Patrice Gladwin studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Switzerland back in 1971-72. She now teaches the TM technique popularized by the ‘giggling guru’.
“He was the most intelligent person I’ve ever met,” Patrice describes Maharishi. “Everything he said was full of humour, but he managed to do it without messing around – he was always extremely focused on his teachings.
“Maharishi set the Transcendental Meditation technique up because he was in love with humanity, and he knew that this technique could make the world a better place. It can make us all happier.”
How does TM work?
Here’s what a journalist from Bristol Post saw when he visited a group meditation session led by Patrice Gladwin.
“‘Can I join in?’ I ask, speculatively.
Patrice smiles kindly, but explains it’s not something you can just throw yourself into. Beginners must first go through a four-day instructional course with a tutor, during which the technique for descending down into the state of stillness is tailored to suit the individual’s personality.
They then visit their teacher occasionally throughout the next six months as they master the technique.
It also involves being given a “sound” – Patrice shies away from the word “mantra“, claiming it’s too much like something New Labour would come up with.
“It’s a single syllable word with no meaning,” she explains, “which acts as a focus point for the meditators when repeated inside their heads.
“We never speak our word aloud, as we believe it has to stay inward-focused for it to work.”
Whilst much of the TM theory seems to make sense, this “secret word” stuff sounds rather baffling to me, but I agree to stay on the sidelines for the session.
After a bit of shuffling to ensure they’re sitting comfortably in their seats, they each close their eyes, and simply sit very still for the next 10 minutes.
There’s no funny chanting or Buddha-like hand gestures, and it makes a poor spectator’s event, if I’m honest.
But as they come around from their peaceful reveries, it’s clear from the smiles on their faces that the experience has been enjoyable for them.
“It’s always a wonderful feeling when you meditate in a group,” Patrice says. “It’s almost as if you’re able to pick up on everyone else’s sense of stillness too.””
Cost and courses
“TM is taught through a registered educational charity, which means there’s no profit, and scholarships are available for those who may have trouble affording the proper fee,” Patrice explains.