Transcendental Meditation — The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal
December, 2012. Five strangers meet in one of the old brick houses on Superior Street of Duluth, Minnesota. It’s awkward and energizing at once. We make introductions, then, we dive right in to instruction. We’re learning how to meditate in the Transcendental Meditation style, born in India and popularized by the Beatles in the 1960s. Apparently, Transcendental Meditation, or TM, was once a quite popular form of meditation but went out of style—replaced by yoga or other forms of quieting the mind. Anyway, we, the students, have heard about TM from various sources and are willing to dedicate money and five nights of our week to learn how to do it. At first it’s impossible to calm the mind. Too many thoughts encroach on what is supposed to be a deeply peaceful experience. But, after days of guided practice, we begin to understand the role thoughts play in meditation and how to shift them to the side in order to give the mind a much-needed break. At the end of our training, we understand the technique and can manage to reach a meditative state after twenty minutes— though it is hard. Our minds have been running a rat race for the past twenty, thirty, fifty years and we find it difficult to allow quiet to enter. Once reached, however, it is refreshing and calming.
I still practice TM today, although I do not carve out enough time to practice every day. Two of my fellow students are still dedicated to the practice as well. For a while we met once a week to practice together. But, life got in the way and meditation group was replaced with school, work, family…Life. The irony is that we sought out meditation because we all felt that life had taken a toll on our wellbeing. We are over-worked, over-stimulated, over-caffeinated, and our minds feel it—they don’t shut off, not for a minute. Meditation is a sweet release from the barrage of thoughts that plague our minds.
The TM movement was started by Maharishi Manish Yogi, an Indian physicist and spiritual teacher, and has found its way into lives all over the globe. In our globalized world, it is not absurd that five people should meet in Duluth to practice a meditative art began in India. We collectively search for cures to the ailments caused by our too-busy lives, and eastern practices—think yoga and acupuncture—often fit the bill. Cultures around the world are shifting from owning distinct identities to becoming multi-cultures. The United States, especially, is a melting pot of various cultures. One way we experience this—and one way I see it in my own life—is the adoption of eastern healing practices.
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The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Norway, northeastern China, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu