By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Our mind and body have always been interconnected, which is why most of the time, our body reflects our current state of mind and vice versa. We are more susceptible to sickness in times of stress and, on the other hand, our immune system functions better when we are calm and relaxed. This is why meditation, a state of calm and relaxation, has been a thousand-old practice that has worked for different people across races, religions, and civilizations. But in this day and age, when everyone is in a rush and anything can be done in an instant, can we still make time for meditation?
Apparently, Katy Perry, Ellen Degeneres, and Oprah do set aside time for meditation. As busy and hectic as their schedules may be, they set aside some time for it, and not just through an app, a book, or via YouTube. They all practice Transcendental Meditation or TM, once made popular by The Beatles and is now becoming more mainstream. And no, it does not require any app or gadget, it certainly is not a cult, and there is no required religion or age. TM is as simple as can be, requiring only 20 minutes of your morning and evening, sitting anywhere comfortable to chant a mantra and experience inner peace that reportedly has numerous health benefits, from relieving anxiety to enhancing creativity and increasing self-confidence. Contrary to its recent popularity, TM has been around since 1955. It was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian born as Mahesh Prasad Varma who changed his name when he became a Hindu monk and served for the leader of the monastery whom he called Guru Dev.
And although Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Guru Dev had Hindu roots, TM is not related to the religion. TM sets itself apart from other types of meditation as it does not involve mindfulness, concentration, or visualization, where you train or force your mind to focus and calm down, making it exhausted rather than relaxed.
With TM, the individual is taught to let go and let the mind naturally calm down with a mantra that can help the brain fall into a deeper state of relaxation. Compared to other meditation practices, TM is different such that it affects the whole brain (similar to being engaged in a hobby or sport) to work in harmony rather than just a part of it, thus resulting in less stress, clearer and better decisions, improved performance and alertness, and other health benefits like lowered blood pressure, lowered risk of heart attack and stroke, and controlled food cravings. TM practitioners are even reported to look younger than their counterparts! And with TM backed up by The American Heart Organization and more than 350 studies on the subject, it is definitely not just a hip and at-the-moment health craze.
Transcendental Meditation, in order to be effective, must be taught properly. Hence, no book, app, or online material can teach you best. A certified teacher can help you master the practice in a few sessions, and while it comes with a fee, a lifetime of health benefits is surely worth it. If you are interested in TM, there are also available teachers in Metro Manila. Try it out on your own and you just might discover that the key to better health might actually be all in the mind.