Some millions of years ago I did an MBA with the Open University. It suited me at the time, work paid for the fees, and I was hungry and career motivated enough to fit it in at weekends and evenings.
There was one summer school that really stood out for me. It was near Peterborough at a hotel, and pretty reasonable accommodation. That always helps. So did the fact that on the last night I gaily flitted around the place being bought drinks by people I hadn't even met all week. Oops. I staggered back to my room, and I mean, really, really staggered.
We had an interesting group, ie during the week you all get assigned to a working group of eight or so people. We got on well, and one of the instructors said they were pretty amazed by how well we gelled together. As a group, we ate together, drank together, worked after hours together, and happily chatted away.
They were nice people in the group, easy to get on with, and no, I'm not in touch with any of them. Future contacts never even came up. Just as well, as I'm not a believer in the 'we'll meet up in 20 years time in Trafalgar Square' sort of syndrome.
One of my colleagues, Robert or whatever he was called, was talking about stress to me one evening before dinner. We did this whole thing well, you see. Drinks before dinner with our colleagues for casual chat. We were probably quite exclusive, in retrospect, with our own little corner and our select group.
'Why don't you try transcendental meditation?' he suggested. I respected whatever his name was, and liked him, so I didn't dismiss the idea although I knew fuck all about it and thought it was sort of hippy beatleish stuff.
Much later, I tried to get my boss to fork out for the TM course but he wouldn't have it. Stress, I said. Worth a try though. So I paid myself.
For my first appointment, I had to provide a piece of fresh fruit and a white handkerchief, maybe something else. Well, money obviously.
I sat on a plain chair in someone's room, closed my eyes, and was given a meditational word. I still use it. Or near enough, as it is the sound that matters, it was given verbally.
I practised on the metro. I practised in bed (or rather, on the futon at the time) and invariably fell back to sleep. I practised when I was going to sleep, that was an easy one.
I went for individual tuition and later for group sessions. To be honest it was not expensive. Partly because the tutor I used was independent from official TM stuff as he thought they were too expensive for most people.
One evening we were sitting in a somewhat tawdry hotel for a group med. Whacky huh? Eight or ten people sitting around a table together meditating.
The next minute, or rather five minutes or so, I floated on air. OK, I didn't do that. I have only ever done that many years ago when I got nice painkillers in hospital that blasted the shit out of me.
But I did experience a huge release of tension as everything suddenly lifted off my shoulders. Hard to describe. I shifted slightly in the plain chair and something went somewhere into the depths of Whitley Bay. And, well, I really did feel I was floating upwards.
Group meditation is meant to be more powerful because there are more people and more vibes. I went to some more group meetings. Never happened again. Maybe it was the seedy venue that made it work.
I still meditate and it still sends me to sleep. Thanks whatever your name was on the MBA summer school back near Peterborough.
And for those of you who want the nitty gritty. I think my group had all gone to bed that last night and I was in party mode. I've also always easily flitted, and fitted, into and out of, other groups. As it was an MBA course, back in the 80s there were an awful lot of men and not a lot of women. I had to pass so many people to get through the drinking areas. Nightmare, I tell you!
I fell into bed at something like 3am and promptly picked up the 'phone to report back to base to inform my partner I was pissed. He took a hell of a long time to answer. And then I went happily off to sleep.
The next morning I even turned up for breakfast. Uff, it was hard, but I was there. Didn't bother to go for the ghastly course wind-up stuff, just packed up and went home.
A great week, and the TM recommendation was so appreciated. Doesn't really matter what type of meditation you choose to try. As they say, don't knock it until you have tried it. TM works for me. Has done for nearly 20 years.