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“How Transcendental Meditation Changed My Life”

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This was written by Madison Stephens, a New York-based fashion blogger. It first appeared on Refinery 29.


Last week, with a nightcap of Bellocq White Wolf tea and my daily viewing of David Lynch’s cult ’90s classic Twin Peaks, I watched as Agent Cooper sat up in bed, slowly opened his eyes, and spoke into his perma-accessory, the recorder: “Diane, it’s 1:17 PM. I’ve just concluded my second meditation of the day in lieu of sleep, and I feel completely refreshed, and struck again by the realization that all of us on this great big planet earth live at only a fraction of our potential.”

Typically Lynchian, yes, and thoroughly transcendent.

More than mere character building, the scene is a curious reference to Transcendental Meditation (TM), Lynch’s number-one passion, and of critical worth to me. Confession: I am a lifelong Transcendental Meditator.

I Instagrammed the scene, chuckling at the not-so-subtle nod to my twice-daily habit, a technique I’ve practiced regularly for nearly my entire life. The fifth of six children, I grew up the daughter of a TM teacher who’d turned to the practice following a brief stint as a green beret circa the Vietnam War, and — in the flower power days of Donovan and the Beatles caravanning through India — was so powerfully impacted that he trained to be an instructor. He passed the technique onto his children; I began my own practice in elementary school, with 10 minutes of quiet time in the morning and during recess, during which I’d repeat my unique, personal mantra (assigned by my father). This later became 20 minutes both morning and night during my teens and into adulthood.

As a child, I noticed that TM improved my general well-being: it helped me focus and made AP Calculus bearable. I set my sights on fashion journalism at 14 and never looked back. I meditated extra when I was sick, and with purpose when I was preparing for a track meet. It didn’t define me, but it did refine me — molding my character into a being that can inhabit what meditators call “pure consciousness,” a personal transcendence from the world around you. In this state you enter into a plane of inner silence and enlightenment, which is where TM differentiates itself from other forms of meditation. All meditation shares common goals, one of which is to reduce stress. But, TM has established itself as a real catalyst for metamorphosis, one in which the meditator is transformed not only in a metaphysical way, but in measurable cognition and overall health.