This is another unsolicited, contributed story from a former TM meditator, Leslie (not her real name). She points out the habits that TM critics are quite familiar with: pervasive narcissism, isolation, avoidance, and dependence on others to live a life that’s supposedly “without stress.” Ultimately, for some, living with a long-time meditator, who’s living a lifestyle centered on TM and adopting the movement’s pervasive belief system – a lifestyle and belief that TM’s proponents consistently maintain, does not exist – may be hazardous to your health.
|Stock photo, not the contributor. (Shutterstock)
I learned TM in 1999 after meeting my husband-to-be, who was a long-time meditator and “Siddha.” Soon we got married–and I moved from the U.S. to Europe where he lived. We would meditate together every day during the entire length of our marriage–15 years.
We never joined any of the advanced programs due to the fact that we never had the funds to do so (or I should say, I never joined because he had already taken those advanced programs long before we met). But we started to get very interested in the developments in Fairfield, Iowa and the “Global Country of World Peace.” We would have moved to Iowa if we had the funds. In a way, we had been in the “fringe” of the movement, just meditating on our own. My ex-husband did not practice the Siddhi program very often, and when he did, I never saw him do the yogic flying or even hops, only twitches in the body. He never told me any details about this program due to his “secrecy” vows. Through him, I learned about the many fantastic benefits of moving up on the Consciousness ladder, and he often described how “superior” he was in his physical perceptions, his creative power and his ability to read people–attributing those to the TM and Siddhi program, leading me to aspire to one day be able to take the advanced courses and move toward “Cosmic Consciousness.”
During the entirety of our marriage, the theme of “living without stress”–one of the promises of TM–was prominent. It was his life goal and he made sure he did his part–he quit his job as soon as I moved in with him, letting me do all the hard work to bring home the bacon. Since then he never held any meaningful jobs for more than a short period of time. After 15 years of this, I was anything but “free from stress.” However, “thanks to” the daily meditation, I felt I could go on with this lifestyle because it was helping me de-stress and forget about life’s struggles. After all, we lived a life rather isolated from the rest of the world and felt “free” in our own world. But I developed a serious physical illness because of frustrations of not being able to develop a meaningful career for myself due to the need to support his creative career. I also had bouts of depressive episodes, burnout and suicidal ideation. Sometimes I would have outbursts of anger due to this internal frustration, but was gaslighted and my feelings dismissed.
After our divorce, I realized that my ex has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or at least strong traits of it. Then I realized my mother falls into the same category. I analyzed that this was the reason why I have fallen into similar relationship patterns over the years and accepted the abuse.
|Aerial view of MIU in Fairfield, Iowa
(TM organization press photo)
I have been burnt out and financially ruined by this marriage. Moving in with my mother did not help me in finding a place to recoup as she has treated me harshly. In an attempt to get refuge from all these traumatic experiences, I visited Fairfield to see if there would be a chance for me to settle down there, as I thought it would be nice to live among TM meditators, who always appear to be kind and helpful.
I had a few observations of the “oddness” of the community. In addition, I realized this place would hold people “captive” and leave them with no freedom to move out due to the low level of compensation paid to the staff and the lack of opportunities for those with ambitions. Still, I did not question the TM technique. I even met with my TM teacher when I came back, who said he had not gotten involved in the TM Organization over the years and chosen not to live in Fairfield, but preferred to focus on teaching the technique, which is pure and has no fault of its own. He spoke of Maharishi with a great sense of love and devotion.
But upon more research, it has been revealed to me that the guru to whom I and my ex devoted ourselves to with 100% trust and faith, turned out to be a big con artist, manipulator, liar, Narcissist–whatever you call it!
I finally overcame my denial and the fear of losing this one strong anchor in my life. I started feeling disoriented, and now I am mostly feeling angry–angry of having been fooled, betrayed and exploited–not in a blatant way as in the cases of sexual abuse or such in certain other cults, but in the subtle way I had been “hypnotized” and mind-controlled into giving away my resources–energy and money–as well as my trust and generosity.
I started to realize, that not only did my ex-husband enjoy his stress-free life at the expense of me, he was under the influence of Maharishi and of his long-time exposure to the techniques, so that he had absolutely no qualm about using others to further his “stress-free” life goal!
I found his lack of conscience appalling, and what is even more appalling is the similar trait I finally saw in Maharishi, through the investigative material on the Internet–some old and some newly available. Both my ex and Maharishi often talked of love but did not practice it in any real sense. In hindsight, this was more like “mood making,” which Maharishi often spoke against. Personally, I did not FEEL the love, not from my ex-husband nor from the TM Movement. It was mainly just talk and no action. I cannot stand hypocrisy, dishonesty and deceit! And to awake to the fact that I have been duped for so long further enrages me!
What’s worse is that this meditation technique, according to a certain analysis, is a kind of trance induction, so the mind becomes vulnerable to indoctrination or any brainwashing or convincing after the meditation sessions.
Long-time meditators are more prone to this influence. And since I have dutifully meditated over a period of almost 20 years, based on the promise of rising consciousness level that will unleash more of our human potential and improve all areas of life, plus help contribute to world peace, I had been under this “trance” exposure for a long time and became more and more vulnerable. No wonder I was so easily persuaded by whatever my ex demanded of me, especially when it came to buying him expensive musical instruments and anything he demanded.
I was also easily under his influence and was often convinced of his point of view as he used his longer and more advanced level of meditation as a badge of honor to elevate himself to be the superior one, the more evolved one, better than anyone else. I had thought that this was a trait of a Narcissist. Very true. But I realized that he also borrowed a great deal of self-righteous rhetoric from Maharishi. Because I was under this “trance,” I did not see anything wrong with it. In fact, I rubbed off of his self-righteousness and felt “superior” in a certain way due to my practice of TM. But now, the bubble has burst, and I no longer feel this way.
Because of this major disillusionment, I have stopped doing TM two days ago. Of course, this decision was not made lightly, but was spurred by a dozen of books, hundreds of articles shared by ex-TMers and the documentary, “David Wants to Fly.” I devoured them and felt many light-bulb moments. It dawned on me that enlightenment was something I finally achieved when I quit my search for “Enlightenment.” My feet landed on the ground for the first time in 20 years, and I started to live life as I would’ve without sacrificing time and my mind for an empty pursuit.
Of course, I do recognize the benefits of those 20-minute meditation sessions–mainly that they helped me calm down, regain energy and focus, and clear my “monkey mind.” But they did not, as the TM Organization had purported, act as a panacea to all my problems and made me “invincible.”
I am immensely relieved that I now have reclaimed the control of my own mind and am living in reality–hard as it might be sometimes, it is what being human is about.
Leslie’s story: "The Truth Pissed Me Off"” target=”_blank”>”Leslie’s story: "The Truth Pissed Me Off"”