Release Stress Through Meditation
Posted Jan 3, 2009
For people returning to the New Year's resolution well this year, a transcendental meditationist might suggest getting in the bucket and riding it to the bottom.
"We say that the mind is like the ocean," Susan Wilbert said of transcendental meditation. "The ocean has an active surface level with waves of activity, and it has a deep quiet level."
And to get to the deep ocean, transcendental meditation asks its practitioners to focus their minds on a mantra that can be a sound, word or group of words.
"It's a simple mental technique that allows the mind to settle down," Wilbert said of transcendental meditation (TM to the faithful). "And because of the intimate connection between the mind and body, when the mind settles down, the body settles down too and gains a state of rest, and with the rest, deep-rooted stresses are released."
Wilbert has practiced transcendental meditation since the early 1990s and is now a TM instructor in Charlottesville, where she regularly meets with a group of roughly 20 for meditation, she said.
John McCullough began practicing transcendental meditation twice a day -- for about 20 minutes before breakfast and dinner -- 17 years ago in college when he said he was routinely sick and having trouble sleeping.
"It was like coming out of a desert," McCullough said of his life after taking up the practice.
And he can meditate almost anywhere, he said.
"I have some really fond memories of meditating on the Red Line going home," he said of the six years he worked and lived in New York City.
Wilbert's husband, Gary, began practicing transcendental meditation in 1971 in the years shortly after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi --the father of TM -- caught Westerners' eyes during his stint as guru to the Beatles.
Movie director David Lynch ("Twin Peaks") is perhaps the most visible face of transcendental meditation today.
"I didn't want to experiment, I didn't want to be caught up in the next fad," Gary Wilbert said of his introduction to transcendental meditation. "I wanted something that had been around a while and I wanted something that had tradition, and for me that was significant."
John Schorling is director of the University of Virginia's Mindfulness Center where meditation is taught and used to treat illnesses. Schorling said studies have shown meditation helps relieve stress and alleviate chronic pain.
And while the center does not use transcendental meditation techniques, and Schorling said he could not speak to its benefits in particular, he did say meditation regimens, in general, are gaining popularity among health care providers and the public -- even gaining acceptance among some insurance companies.
Transcendental meditation became popular in the 1970s with Page Latham, who uses it to balance her family, work and personal life, she said.
Today, Latham said she prefers meditating with Susan Wilbert's group as often as she can, but also enjoys the solo, twice-daily meditations that are now a part of her life, and which she's introduced her mother to.
Latham said meditation clears her mind in the way a plow clears snow from a road.
"I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a really great tool for living," Latham said.
Dec 27, 2008
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