Tag Archive Mantra

The Paris Method

Transcendental Meditation – The Game Changer

Roger Holmes No Comments

Transcendental Meditation is the game changer. Imagine a time when you were at your best. Now imagine feeling like that 24/7. While there are no magical answers to the question of how to be happier and more productive, Transcendental Meditation goes pretty close.

I was trained in the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) in Midtown Manhattan New York in the spring of 2017. Aside from a few celebrity testimonials (one of which, by Dr Norman Rosenthal, inspired me to take the training), I could not find much feedback from other practitioners. Having now practiced the technique regularly myself, I decided to share my experience.

A very poignant moment in a persons life. Source: tm.org

I was feeling slightly nervous as I walked to my first day of training in the practice of Transcendental Meditation in Midtown Manhattan. Crucially, I was also open to learning something new. That is key; not just for Transcendental Meditation, but for most personal development plans.

I attended Transcendental Meditation training each day for four consecutive days, and a had a follow up ‘check-in’ with my tutor a week later via email. By that time, I was enjoying the adventure of crossing the United States by train. That trip was conceived and enjoyed due to what I had learned and experienced the previous week.

I had already been meditating for around two years when I decided to embrace TM. Someone asked me if this now meant that I had given up on my own technique – The Paris Method. Far from it. I now use both. The Paris Method prepares me for meditation, but Transcendental Meditation literally takes me somewhere else. I am not even sure where. Probably, if I was forced to speculate, to the true self within me. It is certainly very far from my previous normal thought process. In fact there is no thought process – because there is no thought. That is the whole beauty.

Transcendental Meditation uses a silent mantra approach, which really suits me. Several years ago, I had struggled to meditate. I had (in ignorance) elected not to receive training in any meditation techniques for fear of further complicating the meditation process. I especially thought that TM would be too complicated. It was, I thought, practiced by famous and successful people after all. How wrong I was!

The Transcendental Meditation technique simplifies meditation. The TM technique is effortless. It is our own mind and our many thoughts which complicate things. I was also very skeptical of having to pay to learn how to meditate. I wondered why the TM endorsements were only from successful celebrities. I now wonder if successful people actually are successful because they practice TM!

I spent much of my life putting preconditions on my notion of what it was to be happy/successful/calm/more confident. If I had more money Id be happy was a very regular state of mind. If he/she did this/that I could get on with things, etc etc. Since practicing TM, that outlook has changed to something more akin to: Wherever I am now is where I want to be.

Regular practice of Transcendental Meditation brings a sense of purpose and awareness. It is certainly relaxing while meditating, but there is a sensory legacy throughout the day and beyond. I don’t even need to think about or understand that sensory legacy. What I do know is that I have felt a heightened sense of awareness and greater clarity. I am calmer, happier, and think in a much more creative manner. When I have creative thoughts, I am able to act upon them.

Another huge benefit is quality of sleep. Before practicing TM I constantly struggled to get enough sleep, or quality sleep. When I came to live in New York City, sleep was a huge problem. It was either too hot or too cold. The bed was too hard or too soft. The pillow too high or not high enough. I heard nearby sirens and airplanes. Since I was trained in Transcendental Meditation, I sleep within 10 minutes of going to bed – sometimes sooner. I honestly do not notice the temperature, the pillows, the sirens or the other things which ‘kept me awake’. I now know that it was my restless mind that kept me awake. Unless I am very tired due to physical exercise or work, I wake up feeling completely refreshed. Procrastination and feelings of lethargy are now the exception not the rule.

Previously I felt as though I didn’t have time to meditate. Now I feel that I don’t have time not to meditate. Transcendental Meditation is literally a ‘no brainer’, and that is what makes it so beautiful. You get to switch off, and tap into a level of consciousness that you can not otherwise experience – or benefit from.

A comparison of meditation techniques. Source: tm.org

Unlike other forms of meditation, TM requires no effort. Even Mindfulness, which is regarded as a simple meditation and awareness technique, asks first that you concentrate. When you concentrate, you are incapable of delving into the depths consciousness where true relaxation, creativity and sense of purpose stem from. With TM, you immediately move from ‘busy mind’ mode to a deep and meaningful state of consciousness. I love sitting down to meditate. I know that the most beautiful silence awaits.

Research is showing that TM can also help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and lead to other health benefits. And all for twenty minutes of effortless meditation twice daily. I sometimes wish I had trained in the Transcendental Meditation technique twenty or thirty years ago. Yet, I have no regrets; because all that matters is right now, so I am content.

I would stop short of making any wild claims about how Transcendental Meditation has completely changed my life. It has though, completely changed how I am enjoying and experiencing my life. I have never before looked at my present and future with such clarity and optimism. Having invested heavily in adult education for seven years to MSc level, I can honestly say that by far the best training/education I have ever received was the 4-day training in Transcendental Meditation practice. Transcendental Meditation for me, really has been a game changer. I hope you can try it too.

Trans Atlantic Cycle – The Highs and Lows of Cycling Across America

Roger Holmes No Comments

The title of this blog post is something of a misnomer. There are no lows; just calm periods that have the effect of making the highs more enjoyable. Im in Moab; a beautiful cycle-friendly town in south eastern Utah. Many who are cycling across America will pass through this little town. The landscape here is simply amazing, and the place has a real feel-good, laid-back vibe. There are dozens of cycle paths, dirt bike and ATV trails, and some amazing hikes through natural arches and canyons. But I’m just not feeling at my best today, and I’ve learned the hard way that it is okay to have days like these. Tomorrow is another day.

I made this video log when I was feeling the strain today. Its good to talk about this kind of stuff, as opposed to sugar-coating it.

I am tired, my digestive system is a little off, and I am certainly affected by the altitude, heat, and the number of miles cycled since I left San Francisco. In the past, a day like today may have tarnished the good times, but not now. I know it will pass. One of the best (and hardest) lessons I have learned is that when a down day comes, to realize that it is a passing moment, and it will indeed pass. Today, I was able to recognize that I am tired, and off-color, and so I accepted that the feelings I had were temporary. Self awareness is a game winning ace to pull from the deck on a day like today. I know that if I rest and refuel, that today’s worries will just drift away, as a cloud does when it temporarily blocks out the sun on an otherwise blue sky day.

I’d like to thank the girls at Bike Fiend, Moab, for not only cleaning my chain and checking the bike over, but for lifting my spirits when I walked in to their store in a very tired and weary state. I also need to thank Cheri and Jim in Minden, Nevada, who gave me kindness, hospitality, a bed, meals and some great encouragement. I just couldn’t have been treated any better, and that stays with you out on the road.

Cheri_And_Jim

Cheri and Jim: great people who really helped me in Minden, Nevada. That kindness stays with me.

I was also saved in the Nevada desert by twin sisters M and Liz, who I named my Desert Angels. I am still a little lost as to how to describe how far M and Liz went to ensure that I got across Nevada safely. Grace and Bob also extended some much needed generousity. I will be eternally grateful to these amazingly kind people. These were all random acts of kindness by strangers. I benefitted from American hospitality at its very best. Isn’t it ironic that I met such great people, and such good company on the ‘Loneliest Road in America’?

Long Road

It really is ironic that I met so many great people, who helped me so much…on The Loneliest Road in America

Trans Atlantic Cycle is incredibly difficult. It is okay for me to admit as much on this blog. Even if nobody reads this, just writing it helps to get it out of my system and allow that feeling to subside.

People have asked me what music I have been listening to out on the road. So far, I haven’t listened to any music while on the bike. I love music, and play bass and ukulele. But I haven’t played music yet while cycling across America, and probably won’t either. While doing something else (cycling), I prefer to be giving my concentration to what I am doing, what I am seeing and hearing as it passes by. Music would gradually allow my mind to slip from the present. Songs remind me of the past and give me ideas for the future, and thats okay. But right now I want to be aware of the present. I have meditated a lot while crossing California and Nevada. I have let go of a lot of negative thoughts and worries along the way – in a form of emotional littering. I like to imagine that any negative thoughts or feelings just flutter over my head and get left behind on the side of the road behind me. Without casting off some negative emotions, I cannot make room for newer happier feelings.

Rusty_Car

Some things need to be cast off and left on the side of the road. There, they can slowly rust away naturally instead of causing a wreck.

I try not to look too far ahead. All that matters most days is that I am moving. As long as I am moving I know I am working towards something. I need not be concentrating on what that something is, but when the wheels are turning, I am happy in each individual moment.

I have drawn parallels between cycling across America and life in general. When moving uphill, I am aware that my energy is being used at a higher rate. But I am also aware that the top of the hill is coming, and there will be a downhill sometime soon to balance things out. The last time I checked, the Pacific and the Atlantic are at the same level! I started at sea level, and I will finish at sea level, so the hills are balanced. Some days I cycle into a head wind. There may not be a tail wind to balance that out, and that is okay. Sometimes in life we just have to grit our teeth and bear into the headwind. When I happen to catch a tailwind, I make full use of it. The same goes for life. Being aware that things are good, and enjoying them to the maximum is important. Being aware that things are not so good, and accepting that they will pass is equally important.

Someone commented on social media today that after cycling across America, my life will never be the same again. Well, it is already different. Every moment brings change. There isn’t really a goal as such, just the progression towards something, and the awareness of each wheel turn along the way.

A_Sign

A ‘sign’ in a bathroom just as I was finally getting out of Ely, Nevada.

Today was a less than high day. But I still managed to make a little progress by sharing how I feel. And now that day is almost over, and tomorrow is another day. I have been using a few mantra’s during this Trans Atlantic Challenge as I have been cycling across America:
One Day at a Time
Onwards and Upwards
Positive from Negative

The most poignant one is a quote on canvass which I saw in a bathroom just before I finally got out of Ely, Nevada. I really feel that it was a sign, in more ways than one:
”Don’t be so focused on the finish line that you forget to enjoy the journey”.

Learning how to enjoy even the less than high moments is something I am working on as I am cycling across America. Even a down day is richly rewarding.

 

You can make a donation to The Irish Cancer Society on my behalf, by clicking here

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.