Transcendental Meditation: The Return of the Blissful Wanderer?
by phil on Tuesday Nov 1, 2005 3:46 PM
My mind wanders all the time, but it's not always pleasant. With all-consuming work and the general anxiety that comes from being young and hungry, my thoughts are generally directed toward solving a problem. You know how they say, "to a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well my mind is often like an out-of-tune piano with the hammers banging on stringy situations that tangle me up.
I broke through this discordant melody with transcendental meditation (TM) yesterday. The technical features of TM usually are sitting down and repeating a mantra, which can be any combination of words or sounds, for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Well, actually a more practical definition of TM is "meditation with the intent to trip-out." The best way to describe my most recent TM-trip is that of a "blissful wander."
I will contrast here the "blissful wanderer" with the "anxious explorer." Both travelers navigate aimlessly. But the explorer measures progress as the distance from A to B. His problems are open, and success is defined as achieving closure. His destiny is a paved curve.
The wanderer measures progress as the quality of the current location. There is a plurality of destinations. He goes from A through Z, and success is defined as obtaining play. His destiny is a connected sequence of clouds.
TM re-acquainted me with blissful wandering. This is how it happened. It was about 10pm, nobody was in the house, and so I turned off the lights and sat on my bed with my back propped against the wall. I then repeated some random mantra: "um nama, narayana." (This has no particular Hindu significance to me. I culled it from a techno song from Prodigy.) I repeated the mantra with my eyes closed, and I eventually became that cloud-hopper.
I reflected on memories and scenes that haven't been touched in years. I resuscitated various goals and desires that had been shelved for the sake of expediency. I basically day-dreamt, and it was great.
Eventually it became harder to repeat the mantra. I lost myself so much in the blissful wandering that I forgot what I was even doing. I wasn't really getting sleepy, but rather it felt like I was bypassing sleep and going straight to dreaming. Then I hit a lucid state.
The lucid state is reminiscent of the few seconds or minutes that you are still dreaming while waking up. In this dream-like state, you realize you are awake, but you keep your eyes closed and can still feel vividly immersed in dream imagery.
The difference between general imagination and lucidity is that when you imagine something, you think of the imagery—the images are in your head. In the lucid state, you look at your visualizations. Images appear in front of you and have a realistic perspective.
After the lucid state, I fell into a deep slumber for a couple hours. As I awoke, I couldn't exactly remember where I had been, nor was I sure of where I was going. However, I was certainly content with where I was at.