“I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath.” —David Lynch.
My story, in short, is that I have suffered from depression and anxiety my whole life. I’ve been slowly dying inside since I was a child, but after a lifetime of medication and therapy, self-help and self-destruction, it was time to add something new to the cure. I would try anything for even a little relief.
Wait, did I say cure? They say it’s not possible. They say mental illness cannot be cured, but only treated.
I can only describe my experience with the racing thoughts of bipolar disorder as walking into a room with a hundred televisions, all tuned to different stations. Or like a lightning cloud filled with a thousand flickers and
June 6, 2015: Day One
After just getting home from learning the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, I feel changed. The process and results were subtle for me. Not quite as dramatic as David Lynch described his first experience as akin to being in an elevator and having the cables cut. However, I’m not disappointed at all with my experience. I feel so much lighter and my brain feels softer.
I can tell you, what my experience was not is what I’ve read from a lot of critics. I’ve read entirely too much going into my training, but by trade I am information specialist. Of all the good and bad I’ve read, the good far outweighs the bad. If you’re interested in TM, don’t go looking for the craziness you’ll Google or you’re definitely going to find it. Although I feel bad if people really had these experiences, it was not my.
A lot of what I’ve read from the naysayers is that you can’t buy happiness, thus you shouldn’t pay to be instructed to meditate. Well, this is what my instructor has done for a living for more than forty years. You’re paying the instructor’s income and part of the fee goes to fund the teaching TM to those who cannot afford it on their own. You get what you pay for. You cannot just watch an instructional video online and learn how to properly meditate. This will not give you the results that millions have gotten from TM.
I will admit, my anxiety and racing thoughts were extreme going into this. But what was going through my mind at the time now makes me laugh. I’m not kidding when I describe my thoughts. At best I thought I would not be able to come out of the meditative state and my soul would leave my body and go to hell. At the worst I thought my instructor was going to reach over and cut my throat. When I closed my eyes I thought I remembered there was no doorknob on the door and I was convinced it was locked from the outside. When the air conditioner kicked on, I thought that poison gas was going to be pumped into the room. Thank God these thoughts faded as I continued to meditate and even as I type, my anxiety has not been this under control in as long as I can remember.
The instruction is very personalized. I was not made to participate in a religious ritual. I did not experience a splitting headache. I do not feel dissociated. I was not hypnotized and coerced into spending more money. I was not indoctrinated into a cult. This is not magic or evil. It is a simple technique to help quiet the mind. For me this first experience has unleashed energy, creativity, and bliss.
June 7, 2015: Day Two
I meditated for the first time at home on the evening of day one, after my post, and again yesterday morning (day 2) a few hours before my second meeting with my Transcendental Meditation (TM) instructor. In my day one post I mentioned that my first meditation was subtle, but David Lynch described his first experience as being wildly powerful. Don’t get me wrong, my first day was very powerful. I mentioned these differences to emphasize that everyone’s meditations will be different and after your four days of instruction, you’ll understand what to expect. I stress that this is a personal experience and it will vary from individual to individual. For the best experience, do not go into it with any expectations.
Having a history of drug use I can honestly say, this natural process is so much more powerful than any drug I’ve ever taken (and I’ve tried just about all of them) and after meditating you’re able to function to your fullest capacity, which is what I was always hoping for with each drug I took when in fact they always left me nearly incapacitated. I was always “chasing the dragon” and hoping for different and better results each time and always experiencing the opposite of what I expected. However, if you’re on prescription medication, do not stop taking your meds!
This is a wonderful addition to my mental health treatment and recovery. I can now say I have three treatment options: psychiatry, therapy, and TM. I’ve already been trying to exercise more, eat better, and stop smoking. Some say doing one thing at a time works best, but I believe doing it all at once works for me. This is another experience that varies from person to person.
Miraculously–or maybe it’s just quantum mechanics–I have had immediate results from TM, as promised. I would have written this post yesterday, but after meditating I seem to have more energy (positive energy, as apposed to what I call a “manic panic”) than I’ve had in years, so I spent the day cleaning my apartment. I looked around my apartment and said, “Shit. Look at this mess!” Like my eyes were open. It’s as if I’m just noticing the things I’ve been neglecting for a while now, due to my lack of motivation in the fog of depression.
I had a better sleep last night than I’ve had in years. And since starting TM I’m having no desire to smoke and, as I’ve said, I already had a strong desire to do other things to better myself. This all seems possible now. Stay tuned for an update later today, day three, when I go for another checkup and learn more about TM and meditate for the first time after working a full day at a fairly stressful job. Oh, and last night I even noticed that someone winked at me yesterday!! It’s true that what you put out there is going to come back.
June 8, 2015: Day Three
Sitting outside, having some tea, thinking about today… Day three. Amazing. I got up at 5:00 a.m. and did a meditation from 5:42-6:02. Then I remembered I hadn’t packed lunch, the cats needed fed, I couldn’t find my umbrella… Oh god it’s Monday! Yet none of this bothered me at all because all the clocks seemed to have stopped at around 6:15 and I had time to do everything. My day one morning meditation was the day I learned the technique. Day two morning was the first morning at home and the results were not quite as noticeable as today, although my anxiety, depression, racing thoughts… all gone. It just keeps getting better and better. Each time is a unique experience. Another reason to look forward to it!
I calmly made a salad, fed the cats, and never did find my umbrella. Walking to the bus stop in a light rain with my earbuds in, listening to Rósín Murphy’s new album, I felt like I was walking a few inches off the ground. I missed the first of two buses and instead of darting across 4 lanes of traffic, I just sang along to the music and made my way to the bus stop. Five minutes later I was on the bus, riding along, listening to music and looking at the window. I never noticed that or that or that before. How beautiful.
This was absolutely the smoothest Monday at work I’ve had in 13 years. Seriously, this was not another manic Monday.
After work I headed off to my third TM lesson. I learned a lot. Then came home, started cooking, the cats were doing figure eights around my ankles, the neighbor was blaring his music and yes, this was all starting to really bother me. Then I remembered, oh shit, I hadn’t meditated yet. So I turned off the stove, went into my bedroom, shut the door and off I went into my own depths.
My mantra is like a massage for my brain. I thought of that at some point meditating. I didn’t think I would remember it. So peacefully. So soft.
Oh yea, it’s not only day three my Transcendental Meditation course, it’s day three of no anxiety (except for a few hours yesterday after drinking some coffee for the first time in two weeks).
I’m excited for day four.
June 9, 2015: Day Four
Well, I just completed my Transcendental Meditation (TM) course today. It’s a little bitter sweet. I had literally been thinking about TM for years and went to the introductory lecture more than 10 years ago. I couldn’t afford it then, but saved up enough money to do it now and I did. I need to remember that just because the 4-day course is over, the “experience” is just beginning.
Also, I feel a little sad. Not depressed really, which I’ve always said is a state of complete dull-nothingness, which can make you sad and listless. And definitely no anxiety at all, for maybe the first time in my life. Maybe a few delusions, just glimpses of thoughts rather than full blown incapacitating paranoid obsessions. I see my doctor tomorrow. Maybe with TM I’ll need my meds adjusted.
I’m worn out. It’s been a long day. But I’m already looking forward to waking up in the morning!