I officially started meditating at about five years old. Before that I would sit next to my mother in the mornings and again in the afternoons for twenty minutes each time as she practiced. According to her, I closed my eyes and went deep into my own bliss. I knew what it was to be mindful at a very young age because of my parents.
My mother is a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. She first taught me by giving me what was called my walking word. The word was my mantra, also known as my word of wisdom. With Transcendental Meditation, you receive a mantra that is just for you, not to be shared with anyone else.
My friends thought I was weird. Not weird enough to de-friend me, but enough to challenge me as I got older. Other parents and friends of my parents would question my mom on the regular about this strange technique. Some went as far as calling it a cult of some sort and even accusing her practice as something against God. It was absurd to me. Especially since I viewed my mother as one of the most sweetest, spiritual, purest and giving beings.
Often times, I would meditate with both of my parents in the afternoons when we were all home. It was something we rarely missed. This was a twice-daily practice. It was important. My parents took me on courses, where men, women, families and quite a bit of celebrities from all over the world came together to meditate. I felt that I was with my own kind when I sat in rooms with other children just closing our eyes and meditating. Then it was back to play right after.
My parents never forced meditation on me. They simply shared it with me and included it in our routine. As I got older there were times I didn’t do it. I wasn’t as regular as they were during high school and college, but I always came back to it, because once you do it, it really makes no sense not to do it. I had this obvious tool to bring me inner peace with profound rest and relaxation. When life presented obstacles – why wouldn’t I do this?
There were times my parents went to retreats on their own and indulged in all kinds of Ayurvedic treatments.
I didn’t know anyone, outside of family in our community that meditated. It was very rare. And if they did, it was something different than TM. It incorporated visualization or tapes with a voice guiding them, which is actually really great and I enjoy that too, but it’s not transcending consciousness like TM. They are very different.
When I had friends over, people would ask where my mom was and I would say, “She’s doing her program.”
“Her program?” They would ask. “Is she on TV?”
“No, it’s a meditation program. She does asanas (a type of yoga) and sun salutations and she meditates.”
Yeah, I was on the weird list, but oddly enough it didn’t matter to me so much. I kind of liked being a part of something so beautiful and it’s interesting how the thing that makes you weird as a kid is often what intrigues people about you when you get older. As a kid it’s hard to be unique and different, but as adults we honor what’s unique about us.
Today, people all around me know what Transcendental Meditation is and they are constantly asking if my mom can teach them.
Instead of looking at me like I’m weird, people marvel at how lucky I was to have grown up in such an environment. I only knew different when I experienced other households. We had a lot of peace in our home. Despite the loud gatherings that Latin families put on, there was always an underlying foundation of peace.
People of all walks and religions meditate. It’s crazy to me that once upon a time, not so long ago, people would question the value and have negative assumptions about something so pure. Now, the people that I collaborate with practice TM. When I attend conferences or listen to speakers, it’s now common to hear that TM is a top priority for them and part of their twice-daily regime as well.
My parents always taught me that we are inherently good. They gave me the greatest gift, which is to understand the belief that happiness and holiness comes from within. We have all we need within us to accomplish whatever we want.
It’s always been a dream of my mother’s that the entire world would practice TM. She’s spent many years being a part of this movement to create more peace and how fricken’ cool it is that we keep getting closer to that?