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'The totally stressed-out man's guide to meditation' - GQ magazine reports on Transcendental Meditation
by Josh Dean

GQ magazine    Translate This Article
7 October 2013

In the September issue of GQ magazine, an article about the Transcendental Meditation technique leads with:

''The most successful, innovative men alive do it. Overworked, very, very busy hedge-fund managers swear by it.'' So, writer Josh Dean asks, should you close your eyes for 20 minutes twice a day and join in? Will it work even if you're skeptical?''

Here are some more excerpts from Mr. Dean's charming article, reprinted in Transcendental Meditation Blog, which seeks to provide an answer to this important question:

The most successful, innovative men alive do it. Overworked, very, very busy (and insanely rich) hedge-fund managers swear by it. So the question is: Should you cross your legs, close your eyes, and join in?

Here are a few things Jerry Seinfeld and I have in common: We both wear sneakers far more often than grown men should. We both adore the New York Mets and thus subject ourselves to undue misery. And we both sit quietly for twenty minutes twice a day, attempting to calm our minds. Seinfeld, presumably, is far better at it than I am. He's been practicing Transcendental Meditation, or TM, for more than forty years. I've only recently taken it up.

Transcendental Meditation, if you're not aware, is having something of a moment. Despite being 5,000 years old and in the public consciousness at least since 1968 (when the Beatles traveled to India, took up meditating, and [then] wrote the White Album), . . . . a dedicated core of reasonable people have been practicing it all along, and their ranks keep swelling, so TM is now following the path of yoga—another import from India, once marginalized as a trifle for tempeh enthusiasts—into the mainstream, where it can safely be sampled by even self-conscious, risk-averse people like me.

''You know how your phone has a charger?'' Seinfeld said last year, during an appearance on Good Morning America. ''TM is like having a charger for your mind and body.'' Russell Brand, who says TM helped him stay sober, calls it ''a shower for your brain.'' And film director David Lynch—whose eponymous foundation is the driving force behind the recent boom in the popularity of TM in America, converting everyone from Oprah to Rupert Murdoch—says that his twice-daily meditations give him ''effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within.''

But the name that jumped out most when I started looking at TM's fans was Ray Dalio, founder and chairman of Bridgewater, the world's largest hedge fund. Dalio is a superhero of the financial world. And what the 63-year-old has to say about TM—which he started doing forty years ago, in college—is not ambiguous: ''I think meditation has been the single biggest reason for whatever success I've had.'' This from the thirty-third-richest man in America.

The most tangible result of practicing TM is the way it reduces stress. If the only thing it did was cause you to sit quietly with your eyes closed, this would reduce stress in your life, providing a forced break from the furious fire hose of data and stimulation blasting you on a second-by-second basis. But TM's effect appears to be far more powerful than that. Some psychologists have taken to calling stress the ''Black Plague of the twenty-first century,'' because it is a runaway condition with no obvious cure. Stress causes inflammation, weakens the immune system, and is a risk factor for all kinds of serious health problems, from heart disease to depression. TM has, over many studies, helped cut stress and lower blood pressure. It has been shown to ease depression, curb violent impulses, and lessen symptoms of ADD and ADHD. It has even, as the TM adherent Dr. Mehmet Oz pointed out, been found to reduce skin lesions in some patients.

Stress also affects the prefrontal cortex, home of the higher brain and the source of what is sometimes called executive function; here lie judgment and problem solving. Being stressed can cause us to make poor decisions, and being under stress is a given of doing business. The power of TM, it seems, is in teaching the brain to maintain what Ray Dalio, king of the hedge-fund world, calls a ''calm, clearheaded state.''


Click here to enjoy more excerpts from the GQ article posted on—in which Josh Dean describes learning Transcendental Meditation in New York City from Bob Roth, Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation.

© 2013 by GQ Magazine

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