I recently read an interview with a talented Estonian actor and screenplay writer, Taavi Eelmaa. First of all, it made me laugh out loud, as he commented on his Transcendental Meditation practice using the following words:
“By definition, every person who sits still for twenty minutes twice a day, already makes the world a better place – he does not wander around and bother others with his ambitious babble.”
Preceding this playful witty sentence, however, he admitted in all seriousness that his reason for taking up Transcendental Meditation was trying to find something to alleviate his growing distaste for life.
But indeed — why meditate?
All this got me thinking of my own experience with Transcendental Meditation – what to say to people who ask: “Why meditate?” The problem I have with explaining the benefits of Transcendental Meditation practice is that there are just too many of them. I become too aware of the danger of it sounding like the goddess of universal remedy – Panacea – and consequently unbelievable.
To begin with, there are all these numerous physical health benefits. Then there are all the mental health benefits from better mood to quicker wits. There is the personal growth aspect – becoming a happier and calmer person and consequently enjoying better relationships with those around you. And finally, as mentioned above, meditation practice helps to fight that strange nagging feeling of constant dissatisfaction and alienation from life.
From the standard Western point of view, however, becoming a better person and heart disease have nothing to do with one another. We go to one doctor for issues with heart rhythm and to another for issues with blood pressure. We have marital counsellors for our relationship problems and consultants for increasing work productivity.
To think about it, this is like baking a cake by putting all ingredients into the oven one by one, rather than admitting that the cake consists of the intertwined mix of them where each component depends on others.
So often, when I feel lacking in eloquence to explain the practice in the light of the “theory of the cake”, I take the same easy way out of the “Why Transcendental Meditation?” question, that Taavi Eelmaa used in the interview:
“I like the above-mentioned activity and that is enough!“