As someone who’s struggled to manage panic attacks and anxiety since the tragicomedy we all refer to as “the teen years,” I’m always in desperate search of effective (and let’s face it, cheap/DIY) stress management techniques. One avenue I’d inexplicably left unexplored was transcendental meditation — a combination of self-realization, mantra, and other yogic practices. TM is a simple, no-frills approach to existing in the ever-elusive *now* and becoming more in-tune with your body.
I began my foray into transcendental meditation two weeks ago, when I promised myself I’d integrate a 20-minute meditation session into my morning and nighttime routines.
Just like love and loss, embracing transcendental meditation was a five-stage process. Let’s break down my journey to spiritual equanimity, shall we?
1Struggle bus: party of one
My job is a chronically late cyclist’s dream thanks to a workday that doesn’t kick off until 10 a.m. and a bike commute that barely broaches 10 minutes. But for someone who biologically rejects wake-up calls — and opts to spend the wee hours of the night watching scary clown videos and trolling Reddit conspiracy theories — waking up early is a toil. My typical morning consists of slapping the snooze button a minimum of eight times, pillaging my closet for an inevitably weather-inappropriate outfit, and choking on spoonfuls of granola as I dash out the door.
During my week of spiritual awakening, I aimed to rise ‘n shine around 8 a.m. — hoping to meander into the day with a sense of inner-peace and the vitality to conquer my day. It was both a valiant effort and an utter failure: The first morning I tried meditating, I fell asleep on my yoga mat; and oh, how I wish I was kidding. It was truly my biological clock’s rock bottom.
A few conscious morning meditation attempts and one tipsy nighttime yoga session later, my mind began wandering away from my mantra. I allowed fidgeting and unhealthy thoughts to seep into my lil’ slice of serenity. I started creating mental to-do lists and allowing myself to listen to music during my meditation sessions, eventually unraveling into full-on internet cruising.
My aim was true, but the end result was far from that.
3Breakthrough of unbridled enthusiasm
After about a week of consistently hashing out twice-daily meditation sessions, I began to notice the benefits seeping into my work and personal lives. I felt rejuvenated and focused at work; I didn’t even need to chug my usual 30-ounce coffee to feel like a half-functional human being! I felt more in-tune and in control of myself than ever before, a refreshing feeling after a summer spent with an out-of-shape mind and body.
As the second week of my self-imposed meditation challenge began to dwindle, I started giving myself allowances; maybe a snooze button here, a “condensed” meditation session there. I was treading on a slippery slope and began free-falling back into my trademark hyper-stressed, emotionally frayed state. As the week came to a close, my morning was once again racing against the clock, leaving a maelstrom of burnt toast, smoking curling irons, and spilled coffee in my wake.
Upon realizing that a morning without meditation and a night without reflection was wreaking havoc on my ability to manage stressors, I re-upped my commitment to TM and reincorporated it into my daily habits. While embracing this ragtag mindfulness program of mine has been far from a smooth transition, I now realize that siphoning off time to spend on myself is essential when it comes to being a well-adjusted, self-loving human being.
Whether it’s a morning yoga session, thumbing through a book in bed, or hitting the pavement for a morning run, taking small moments and little victories will do your mind, body, and soul a helluva lotta good.