Meditation. The word is everywhere, many people misuse it and most misunderstand it. Folks think that it’s an activity. Yet, in order to meditate effectively, it has to be exactly the opposite of activity. The purpose of meditation is to reduce mental activity, do this and the mind comes ‘online’, it becomes orderly, settled and silent. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said, “Do Less and Accomplish More”.

To understand meditation and why it has a well-deserved reputation for promoting physical health, longevity, clear thinking and peace of mind, it helps to know what meditation isn’t. I’ve had scores of people over the years describe their so-called stress reduction methods and somehow refer to them as meditational. One guy told me he had “a handle on stress. Yep, I come home, pop a cold one, put my feet up and watch Sport. Very meditative.” That’s not meditation. That’s watching Sports and drinking. Others have said, “I have a recording of spacey, meditational music. I put my earbuds in and listen to that and meditate.” Got news for you. That’s not meditation. That’s called “listening to music.” And some say, “I’ll sit and focus on my breathing and think about the day.” That’s not meditation, either. That’s focusing on your breathing and thinking about the day. Going for a run-not meditation.

Meditation is a specific practice that enables the mind to transcend or go beyond thought, it coaxes the mind to let go of thought, to become a blank slate, absorbed in its own most silent state of wakefulness. If only for brief moments. A drop into thought-lessness results in a release from the world. As thoughts slow down, the body slows down. Physiological changes in the nervous system, neurological changes in synaptic connections, homeostasis is returned to mind and body. These results and benefits are automatic, effortless. That’s why I say that listening to a recording or doing anything that requires thought or even attention, defeats the process.

I’ve been teaching meditation for 25 years (TM), I speak with many people each week, most have tried a bunch of techniques and are still looking. I see the results of other meditation practices, each style of meditation has its own unique set of effects, beware…action equals reaction, if you focus, strain, try or force in meditation then you will increase these qualities in your style of mind outside out meditation.

Historically, over millennia, a seeker would spend years at the foot of a Master Teacher to learn something as powerful as meditation. Picture Tibetan monks in the Himalayas or rishis in an ashram or Taoist leaders with attentive students. Only after years of dedication would a student be instructed fully and find the true benefits of meditation. That changed in the 1950s. A physics student from north central India who had turned to spiritual regeneration at the side of a venerated Indian guru left his native country to teach meditation to the world.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi landed in Hawaii in 1959 and within five years had circled the globe five times, drawing crowds eager to learn what he named Transcendental Meditation. Perhaps it was the Maharishi’s background in 20th century science that gave him the tools to adapt an ancient technique to a modern world. Whatever it was, his methodology was embraced by a generation that was ready to learn. Within years, Maharishi graced the covers of Time, Saturday Evening Post, Look and major media. Celebrities, socialites and scientists visited his ashram in India. College students around the world flocked to his lectures and presentations. There is little doubt that single-handedly, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought meditation to the mainstream. He began personally training a small number of selected teachers to carry on the work.

Available to all. Since the early days of the Maharishi, the number of teachers and techniques worldwide has grown. Qualified teachers are available worldwide, including at the TM Centers here in Australia.  So too have alternative methods of learning meditation. Meditation techniques such as The Silva Method and Mindfulness Meditation draw from the Maharishi’s work. Though similar they are not the same, sharing some of the technique. Still, as in the words of that wise teacher I mentioned, “Transcending is like the ‘Cadillac’ of meditation training. When you learn properly, you know that you have learned how to really meditate.” Free Meditation Introductory Talks are available so you can check it out and get your questions answered before diving in.

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of meditation are well-documented. The list of celebrities, world-class athletes and successful businesses using meditation is long and entertaining. Just google. But that shouldn’t be the thing to get you to learn. It’s common sense.

If your mind is your single best tool to create change, whether it’s in the arena of wellness, performance, peace of mind or simply enjoyment of life, meditation is where to start. Insomnia? Meditation. Illness? Meditation. Weight? Meditation. There is no single thing in life that is not affected by the way we think and meditation is the most effective tool to adopt.

I’ve always maintained that unless a person is willing to devote 4% of their day (roughly 2, twenty-minute segments) to something that can change their life for the better, it makes me wonder if they’re really serious about wanting change. Or just want to watch sport with a cold one.

There are payment plans available to help defray cost of meditation training. But in reality, when one totals the amount of money spent on drugs, herbs, methodology, exercise, new years resolutions, books, etc in even a short period of time that hasn’t worked, then the investment in something that does, comes into perspective.