Category Archives: catalyst

The Key, The Door, and The Path

I recently started learning Transcendental Meditation (TM). This form of meditation has been said to have huge health benefits. Whether physical, mental, or emotional, the research has shown that a TM practice is generally good for your well-being… and who couldn’t use more of that?

So, I decided to investigate further, and I found it interesting. I met two local TM teachers who were available to assist me in learning this technique, and (due to a recent health scare) I have a lovely benefactor who offered to pay for my instruction. In my world, that’s all about the Universe showing up and making the path forward very clear and easy to follow. So I did.

TM is a very deliberate practice that basically contradicts a lot of things I previously thought meditation was supposed to be. In other forms of meditation, thoughts are almost an enemy. “Monkey mind” (as it’s called) is the antithesis of good meditation.**

But in TM it’s different. Thoughts simply are. There is nothing subjective about them. Neither good nor bad, they exist, they bubble up, and they release. This one difference made a HUGE impact on my understanding of meditation. The lack of judgment was liberating.

So, as I sat down in my first few days of TM, engaging in my practice twice daily, I found that I experienced the spectrum of thought presence. Sometimes there were few, if any, and other times it was like a TV section in an electronics store with every set turned on. And both experiences were perfectly right. See? Liberating.

What I found most interesting, though, was the epiphany I had during my very first meditation of the training.

As I typically do, I conducted some research prior to starting something new. In my readings I found the key element of TM to be a mantra. The mantra is given to you in the training, it’s personal to you and you alone, and it’s not a specific word with a specific meaning. It’s something altogether different. So, of course, I thought to myself: The mantra is the key to meditation.

Yes. …And no.

Over the years, in all the meditations I’ve learned, engaged in, and taught, none have relied solely on a mantra; therefore, I assumed this is what set TM apart. The mantra is the key to the meditation. It’s also more than that. So, this was the epiphany I had as I was doing TM for the first time:

The mantra is the key, the door, and the path.

It invites us in to the inner world of consciousness (the key), almost effortlessly (the door), and then helps us stay in a flow state the entire time we’re there (the path).

There are few things in life that serve as both catalyst and conveyor, but in this case it is absolutely true, which makes it easy.

TM is by far the simplest form of meditation I have ever learned. My biggest challenge will actually be prioritizing it as a twice daily practice. But, in order to see the worthwhile benefits reported in the research, it seems like a very good idea for me to overcome that hurdle.

The truth of all learning is this:

It’s not enough to simply find a key, you must use it to unlock the door.
​It’s not enough to just unlock the door, you must open it.
​It’s not enough to just open it, you must walk through it.
​And, it’s not enough to only walk through it, you must keep walking.

A good example for this is that it’s one step to attend a workshop or lecture, another to take notes on what you’re learning, and even better to take action and embody what you have understood.

If you want to create positive change, you must keep going. There are milestones on this journey, for sure, but there is no exact finish line.

It’s early days for me, but I look forward to being able to report back to you on what I find as I continue to move forward with this endeavor. As always, I’m human, and so I’m sure I will get a little messy with it, but that’s ok; because the only way to have a “bad” TM practice is simply to not do it. Feels like a win-win to me. I’ll let you know. 😉

Finally, I now have a new level of awareness in my life. I am looking to see what else might be both catalyst and conveyor, because I think that there’s something there to be discovered. I think the more we are able to combine the two, the easier it will be to stay in authenticity, integrity, and inspired flow. What do you think? Let me know if you think of any!

**Post-Note: A good friend pointed out a different understanding than the one I was originally taught about the “monkey mind.” In other modalities, I was taught that the goal of meditation was to increasingly silence the monkey mind, whereas in TM, there is no goal.

To me, silencing something over time (as a goal), puts it in the realm of something undesirable, which becomes something to push against. This is why TM was so different for me, and works better than other forms of meditation for me – there is no goal. There is no monkey mind, or clouds of thoughts, or leaves in a river to notice as the float by. These were all things I was taught in other forms of meditation, that simply weren’t as effective for me. In TM, there is nothing to notice or not notice, no clouds or leaves, or anything. Everything just is. There is only an allowing, with a gentle return to mantra. In fact, thoughts are seen as the byproduct of some stress releasing in the body. Nothing more.

I appreciate her pointing out and sharing her experience and wisdom with different meditation. It reinforces that there is no “one way” or even one understanding of one way. We each have what works best for us, and the key element to all of it is prioritizing the practice. I encourage you to find whatever way works for you. And frankly, TM is just one more tool in my ever-expanding toolbox. Big thanks to my friend for chiming in! xo

Resolving Resolutions

By now, we’ve had about 5 days for our New Year’s Resolutions to settle into our minds. How is that going? Have you been to the gym? Cleaned out your refrigerator? Started that novel? Written in your journal? Meditated daily?

Years ago I wrote a piece on the difference between New Year’s Resolutions and New YOU Resolutions. We often use milestones, such as birthdays, the start of the month or week, or the beginning of a new year to serve as the catalyst for change. Typically, however, a date on a calendar is not inciting enough to create lasting change. That has to come from within. It has to come from YOU.

Which brings me to the point of this week’s writing:

If your resolutions list isn’t in alignment with who you are and doesn’t come from within you, you are setting yourself up for failure before you begin.

Another way to say this is that expectations, as we know them, are based on who we are, and not who the other person (or situation) is. It’s an internal desire, imposed on an external person or thing. A recipe for disappointment, frustration, and suffering.

New Year’s Resolutions are the same in the reverse. Resolutions typically involve some external input or measurement that we then choose to impose on ourselves internally in much the same way we use expectations – only now it’s a mirror image.

In both instances we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure. So, how do we set ourselves up for success?

The key to creating achievable results is to start with goals that come from within and are aligned with

who you are, not who you think you should be;
what you want, not what you think you should want; and
when you can do something, not when you think you should do something.

Externally-derived resolutions are exercises in will-power not pathways to change. Sometimes will-power can result in lasting change, but often times the reverse is true. And even if it does result in change, it typically involves feelings of frustration, deprivation, and lack. Not the most positively reinforcing experiences.

Change has to come from within. The strongest most long-lasting ember or catalyst is the one that burns deeply inside your soul, the one that emanates 100% from within you. Change derived from an internally-vetted desire has the greatest possibility for success.

So, now that you’ve had 5 days to try on your resolutions – and now that you have a new perspective on how to approach them – what are you going to change?

Is it really time for you to create a to-do list that makes you feel further away from your center, in pursuit of some externalized goal? Or is it, perhaps, time for you to create a road map that is in alignment with who you are inside, to honor your inner knowing and voice, and find strength, peace, wellness, and happiness from an internal place of Self.

One last thought: The beautiful thing about all of this is that you get to decide… every moment of every day. Change, growth, and alignment are not tied to a milestone on a calendar.