By Emma Hanson, English Literature MA
The Croft Magazine // In the final webinar of Transcendental Meditation Society’s 360 Degree Wellbeing series, Emma learned about the benefits of transcendental meditation from Gaetano Arena and James Miles.
A Life-Changing Practice
Gaetano Arena is a PhD student at the University of Bristol who set up the 360 Wellbeing series. I asked him about the impact that it has had on his life:
‘I learnt transcendental meditation (TM) a couple of years ago when, at the end of my PhD in Aerospace Engineering, I was really struggling with my own mental health. It was very hard to concentrate and write my dissertation, and my mood and energy levels were always incredibly low. I thought that it was only stress and some personal issues that were causing this sudden drop in my motivation and enjoyment of life.
I felt some of the benefits of TM just days after I had tried my first meditation. I was feeling more and more energetic and happy each day, but the main benefit I noticed was that I became much more aware of my physiology and its connection to my mind. I could notice almost immediately the effect food and sleep had on my mood and energy level.
Likewise, I could feel how introducing yoga and a more regular workout routine had a massive impact on my mental health. Basically, the meditation practice removed deep layers of stress that prevented me from realising what was causing the issues with my own physiology and mental health.’
TM is a very simple technique, best done twice a day for 20 minutes in the morning and evening. It is a meditation technique that uses a mantra to go beyond the thinking process and reach a fourth state of consciousness – to transcend thoughts and in this way reach a state of peace and rest.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced this technique to the Western world in the 1950s and it has since been practised by celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld and Hugh Jackman. Celebrities are fans of it, but what makes transcendental meditation is its simplicity.
TM allows you to reset yourself. It makes us more efficient, stops us procrastinating (the dream!), and gives us the ability to focus more sharply by developing our full mental potential.
Patrice Gladwin, a transcendental meditation teacher, attested to the benefits of TM, commenting: ‘I love teaching TM as it makes life so much more joyful and stronger than life without it’.
Gaetano talked about why he felt the need to set up this wellbeing series and educate students about various aspects of wellbeing:
‘I was shocked when I read the studies and annual reports on the wellbeing and mental health of UoB students. Therefore, I submitted a proposal to the UoB Alumni Grant Award, asking to sponsor the university's TM Society for the organisation of wellbeing courses that I could exploit to spread the awareness of TM and several healthy habits among university students. The grant was eventually assigned, and, with the help of the TM national organisation, I have organised the 360 Wellbeing Webinar. I am really grateful to the UoB Alumni Group for the support.’
Our wellbeing is in our own hands
At the start of the first session, James Miles talked about the importance of our wellbeing, summarising the importance of the techniques learnt over the course of this webinar series.
We all want more energy, we want to be creative, we want full use of our brain functioning, we want to be successful, happy, and reduce stress. Most of all we want to enjoy life. And we must remember that we can achieve this because our wellbeing is in our own hands.
Even if you missed the 360 Wellbeing webinar series, you can easily access information about the techniques discussed by reading my other articles on sleep hygiene, the benefits of yoga and how Ayurveda can support wellbeing. As James Miles concisely says, your wellbeing is in your own hands, and the benefits of these four practices have the potential to transform your university experience.
Featured image: Epigram / Robin Ireland