My Mother in Law passed recently. She was 100 years old. We had lived together as family for the last 20 years; having lived with my own mother for only 18 years, my mother-in-law was like a second mother. At first I felt totally lost as I moved around the house in which she had been such a major force. There was just such a gap without her. Each day the customary routines went on, but almost in a blur. Then I realized that the only time that the lost feeling went away was during my TM practice. There was a wholeness that was stable deep inside during meditation. Gradually this experience started to spill over into my daily activity, and shortly, even though Mother was still sorely missed, the sensation of being lost was over. I do miss her lively presence but in my awareness she is associated with happy memories and not a feeling of devastating emptiness and disorientation.
When you transcend there is an experience of fullness which tends to balance out the sense of being shattered, even if at first it is just during that moment of fullness in meditation. But the style of brain functioning at that time during TM practice indicates higher consciousness and with repeated experience over time the brain can maintain that style and duplicate the experience more and more consistently throughout each day.1 You will miss the person but not feel empty.
Separation, and certainly permanent separation, is more painful when you are identified with the boundaries of your life rather than with the boundlessness that is the reality of each of us inside. There are biochemical changes associated with loss and there are completely different changes associated with transcending; physically, with a replenishing of ‘happy hormones’, the chemical balance of the body is restored and increasingly able to support the emotions and mind in a more happy way.2
The overwhelming intensity or the stress of grief—let alone the stress from the impact of a shocking loss— is reduced just as any stress is reduced during the uniquely deep rest during TM. It’s only when grief stagnates, trapping you in a relentless experience that is excessive and disabling, that our sadness seems to become deep depression. Freud said, “In grief, the world looks poor and empty. In depression, the person feels poor and empty.” The opposite of this takes place for women who practice the TM technique: they experience progress as their nervous system heals and that progress will be the basis of increasing peace of mind.3
Published research verifies that the TM technique alleviates these symptoms of grief:
Initial period of shock: TM shortens recovery time from stressful incidents
Energy depletion: TM practice increases energy and reduces fatigue
Insomnia or sleeping too much: TM normalizes sleep4
Weakness: TM practice increases stamina
Anxiety5, fear, anger, loss of appetite, overeating, digestive system upset, headaches: The TM technique reduces stress and anxiety and their psychosomatic symptoms in daily life.
Trouble concentrating, finishing tasks, forgetfulness, inability to make decisions: TM develops total brain function, clarity and focus.6
Women rely on friends for support, but, after the initial weeks of grieving, friends seem to go back to their own lives, the world appears to forget your suffering and loss, and you feel alone. At this point, many may turn to support groups or therapy and even grief retreats. TM is a 20 minute twice-a-day effective personal retreat into the relief of fullness and deep relaxation. It restores calm and self-confidence7 and reduces depression and stress.
I miss my mother-in-law and expect that I always will. But I’m not in pieces—I have peace.
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Higher development, brain integration, and excellence in leadership. Management Decision 2009 47(6):872-894
Cross-sectional and longitudinal study of effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on inter-hemispheric frontal asymmetry and frontal coherence. International Journal of Neuroscience 2006 116(12):1519-38
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- Three randomized experiments on the holistic longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence 2001 29(5):419-440Temporal effects of meditation on cognitive style. Journal of Indian Psychology 2003 21:38-51EmployeesEffects of meditation on attention processes. Journal of Indian Psychology 2000 18:52-60Higher development, brain integration, and excellence in leadership. Management Decision 2009 47(6):872-894
- Transcendental Meditation, self-actualization, and psychological health: a conceptual overview and statistical meta-analysis. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 1991 6(5):189-247Transcendental Meditation and postconventional self-development: a 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):93-122Influence of Transcendental Meditation on a measure of self-actualization. Journal of Counseling Psychology 1972 19(3):184-187Psychological findings on Transcendental Meditation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology 1976 16(3):51-60
Effects of Transcendental Meditation on self-identity indices and personality. British Journal of Psychology 1982 73:57-69
About the Author
Lesley Goldman is the retired director of a non-profit educational organization.