I’m on my 55th day of practising transcendental meditation. So far, so good.
The initial lure was, above all, the prospect of being happier and more creative at a testing time in my work life (blog 200). Because those two concepts are wide-ranging and vague, I’ll try and pin down some precise ways in which the TM has kicked in.
A greater positivity in my dreams has stood out. For decades, my dreaming activity has tended to be plagued by never-ending pressures, blocked by barriers and limits, and invaded by hordes of inimical and often dangerous people. In less than two months, that has turned around, although not entirely. Had a helluva dream last night, in which my legs drove a car away from the rest of my body, until my head decided that the distance between the two was a worry.
More generally, I sleep better, and often awake with joyous feelings, hands fizzing with energy, and upbeat thoughts about how the day could transpire.
Creativity? Yes. I have begun rewriting Out of Essex. The process makes me ridiculously happy, as new ideas pour in. I delight at many of the old ones, which stand in no need of alteration, making me grin immodestly at the wit and chuffed at the unique storyline, especially about money and debt, which no politician ever dares address.
Another plus is a greater certainty about decisions. They are easier to make. I have been approached by a finance company based in Canary Wharf, asking for help in their PR efforts. I was very frank with the guy who asked. Stressing that I will not engage in ‘bigging up’ for any company, unless it is based on facts and figures and a certain objectivity. He remained interested, but we may have parted ways when I was insistent that travelling into London is tedious and time-consuming, and asked if it could be kept down to a minimum. I pointed out that there is enough electronic communication technology to allow me to work remotely. He has backed off. Not sure if that is for the good, but it was interesting how I stuck to my guns with less stress than in the past.
Some little things have also caught my notice. Adverts on the TV used to irritate and annoy. I honestly don’t want any of their shit. Nor do I subscribe to the message of ‘normal’ consumers that is pumped in below the surface. ‘This is how we are, and how you should be’. No thanks. Yet suddenly I have found myself sitting placidly through the 5-minute (yes) breaks, seeing the odd chunk of humour, and being far less inclined to curse the actors.
I am very grateful for something else. Maureen has a long-standing cough that can persist on bad days. At my most fragile, it can set my ears ringing, and my stomach swirling. And now it is less invasive. Sometimes I hear it as just another background noise.
Maureen seems to have hit a new stride in the past couple of months. More determination to jump into the faster stream of her artistic and crafting talents, more inclined to detach herself from the UK’s political and social mess, which winds up anyone who pays excessive attention. She has come off Facebook, and stayed away, after previous cold turkey attempts.
To see my wife follow these instincts is the most delicious thing. Is that linked to my changes? Who knows?
Maybe in parallel, one of my friends who practices mindfulness, John Madden, suggested that we form a new WhatsApp group with a third mate, Tony, who is plugged into the ‘Headspace’ meditation app. We call ourselves Men Behaving Mindfully. And share our experiences.
With a grin, I can also relate that West Ham are performing superbly this season, as well as I have ever seen in my 50 years and more of supporting the Hammers. Is the team’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini, a fellow TM follower?
In terms of the meditation, I have begun to own it. The initial advice and teaching was sound, and worth my outlay. In my opinion. But one of the things that has crept in subsequently is a promotion of ‘advanced courses’, in exchange for bigger sums of money. You have to distrust that.
Furthermore, I’m not reluctant to tweak the meditation techniques. I know it sounds potty, but the week leading up to each full moon can pull my moods all over the place.
In the days before the most recent one, on 14 September, it was as if something had locked down my ability to go deep. Every time I meditated, everything stayed on the surface. We were told not to strive, but rules are sometimes there to be broken.
A sexual image came to mind, and I stuck with it, rather than letting it pass. It turned me on, and I felt the blockages fall away. The energy flowing again, from my head down to my groin, and back. I use the trick now whenever the meditation feels ‘stuck’. It’s fun, and effective. And it’s my way.
It pushed me to read some of the available Internet comments on TM. That was fascinating. There is enough teaching and instruction out there for anyone to start TM on a DIY basis, without handing over any dosh. Nonetheless, there is a part of me that appreciates being taught the basics.
As things stand, there is no reason not to maintain TM, twice a day, for the rest of my life. It works best on an empty stomach, and occasionally the day flies by and I forget. The evening sessions that result never feel as useful. The recommendation, if possible, is to build in regular slots at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Not sure that is for me, as my days have no great rigidity.
Summing up, the days feel brighter, even as the autumn darkness comes winging in, and the financial pressures persist.