publicity. Teenagers have always been easily moulded, although I did draw the line at Lord of the Rings, and still haven’t read it.
I never took my interest any further and then came marriage and children and building a career and no time to think, let alone meditate. But I sometimes noticed those little adverts tucked away here and there and I would think, well, maybe, one day…
I was teaching at primary level as well as writing for children, and towards the end of my teaching career I was appointed head teacher of a small primary school. It was a big personal mistake. I soon found myself being pulled in 20 different directions trying to satisfy everyone. Even more quickly I found myself being dragged down into a spiral of depression and negativity. Once again I thought of TM and made some enquiries. However, before I could follow these up, circumstances intervened; I decided to leave teaching altogether and concentrate on the writing.
Immediately, the main problem began to clear and I was filled with a burst of creative energy, working on the new direction I could give my writing career. Then I was told I had high blood pressure. I was knocked back a lot. I’d always thought of myself as being pretty healthy, and I didn’t want to find myself endlessly swallowing pills. I wanted to be able to help myself. I knew that TM was supposed to be good for hypertension, so this time I took steps to find out more. I went to an introductory talk and frankly was not impressed. The charts seemed somewhat unscientific. The claims being made by the course tutor became more and more outrageous to my cynical frame of mind. On the other hand, the introduction did clear away several misconceptions I had about TM – misconceptions that are quite common. I was pleased to discover that I would not be sitting around cross-legged – which I was finding increasingly difficult for my age. Nor would I sit surrounded by incense, chanting “OM”. So, overall I was a bit disappointed, but I yearned for that state of calm that TM seemed to hold out for me to take.
I can now look back after eighteen months and ask myself was it worth it the time and the money.
Soon after I had started meditating regularly I had an appointment with a heart consultant at our local hospital. He told me to watch my diet, of course, and to take regular exercise. “Meditating helps too,” he added, and I thought: been there, done that! So looking back, oh yes, certainly worth it. In fact the very idea of even asking “is it worth the cost?” now seems ludicrous and pretty beyond belief. Like all things in life, there are good sessions and “poor sessions”. The strange thing is that even the poor sessions leave me feeling positive. I resent it when, for one reason or another, I miss a session. Sometimes my head feels so full of junk I wonder why I’m bothering to sit there. And then there are the times when I seem to suddenly plunge effortlessly into nothing. It might last a second, maybe a few seconds, but the effect is that you are left feeling you have touched something so without substance, so without meaning, without allegiance, stripped of purpose, stripped of words, numbers, signs – something that just “is”, in a truly benign and sublime way.
I could go further and say that any living thing seems to have access to this state – a blade of grass, a human consciousness – but then you’d say once a hippy, always a hippy. If only TM could cure baldness as well. – Jeremy Strong