onsdag 2. september 2009

Why I quit Transcendental meditation

My experiences and opinions on TM (Transcendental Meditation)

To make a very long story short:

I was first introduced to TM when i discovered that David Lynch (one of my favorite movie directors and idols at that time) had started a fund called the david lynch foundation. The fund is raising money to get TM teachers to learn students and teachers at school all around in USA to meditate. The schools in which the meditation is taught are schools that have students with poor grades and a lot of social stress. The meditation has apparently eradicated the social stress and the schools are now working better than ever.

I of course became interested in this so-called transcendental meditation, or TM for short. But it took me almost 2 years before I decided to take the course. The price for TM was at that time what would be 1 687 dollars in the USA. I was puzzled by such a high price for a simple meditation course, but research was done on TM that said that TM was more effective than other meditation techniques.
I also thought that I just had to actually experience the meditation in order to understand why the price is so high.

The TM technique is based around repeating a so called “mantra” effortlessly in your mind. A mantra is a verbal sound which the TM organization claims to be meaningless, but apparently they are names of hindu gods in sanscrit. Some are even short prayers.

Some things the TM organization promises about its technique is that it’s a simple, effortless, technique that requires no religious belief. The TM organization claims that TM has been researched by around 600 independent universities and/or research centers. Another reason for the high price is that when you do know how to meditate, it lasts for the rest of your life, and you can better yourself more and more by meditating each day. Other things are less addiction to drugs, better sleep, etc…

So, after 2 years of thinking, I decided to do the course. I did not care anymore, I wanted to get rid of this constant depression and anxiety that I had at the time, and I wanted to feel that “happiness” that every TMer was talking about. There was no TM-centers around where I lived, so I had to travel to the capital state of my country where they had one. At that time the TM organization had started a 50% sale for those who are students, meaning I only had to pay 843 dollars instead of 1687. That of course was a pleasant surprise.

The course was about 1 week. There was first an introductory lecture where all the participants of the course were. Then the next day I pay the fee, and then its was only me and my teacher, as everyone is taught individually. The teacher explain to me about the technique an its origins, and then the next day the teacher taught me how to meditate. She also explains that I must not tell my mantra to anyone, or use it verbally. She never explains what the mantra actually does to your mind, and that its a secret. I never questioned why they kept it secret even from me.

Before I received my mantra. The teacher carried out a ritual where the teacher singed a song in sancrit, and we both had to bow down to a picture of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the TM organization. She then gave me the mantra and then we sat down and meditated with it.

When I walked out of the TM center after meditating for the first time, I noticed that I had a certain relaxed attitude. What i noticed later that day was that my shyness was suddenly completely gone.

This was an incredible experience for me. It was like I was a new person. The person I always wanted to be. I could go around and talk to people and be myself much more than before.

So… was it worth the money? The disappearance of my shyness was a great thing. But at the time I didn’t really know what to think about that question. Some part of me suppressed it. I didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted to feel this great liberation that TM gave me.

Then the next time I meditated, I was at my friends house which I lived in at the time I was in the capital. I started getting headaches, depression and drowsiness, and first sign of a condition called “depersonalization” or DP for short. DP is briefly explained, a feeling of detachment from reality. My surroundings feel unreal and distant, and I still have this feeling (google it to find out more about it). I of course got scared because of this. The next day I asked the teacher about it, and the teacher explained that it’s probably a tension release, and its very usual when people begin to meditate regularly. Its not dangerous, in fact its means the meditation is working and these feelings will eventually pass. For some strange reason, I didn’t mention the DP (I didn’t even know at the time what It was called), I sort of suppressed that I felt like that aswell. I only wanted to feel happy.

The teacher had mentioned tension releases earlier, but that was AFTER I had paid the fee. I had never heard of such a thing called tension release before the course. Another thing I was introduced to after paying the fee was yogic flying, and a little thing called “enlightenment”. I’ll talk about that later. But anyways I became suspect of their tactics of not telling me these thing until after I’d paid the fee.

So then the course was finished, I thanked the teacher and headed back to my hometown. I then proceeded the days with 20 min. of meditation twice a day. First in the morning before school at 8 AM, and second before dinner right after school.

As a person who is usually getting up late from bed, It was extremely hard for me to get up so early to meditate. It certainly wasn’t as effortless and easy as they promised it was. But it was giving me a boost for the day, mostly. The shyness was still gone most days, and I was self-confident and usually very happy. But there were times when I wasn’t in that happy mood, and I also sometimes kept getting headaches, short depressions and drowsiness, and at these times I at once came to the conclusion that “the meditation isn’t working, and I’m doing the meditation wrong.”

I called my teacher, trying to verify that I was doing it right. All the teacher ever said in these conversations was: “Perhaps you’re not repeating the mantra effortlessly enough, either that or It could be a tension release, its hard to say. But these things will go away certainly.” That did not help me much, in fact it didn’t help me at all, and I was again puzzled by how little she could tell me about these things. The headaches didn’t prevail until months after I’ve started with the meditation. Before it prevailed my teacher suggested I should start taking some weird natural medicine pills she gave me for free. She also taught me some yoga but these things didn’t really do much good. The pills were a waste of time and did absolutely nothing good!

As the meditation was usually good, I thought I’d introduce this to my friends. I never really spoke of the times when the meditation didn’t work because I didn’t want to scare them away from it. I wanted them to start meditate as well, both for the fellowship and to acknowledge that “it was worth it”.

As you might understand I hadn’t really thought this through then, but I didn’t want to either. I didn’t want acknowledge that I Infact didn’t think TM was as great as I wished it would be. Besides I had paid a lot of money for the course, and acknowledging that the price wasn’t worth it, would mean all those money had gone to waste. Harder was it to aknowledge when some of my friends found out about another type of meditation called acem meditation. The course of acem meditation costs 124 dollars,

My friends invited me to a collective of people who meditated with acem meditation and I didn’t want to go because I was afraid of the truth. If I did, I’d probably see that these people manage to do it as good any TMer would do. My friends had commented on the inhabitants of the collective as very peaceful relaxed people, just like TMers.

I reacted to this with arguments like “TM is the most researched meditation out there. And it has been verified that TM is the most effective meditation technique, and therefore, worth the money “. I called my teacher and asked about acem and her argument was that acem hasn’t been compared to TM and that one wouldn’t know if it was just as good as TM.

At this time though my headaches had passed and I wasn’t drowsy or depressed, so I guess my TM teacher was right about the tension releases. I notice some people who have experienced tension releases ís using this as an argument against TM. But TM are in fact right about this. It will pass eventually, but of course its not easy to call TM an easy and effortless technique when this happens to you.

I finally started questioning the high price. I’ve been to an excellent yoga course in which the teacher asked for around 220 dollars, and the yoga teacher probably wore herself out more than the TM-teacher did.
The argument that “it last for the rest of your life” is also just stupid. I could say that about the yoga course as well, or any course that I’ve ever taken for that matter.

So I posted a thread on the facebook group “transcendental meditation movement” Where I said that “the price should be greatly reduced, because people with depression should be able to easily access this great phenomenon”.
I was polite, I didn’t swear or didn’t insult anyone. The thread was after a short while deleted by the administrator of the group. I sent him a message and asked why he deleted my thread, and at first he didn’t reply. I then after a few weeks asked him again. This is what he replied and I quote:
“do you meditate with TM?”
I answered “yes.”
He then answered: “ Then I probably have misunderstood you. I that case I’m sorry. To make a long story short, my opinion is that the price of the TM course should follow Maharishi’s will. I really mean that these things cannot be discussed. If you’ve meditated long enough, the price might as well be 15000 dollars or 2500 or 23 dollars, which is what I paid for the course.”

I replied:
“Well I can agree that the price was worth it, but a suggestion from me is that those who are depressed could probably have a hard time making money for the course. They should get an offer and pay less for the course than those don’t suffer from depression so much. When you have such a thing like TM that drastically help people so quickly and different from the other methods that are used, why not make it a goal to help them who needs TM the most?”
He relpied:

“I agree, and we had that kind of offers earlier but Maharishi changed the strategy completely. I don’t know why he decided to higher the price, but i trust that it’s a good reason for it, that put the whole development of humanity in perspective.
I don’t want to speculate in details, because its only Maharishi how knows the reason for the decision.”

I replied:
”Well don’t you think that’s kind of mindless to just follow Maharishis orders like that? Isn’t that what he is encouraging, to think for yourself?
I just think that its a bit scary when my opinion is deleted from the forum like that, it make it seem like I’m doing something wrong in thinking freely and saying what i mean.”

He never replied back to that last message.

At this point i realized how I was suppressing issues about the organization, and that I also wasnt the only one either. I was going to an extremely hard time of depression and confusion. On one hand I felt betrayed by the organization and my idol David Lynch, on the other hand, TM certainly had done at least some good things to me, and I didn’t want to loose it because of that, and because I wanted something good to believe in.

Later I took the course for Acem Meditation in my hometown.
It turns out that Acem (the name of the organization behind acem meditation) is actually an organization which was cooperating with the TM organization 40 years ago. Acem is an organization inside the norwegian academy, and it taught TM to students there. When the TM organization hightened the price, the acem organization was outraged and split from TM. Acem is now its own independent organization and is based purely on ideals, not on making money. The fee as i said earlier is 127 dollars, and instead of trying to connect meditation with quantum physics, they connect it with the obvious: psychology.

After taking the course I felt a huge liberation. I was free from the cult that is TM, yet i could still meditate once in a while if i wanted to.

Ive now stopped meditating completely even with acem. I still have DP. I also have a weird cronich coughing and sensation of having to urinate all the time even when i dont have too. These symptoms have stayed even long after i stopped meditating, which is about 4 months ago. I think the DP has started to wear off, very slowly. I’m left with a major spiritual confusion because of TM. I don’t know who I am anymore. Am I the ”new” me that came when i started with TM? Or is the ”real” me the person that was anxious, depressed and sad before i started with TM? Should i still love David Lynch for his great movies, or hate him for what he did to me? Does these questions even matter? Is it good to meditate or is it not? Should i call my TM-teacher and curse her to hell, or is it a waste of energy?

I could come up with a million more questions that has troubled me this whole year. Bottom line is, meditation is probably great for someone, TM is an overated, overpriced technique thaught by a fascist, cultish organization which tries to bring pease to the world with mindcontrol. But as Albert Einstein, the guy who first came up with the unified field theory which now the TM-organization now uses, once said: ”Peace cannot be kept by force, It can only be achieved through understanding.”

Thank you for reading.