It seems that “Baby Boomer” Oprah Winfrey is going back to her Sixties and Beatles roots after featuring a program devoted to “Transcendental Meditation” – nicknamed TM by those who practice it – during Winfrey’s “OWN” TV show March 25 that now has many Oprah fans asking "what’s TM?” on numerous websites. In turn, Winfrey and other Baby Boomers - who are looking for answers about finding inner peace in a busy world - have turned to TM for its “mental and spiritual health benefits.” In fact, a signboard here in the post-Sixties Hippie town of Garberville explains “TM” by sharing a quote about the benefits of meditation from the Dalai Lama: “I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. By meditation, and cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.” Garberville, located amongst the Redwood forests of Northern California, is where many former Sixties “hippies” settled to “get away from it all,” explained one local during a March 24 Huliq interview at one popular “meditation center” that sits high in Garberville at nearly 6,000 feet above sea-level.
Overall, meditation is viewed as any form of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit, states a Garberville guidebook about TM.
How to do TM the easy way for better health
According to the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – who taught the Beatles how to do TM in the late Sixties – the “Transcendental Meditation” technique consists of “silently repeating a mantra while sitting comfortably with eyes closed.”
The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who died in 2008 at the age of 91, also shared in his widely published book about “TM” that this meditation “must be practiced for 20 minutes twice daily;” while the Yogi recommended that one does TM “once after waking in the morning, and in the afternoon before dinner, but not immediately before or after sleeping or eating.”
In turn, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi wrote in his book “TM” that the practice of meditation “should be easy and natural, with the mantra repeated with ‘gentle effortlessness.”
The Yogi also explained in his book how the “mantra” is used as a “thought” in the meditation process; and as a “vehicle that allows your attention to travel naturally to a less active, quieter style of mental functioning.”
Meditation viewed as a "daily task" by many Boomers
Those who practice meditation daily here in Garberville, and up the coast in TM-friendly Eugene, Oregon, describe TM as being a “subtle state of thought,” and also a “wakeful physiologic state of peace and happiness.”
Said one Boomer in Eugene: "I need to center before I go out in that word, and TM is how I do that. It's my daily task."
In turn, various reviews of TM over the years have compared it to deep “religious prayer,” and also good for health benefits because TM “seems to go beyond relaxation.”
Also, the health benefits of TM caught the attention of the National Institutes of Health that has spent more than $20 million in research since the early 1990s “on the effects of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular disease prevention.”
Moreover, both UCLA and Harvard University have published studies on the health benefits of TM in such publications as “Science,” and the “American Journal of Physiology.”
Beatles were into TM back in the day
The image of the Beatles sitting with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at Rishikesh, India, back in the spring of 1968, includes the view from John Lennon that they were there to “devote themselves fully to his instruction.” While Ringo left the TM training in India due to being “sensitive to the spicy Indian food,” and Paul McCartney also left after three weeks of TM training, both Lennon and George Harrison said they learned a lot about themselves from this TM training.
On the “Tonight Show” a few months later, Lennon also said that "We believe in meditation, but not the Maharishi and his scene.”
The Beatles later concurred that TM was good, but they were not so cool about the hanging with the Maharishi.
At the same time, both The New York Times and London’s The Independent reported how TM and the Maharishi’s teaching helped “wean The Beatles from LSD and inspired them to write many new songs.”
Today, it’s estimated that as many as six million people have been trained in the TM technique; including The Beatles, Oprah and many other well-known public figures.
Celebrities today sing TM’s benefits
In addition to Oprah singing the praises of TM during her TV show Sunday night, the Los Angeles Times pointed to filmmaker David Lynch – who created the “dark surrealism” of Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks – as crediting TM for his creative muse.
In fact, this March 17 L.A. Times report about "Catching the Big Fish," and the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education, describes how Lynch discovered TM. “I didn't know anything about meditation, and I thought it was a waste of time. Then I heard a phrase that true happiness is not out there, true happiness lies within. And I started thinking about that, and it had a ring of truth. It hit me that maybe meditation was the way to go within,” Lynch explained.
In turn, Lynch told the L.A. Times that: “I was filled with an anger and sorrows and doubts and melancholy. And I took it out on my first wife. I made her life pretty much a hell. So I start transcendental meditation, and two weeks later she comes to me and says, ‘What is going on? This anger, where did it go?’ Things lift away so naturally.”
Also, Lynch says “stress is hitting kids at a younger and younger age. There's violence, bullies, there's very little learning, and it's not fun to learn. [With TM] they get more intelligence, they have more creativity, more energy, more happiness, and then when the teacher says something, understanding is growing. The teachers say, ‘Now Billy can focus, and Suzy is just blossoming.’ Kids start finding what they really love and finding a way to do it.”
At the same time, Lynch told the L.A. Times that TM is so great because “you can do it anywhere. One of my best meditations was in kind of a little closet room with a wall that was by a sidewalk. All during my meditation, there was some guy jackhammering the concrete sidewalk. But as he jackhammered, it jiggled the bliss in me and I was just flying high. It was so beautiful.”
Image source of the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi sitting with The Beatles and their companions and other TM students during a spring 1968 "TM" visit to India. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_at_Rishikesh