Strength in Stillness
How is it possible for anyone—from a billionaire to a homeless person—to learn the same thing and find that it brings great relief and fulfillment to their life? The instant NYTimes best seller Strength in Stillness is described as a simple, straightforward description of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Reading it, you can learn what TM is and what it is not. It’s a great book for someone who is skeptical. The author, Bob Roth, is the Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation, which is one of TM for Women’s partners.
You cannot actually learn how to practice TM from a book; it is learned in person from a professionally trained certified teacher who will instruct you in a course starting with a private session. Once learned, TM is practiced effortlessly, as Bob Roth describes, “…twice a day: once in the morning, ideally before breakfast; and again in the late afternoon, ideally before dinner.”
Around eight million people have learned TM and, as the book states, they range from Fortune 500 Company executives to cashiers, they go to private colleges and to urban inner-city schools, they are Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims—or not religious at all. Some are homeless and some are business professionals and some are athletes and so on. People who learn TM are in all different walks of life. All are ready for a change… ready for something better in their lives.
The book cites the fact that from the earliest days of his teaching around the world, TM’s founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was focused on the science of Transcendental Meditation. Today the results are very clear: more than 400 scientific studies on the benefits of the TM program have been published in top peer-reviewed journals around the world. The benefits documented by the research are substantial and wide ranging, from decreased anxiety to better school grades to reduced heart disease.
The need for TM in our modern world is obvious. We are never “unplugged”—we are “on an endless loop of requests to read, review, make a decision, keep, delete, reply and move to the next request,” the book states.
What is Transcendental Meditation? The author uses an analogy to illustrate, “You are in a little boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and as far as you can see, there is an expanse of blue…. All of a sudden the water begins to get choppy, and you find yourself surrounded by huge, thirty-foot waves. You could easily think ‘The whole ocean is in upheaval’…. Not really, because if you could look at a cross section downward you would see that only the surface is in turmoil. The Atlantic is several miles deep and at its depth, the ocean is very, very calm. Down there is an unbounded expanse of peace and tranquility, entirely undisturbed by the turbulence above.”
The surface of the mind can be like the surface of the ocean—It can be active and even be noisy and turbulent. “I’ve got to do this, I gotta do that.” There is so much to do and so little time in a day. Who wouldn’t want to tap into the inner stillness, inner calm and clarity at the basis of the active mind? But how? This is one way Transcendental Meditation is useful—in fact, essential—in our lives because it easily gives us access to the silent basis of the mind.
This bestseller has three pillars of information: The first discusses what TM is, what it does, how it works and where it comes from. In the second you can learn about what you can expect when you contact a certified teacher to instruct you in the TM technique; this section also introduces you to the research published on the brain and how TM improves your reaction to stress and anxiety. The third pillar introduces you to people from all walks of life who have learned TM and inspiring comments on how they benefited from it:
When the actor Michael J. Fox learned Transcendental Meditation, his was a stunning experience of profound relief. Roth wrote:
…He closed his eyes and began to meditate. Within seconds — literally seconds — all his tremors ceased. I am not talking gradually subsided, but just stopped…. A few minutes later, when we both were done meditating, I looked over at him, and he was staring at his hands, which lay motionless on his lap. He sat like that for several more minutes, just looking at his hands. “This moment,” he said, “is the calmest I have felt in years. Decades.” We met the following day and, sure enough, he said the same thing happened…. Whenever he did TM, the tremors ceased. He said he had begun sleeping more soundly through the night whereas before he would wake up every one or two hours…. A month later, in another visit, Michael recalled how uncharacteristically relaxed he felt immediately prior to delivering an hour-long talk on Parkinson’s before a large audience in Toronto…he meditated for 20 minutes in the green room, walked out on stage, and gave one of the best talks of his life…. Although Michael’s tremors do inevitably return after he finishes his 20-minute meditation, for him the big thing has been the significant reduction in anxiety levels and the dramatic overall improvement in his quality of life.
Because Transcendental Meditation is simple, natural and effortless, it only takes a few hours to learn the TM technique and start experiencing tangible benefits, it’s not something that you have to wait to get “better at” doing. A new meditator, for example, wept in relief to find that TM is different than other types of meditation—he’d been working at a difficult version of meditation for years and happily found TM to be effortless and immediately effective.
Strength in Stillness points out that newspapers indicate daily that mental health is at the forefront of the national debate. Roth says, “The elephant in the room is that no one really knows what to do about it…. Do we medicate every child who may be a bully or who is bullied? Do we continue to hand out cocktails of drugs to veterans with Post Traumatic Stress?” The David Lynch Foundation tackles these seemingly unsurmountable societal challenges by funding the TM program in schools-at-risk, veterans organizations, women’s shelters, and juvenile detention centers.
In short, this book is an excellent primer on TM and reading it will inspire most readers to take the step to learn the practice for themselves. For further information on the program, to have your questions answered, and when you are ready to learn, simply contact us! Our organization is administered by women specializing in teaching the TM technique to women and girls around the USA in their local area in a convenient way. You can learn more about the TM technique in person from a teacher and then take the course when you’re ready to enjoy life more.
About the Author
Vanessa Vidal is the national director of TM for Women in the USA