Axios Finish Line

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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 498 words ... 2 mins.

1 big thing: Time to meditate

Illustration of a zen garden with sand circles, the Axios "A" sits in the center.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

All three Axios co-founders — Jim, Roy Schwartz and Mike — are trying something we never imagined: transcendental meditation (TM). 

Why it matters: We're perpetually in motion and distracted. If millions of people over thousands of years found peace and clearer minds with mantras and quiet meditation, why not us?

  • We're taking classes this week — and plan to report back to you in a few months if any of us stuck with it, and found the benefits others claim. We'd love to hear your TM success — or failure — stories.
  • If nothing else, TM is getting us off life's Habitrail, if even for a couple of 20-minute chunks a day.

What TM is: Put simply, TM is a meditative technique in which you silently repeat a mantra for 20 minutes while sitting with your eyes closed.

What TM is not: A religion, a cult, a breathing exercise or a celebrity fad. The stress-killing benefits of the practice can help all.

  • The David Lynch Foundation is raising funds to provide meditation training to students, homeless people, veterans and others for free.

How it works: The purpose of TM is to lift you out of your ordinary — often hectic — thinking process, into a state of restful alertness. The instructor gives you your own secret mantra — a simple sound or phrase to repeat. The repetition relaxes the mind and refreshes you, practitioners say.

For us, one of the most alluring parts of TM was the notion of unlocking brain power that goes unused, and improving our mental and physical health.

  • Our instructor illustrates it as choppy waves atop a deep ocean — our brain being like an 18-foot boat being tossed on 30-foot waves.
  • TM helps you "settle" — that's Mike's light-bulb word from the training — into deeper levels.

There’s lots of research showing substantial benefits of TM, especially for people in high-stress jobs — frontline health workers or people who have suffered trauma, including veterans and survivors of sexual abuse.

The instructor keeps telling us there's no right or wrong way to meditate (besides trying too hard). But let's face it — you get results or you don't.

  • The time commitment is real: TM practitioners insist on four-day courses taught by a trained professional. Here's the one we're using.
  • Then, it's 20 minutes, twice a day.

The bottom line: Even if TM just gets us off our phones for 40 minutes a day, it's a massive success. But let’s see if we stick with it.

🌌 Inspiration for Yoda

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with John Lennon and George Harrison of the Beatles. Photo: Cummings Archives/Redferns via Getty Images

Fun fact: Star Wars creator George Lucas is rumored to have based Yoda on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian yoga guru who founded TM in 1958.

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