The following is written by Mark W. Clark, MS, CNP and originally published on Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Mark is a retired police officer and currently the Executive Director for a nonprofit education foundation in Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he worked for over six years as a Chief Operations Officer for a national leadership education association.
There are scarce instances in one’s life that qualify as life-changing events. As I go through my sixth decade on this earth, I can count my life-changing events on one hand. About a year ago, I raised another finger in the count of life-changing events when I decided to learn Transcendental Meditation, or TM, as most practitioners know. I call it a life hack. It just works. It works so well that it’s almost like cheating because everything has been much better since I started meditating. I am not alone in this. Talk to anyone who does TM, and they will tell you a similar story. If you are a leader, lead a team of people, or have management responsibilities, you will be better at it. I have become a better person and leader since I took up TM.
I spent 30-plus years as a police officer and left with a modest pension and lingering stress from years of erratic sleep cycles, shiftwork, 24/7 on-call, and struggles to keep house and home in order. My sleep suffered the most. A few years after retiring from police work, I am working in the nonprofit sector as a COO and now as Executive Director. My sleep issues lingered and became more problematic. I am sure this is familiar to anyone with a stressful job. So, I went on my journey to get better sleep.
Before TM, I had many failed remedies for sleeplessness and life stress. I’m not inclined to share every unsuccessful treatment to get my sleep cycle back to normal. By 2021, I was out of healthy choices to fix my sleeplessness. In the late summer of 2021, I heard celebrities like Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, and others talk about transcendental meditation. They were completely sold on it. It is terrific for the TM folks to have such high-profile endorsements, but these celebrity endorsements seemed very unscripted. As it turns out, it’s not just celebrities but regular people like you and me. Meditators are leaders of big and small companies, doctors, physicists, teachers, artists, and tens of thousands of others worldwide.
The first three days of TM instruction were rough because I had to commit to repeated meditations and check-ins with my instructor. I had to explain to my wife that I did not join a cult or change religions. TM is what you do, not what you believe. I went through the intensive first three days, I committed to the schedule, and it worked. I slept.
There are many ways to describe the process of transcending that happens when you meditate. It seems like controlled daydreaming. Practitioners call it “going deep.” You’ll hear it referred to as the fourth state of consciousness. It’s not wakefulness, dreaming, or deep sleep. It’s somewhere in between those states. The process is quite simple. Twice a day, you sit restfully, close your eyes, and repeat your mantra for 20 minutes. Spend a few minutes coming out of your meditation, and then go about your day. That is a simple explanation of TM, but what are the benefits?
If you rely on data and good research to make decisions, TM will punch your ticket. It is one of the most researched stress relief practices out there. Hundreds of studies have been conducted at more than 200 independent universities and research institutions. A Google search will fill your screen with results. Most conclude that it relieves stress, and the accompanying health benefits abound.
TM works for me, and it works for almost everyone that tries it. TM instructors will tell you that you cannot fail at TM if you do it right. My twice-daily meditations have become part of my routine. I have not missed a single day, nor do I want to. I have meditated in hotel lobbies, on airplanes, at home, in a car, on a beach, and anywhere I can get 20 minutes of quiet time with my mantra.
Since I started practicing transcendental meditation, I have noticed an increase in energy and focus throughout my workday. I am no longer reaching for that mid-afternoon cup of coffee to get me through the afternoon. Not only am I better able to concentrate on tasks at hand, but I am also inspired by the results of my work. This has made me more productive and able to take on more professional challenges.
I continue to sleep well, and people have noticed that I seem more serene and adaptable to unexpected circumstances. I have better energy throughout the day, stress less, and life is better. I hope this article has inspired you to seek more information and try Transcendental Meditation.
Learn more about the TM technique here.