01/24/08 Transcendental Meditation
I am going downtown every morning after asana for a four-day course in Transcendental Meditation as taught by one of the initiates of Maharaji Mahesh Yogi. The course started with a Puja in the small room where we sit. The room is on an alley that runs between two large households. The dish station is there. A perfect India moment: Naraseema performs the puja, chanting, burning candles, blessing and offering fruits and flowers while two women have a heated conversation in Kanada outside the window, banging a host of stainless steel dishes in the clattering way only stainless dishware can. Couldn’t hear anything but the dishes and the high voices.
We each receive an individual mantra then, very simple. The meditation requires two twenty-minute sits every day, which is quite doable. I resonate with this technique more than any other I’ve been introduced to. The instructions are not to concentrate on the mantra, not to try to stop thoughts- not trying to DO anything except sit there. Rather than “repeat” the mantra, we “wait for the mantra” to come. The mind will eventually be attracted to the mantra more than the thoughts, and in this way, we drop in to meditation.
The meditation is followed by a 90 minute lecture/ question and answer session on Indian philosophy. Naraseema is a Brahman who began reading sacred texts and philosophy of all kinds at age 12. He has now been meditating for 35 years and sleeps an average of 3 hours a night. We can, he says, control the body’s dependency on sleep and food through yoga and meditation. I’m still working on that bit!