To hear more, listen and subscribe at iHeartRadio.com or in your podcast app. A new episode is released each weekday morning.
We’d recommend our favorite episodes, but we love them all!
To hear more, listen and subscribe at iHeartRadio.com or in your podcast app. A new episode is released each weekday morning.
We’d recommend our favorite episodes, but we love them all!
Josh Hasty is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, and musician based in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has found great success across multiple disciplines, from creating award-winning haunted attractions to micro-budget horror films, to behind the scenes documentaries. Most recently he produced and directed his own indie horror feature film, Candy Corn.
We caught up with Josh a year after he learned the TM technique to find out more about his life and how his TM practice features in it.
What describes your approach to life?
I know I’m here now; I’m not sure if I’ll be here tomorrow; and if I don’t give this everything I’ve got, someone else will.
What does a typical day in your week look like?
My typical day varies depending on which projects I’m working on at the time, and where those projects are in their lifecycle. One day I might be alone in my head, writing or editing, and the next I’m travelling across the country and surrounded by tons of people. The sporadic jumping from one end of the spectrum to the other has become what’s typical for me. It certainly keeps me on my toes.
How does the TM technique fit into your life?
It’s quite literally the cornerstone of my days. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up, and it’s what gets me through the last part of my days. On significantly stressful days, it’s also the one thing I count on to help bring me back to earth and think clearly.
Do you feel that the TM technique has helped you accomplish your goals? If so, how?
The TM technique definitely helps me reach my goals. I’m the type of person who has more ideas than I know what to do with. That often becomes overwhelming and eventually leads to an existential crisis fueled by panic, and I don’t get anything done at all. TM helps clear the unnecessary noise in my head and helps me stay organized and focused. It’s incredible how much more productive I am since I began practicing.
What are your favorite tools for a happy and healthy life?
Great relationships, art, veganism, and of course, TM. Relationships are the foundation where everything in your life is built. No matter how strong-minded we are, well-being is fragile. A toxic person can turn your best day into a paralyzing week, and that compounds quickly. Oppositely, healthy relationships can not only make your bad days good and your good days better, but they inspire you to keep going in that direction.
Art is another tool I lean on daily. Whether it’s music, cinema, photography, painting, or the sight of immaculate gardens — I can’t imagine a life without these things. Genuine art of almost any medium inspires me to keep moving every day.
Veganism is something I NEVER thought I’d be so passionate about. I grew up in a household of hunters, and eating barbecue was one of my favorite things to do. Vegetarian was an extreme enough idea, but vegan? Forget about it. Fortunately, I was educated in a very passive manner by my fiance, Lindsey, and friend, Rob Zombie. These two people are much smarter and more enlightened than me, so I listened. I’ve now been vegan for 5 years, and it’s changed my outlook on everything.
I cannot survive without TM. It has sincerely changed my life for the better and continues to do so. What I love most about it is that it’s not something that can wear off over time. You don’t get immune to the TM practice. Instead, it’s like this little sidekick I have that goes in and clears the clutter from my brain so I can access what’s already there. It’s really scary to think about all of the ideas I’ve missed out on before I started practicing TM. But it’s exciting to see the ones I’m now able to access because of it.
Since you began practicing the TM technique have you found yourself to be more creative?
Without question! It’s actually a two-pronged effect for me. During meditation, it’s more common than not for me to be hit with new ideas or solutions to problems around an idea or project I’m working on. And outside of practice, especially in the hours immediately after meditation, I think so much clearer and easier. David Lynch refers to creatives as a conduit for ideas that come from “somewhere.” I couldn’t agree more, and since I’ve begun practicing TM that conduit seems to have gotten much wider and less clogged.
Talk about your biggest success and biggest failure. What did you learn from them?
The last few years have been filled with some of my biggest successes and failures. I think they must go hand-in-hand. My biggest success is probably the documentary I made during the making of Rob Zombie’s film, 31. I never went to film school or had any formal training whatsoever. I didn’t even have friends that were into the same things I was into growing up. The way I learned about films, and specifically what it takes to make films, was by studying the incredibly elaborate behind-the-scenes documentaries that accompanied all of Rob Zombie’s films.
I had the insane opportunity to do one (documentary) for Rob Zombie’s upcoming film, 31. That in itself was a surreal success, but it ended up being a lot more than I had anticipated. I got to be a fly on the wall of my main inspiration for over two months straight. Somewhere along the way, he sort of took me under his wing, and to this day he continues to be a sounding board and mentor to me.
My biggest failures can all be summed up in not learning to say “no” sooner. It’s a matter of self-worth that ultimately dictates how people value you and your time. Like many creatives first starting out, I would say “yes” to any job offer, at any price – even free. Before you know it, you’re the budget-friendly option, and people don’t respect that. I eventually learned that no one is going to put a high value on me, other than me. So I put a value on my time and abilities and if an opportunity came up that I felt was going to take advantage of that value, I simply said “no.” Like magic, better opportunities started to come my way because the right people noticed and appreciated that value. I’m sure I’d be a lot further than I am today if I would’ve learned that lesson sooner, but I can’t complain.
If you could give someone one piece of advice when thinking about pursuing a life/career like yours, what would you tell them?
I tell everyone who asks me that the same thing: if there’s anything else in your life that you think you might want to do, try that first. A career in the creative field is not one you can just dabble in. It has to consume you if you want to succeed. The thought of not doing it should make you physically ill. Like Bukowski says in his poem, “So You Want to be a Writer?”, “If it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.” That says it all. And if you do feel the fire in your gut that knows you were put on this planet to do something creative, you will succeed.
There’s no one single path to success, but every success story has a few things in common: drive, hard work, perseverance, and some sort of malleable blueprint. No one is going to come knocking on your door to deliver your hopes and dreams. Those things are all locked up somewhere, and it’s your job to go kicking down every door until you find them. And if you’re certain they’re out there, you will find them. After that, it’s up to you to hold on to them and make them grow.
Find your local TM teacher ►
Robin Roberts, of Good Morning America, caught up with Bob Roth, the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, to talk about the health benefits of the Transcendental Meditation technique, and to launch a new initiative to bring the healing meditation technique to all the wonderful medical professionals who are on the front lines battling COVID-19 in the United States.
This is a phenomenon you have already experienced in your life. Think about it: When you’re stressed or tired, you’re predisposed towards anger and frustration, but when you feel clear, calm and rested, your perception of the world and feelings towards others automatically become a little rosier. On a good day, one of those “I’m on top of the world” days, nothing can bring you down. On the other hand, on “bad” days, even a kind word can feel like an insult.
Now imagine having a tool–or a technique–to tip the scale towards more and more good days and fewer bad ones.
When you use the TM technique to frequently come in contact with your own inner reservoir of peace and happiness, your actions (and reactions) towards others reflect that inner happiness. Health benefits aside, TM practice is a direct method of nurturing your relationship with yourself, and your relationships with others benefit in turn.
Excerpts from an interview with Bob Roth – read the full article on Parade.
Have you ever wondered what the Transcendental Meditation technique is? What is the mysterious technique beloved by so many celebrities? Well wonder no more, Parade interviewed Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation who has answered all your questions.
What is Transcendental Meditation (TM)?
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a mental technique that is practised for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day, sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. During the technique, the mind and body settle down to a unique state of “restful alertness” where the whole physiology is deeply relaxed while the mind is quiet inside, yet wide awake. Hundreds of published studies show the technique is effective for reducing stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression and at the same time, improving health, focus and performance. TM does not involve religion, philosophy or a change in lifestyle. It has been learned by 10 million people.
How does TM differ from other forms of meditation?
The ocean is a great analogy for understanding different approaches to meditation. Just as the ocean can be turbulent on the surface with innumerable waves and quiet at its depth, so, too, the mind is active on the surface with innumerable thoughts but it is also naturally, profoundly quiet deep within. Other forms of meditation work to bring calm to the mind by stopping or observing thoughts—or visualizing new thoughts. This is like trying to create calm in the ocean by stopping the surface waves. On the other hand, Transcendental Meditation doesn’t mind the surface thoughts, it provides access to deeper levels of the mind, which are already calm and peaceful. For this, TM does not require concentration or control of thoughts, nor does it involve visualization or any type of guided practice.
Unlike other forms of meditation that can be learned from a book or tape, TM is always taught in person, one-to-one instruction by a certified instructor. That is because the ability to “transcend,” to settle down and access a field of silence that lies deep within the mind, while completely natural, is also a special skill that everyone learns at his or her own unique pace. For this, a teacher is incredibly helpful. The TM teacher instructs you in the skill of how to turn the attention of your mind, which is usually directed outward to the world around us, inward and to experience the deepest, most settled level of the mind where you are peaceful and quiet inside, yet wide awake and alert.
Transcendental Meditation is taught over four consecutive days, about 60 to 90 minutes each day. During the first session, your teacher will give you a mantra and then teach you how to use it properly. During the following three sessions over consecutive days, you learn additional information to stabilize the correct practice of the technique as well as learn about how the body reduces stress, improves health, and enhances brain functioning as you continue to meditate twice a day over the ensuing weeks, months, and years.
How much does Transcendental Meditation cost?
The initial TM course is four sessions, and a one-time fee, based on income, and ranging from $380-$960 is charged to cover the teacher’s salary. There is an option to split these payments over four months, and those who receive federal assistance such as SNAP may be eligible for a partial grant to help cover the fee. After these four sessions, there is a lifetime of free follow-ups offered through any of the more than 200 teaching centers in the U.S. and any of the thousands of teaching centers worldwide.
What are the health benefits of Transcendental Meditation?
Research shows that TM is highly effective for giving the body deep rest and reducing stress, fatigue and trauma. At the same time, research also shows that TM can have a positive impact on the 80 to 90 percent of the diseases and disorders that are either caused by stress or exacerbated by stress, which includes reductions in high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, along with improvements in focus, creativity, problem-solving, and overall physical and mental health.
Connect with a local TM teacher today to learn more – www.tm.org/contact-us
Excerpts from an essay by Barry Marenberg. View the full piece on Medium.com.
A year ago I was unhappy with the direction of my life. I was out of shape, overtired, and depressed. I was merely going through the motions of waking, working and sleeping. When I was awake, I was not fully “present.” I was experiencing financial issues, personal and professional issues.
Once a week my family and I would dine at a restaurant at which time we would always walk past a building that housed a Transcendental Meditation Center. Signs hung in the window extolling the benefits of this mysterious (to me) practice. For months, I ignored these signs. Late one night I navigated to the website for this Transcendental Meditation Center. The website was bright and filled with easy-to-read information, videos and testimonials of everyday people, along with athletes, celebrities and well-known business professionals.
I watched the videos, I read all the testimonials and the FAQs. It sounded easy and it sounded like something that could help and make a change in my life. I certainly had nothing to lose. I reached out to the Transcendental Meditation Center and asked to visit and chat.
After all this, I decided to enroll. Training encompassed classes on 4 consecutive days with each class lasting about an hour and a half to 2 hours. Day 1 featured a very short spiritual ceremony in which my instructor gifted me my meditation “mantra,” a two-syllable word that means absolutely nothing to me. The rest of Day 1, along with Days 2–4 consisted of in-depth teaching about the practice of TM and included guided meditation sessions with the instructor. I found the TM technique very easy to learn and the personalized interactive guidance to be a valuable and enjoyable part of the learning process. Practicing TM is a simple and unrigid procedure. I don’t need to try to clear my mind and block out all thoughts. Sitting in a certain way or placing my hands in a specific place is not required. If I need to scratch my nose during the mediation, I scratch it. If I need to shift in my seat, I do so. None of these actions interfere with my meditation.
What I liked about learning TM:
• If you are skeptical, as I was, the technique works no matter that you are skeptical
• Practicing TM involved no concentration or focus on my part
• I did not have to exert effort or fight to control or clear my mind of thoughts
So, what has TM done for me in the past year that I have been practicing?
Am I a completely different person one year later? No. Am I physically and mentally improved? I feel that I am. I meditate twice a day, every day. I enjoy it immensely and it makes a difference in my day and my life overall. I have lost a substantial amount of weight in the past year. My weight loss is not solely attributable to TM but my mindset has changed for the better and my level of positivity has given me enhanced incentive to change my eating habits and hit the gym regularly. As a result, my blood pressure has significantly decreased, and my cholesterol level has improved so that I no longer need to take the blood pressure and cholesterol medications. For me, that’s a significant win. Furthermore, I am calmer and more patient. My anxiety level has decreased substantially.
TM has provided me with a tool that allows me to deal with the curve balls life throws in a more controlled and positive manner.
By Jeff Stoffer. Courtesy of The American Legion Magazine.
Bob Ouellette was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist in the Army as terrorism tensions escalated in the post-Desert Storm era. His duties included investigating any unattended briefcase or container that might blow up in his face, killing him or others. He spent much of his service time in the Washington, D.C., area, but also traveled the world to protect the president and other top U.S. officials. In a three-week period during the Gulf War, he never knew when any one of the 73 suspect packages he personally inspected would invite death. Such pressure, he later discovered, had a way of rewiring his brain.
“That’s an awful lot of calls, an awful lot of stress,” says Ouellette, now a civilian security specialist for the Department of Defense. “Every time you turn around, it’s like, is this one for real? I don’t like walking by trash cans. I don’t like sitting with my back to the door. I don’t like crowded situations. I exhibited all those signs of PTSD.” He was never so diagnosed, but the effect was felt.
Acting on a mantra Ouellette learned in his training as a noncommissioned officer – “know yourself and seek self-improvement” – he was issued an altogether different mantra from an ancient practice, transcendental meditation (TM), about six years ago. It was a seemingly counter-intuitive approach for a veteran whose specialty required intense, high-stress precision and focus. “When I found TM, it just enabled me to relax. Creativity, workload – it seems you’re able to handle more, do more. And it’s not stressful.”
Those who practice TM say the key to unlocking clear thought and function, no matter the situation, is to spend 20 minutes twice a day deliberately thinking about nothing, allowing the brain to essentially have a mind of its own.
“Transcendental meditation is a technique of the mind,” explains Tony Nader, an MIT-educated brain scientist, doctor, author and international leader of the TM movement. “You sit quietly, in a chair. You close the eyes and allow the mind to take its natural tendency, which is to go toward more … we are always searching for more in life. This is the nature of the mind. What we do is turn the mind inward and allow it to dive toward itself. The inner, deeper level of the self is something which is extremely soothing and calming. The source of intelligence, of creativity, of thought, is all within us. So diving back toward ourselves, the mind settles down.”
Transcendental meditation, as a treatment for veterans diagnosed with PTSD, is not a New Age fad. “It has roots in the ancient noble warrior classes, where acting out of fear or anger brought disaster or defeat,” writes TM instructor Bob Roth, author of the New York Times best-selling book “Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation.”
A three-year DoD-funded study at the VA San Diego Healthcare System indicated that 61 percent of veterans in the program experienced clinically meaningful improvements in PTSD symptoms by using TM. The prestigious Lancet Psychiatry journal published the results in November 2018, a breakthrough in scientific validation for the practice. Researchers compared TM with prolonged exposure therapy and health education treatment, and news of its effectiveness was covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News and ABC News.
The clinical trials involved 203 veterans diagnosed with PTSD. One, a Navy veteran whose diagnosis was linked to military sexual trauma, was quoted about the transformation she experienced by participating in the study: “Through TM, I began to heal. I began to come out of my nightmares and face the battle ahead. I began to attend (treatment) sessions faithfully, I began to drive, and I started community college. I got the courage to apply for a job in a hospital. This program has given me my life back.”
Ouellette observed a similar outcome for a skeptical Air Force sergeant “who was always stressed out,” he says. “I told her, ‘You might benefit from this.’ She said, ‘My mind is always racing … I can’t do this.’” She decided, despite her doubts, to give it a chance. “She said she was totally changed. It calmed her down. I got a thank-you note from her, for introducing her to it.”
The Lancet interpreted the San Diego study by stating that transcendental meditation “might be a viable option for decreasing the severity of PTSD symptoms in veterans and represents an efficacious alternative for veterans who prefer not to receive or who do not respond to traditional exposure-based treatments of PTSD.”
A resolution passed at the 98th American Legion National Convention in 2016 called on Congress to fund collaborative DoD-VA research projects into innovative treatment programs for PTSD, particularly those that do not rely on prescription drugs. Further study and accessibility of alternative treatments has also been a consistent recommendation from The American Legion’s TBI-PTSD Committee for nearly a decade. So too has been the committee’s message that no two diagnoses are exactly alike, so treatment should be tailored for each individual’s set of conditions.
For veterans who experienced combat stress for extended periods, Nader explains, “what we are facing is a dramatic transformation in the wiring of the brains of these young service people.”
He says the nervous system “is divided, in a simplistic way, into two parts. There is what we can call the ‘new brain.’ And there is the more animal-instinct-oriented part of the brain, which is more the limbic system inside, deeper in the brain. The old brain, the lower brain, is what protects us from danger; that is most important. The brain is wired so that when you are in a stressful situation, a danger situation, it activates automatically these processes, so you can react quickly. The new brain takes time to analyze and react.”
In essence, the fight-or-flight chemistry of the brain becomes highly stimulated in combat or other stressful situations. “Our brain is wired to defend us from danger without having us to think about it,” Nader says. “You see something jumping at you – a tiger in the forest – you don’t have to think about it. This reaction is either you run away or you fight. Fight or flight. We are deeply wired like that – for the dangers of the jungle.”
For young people who have lived otherwise comfortable lives, the shift to extended life-or-death combat stress triggers changes that can be difficult to reverse. “In a combat situation, they are facing exactly the conditions of the jungle because their life is threatened, and they have to kill the threatening people. There is this very, very deep instinct that is awakened. So the wiring that takes care of this fight-or-flight response gets more and more enhanced. (It) becomes so powerful and so wired that when they come back to normal life, their wiring is different, and everything is now a potential threat. They are living in a constant threat situation – hyper arousal. You cannot just talk to these people and tell them to calm down.”
Transcendental meditation’s roots run 5,000 years deep, to the ancient Vedic tradition in India. The practice climbed in popularity in the 1960s when Nader’s predecessor, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, led the modern movement and gained a celebrity following, including members of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones.
“Some people think it’s hippie,” Ouellette says. “There are also people who have a built-in bias against something new. This isn’t new, as far as the world goes. It’s just different thinking.”
Meditation practices – including mindful awareness, which also has ancient Asian roots – have had a resurgence of interest as a subject for serious scientific inquiry. VA’s recent research, including clinical trials whose results were published in 2018 by the American Psychiatric Association, showed positive results for mindful-based stress reduction after more than 200 veterans with PTSD participated in an eight-week study. While mindfulness focuses on the present (rather than revisiting the past or worrying about the future) and concentration about a particular experience (like eating or exercise), TM is about letting the mind go where it will, the opposite of focus or deliberate thought. Though cautious about meditation practices as an answer for veterans with PTSD, especially those with serious mental health conditions, VA has given it serious study, generally coming away with enough evidence in clinical trials to continue pursuing it.
“As with all complementary and integrative health approaches, mindfulness-based meditation should be a supplement to, not a replacement for, trauma-focused behavioral psychotherapies,” the journal Psychiatric Research & Clinical Practice recommended. “Additional studies are needed.”
“We’ve had 500 or more research studies on the benefits (of TM),” Nader says. “For PTSD specifically, there is more and more rigorous research. It’s a growing body.”
Ouellette says he has seen more studies about TM than mindful awareness, but adds that when a veteran, regardless of a PTSD diagnosis, says he or she is “feeling terrible, is stressed out, is in a bad place … thinking of doing something bad,” TM should not be ruled out because of any stereotypes or cultural biases. Nader says nearly 12 million people worldwide now practice it, and such high-profile advocates as the David Lynch Foundation, as well as the Transcendental Meditation International website itself, have dedicated platforms that describe the benefits specifically for veterans.
Some skepticism is based on a perception that TM is a religious activity or has a specific spiritual or ideological bent. “To the contrary, we have found people becoming more understanding of their religion, more at peace with their god,” Nader says. “We used to say that if religion is to invite God to your home, TM can be like cleaning your home.”
Ouellette agrees. “You’re not changing how you think. You’re not changing politics. You can be a Republican. You can be a Democrat. You can be Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – it doesn’t change you. You’re still who you are. Your mind is just in a better place. It doesn’t change you. It changes your physiology. It changes your mind. It changes how you deal with everything else.”
As commander of Vietnam Veterans Memorial American Legion Post 295 in Germantown, Md., Ouellette makes a point to reach out to veterans needing help with PTSD. On the post’s landing page is a platform titled “Resilience: Not All Wounds are Visible,” and VA’s national suicide prevention hotline is promoted, as are phone numbers for counseling. The site also has a variety of videos, testimonials and explanations of TM as a possible therapy solution.
Ouellette has recommended TM for his children, including his youngest son, an Army sergeant who deployed twice to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. “It worked for him,” he says. “It’s life-changing.”
TM works in part, Nader adds, because it offers for veterans who have endured hyper arousal what any doctor would prescribe after a surgery or illness: rest. “We are teaching them a simple technique that allows them to not do anything, to allow the mind to go back to itself, and then the mind heals itself – the body heals itself. What we are doing is giving it a chance to do that. The experience of transcending, of going deeper, gives that inner experience of peace and quietness.”
Beauty from the inside out is what on-camera host Lina Noory believes in. While her day-to-day involves giving out fashion and beauty tips, ultimately, “it’s not about what you own or what you wear,” she explains. “I want to leave this earth knowing that I made a positive impact on people’s lives, even if only a few people. It’s worth it to me.” Lina’s beauty shines from her enthusiasm for sharing what she loves and her self-acceptance.
Lina has a profound gratitude for the opportunity to follow her passion professionally. Her parents immigrated from Afghanistan to give their daughters a better life, and Lina is keenly aware that she could have been born into a less fortunate situation. “When you see what life is like in these impoverished countries that have limited rights for women, you realize how fortunate you are to live in the United States,” she elaborates. Born in Queens, New York, Lina had educational opportunities that would not have been available to her had she been born in her parents’ home country.
While she was in elementary school, her parents relocated the family to Orange County, CA, and she later attended the University of California, Los Angeles. “Originally I worked in nightlife and hospitality, doing a job that wasn’t giving me value. I just made money, which could afford me the different things we think we need in life–a car, a house, etc.” One day her boyfriend prompted her to think outside the box by asking, “If you could have any other career right now, what would it be?” Lina had always wanted to be an on-camera host, and to create content that would empower women to look and feel their best.
Even knowing what she wanted didn’t make it an easy process. Stepping out of her comfort zone and into an entrepreneurial endeavor was a leap of faith! Lina had plenty of reasons for making excuses to play it safe, but at some point, “I just needed to make the decision to get up, and go do it!”
— Do you see yourself as somebody who took a leap of faith to create the life you live today, or do you think it kind of just happened?
For me it was definitely a leap of faith! While working full-time in hospitality, I went against what my body and mind were telling me: why leave something you worked so hard towards just to start from scratch again? But I took the leap anyway! I’ve always felt that if you don’t have purpose and meaning in your life, then you’re not living. You’re just a hamster running on a wheel that never moves, until you burn out and eventually stop running. The only way to live a meaningful life is through growth and change, and change only happens outside of your comfort zone.
I had been looking for outside goals for happiness—telling myself when I get this job, this home, this promotion, etc., then I’ll be happy. I would plant my happiness outside of me—and that’s the worst thing you can ever do. So I decided to break out of my comfort zone and manifest my future. I had also started practicing TM around the same time, which not only allowed me to be more focused but also helped me push through my fears and over-thinking.
— In one word, what describes your approach to life?
— Do you have a team that helps you manage your website and tutorial videos, or are you a one-woman show?
I’ve been a one-woman show until just recently. I did all the styling, filming, editing, and posting of the creative content. I’m working on growing a team, but as of now, I have two awesome girls who help me part-time with taking photos and editing my videos.
— Talk about the biggest failure you’ve had. What did you learn from it?
My biggest failure was believing that the answer was outside of me. It’s been the reason for failed business ventures, and unhealthy relationships with friends, family, and significant others. Realizing that happiness is an internal job and can’t just be found in something or someone else has been a fundamental part of my journey. It’s not a race or a light switch, but a journey. I don’t believe it has to be a struggle, but I do think it’s important to tune in to yourself to understand how the journey works for you. No two people’s journeys are the same.
— What habit contributes most to your success?
My greatest success has been learning to be present, and not believing everything my mind tells me. I’ve learned that we spend most of the day in our minds, and that we are not truly living. What’s very important to me is how I start and end my day, since you are essentially programming your brain in “theta” minutes before you doze off, and right when you wake up. I begin and end my day with gratitude, which I practice through writing down personal morning affirmations and listening to audio affirmations before bed.
The first and last 10 min of my day I say affirmations to myself: “I’m lovable. I am happy. I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”
Before I check ANYTHING, I check in with myself about what I’m grateful for and how I’m proud of myself. That is one of the most important practices in my routine, along with my TM practice.
— How long have you been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, and what inspired you to learn?
When I was working in the nightlife and hospitality world, my anxiety and stress was at its height. One of the managers at work mentioned the TM technique—he said it was what saved his brother who suffered from depression. I had reached a point in my life where I was not practicing self-care, and I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t pursuing my passion and desire to be an on-camera host, and I felt like I wasn’t growing.
It took someone I trusted to give me the answer, and the very next Monday, I called in and booked the intro talk with my local TM teachers. I started the TM course that same week.
I moved forward so quickly with the TM technique because something inside of me knew it was right for me. And it’s truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
— What was your perception of meditation in general before you learned TM? Did that perception change after your first few experiences meditating?
I avoided anything that required stillness or being calm like the plague! During yoga I’d avoid shavasana—corpse pose—because I didn’t like being still with myself. I had become so addicted to being stressed that my body would reject stillness by distracting myself with constant movement.
Before TM, it was difficult for me to sit in stillness or be calm. Now I look forward to my meditations and live for moments of stillness. The TM technique has also opened new doors for me in my self-discovery, and has allowed me to be more present.
— Where do you want to go next with your career?
If this were a few years ago, I would have given you an exact timeline of how I would want my life and career to go. I don’t have a timeline anymore. I’m here. I’m exactly where I need to be, and that’s been the biggest accomplishment for me.
The challenge has been realizing that where I need to be is right here. I used to dwell on the past, or stress about the future. I was never truly living because my mind was always in the past, or creating huge expectations for the future. I’ve learned that expectations are the root of all heartache—one of my favorite quotes by William Shakespeare. I do think having goals is amazing! I give myself goals, but not a timeline under which to accomplish them. I like to focus on the journey now, and not the destination. In the past I would give myself deadlines that I would become fixated on, and when I wouldn’t reach them, it often created self-doubt. That was very debilitating.
My goal for the future is to launch my own hair product line, Linoor by Lina, which I’ll be doing very soon!
I believe that when you choose happiness, everything else will fall into place. In my immediate future, I want to continue focusing on what it means to be happy, and rewrite the negative patterns within myself. This means letting go and being present.
And I would LOVE, love, love to get to a point where I can be one of the people that helps bring the TM technique to schools! I’d love to be a part of giving kids an outlet to release stress, especially middle-school and high-school students. The TM technique is the stepping-stone to everything. I can already see the impact it has made in my life, and I would love to share that gift with everyone else.
— If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about pursuing a career like yours, what would you tell them?
First and foremost, be authentic! Your superpower is that no one else is you! Find something that you are not only good at, but that you truly love doing. If you stay consistent and do not give up, there’s no way you won’t be successful.
Envision your most noble self, and believe that you are already succeeding at whatever you started. This is something that I learned from Dr. Joe Dispenza! I believe in the power of manifestation. Put yourself out there and understand that failures are a part of success, so don’t let them affect you. Every “failure” is just a stepping-stone to achieving your success and learning something new about yourself.
— Tell us about your videos and what you hope to do through them.
My styling videos and beauty tutorials are intended to empower women to look and feel their best! I also create wellness videos where I talk about meditation and emphasize the importance of practicing gratitude, because I believe it’s just as important to feel as beautiful on the inside as you do on the outside.
My hair tutorials teach girls how to save money and give themselves a salon style blowout at home. The styling videos show girls how to style one clothing item 5 different ways, because I believe in versatility and re-creating looks from the items you already have in your closet. Some of my most popular videos are the ones where I style looks for the work-place. I absolutely love supporting women in the workforce. I’m invested in the well-being of my followers—they are my family. If anything I create resonates with them or inspires them, that’s what matters. Making a difference in someone’s life, whether it’s big or small, is what life should be about.
My name is Steve. I’m a corporate technology executive, father, and generally happy guy. My life has always been about evolution and expansion—looking for new ways to adopt the latest technology to enhance a company product, or new personal experiences to learn and grow from. This, along with seeking out ways to cope with the stress of corporate life while navigating the challenges that come with becoming a father, has taken my life down many different paths.
As someone with a creative AND whirlwind mind that moves a mile a minute, balancing my creative ideas with spinning, whirling, self-sabotaging thoughts has always been a challenge. My mind was always “ahead” of the rest of me, and this imbalance caused chaos in my personal life: from a divorce in my late 30s, to lost friendships, to repeating the same experiences. All of this took a toll on my body, mind, nervous system, and general feelings about myself. I became depressed.
I’m 43 now, and throughout my journey I have noticed deep inside of me a pain, or fear…call it a discomfort with myself and who I am. I tried to listen to the many family members who wanted something better for me in my life, but I never really could.
The last straw came in the form of a failed four-year relationship that was full of drama, difficulty, and enormous pain. As that relationship and engagement unwound, I began to look inside rather than continue to blame everyone and everything externally. It was a very dark time for me, but I finally got to the point where I was willing to do the work I needed to do for myself.
As I finally opened to this idea, a friend suggested that I try Transcendental Meditation. At the low point I was at, I decided to look into it.
All of the data and studies supporting TM as a powerful tool for self-healing were very intriguing to me. I was searching for something to quiet my mind, and this practice seemed to really center on self-awareness, with so many stories of personal transformation and growth surrounding it. I was very excited to give it a try.
After signing up at the San Diego TM center, I attended my first class with David. The TM course, a four-day-in-a-row experience, was easy, insightful, and each day immediately became something that I looked forward to. David gave us the practice in such a powerful way that was so easy to understand, and each day I learned a little more.
After the course, I took the practice home and began to see immediate changes in my body and mind. I was more focused, felt less mental-spinning, and a general calmness came over me. The practice itself is so simple, I couldn’t believe such a small modification to my day could create such an amazing result in myself. My co-workers quickly noticed this change, along with my friends and family. The practice also helped me to cope and navigate the grief of my failed engagement.
Just a month after beginning my twice-a-day practice, I’ve noticed a significant change in myself. My brain is ultra-creative, I’m a lot calmer than I’ve ever been in my entire life, and all the non-stop spinning and noise that used to plague me has been replaced with an inner stillness and appreciation for myself.
TM is a practice that I will carry with me every day, twice a day, and I highly recommend giving it a try! My only regret is that I didn’t find this practice twenty years ago!
For the first time in a very long time, I feel at peace, and the future is very, very bright.
After helping out and supporting my mom as best as I could for thirteen years while she battled with cancer, when she passed away, I was a major train wreck—deep depression, suicidal thoughts, and countless nights of insomnia were just a few of my “symptoms.” A few months later, when a friend suggested I learn Transcendental Meditation, my only hope was that I would be able to get some sleep. I hadn’t read anything about meditation, hadn’t thought about it or even wondered about it, but I was in such a dark place after my mother’s death, one morning, I made the call.
<span class="quote-left"> “My ability to focus, stay calm and continuously be present is the gift that keeps on giving. TM was the magic bullet that never stopped working…” </span> Within days, off I went to a Transcendental Meditation center in Chicago. The home which doubled as a “TM” center had a feeling of calm I couldn’t quite put my finger on—the air seemed lighter, somehow, and the view was all lake. Even upon entering the center’s lobby, I felt a bit calmer. <em>Huh</em>, I thought, <em>these people who work here are super different</em>. They were so chilled and completely filled with love; it was immediately clear to me they were there to help me. My next thought was, <em>I’m here, so I might as well learn how to do this</em>.
I sat down with my teacher and after a short, but beautiful Indian ceremony, I was given my “mantra”—a sound she said my awareness would naturally follow, as it subsided into the depths of silence in my mind. When we both closed our eyes, I began to think the mantra to myself . . . and just like that, I was gone. I dove into a part of my body and mind I never knew existed—boundless, limitless, and totally awesome. Something major had just happened, and soon I was discovering I’d only just glimpsed the tip of the iceberg.
As I got in my car to drive home, I began flying down Lake Shore Drive, immediately noticing how the world seemed so much different to me than it did on my way to the center. The colors all around me were more vivid, the sounds of the birds felt like sweet music to my ears, I seemed to be connected to all of the trees I saw . . . and above all, I felt happy. But, my mind called out to me, Is this really happening?! Do I really feel happy? How? Why? What the hell?
Luckily, the essence of that experience stuck and stayed, and I came to find that it was in fact “real”—that in twenty minutes, my whole life had changed. I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong. My life was no longer defined by outer circumstances. I was having a direct experience of what I have come to know as my true Self.
It took me a couple of weeks to adjust to this new feeling, but man, it was incredible. Now, looking back, I would say my experience of learning TM was nothing short of miraculous. (In fact, my 13-year-long sleeping problem simply disappeared after my first meditation!)
<span class="quote-right"> “I told them what I’d experienced in learning to meditate… That it would make them feel totally limitless and boundless. With that, Oprah turned to Sheri and said, ‘I want what this girl has.'” </span> The mind-blower was it had only been a short time before starting to meditate that I had been planning to give away my dog, give away all my belongings, and <em>end my life</em>. My relationship with my mom had been so close and so beautiful that after she died, I saw no point in living. I’d continually thought, <em>how can I go on without her?</em> It didn’t seem possible. I’d sobbed and wailed myself to sleep, night after night, desperately praying for a solution to my grief and an end to the deeply dark sadness in my soul. I <em>never</em> could have guessed it would come in the form of something as simple as meditation. You know what they say, though: “Be careful what you wish for, ‘cause you just might get it.” Well, I was about to get “it” and in a <em>big</em> way.
Within weeks, I was working for Oprah Winfrey, helping her staff learn TM. During my first day of work, I walked into Harpo Studios, met up with my TM teacher in an office there, and asked her what I should do. She just said, “Go in the screening room and tell your story.”
When I walked in the room, the only ones present were Miss Winfrey and her right-hand executive, Sheri Salata (now President of the Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Studios). Without skipping a beat, I told them what I’d experienced in learning to meditate and explained how TM was going to change their lives. That it would make them feel totally limitless and boundless. With that, Oprah turned to Sheri and said, “I want what this girl has.”
The rest, as they say, is history. From that day on, I never looked back: I’ve written a book (Enlightenment Is Sexy: Every Woman’s Guide to a Magical Life, which I’m in the process of self-publishing), continued working for Oprah and the David Lynch Foundation (talking about TM, freedom, and self-knowledge around the country), and have generally been living an extraordinary life. And in my heart, what’s best is this: knowing a truly sweet future lies ahead of me and the pain of the past is over.
Today I still sit for 20 minutes twice a day and meditate. The benefits have continued to grow, and my inner peace has remained a constant. My ability to focus, stay calm, and continuously be present is the gift that keeps on giving. TM was the magic bullet that never stopped working and for that I say, thank you, thank you, thank you.
The Author: Valerie Gangas is the creator of Enlightenment is Sexy, a blog “where people can come to get a different view on living, have fun, connect with other cool people and realize that living from the inside out is the only game in town!” Contact Valerie via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.