I began my practice of the Transcendental Meditation program on June 12, 1971. It was the last week of the last year of high school for most of my senior class, but not for me. I was bound for summer school, having failed the second semester of U.S. History for the second time. Actually, that was the least of my problems. My relationship with my parents, teachers, and fellow students was tense. My view of life and its possibilities was bleak.
At that critical stage of my life, I could only see two paths: the path of materialism and the path of intellectualism, but I had little desire to traverse either one. I barely knew what the word “existential” meant, but at the tender age of 17, I was having an existential crisis. I was quite certain that there must be more to life than what I had been living, but I couldn’t imagine how that might look or feel.
Very fortunately, some friends had learned the TM program earlier that year. I was an aggressively skeptical person in those days, but they were good friends and could see that I was suffering on many different levels. One of them told me I could be as skeptical as I wanted, but he was very sure that if I practiced TM, I would become much happier.
I probably could have opposed him in my usual way, but the possibility of escaping from the mire of my misery was so tantalizing, I couldn’t possibly object. He had hit upon my greatest weakness. And from my side, I certainly was ready for some new possibilities.
Almost forty years later, my first meditation experience is still a vivid memory: a pervasive silence the moment I set foot in the TM Center, which grew as I stepped into the instruction room and witnessed the ceremony of gratitude. Then there was the mantra, and the experience of a deeper silence than I had ever known before. In that silence, I realized that all that had gone wrong in my life, in time, would be put right. On a deep level, and for the first time in my life, I felt that there was great hope, not only for my future, but also for the future of the world.
Over the following weeks and months, a quiet revolution began to unfold in my life. I began to think thoughts and feel emotions that I had never experienced before. I began to enjoy the company of my family and friends. Music and art acquired a whole different dimension of meaning for me—a meaning that impacted my whole heart, mind, and spirit. Increasingly, I began to experience a depth of appreciation that no one could have convinced me even existed; a depth I could never have imagined before actually experiencing it for myself.
Today, forty years and nearly thirty thousand meditations later, that same silence continues to unfold in graceful and sometimes surprising ways. I am deeply grateful to God, and to Maharishi, for having guided me to this point in my life. May all of us, and all of humanity, merit that same guidance on the journey towards the unlimited potential of the human spirit.
Rabbi Alan Green attended the Transcendental Meditation program Teacher Training Course at La Antilla, Spain, in 1973. He received his rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in 1991. Since September 2000, Rabbi Green has served as Senior Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Winnipeg, Manitoba.