James Miles from Bristol shares his story of how he came to learn to meditate …
“In February 2012 I learnt Transcendental Meditation.
It changed my life.
At the age of 33 I was in my fifth year back into education. Four months into a Chemistry Masters, I had to give a research presentation for my peers and professors of department: 60 or 70 people in a classical lecture theatre. I’d always been a shy person. Talking one to one was OK, but talking to groups I found an intense struggle. So 70 people was terrifying.
Rewind four years … an earlier presentation, an equally deep terror. The subject was my new found love of the periodic table. However within less than one minute of starting, I was apologising, running out of the classroom and into the toilet cubicles where I started to cry. Never liking total attention (although at the same time wanting it), I was overcome by the pressure. 28 years old and I couldn’t believe these unbearable situations were happening.
I had a problem: I wasn’t happy. For a very long time things had not felt good. I never felt like me. I had become a more intense ball of anxiety, acting and copying, stuttering and struggling, pushing and striving to become myself. I would constantly try to find ways to stop the feeling of life wasting away; thinking to myself, surely there’s more to life, to me, than this endless struggle and discomfort.
One evening I went to a life drawing class and was telling this guy sitting next to me about my problem regarding the up-coming presentation. He said he’d learnt Transcendental Meditation (TM) a few months earlier and was finding it really helpful.
So on to Google I went, and there read sentences mentioning “inner peace” and “inner calm”. I thought “Oh, another self-help technique!” the kind of thing I’d never taken any interest in. But the science caught my attention.
I learnt TM on a Saturday morning and in the afternoon I was with a friend in a coffee shop. I’d always found public places overwhelming and uncomfortable. I remember sitting there and all of a sudden everything around me just ‘dropped’. The roughness and intensity of the environment I normally experienced dissolved away. Normally the chatter of the environment I’d find intruding, but now I simply found myself sitting there enjoying. People’s gazes, which would have rifled me with intimidation, stopped bothering me. And I was enjoying the conversation with my friend very much. I felt very settled in myself, everything was light and smooth. We effortlessly came up with solutions to problems we were discussing. It was very beautiful.
From the “off” I was regular with my 20 minutes Transcendental Meditation, morning and evening. Apart from that I just carried on with life, not trying to do anything differently. My problems with worry, fear, anxiety, confusion, and depression all started to lift.
How could this be? It was like darkness disappearing with the shining of light upon it. Within two months of learning TM I’d quit therapy. Halfway through that last session it became clear to both my therapist and myself: there were no problems to talk about.
I’d found what was missing in my life, and fundamental to it … a security and identity far beyond words and concepts. An inner core of peace. TM was the fundamental solution to all my problems and it was the most beautiful and simplest of techniques for it.
My concentration levels rose dramatically and my ability to grasp new concepts was sharp. My relationship with my parents transformed spontaneously, and is now very beautiful. Three years on and I’m feeling my strength, with non-stop gratitude.
I have now completed the chemistry Masters degree, which became a wholly enjoyable time, especially at the oral exam, which ends a postgraduate degree. Usually something that students dread, I remember really enjoying it and being very comfortable and natural throughout.
Before TM, I loved music but I couldn’t relax with it. Now I’m constantly at an array of gigs, from classical to rock to jazz to pop. I’ve started learning the piano and drums and I’m in talks with a radio station for a show. TM frees you up, unlocks you, to do what you want, without hesitation.
Now I’m putting together a PhD to start later this year to research Transcendental Meditation.
I recommend TM for everyone. I spent tens of thousands of pounds therapy, drink and drugs. For a few hundred pounds I got a natural technique that let my life flourish and become fulfilled.”