Those of you who have come to know me intimately during the past seven years know that while my mind might often be lost to the pretty, what might be described as my spirituality has long been confined to my very personal sense of what it is to be home. I have never been drawn to religion. I have no hippie yearnings and much as I would like to say otherwise, intellectual reasoning tells me that here in this life we are alone: unaccompanied by ghosts, fairies or angels even if I do, purely for the sake of whimsy, keep two pots of rosemary at my back door to warn off naughty spirits... I pray only in the sense that I close my eyes and hope. On my behalf and that of others. Which just might be what prayer is I suppose, but it is not prayer in the traditional sense of the word. I have no faith in deities beyond that which I can see and touch and I have no tolerance for hero worship, beyond a deep rooted very personal sense of admiration and gratitude for Sarah Ban Breathnach's existence in this world, for it is she who shaped me beyond the lovely work my Mum had already long put in.
And so until now there has been ritual and celebration of my own divining. There has been book shaped support mechanisms. The act of writing as a means to understanding and the rolling about on an over-sized ball as the only possible means of aligning my body with my mind as I stretch and relax. And it has always, always been enough. Even on the days when I have wrestled with my conscience, my creativity and my sense of purpose.
I have long believed, you see, that I am enough. That I am strong. That it is ok to trust myself because my gut instinct is guiding me and the universe is holding my hand.
And now there is Transcendental Meditation. A means to an end that exists right there in my own head.
As you may know I was lucky enough to get a place for my little boy at The Maharishi School this term and part of the agreement as the parent of a child attending the school is that they too commit to understanding the act of meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence. So I agreed. Not because I believed for one minute that I would be able to sit still long enough to transcend beyond the busy, but because I wanted Finn to attend a school with outstanding results and a creative approach to the British School Curriculum. I agreed because I had to and I attended what strikes the newcomer as a rather intimate, extreemly beautiful, slightly bonkers ritual ceremony of welcome because I had to.
And my Mum looked at me sagely and expressed fears that I had joined a cult. And I panicked and googled the TM movement and discovered much that was both negative and hysterical about it and much, much more that was positive and inspiring about it: not least being the foundation David Lynch has created with the ambition to bring the gift that is Transcendental Meditation to schools and prisons across the land. I read and I read and I read. And then being me, I bought a book, and Dr. Norman Rosenthals' Transcendence confirmed what I had come to understand during the initial four days of the TM course: that it is no more sinister than taking a long hot bath at the end of a long day. That it is a physical act we can choose to undertake to quite our mind and sooth our bodies. And that is all.
Meditating for twenty minutes twice daily has very quickly become essential to me. Not because I have yet experienced transcendence, but because the transcendental method of meditation allows to you blow away your very own fuzzy-wuzzy cobwebs with almost no effort at all: hence there is no sense of ritual beyond that which you yourself choose to bring to the act, there is no recommended position or place in which to meditate, no dictatorial insistence that one must banish all thoughts (impossible methinks... and then maybe less impossible than it initially seemed), no concentrating on Budda, counting breaths, taking yourself off to "happy place" and no ommming. None. Nothing like that. Just the simple act of sitting down quietly, closing your eyes, silently repeating your mantra until is more a feeling than a word, and allowing thoughts to drift in and out of your mind without getting het up because you have convinced yourself that you ARE NOT ALLOWED TO THINK.
And then you get up and get on with your life, refreshed. Energised. Calm and clear-headed. No. Really.
See here's the thing, I no more want to shove Transcendental Meditation down your throat than I want to insist you drink Actimel for breakfast or take magnesium to help you sleep. I only know what works for me, and I am a great beliver in the fact that life is a series of experiments we undertake to find our thing... the right hairstyle, the supplement that stops our tummies bloating, the book that will change the direction of our lives, the therapy that will finally let us release whatever it is that has kept us tied up in knots.
And to my astonishment Transcendental Mediatation is one of my things. It clicked with me. And with Rich, who has also done the course. It clicked because it is nothing more than the gentle act of learning to hush our noisy selves. And for all those detractors out there, I can only say this: there is a difference between learning what is essentially a new, well regarded, beneficial skill and choosing to embrace all aspects of the Maharishi community. Where we draw the line in terms of ayurvedic lifestyle and the much laughed at business that is Cosmic Consciousness and Yogic flying is entirely up to the individual and is in no sense obligatory to those who only want to experience what it is to not have one's mind buzzing with worries and hurries for forty minutes of every day.
So though I will of course share my own experiences of meditation from time to time (and will next week describe the process and feelings particular to TM), I do not intend to be evangelical about it, here on BrocanteHome, anymore my darlings than I am ever evangelical about any of those things that work for me, and quite possibly for me alone.
We are all different. I respect that. Transcendental Meditation happens in our own minds and as such it is an intensely personal experience I can't fully explain but now absolutely trust to offer me the kind of home within my own head I have long been searching for within these four walls.
A place where ideas I have been rooting for softly float to the forefront of my mind and some sort of bliss (or the wooooosh, as Richard describes it) washes over me like the cosiest of fleecy blankets...
All that and the love of my life, Russell Brand loves it too!