Yes, that TM Retreat is probably worth it.
It was the fourth day of the International Young Meditators’ Course, and something remarkable happened.
I was with 130 other people, all practising Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programmes, in a hotel on a beautiful stretch of the Spanish coastline.
For 10 days, we were going deep within ourselves – spending a large part of our days meditating, doing yoga asanas, and resting.
And while every day was deeply special, on the fourth day, something intense happened to me personally.
I experienced, in a moment, a profound feeling of interior freedom.
An overwhelming feeling of liberation.
All the worries that had been bothering me for years … suddenly gone.
That fear I was never going to be cool, beautiful, successful, or fashionable enough …
That I’d never have as much money as I’d like to …
That I needed external validation that I truly have worth as a human being …
In a moment, all those concerns suddenly seemed so small … so insignificant compared to my all-encompassing Self.
It was a life-transforming experience.
And yet, with so many daily messages telling us what to care about and how to feel, it takes a lot to break free.
I’d never managed to do it, despite twenty plus years of trying.
But in that moment, sitting with a group of meditators on this TM retreat in Spain, I did.
It was a feeling I’ve never experienced before. And while the intensity of the experience has certainly faded since that day, a flavour of it is still with me.
So how did it happen?
I’d say it started five years ago, when I learned a technique called Transcendental Meditation.
Meditating regularly helped me deal with the most immediate stresses – stresses like the low-grade anxiety I carried with me day-to-day. As these began to dissolve, TM helped me make better choices and feel more happy with my life.
Then about three years ago I moved to MERU, the headquarters of the TM Organisation, where I encountered a lot of deeper knowledge from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about the nature of life.
I started to understand, and agree, with the teaching that there was nothing wrong with material things … they just aren’t where the most glorious reality lies.
If we want a glorious external reality – and who doesn’t? – we have to first tap into our glorious internal reality.
'If we want a glorious external reality – and who doesn't? – we have to first tap into our glorious internal reality.'
At MERU, I also learned the Advanced Techniques and joined in on group meditations with other meditators. My deeper spiritual experiences started to tell me that I’d stumbled into something quite profound … that maybe, just maybe, this was something to dedicate my life to exploring.
In August of 2018, life took another leap forward when I started the TM-Sidhi Course.
That’s when everything in my life really started changing. That’s when things started transitioning … shaking … blossoming … and pushing me forward with a force I had never encountered before.
It was all pushing me to be my best self, and to reflect on what truly matters in life.
Meanwhile, I had new energy. Less stress. My relationships were taking on a new tenderness and stability.
And suddenly, I felt a new sense of urgency to take my life seriously … to make use of all this newfound meaning and capability.
Enter the International Young Meditators’ Course in Spain
I’d heard that the IYMC was the once-in-a-year course you had to go to if you were a young person practising TM.
I knew it was an opportunity to meet other young people who meditate, to spend time on my own development, and to enjoy a break from work, too.
As part of my job at MERU I was actually helping to promote it. And while I knew on a deep level that it would be a great, important experience in my life, I had no idea what the course would do to me internally.
Finally, October of 2019 came, and I trekked to Castellón, Spain, with some friends.
The IYMC is a rounding course, which means it’s a course with lots of time for meditation (including time for yoga asanas and pranayama) and lots of time for rest, with TM Teachers available to guide the group and answer questions. The goal of this kind of ’rounding course’ is to enjoy deeper rest than we normally get day-to-day, which clears the way for deeper inner experiences.
At the IYMC we also had time for knowledge and heard from Peter Warburton, the leader of the IYMC who’s been hosting this course for the past 10 years, and a number of other experts on things like AyurVeda, aromatherapy, and even Vedic astrology.
Along with the rounding and knowledge, we had time to get to know the other course participants – spending time on the beach, chatting over dinner, and hanging out by the hotel pool.
I know I’m not the only one who felt deeply encouraged by just being around like-minded people who meditate. It’s an assurance that yes – we’re all on a journey. And we’re all in this together.
All of us, transforming together
The liberating experience I described at the beginning was just one of many powerful experiences I had on the course.
In fact, it felt like every day, there was some inner process that was happening – something inside that was transforming.
Ultimately, I knew it was helping me become more aligned with who I want to be.
And during that course, when I looked at the faces of the other people there in Spain, I knew they were also going through their own, similar experiences.
We were all letting go of the things that weren’t serving us anymore.
We were all getting exposed to what happens when the stresses that junk up our nervous systems are gently dissolved.
And while the experiences will always be different from person to person – and we should never expect a specific outcome from our meditation – I saw each person, like me, transforming from the inside out.
It was 10 days I’ll never forget.
Making time for transformation
These days, I feel I have one of the best jobs in the world.
My job, as part of the marketing team at MERU, is to tell meditators about the many opportunities that wait for them when they start to explore Maharishi’s knowledge of all areas of life.
I get to tell them about the deeper experiences that will come when they make the time and space for inner transformation … and the transformation we can expect to see in society when we actually make use of this timeless knowledge.
At the same time, from my own experience I know how impossible it can feel to make time for these courses.
How tricky it can feel to carve out a week or two of our time … to gather the funds … or to travel many miles to enjoy some of the many opportunities that the TM organisation offers.
I can’t tell you which courses and opportunities are right for you, or which ones are worth saving money and making the time for.
That you have to decide for yourself.
All I can say is this: not once have I regretted taking the next step in this journey towards becoming my true self.
Not once have I regretted making the extra effort to make a little extra time to meditate …. to learn a new technique … to go on a rounding course … or even just to seek answers to my questions.
Because, when it comes down to it, what really matters in life?
My feeling is that Maharishi couldn’t be more right when he put it this way:
‘Matter can be glamorous, but the spirit is glorious.’
My hope for you, and for everyone else around the world, is that you can experience more and more of the reality of your full, glorious, liberated Self. You deserve it.
Opportunities for your growth
Ready to grow in 2020 and beyond? There are lots of events and opportunities for you! Here are the ones we especially recommend below.
Especially for meditators
Especially for Sidhas and TM Teachers
Global Winter Assembly (with rounding during the ‘Celebrating Silence’ phase)
About the Author
Rebekah Mays is originally from Austin, Texas, and currently lives in the Netherlands. She is thrilled to now be working as MERU’s Content Director, and her aim is to help make Maharishi’s vast knowledge more accessible to people from all countries, ages, and backgrounds.