Having worked in the beauty industry for more than 15 years, I realized one day, 6 years ago, that I was on a constant treadmill—literally and figuratively. I was up at 5:30, off to the gym to mindlessly run 5 miles before the sun was up, and then on a constant loop of work drama and social activities—all the normal chaos of the pre-Covid world. I never stopped to think if I was happy or at peace. I was just fulfilling all the “shoulds” of my life.
Then Howard Stern changed everything, not to be dramatic. He is not the man I thought would change my life, that’s for sure, but we need to pay attention to the signs when we see them (or in this case, hear them). Listening to his radio show one morning, I was moved by the story of his mother’s Transcendental Meditation practice to battle depression, along with his own journey to the TM technique.
It struck a chord. Was I depressed, restless, or just at a place in my life where I needed to change? I wasn’t sure, but I knew there was something in this for me. I had no idea what, but I signed up very soon after for an introductory TM talk four blocks from my office.
Room to Breathe
If I could think of one way to describe my initial encounter with the TM technique, it was a peace and a “slowing down” that I never thought I could allow myself. Who has time to add one more task to an already chaotic life?
We all do. And we must. By starting TM, I allowed and gave myself room to breathe. To calm down. I could feel a change immediately. My TM practice took nothing away. It didn’t interfere with my “free time,” as I’d worried it would. It was adding to my life in a way I couldn’t completely explain.
After just one week of practicing TM, my own mother said she noticed a change. She found me “less annoying.” I took that as a compliment, although I’m not sure it was completely meant that way. A week later, she took the TM course herself in Florida and is as committed to the practice as I am. She is also now “less annoying”—which apparently is the greatest compliment one can give in my family.
A Tool for True Peace
The TM technique is a tool that saved my sanity, and that’s no exaggeration. The stress builds as we get older and want so badly to control our externals and shape our lives in the way we are told we are “supposed” to. The practice of TM reminds us to look inward, to where the source of our peace truly lies.
I won’t say that I have stopped yelling at other drivers or that I no longer sigh dramatically behind slow walkers on the street—I am still a New Yorker after all. But my TM practice has given me a focus and clarity that improves all areas of my life—work, health, relationships, the whole nine yards.
When people ask me what TM is, I tell them it is the greatest gift I have ever given to myself.
Donna Hauser, Executive Director of Sales Development for Christian Dior, lives in New York City.