Andrea Langworthy's column: A road to betterment
It’s a little late in life but I am trying to be a more evolved person.
With that in mind, as I wrote in a previous column, I watch Oprah’s hour-long “Super Soul Sunday” every week. After each new show, the network airs two hours of previously-shown broadcasts. Ones I haven’t seen because I only recently learned about the inspiring program.
My husband and I spend three hours every Sunday morning with Oprah and her guests. The same amount of time we used to spend getting ready for church, driving there, sitting through the service and getting back home. This is our new spiritual experience. One for which I don’t have to curl my hair or change out of my pajamas.
There is talk about God, religion, spirituality and love. Swimmer Diana Nyad discussed being an atheist. A common thread that seems to run through the lives of many of the guests is that they meditate. So does Oprah. Twenty minutes twice a day.
Meditation is not a new concept for me. I have CDs by wellness guru Dr. Andrew Weil and mindfulness expert John Kabat-Zinn that lead listeners through mindful breathing sessions. The discs are on my desk gathering dust because, try as I might, I couldn’t hear my breaths over the constant chatter in my head.
When I practiced yoga, I subscribed to “Yoga Journal” magazine. Often there was a page with a lovely scene designed to be a form of meditation. I cut out one, put it into my journal and stared into it every morning. My mind wandered. My head filled with chatter. Each time, I gave up after a few minutes.
Another foray into the relaxation technique resulted in more YouTube videos than I could have imagined. Of various durations, they feature everything from dew-covered flowers, rain forests, waves washing up against the shore to music or chanting. My husband and I tried some. He lost himself in the waves. I had a head full of chatter.
Oprah practices Transcendental Meditation. I looked it up. According to the official website, at www.tm.org, “The Transcendental Meditation technique is an effortless technique for automatic self-transcending. It allows your mind to settle inward beyond thought to experience the source of thought — pure awareness. This is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness — your innermost Self.”
Paul McCartney and Hugh Jackman are among the more than 5 million people worldwide who tout the effectiveness of automatic self-transcending. According to the website, it is an effectiveness not found in meditations involving concentration or mindfulness.
I read further and learned there have been studies, over 350 of them, that “collectively” show the TM technique has immediate and long-term wellness benefits not only for the mind but for the body as well. Plus, according to the American Heart Association, TM is the only meditation found to lower blood pressure.
That was enough for me. My blood pressure is normal but my mind and body could use a dose of wellness. With that in mind, I watched a two-minute video featuring the Maharishi himself.
I learned I have tried the form before, using “om” as my mantra. “Omm … omm … omm.” Again, the head full of noisy chatter.
Maybe if I study with one of the certified teachers, though, I could get the hang of it. If I heard the Maharishi correctly in the video, a teacher could give me a mantra suited just for me. Perhaps, it could be, “Chat-ter … chat-ter … chat-ter.” I’m willing to give it a try.