There’s a practice out there for you.
Since I was a kid, happiness felt like a foreign experience. Something I always had to work harder at than everyone else. It just never seemed natural. More like a borrowed sensation that I knew at some point I’d have to return to its rightful owner. And when that time came, I wouldn’t protest. I’d let it go willingly; accepting that my brief moments in the sun had expired. I was ready for the rain, and the pain that I never felt much like feeling again but that was more familiar than the alternative. Sadness would often consume me without warning and for no particular reason.
At my lowest, I had just relocated to a new city. The novelty of doing so had worn off and my excitement faded. Absolutely nothing was going as I’d hoped or planned. Life rarely does follow our personal blueprint — But nothing? I couldn’t get a single thing to go my way? I focused on lack and basically hurled myself into a downward spiral.
I didn’t have thoughts of taking my own life. Yet, in this space I understood how someone could get to that point. I fully comprehended how you could just feel so overwhelmed that you can think of nothing but relief by any means necessary. I wasn’t there yet, but I had become indifferent. I didn’t care if I died.
This sadness was unlike any I’d experienced prior. Scarier. I was full-on depressed. I knew that it needed to be addressed and that no matter what was happening in my life I could not allow myself to fall to such a mentally and emotionally unhealthy place again.
I started to think of what I could do aside from medication that may help, and casually posted on Twitter a desire to learn to meditate. An acquaintance of mine responded saying that I should, and that he does. Next, he sent me an email detailing his reasons. The death of his father had crippled him to the point where for a period of time he could not even leave his home for fear that he might die. He had been dealing with severe anxiety. He told me that practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) helped him regain control of his faculties, and his life. I thought if it worked for him with such a paralyzing issue, surely it could help me be less sad.
I did some research in addition to the information my friend had given me and became even more open to the technique. TM is evidence-based, which is perfect for me as a person who is non-religious and a reluctant submissive to the unknown. All I had been shown as meditation growing up in my family was reading daily bible devotions and praying. I’m sure it’s an effective method for many, but I needed something else.
TM also doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting, like most other forms of meditation. Again, it’s all about learning a practice that works for you. For me, the idea of sitting crossed-legged, holding my fingers a particular way and chanting “Ommmm” felt extremely awkward. I enjoy yoga but that’s about as close as I get.
Eventually, I made my way down to a local TM Center to get with an instructor and learn more. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but only in the way that any new experience feels. There was nothing unnerving about it. The teacher asked what I hoped to gain from the meditation and I simply said, “peace.” I told her about my sorrow, how doing things that I loved, such as reading, had become laborious activities and I didn’t know what to do about it.
After a few guided sessions, I was released to continue on my own. My very first time meditating at home, water welled in my eyes and then overflowed. I wasn’t crying, I don’t think. It felt more like an external release of all that I had been carrying inside. I was in a state of relaxation that I’d never before been privileged to encounter. And when I opened my eyes I knew that I had found something. I knew I’d be alright.
After practicing Transcendental Meditation for about five years now, it has become my favorite part of the day. Since meditating, I’m often almost overcome with joy for things as simple as the sun shining when I walk outside. The stillness, being simultaneously present and unattached does something beautiful inside of you. TM isn’t a magic wand that eliminates human emotion. So, I still have days that are better than others. I still get sad like anyone else. It just doesn’t linger. And I’m able to feel elation and gratitude much more deeply.
TM changed my life, as it did my friend’s before me. My only motivation in sharing is that it could possibly change yours, or the lives of others in need, too.