My grammar school friend was keenly aware of what was going on in the news and documentaries on Television and had heard about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The grandmaster who started a movement that promoted the teachings of his own ‘guru’ Jai Guru Dev and the technique he learned from him – Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started travelling around the world in the Spring of 1959 and later took the US by storm when it was reported that the Beatles and the Rolling Stones learned about TM from him. Personally, and some would consider this sacrilege, I don’t like the Beatles. They started making music when I was in my mother’s womb and by the time I heard about the yogi, I was sick of them. Growing up, they were played on the radio endlessly and ceaselessly and my early childhood ‘records’ or ‘albums’ were Disney songs and Mister Rodgers recordings. From there since I had older siblings, in grammar school I graduated to listening to Yes, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zepellin. I also played the piano so my involvement with music included playing Beethoven, Bach, Chopin, Mozart, and others, then to punk and new wave… I digress… Sure it helps when a high profile person shares the message of TM or the teachings of Jai Guru Dev of whom Maharishi was a student and took those teachings and spread them through the West. Who cares about the celebrities? Not me. The whole point of that ramble was to introduce you to my friend, the one who introduced me to TM in the mid-1970s.
Her name is Anne…then referred to as Annie… Devine. I always thought that is was really funny that her name was Devine. Even though it was spelt differently than the English spelling of the word divine, it seemed apropos. Curious though I looked up the meaning of her surname today and thought the Urban Dictionary’s definition was very positive and funny so I included that too with the ‘real’ meaning of her surname –
Devine – in the urban dictionary the ‘best’ definition of Devine says – dj: super fantastic; righteous!; pretty much the coolest ever. The formal meaning as a surname listed on the internet is – Ó Daimhín is one of several surnames derived from the Irish Gaelic that are now rendered in English as Devine. The root of this name is “damh”, which means an “ox or a Stag”. It is also used figuratively as “hero” – she didn’t even know she is one probably. I doubt she knows that she changed my life then.
When we were in 6th grade, Annie also participated in a project with me and 2 other girls creating a film about pollution. Watching it years later, it cracked me up to watch her years later in the film where she approached an older man on a bridge over the Hackensack River. Chasing him down she asked him about his opinion on pollution as he simply waved her off. Throughout the years, we were girl scouts together, and later we shared a corner as “Safety Patrol” assistants or aides or whatever you call children that help other children to cross the street close to school, amongst other activities. She is the person who told me about the Maharishi and gave me instructions on how to meditate based on what she learned at the time.
Process and Benefits
I remember her instructions – saying that we had to choose and recite a mantra as we sat quietly with our legs crossed and eyes closed. We were to put our hands in what I now know is a mudra with fingers together and repeat our mantra over and over again. Breathing and repeating the mantra for several minutes each day. Our mantra was never to be shared with anyone else and was supposed to be composed of 2 syllables (not exactly sure if that is a precept of TM but I like it, it worked for me). It was simple.
TM is taught as a technique and a specific process – certainly my vague instructions may not be what is taught but it has worked for me. I have experienced transcendence. That’s not a woo-woo sentence or some achievement it simply is what it is and during those moments, when it happens and it doesn’t always – it’s a beautiful experience.
On the simplest level the purpose of meditation for me is as a tool. To rest the mind and help synchronize both hemispheres of my brain (this can also be achieved with binaural beats but that’s too complex of a topic to discuss here. I’ll write about that another time.) But you should be aware that scientific studies have shown that TM has a positive impact on health and overall well-being. Do a Google search and you can find over 380 peer-reviewed scientific studies documenting its benefits which include stress reduction, cardiac health, reduction in substance abuse, benefits for special and remedial education to name a few.
There is never a drawback to actually practising a meditation technique. NEVER NO REALLY NEVER. It’s amazing! The only drawback is that formal training (not teacher training) in TM is pricey for anyone who cannot afford the fee for ‘training’ making it inaccessible to people who might benefit the most from it. At least that was the case in the US. Maybe they have some other policy now that offers training for a reduced cost or maybe they offer a sliding scale? However, more than 15 years ago, I looked into taking the class formally and although I don’t remember exactly how much the institution charged at the time, I do remember that it was a significant amount for the average person at somewhere from $1000 to maybe even $2000USD. I understand the value of paying someone to learn something. Still, I don’t think that a life-transforming process should be limited to people who can afford it. I realise that is was being taught in other institutions but for an individual to learn that seemed extreme to me.
I love and adore the teachings of the Maharishi, he was quite a charismatic being on top of being filled with love and light. Now you can watch many of his talks and lectures on YouTube.
Still, the idea of limited access reminds me of a story – Absurd Prayer the story goes like this –
One day Moses (the one from the ten commandments) passed a man who was praying. The man was saying such absurd things that Moses had to stop. What the man was saying was profane, sacrilegious. He was saying, “God, you must be feeling sometimes very alone–I can come and be always with you like a shadow. Why suffer loneliness when I am here? And I am not a useless person either–I will give you a good bath, and I will take all the lice from your hair and your body. And I am a good shoe-maker, I will make you perfect shoes. You are moving in such ancient shoes — dirty, gone completely dirty…. And nobody looks after you, my Lord. I will look after you. ”
This type of prayer he was doing! Lice?! Moses could not believe his ears: what is this man talking about?
“And I will cook food for you–everybody likes what I cook. And I will prepare your bed and I will wash your clothes. When you are ill, I will serve and give you medicine. I will be a mother to you, a wife to you, a servant, a slave–I can be all kinds of things. Just give me a hint so I can come…”
Moses stopped him and said, “What are you doing? To whom are you talking? Lice in God’s hair? Does he need a bath? And His clothes are dirty and you will clean them? And nobody is there to look after Him, and you will be His cook? Stop this nonsense! This is not prayer. God will be offended by you.”
Looking at Moses, the man fell at his feet. He said, “I am sorry. I am an illiterate, ignorant man. I have made it up myself and these are the things that I know. Lice trouble me very much, so He must be in trouble. And sometimes the food is not good — my wife is not a good cook — and my stomach aches. He must be also suffering. This is just my own experience that has become my prayer. I don’t know how to pray. But if you know the right prayer, please, you teach me!”
So Moses taught him the right way to pray, and he was very happy because he had put a man on the right track. The man bowed down to Moses, thanked him, tears of deep gratitude flowing. Moses left and was very happy. He thought that he had done a good deed.
Later when he was alone in the forest, a thundering voice came from the sky, God was very angry and said, “Moses, I have sent you into the world to bring people to me, but you have thrown away one of my greatest lovers. That man is one of the most intimate to me. Go back and apologize. Take your prayer back! You have destroyed the whole beauty of his dialogue. He is sincere, he is loving. His love is true. Whatsoever he was saying, he was saying from his heart, it was not a ritual. Now what you have given to him is just a ritual. He will repeat it but it will be only on the lips; it will not be coming from his being. Prayer is love.” 
I’m not trying to knock the organisation and it is good to have guidelines. I sincerely believe that everyone would benefit from learning and practising meditation techniques. But I cannot, not mention that aspect of TM. If poor families could benefit from the practice don’t exclude people…this is the same with ‘organic’ food it’s pricey and it doesn’t stop there.
Hope you enjoyed my story of how I came to know about meditation and TM and would love to hear from you in the comments – do you meditate? what kind of meditation do you practise? Or do you simply follow your own path of meditation? Have you tried TM?
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References: More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies were conducted at some of the many US and international universities and research centres, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, Yale Medical School, and UCLA Medical School.
 combined and rewritten from Osho Transformation Card and Osho Stories