Sunday, November 2, 2008

Transcendental Meditation


Do you know about the Transcendental Meditation technique? When I was a 20 year old college student, living in the Stars Hollow town of Coronado, I started working for Dr. and Suzie Averbach as a vegetarian cook and caregiver for their baby girl, Sara. I found out about the job in the classified section of the Coronado Journal and the idea of cooking for a family seemed like a break from my usual stressful I-need-to- be-validated career-path work. In the interview, I said that I was soon to be married and I wanted a job where I could learn how to live a wholesome vegetarian lifestyle. Suzie was pleased to find me; she was sure that her meditation practice (vibration) had sent me to her, and I was excited to be in a home where I could be an apprentice to these family life skills. After working there for some months, watching the baby when Suzy would go to her room to meditate, cooking vegetarian recipes with a cookbook in hand, and learning how to make Friday celebration Jewish food, Suzy invited me to undertake Transcendental Meditation classes at the center. I would work off the hours to cover the expense of two tuitions, one for myself and one for my new husband, Wendell. Suzi and her husband were in the TM-Sidhi program, i.e. advanced yogis within this scientifically based spiritual path. Usually, when she was meditating, I would hear a plopping sound on the floor where she had a thick foam mat that she meditated on. I later realized that she was practicing a technique that was ridiculed by the skeptical, and was sometimes referred to as the flying yogi practice. I could hear Suzie's body fall after it levitated up and bounced down repeatedly while she was meditating.
The primary TM method involves a sound meditation mantra that you repeat two times a day for about twenty minutes. I had heard that the Beatles met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, though Suzie indicated that this encounter harmed the TM organization, still I was curious about what they experienced. What was appealing to me about the technique was that it was results oriented, scientifically validated and proven to create an increased ability to concentrate, lower overall stress levels and create harmony between people. They showed the beginning meditators various charts which focused on medical data that demonstrated improved health in meditators and statistics that proved a decrease in crime in areas surrounding a community of meditators. These lessons were given to convince the students about the efficacy of the TM method. However, I already understood that this method helped to control emotional reactions in my family life apprenticeship.

I found it endearing and humorous how Suzie handled the normal problems of life. She was frugal but as professionals neither she nor her husband had time (or skill) to manage car repair, yard work and other tasks. Sometimes, I drove her and Sara to the Volvo mechanics in National City to do the most rudimentary work, such as an oil change, air filter replacement, threading a special buckle through the safety belt for the baby seat. The mechanics saw her coming- a rich, short Jewish white lady, and it seemed to me that their hourly rate would increase with every minor request, "Could you tighten the screw on the door handle and fill the tires to the correct amount of air pressure?"

When they were finished, Suzie would look at the man and discuss the bill in the most level headed manner. She did not lose her temper when the bill reflected that she had just paid the full labor rate for those minor tasks. She would go over all of the charges and see if there was any way the bill could be adjusted. I would try to keep my face blank so as to not reveal my surprise when they charged her for those simple tasks; innocently, I asked why her husband didn't do that work himself and I mentioned that I knew how to do some of those tasks-I could help her. But she explained that safety was important and it was better to be sure that the work was done by a specialist. She said her husband was busy with his patients and she was responsible for the household management, which included the car maintenance. Suzie had a master's degree in interdisciplinary studies but she embraced her role as a mother. She ask me,"Is there a greater honor than to be a mother?" I loved Suzie but I was sure that we didn't swim in the same stream. Appreciatively, I would learn everything I could from her and some things I just had to let slide off me.

As a wedding gift, she gave me The Science of Being and Art of Living by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in which he explains how the subtle levels influence the body, mind and community and which lays out how meditation influences this layer of energetic manifestation. I routinely practiced the technique while incorporating hatha yoga, walking and running to my weekly routine. By being in close proximity with a regular meditator, I learned to let go of my judgment of others and accept difference in perspective. I saw how Suzie's husband maintained his Jewish faith, meditated and worked long hours. He doggedly struggled with Mexican patients who would not follow his directions (particularly with antibiotic prescriptions) and they would return again and again with further complications. I noticed the families frugal daily lifestyle that focused on quality, longevity, and health by their little decisions such as buying pure un-embellished cotton clothing for baby Sara. Suzie, too, dressed comfortably and simply. Unconcerned with impression making, they covered their couches with mismatched but frequently changed sheets. Through an arrangement with the Coronado Hospital they were able to live rent free. They would accommodate Suzie's typical Jewish mother who often came to visit for a month at a time. She provided occasional and unwelcome but expected commentary on their lifestyle, though she, too, was a practicing meditator. I would hear Suzie tell her Mom, "Go outside, rest on a chair and meditate until you feel better." Her mother would look at me and say, "Do you think this TM works?" I appreciate Suzie for her insight, quirkiness and introduction to a more peaceful lifestyle. Thank you for setting me on the yogic path and introducing me to meditation.

1 comment:

  1. I found some information on the flying technique. It's curious!:

    "One aspect of the TM-Sidhi program is called Yogic Flying. During the first stage of Yogic Flying, the body lifts up and moves forward in short hops. Subjectively one experiences exhilaration, lightness, and bliss. EEG studies show that during this practice, at the moment the body lifts up, coherence is maximum in brain wave activity. This optimum coherence in brain functioning creates perfect mind/body coordination which is expressed by the Yogic Flying. When Yogic Flying is practiced in groups, this influence of coherence spreads throughout the environment, reducing negative tendencies and promoting positive, harmonious trends in the whole society."
    www.tm.org/sidhi

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