Woman meditating

What To Expect From A Transcendental Meditation Course

In the 1960’s an endorsement by the Beatles was priceless. Anything the Fab Four did was sure to be imitated by thousands of young adults around the country, becoming an overnight sensation. In the 1990’s the same could be said of Oprah Winfrey. The daytime talk show host was said to have the “Midas Touch” when something earned her approval, taking the virtually unknown into superstar status. So, what happens to something that gets the thumbs up from both Oprah and the Beatles?

When the Beatles first sat down with the Maharishi in India in the 1960’s, Western attitudes about Indian spirituality would be forever changed. Since then, celebrities and common folk alike have been seeking the comfort of transcendental meditation. If you are pondering taking up a transcendental meditation course, here is a little of what you can expect.

What is Transcendental Meditation?
The transcendental Meditation technique, or ™ is a form of mantra meditation devised by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It involves using a mantra and should be practice 15 to 20 minutes a day. and is one of the most commonly practiced and researched meditation techniques rooted in Hinduism and considered a religious practice toward self development

Practice
The Maharishi believed “bubbles of thought are produced in a stream one after another” and transcendental meditation involved experiencing “a proper thought until its subtlest state is experienced and transcended. Practices include “unstressing” and teachers will instruct students to ignore random thoughts and “attend” to a mantra.

Mantra
Transcendental meditation consists of repeating a mantra while sitting with closed eyes and without assuming a yoga position. The mantra is known as a vehicle which frees the attention of the individual, allowing him or her to travel to a less active state of mental function.

Course Description
The technique is taught in a seven- step- course in a six -day period. It is taught in private or group instruction by a certified teacher. It begins with a one hour introductory lecture which discusses social relationships, health, and the promotion of inner and outer peace. The next part consists of a 45 minute preparatory lecture discussing the transcendental practice and its origins. During the third step, a private interview takes place in which the student and teacher get acquainted and questions can be asked and answered.

The next day, the student begin his first of three 90 to 120 minute teaching sessions. It occurs in a group setting and provides information about correct meditational practice for the individual student based on personal experience. On the third day, the focus is on development of higher stages of human consciousness, outlining the potential of mental growth. Meditators new to the program attend follow up classes to make sure they are practicing properly and to provide a chance for one on one contact with the teacher.

Is transcendental meditation for you? Let us know what you think? Could Oprah and the Beatles have it wrong?

happy optimistic woman

Optimism, Health, and Longevity

“There are only two things I love in this world: everybody and television.” This is a quote from Kenneth Parcell, the character played by Jack McBrayer on “30 Rock.” Every TV sitcom has its optimist. The against- the -odds type who insist on seeing the good side of every situation. On “Modern Family”, it’s Phil Dunphy, the lovable, if naive, father who says, “When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Life will be all like ‘what?!'” Then there’s Ellie Kemper’s character who plays Erin on “The Office” who thinks disposable cameras are meant to be thrown out before the film is developed and throws the camera in the bin with a smile on her face. Laugh at them though we might, it seems like these charmingly oblivious characters may be on to something. A longer life.

Optimism and Longevity
Researchers at Harvard University have found that a having a highly optimistic outlook may lead to a reduced risk of an early death from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. According to co-author Eric Kim, there are three possible explanations for the connection. ‘The first is that optimistic people just tend to act in healthier ways and there are a lot of studies showing that optimists eat healthier, they exercise more,” said Kim.

Another theory has to do with coping abilities. Optimists tend to accept disagreeable circumstances more easily and adapt accordingly. They are also more likely to seek support from friends and family.

The third, and perhaps most interesting, reason is that optimism has a direct impact on biological function and is associated with more antioxidants and less inflammation. The 2004 Nurses’ Health study measured the optimism level of 70,000 women by asking them questions about subjects including expectations, relaxation, and social activities. They found that the more optimistic ladies had an almost 30% lower risk of death from major diseases than the other women.

Can We Control It?
Researchers say that about 25% of our optimism is genetic and the rest is up to us. Kim says, “Some of it is within our control; some is not…” and, “some people just don’t want to be more optimistic-its a preference and I think we should respect that. I don’t think we should push it upon people.”

Increasing Optimism
If you are sworn to cynicism, you are not alone. After all, we all identified with Garbage singer Shirley Manson when she crooned about only being “happy when it rains.” However, if you want to take a page from the books of the Phil Dunphys among us, here are some ways to keep optimism in the forefront.

  1. Take some time before going to bed to think about everything you have to be grateful for.
  2. Keep a list of the kind acts you’ve performed.
  3. Separate the different aspects of your life; friends, family, job, relationship and jot down your version of the best expectations you have from each of them.
  4. Spend 20 minutes a day imagining what your life would look like if all these aspects lived up to those expectations.

If you are a real life optimist, we would love to know how you do it. Please send input and advice! We love to hear from you!