Stemming the Tide of Depression with Transcendental Meditation

In September my grandfather passed away and there were a few things about that which set me into a severe depression which no one noticed, not even my wife.

The depression lasted until late February, but it’s been a recurring thing for me since. I’ll get all melancholy, and now that my wife knows what I was going through, she knows what to look for.

Since breaking through the depression, I’d found myself going in and out of depression. Thoughts of suicide ran rampant through my mind on a daily basis during the depression, and lets just say it’s a good thing I don’t own a firearm.

My reasons for trying Transcendental Meditation (TM) stem a lot from the depression I fell into, caused by events following my grandfather’s passing.

In early November I got shingles, I knew this was from the stress of my grandfather’s passing. I also understood that I was beginning to spiral, though I hid it well from my wife, family and co-workers.

The catalyst to get me into TM was a breakdown I had at work, caused by an interaction with a co-worker, who said, “I don’t care what’s wrong with you.” His statement sent me over the cliff.

After work that day I cried in my car for twenty minutes. It was hard sobbing, uncontrollable crying. The type of crying you’d do as a kid. I called my wife on my way home and told her I needed to do something, and soon.

After that day, I knew I had two choices, be done with living, or truly start living. TM is my way to live.

When I attended the first introduction meeting I knew I would do it before I walked in. The next week I took my first lesson. That was one week ago. I feel more awake, and for the first time in a very long time, I feel alive.

TM is a lot like other meditations, except for the mantra. When you learn TM, your teacher gives you a mantra, it’s a word, phrase or combined words which create a tone, that centers you in a way that makes your body drop all its defenses and sends you spiraling into a deep pool of bliss.

I can’t tell you my mantra, because each one is special to each individual. I keep it as a sacred thing.

I can only speak of my experience, but TM was my last stop before jumping. I’ve backed away from the cliff in the last week and I’m now more comfortable in my skin than I’ve been since before my parents were divorced, when I was 8.

If you have any question or comments, please ask them.

 

38 thoughts on “Stemming the Tide of Depression with Transcendental Meditation

  1. Hi Brian!
    My name is Rose Hoffmann. I help manage the Transcendental Meditation blog, and I’m wondering if we can repost your 2 blogs about your experience with the TM technique. If you’re interested, get back to me at rhoffmann@tm.org! It was great to read your story. Hope to hear from you.

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    1. I’m not sure where to post this, but after reading Brian’s experience with TM after just one week, I was impressed. I am not new to meditation. I have been practicing in one way or another since 1980. I received formal training from Tibetan Buddhist lamas throughout the 1990s. Because Brian’s story leans heavily on grief and loss, I wanted to leave this link for him and others. My story is very similar. My partner, best-friend and soul mate of 14 years passed in 2002. I had a very long, hard road with grief. I would say 10 years time. I found that after participating in Self-guided Afterlife Connections (and my experience with meditation in general) I really approached a turning point and resolution with the grief. Perhaps others here could benefit from TM and my experience with the Afterlife Connections. It is free of charge and can be found here: http://afterlifeconnections.org/craig.htm

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  2. U told my story only it was my best friend and Im still in the deep 2 yrs later, Ive become agoraphobic , I have looked into TM but I can barely take a shower, thank u for ur insight and I will try to reconsider making TM a true option

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    1. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, and I understand how difficult it is to come out of a depression. With TM I’ve honestly never felt better about who I am, what I’m doing with my life, and what I’m doing with it.

      As someone who’s gone through depression I want to help others who’ve gone through the same thing. Through TM and talking about TM I believe I can help others who’ve gone through depression.

      I hope that helps and I hope you’re able to leave the house, attend a meeting and get started taking back your life.

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    2. Susie, I’ve been meditating for many years, and from my own experience and the research I’ve seen, I feel certain you will find TM helpful. To find a TM teacher near you, you can call 888-LEARN-TM (888-532-7686) or if you can’t muster the energy to call, there’s a form you can fill out at
      http://www.tm.org/contact-us-alternate
      and someone will get back to you.Depending on where you live, it’s possible a teacher would come to your house to give you private lessons. (Because of the agoraphobia.) Please take action on this, I’m sure you won’t be sorry.. On a gray day, the sun is hidden behind the clouds, but it’s still there; TM will help blow away the clouds.

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      1. I am looking for a TM teacher in my area..jupiter, Fla. I found one but his course was $900! Is there other teachers that don’t charge that much? Thank you.

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      2. There is another teacher in Boca Raton, (561) 994-6990. TM instruction can be expensive and it sometimes varies by area and it’s completely worth it. After nearly two years of TM I can’t imagine my life or my wife’s without it.

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      3. @Kelly, when you pay for TM, you’re not just paying for initial instruction, but for a free-for-life followup program. That said, many people can’t afford to pay the full price, no matter what the lifetime program is like. Your local TM center often has scholarships and grants available to lower the cost if you have a genuine financial need (the TM teachers need to pay rent, eat food, keep shoes on their kids, etc, too you know).

        If, after discussing things with your local TM teacher, you find you still cannot afford TM due to your financial situation (not just because you are shopping for a bargain price), feel free to contact me via email (saijanai AT gmail Dot com) and I’ll tell you how you may be able to take advantage of more specific financial aid.

        Talk to your local TM center first because everything will end up going through them anyway and you’ll need to provide that info for what I’m talking about.

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  3. thank you for your comments Brian
    I didn’t experience a death, but a number of other things
    that have lead me into depression too
    I’m now more encouraged than ever after reading your comments
    kevin

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  4. Awesome for sharing your story Brian! I was in a very similar mental state when I started TM 14 years ago and have from the very first moment never missed a day because of all the amazing benefits…Stick to it, my friend, it only gets better and better!

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  5. My father believes TM to be a gateway or vulnerable state of becoming possessed by a negative or evil spirit. Do you have any insight on this?

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    1. When I told my mom that I’d started doing TM she said something similar. My mom lives across town from me and we don’t see each other as often as either of us would like, mostly because of my day job.

      The first time she saw me after I’d been doing TM for a few weeks, her words were this, “I have my boy back.”

      The transformation, which is the way I truly feel, changed her thoughts on TM and she is curious about doing it as well.

      I’d tell your father that TM is the same as prayer, or any type of act which gets you closer to your beliefs.

      There are those who are devout religiously and they’ve said they feel closer to their religion because of TM.

      Thank you for your comment and I hope my reply helps your father understand TM a little better.
      Brian

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  6. “I can’t tell you my mantra, because each one is special to each individual. I keep it as a sacred thing.”

    Technically speaking, there are only a few TM mantras. Think of them as blood types: different kinds of people get different mantras.

    That said, the fact that you never say your mantra out loud, or write it down (or sign it or type it phonetically, or semaphore it) means that it has become intimately part of you. Think about it: you say your name out loud far, far more often than you do your mantra. Western science doesn’t know how to evaluate what that potentially does with respect to meditation practice, but I’m pretty sure that eventually scientists will find an explanation for why it is such a good thing to never again make your mantra as concrete as when you first learned it.

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    1. I am a teacher of TM and there are way more than a few mantras.

      After meditating for over 40 yearsI just want to say that you will find that your experiences of the Self will grow and change over time. A beautiful flower blooms from within. Flowers need light and this technique brings it.

      I can also add that the natural state of man is achieved by this simple practice. Anyone who can think a thought can learn it, no matter what is the state of the mind.

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      1. Thanks. I’ve been meditating for over 40 years too. Started the same day (or maybe a week later) that David Lynch did, in July 1973.

        And by “few” I meant that not everyone gets a different mantra. A lot of people think that TM teachers somehow give a mantra that is unique for them, which would mean billions of mantras (don’t think people think these things through), so I say “few” to point out that its a limited number.

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    1. http://www.tm.org is a good place

      Here’s a study you can read: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951026/

      Bottom line: perceived stress, depression, and teacher burnout were statistically significantly AND clinically significantly reduced. Effects ranged from 4/10 standard deviations improvement over controls to 9/10 standard deviation over controls .

      15 IQ points = 1 standard deviation on a standard IQ test to give you a feel for what that means. It’s like they had the equivalent of 4-13 IQ points improvement on measures like depression (if people had a “Depression Quotient” scale).

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    2. Hello Denise. The best place to start is TM.org.

      There is a signup on the right side of the webpage. After filling it out, a teacher will contact you either through e-mail or phone, whichever you prefer.

      Good luck!

      Brian

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  7. Hi Brian

    I am so sorry that you experienced such an awful time. I am so glad to hear you are healing and doing so well. This story resonants with me so much, do you perhaps have any info on how to train and can this technique help children?
    Caoimhe in DC
    Thanks a million

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    1. Hello Caoimhe,

      There are TM centers around the world. The best place to start is TM.org.

      TM helps children. My wife and I are both meditators and our 10 year old has ADHD and he will be starting TM in the next couple months. For children, it quiets their mind the way it does with adults, but because children’s minds wander more than ours, the way the technique is taught is different.

      On the TM.org site, there is a box on the top left where you can enter in your zip code and it will give you the name of the nearest TM teacher.

      I hope this helps. If you need any information other than what I gave, please feel free to respond and I’ll talk to my teacher and find a solution for you.

      Brian

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  8. If TM is so healing and wonderful, why do they charge an arm and leg to learn it. That doesn’t make any sense… But, it does make cents. Many many cents. It’s really unfair to people that can’t afford it, but need it…..

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    1. TM is a non-profit and the money from the teachings is used to pay for rent and other things the centers may use. TM teachers are not paid to teach TM.

      The David Lynch Foundation helps find TM for underprivileged or at risk youth.

      TM is also offered to soldiers with PTSD at a lower rate than others.

      They will try to work with you if you’re low income and can’t afford the fee.

      If you’re interested you should contact a teacher in your area if only to ask questions.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  9. Hello Brian,
    I just started my TM. Today was my last day of training. After starting TM my anxiety is much higher. So I talked to my teacher about it and he says it is normal for some people to have such kind of experience and tells me to keep practicing. This is completely opposite to what I expected. Did you have such experience ? Maybe I am not the right candidate for TM.

    Mohan

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  10. I’m glad your teacher could give you a mantra that ministered and helped you feel better, but I feel badly that it hasn’t healed to the point where there is freedom in passing along help since you’re writing about healing/survival in a published format. We’re all in the same boat to some degree or another…

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    1. @traci what TMers are actually told is to not write down their matra, nor to say it out loud NOR to even deliberately think it outside the context of practicing TM.

      This is to reduce any tendency to make the mantra more “concrete,” which is the exact opposite of TM, where the mantra is part of the experience of TM, which Maharishi describes as “fading of experience.”

      So, you’re complaining about someone following specific meditation instructions for the sake of trying to tell you “how” to meditate, even though Maharishi (literally) would be the first one to tell you that there is nothing to teach in the first place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L_L5dIwc00

      TM is an intuitive about what it “means” to “think a thought without effort” in the context of a specific period of time called a “TM session.”

      The mantra facilitates this process, and like every other aspect of the process, attempting to describe or discuss it in detail can only detract from the process, both for the listener AND for the speaker. TM teachers don’t really teach, they merely perform a carefully rehearsed play that dances around the issues, helping the TMer develop an intuition on their own. The original term for “TM teacher” was “meditation guide” or “initator,” but for marketing purposes, they become known as “teachers” instead.

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  11. Thank you so much for giving me a lead to investigate when I was confused as to where to turn for a natural successful approach.

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    1. TM and depression is an interesting issue. The thing ot remember is that TM is a resting technique that helps undo damage from stress. If your depression comes directly from stress, TM will likely help.

      On the other hand, if your depression is due to other factors, TM might not help much, if any. It is even possible that too much relaxation would be a bad thing for you until the depression is under control.

      As always, consult a doctor before starting things like meditation, if you have mental health issues.

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  12. Welcome to the great adventure! Meditation is addictive. It’s a wonderful place that you can return to time and again to re-establish your blissful center. Once you’ve experienced that amazing peace you will always want to return to it. Meditation has gotten me through difficult challenges my whole life. Wear it. Trust it. Be light with your practice. It’s who you are. I was initiated 45 years ago and it remains a most important aspect of my life. Enjoy your practice and your life.

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    1. If you practice as directed, TM cannot become addictive.

      Certainly, you can become accustomed to the positive, restful effects of TM, and notice the lack thereof if you skip a meditation session, but that isn’t the same as addictive.

      You can only become addicted to TM if you start to insist that you must have a specific experience during practice, and resolve to remain in the meditation state until you have such an experience (I have met such people online)

      But that’s a subtle form of effort and is no longer really TM.

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  13. glad you’re feeling better…yes I’ve found that it’s all about exposure…exposing oneself to your crappiest feelings….i was depressed off and on for years…the answer to my depression was lost somewhere in my subconscious. I finally figured it out, last March. What a relief…I don’t think I was actually practicing TM but I was almost always slightly meditating and finally because of some financial pressure…I went through a really bad time and then…pow…there it was …the reason why I was so miserable and ungrounded for years…again…congrats on feeling better…many people never do I’m sure

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  14. Help! Please.

    I’ve nearly died three times in the last two years all due to health reasons. I’m pretty sure that it’s core it’s all due or brought on by stress of various reasons. I’m trying to turn my life into A more positive direction. I’ve heard meditation can work wonders for people but I can’t quiet the voices in my brain. (I’m a chronic over-thinker…)

    Thank you.

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    1. I’m sorry it’s take so long for me to reply Autumn, I hope you’re doing okay. Contact a TM teacher in your area or to find one go to TM.org and fill out the form. A teacher would love to help you. I know how hard it is. It’s been two years since I started TM, but I still go through depression. It just never truly goes away. I stay busy and keep my family around me.
      Sending much love to you,
      Brian

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