How TM helped me become a writer

When I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, I had several ambitions. I wanted to be a psychiatrist, researcher and writer. I went to medical school in South Africa, then moved to the United States to study psychiatry at Columbia in New York City. I eventually went on to a research fellowship at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, where I spent the next 20 years. Along with my research, I saw patients in my private practice. One of my patients, a young man named Paul, told me, “Doctor, your medications help me stabilize, but what makes me really happy 90% of the time is transcendental meditation. You really have to learn. -ho “. I told him that I had learned as a medical student in South Africa, but that I had given up. He kept insisting that I go back to my practice and I finally gave in to his persistence.

Between Bob Roth, director of the David Lynch Foundation, who refreshed my MT practice, and with whom I developed a great friendship and collaboration. I began to meditate regularly and soon began to reap the first benefits of the practice: I felt calmer and less reactive to the small irritations of daily life, and even the big disorders. These were welcome changes that were much appreciated by others. My wife, for example, summed it up succinctly when she said, “You’ve become a completely different person,” and from the tone of her voice it was clear that the change was going very well.

After a few years of practicing the MT technique, I slowly began to feel that a more mysterious set of changes was unfolding. He was often in the “zone”, that relaxed state of mind where thoughts go in a soft, new direction; where ideas sprout and grow like flowers and bloom. The world became a kinder, kinder and more supportive place. I realized that all of these changes originated in myself, not in others, and that people responded to me differently because I had become a nicer person. The only thing I could attribute this to was my MT practice.

I had become a psychiatrist and researcher, but what had happened was my third ambition: to become a writer. I had written a book in my late 30’s about my research on seasonal affective disorder (ASD) and its treatment with light therapy, the result of my successful years at NIMH. A number of books followed, each with its own virtues, but none of which were so successful. It took more than 20 years before I was able to write in a way that satisfied me and my readers.

One day, when Bob and I were walking around the neighborhood, he mentioned to me that a publisher of his friend had approached him to talk about a new book on the technique of Transcendental Meditation. No book had been written on the subject for some time, and the publisher thought it was time. How would I like to carry out the project? Bob asked. Not only did I get excited about it, but I felt that there had been some changes in my mind that would allow me to focus on an important project like this. Bob helped me every step of the way to write the book I called Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. I felt like it was the best book I had ever written Winter blues about 30 years before. And it became a New York Times bestseller.

The shaping influence of the MT technique on my mind continued and I finally felt able to write some stories I had picked up from my own life and from people I had come across along the way. From those stories arose an organizing theme: that we learn and grow more when things go wrong and when we run into setbacks and obstacles. I called the resulting book The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life’s Difficulties, Mishaps, and Imperfections. That book also sold well, and most importantly, it had an impact on people’s lives.

My debt to the MT technique to help me write these two books did not escape me. I realized it was the result of what had been called cosmic consciousness–The subtle process by which the experiences that take place during meditation gently enter our ordinary consciousness. Like running water running through the sharp stones of a river bed, smoothing them into rounded pebbles with intriguing outlines, this alteration of consciousness helped create in my mind the shapes and outlines. which allowed me to write these two books. Wasn’t that in itself a great theme for a third book in the series?? I wondered. The result was Super Mind: How to Increase Performance and Live a Richer, Happier Life Through Transcendental Meditation. For this book, I conducted a research study of over 600 experienced MT practitioners and found that the qualities of what I call Super Ment it increases with the duration and frequency of the practice of meditation. That is, the longer and more regularly you practice the MT technique, the more impressive the effects in terms of both quality of life and productivity (in equal factors).

This brings us to the present and the last gift of my MT practice: another book. I have loved poetry all my life and have found it to be a source of joy and consolation, benefits I shared with patients who I thought would appreciate poetry. For years, I hoped that one day I could write a book on this subject so that I could share this source of comfort and joy with people outside of my own practice. It was only through my continued practice of MT that I was able to gather the elements needed to write Poetry Rx: How 50 inspiring poems can heal and bring joy to your lifewhich is now about to be published.

In addition, I invite all interested readers to a virtual book signing Poetry Rx organized by the David Lynch Foundation on Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m.

Bob Roth will be interviewing me and the night promises to be a lot of fun. Click here to register.

All proceeds from the author of the book sale at this event will be used to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder learn the technique of transcendental meditation.


#helped #writer

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