Friday, February 20, 2009

"Unhooking" from TM Beliefs

If you have been reading TM-Free Blog for some time, then you are probably familiar with the theory that at TM residence courses, participants, by meditating many times a day, experienced reduced critical thinking ability which left them susceptible to having Maharishi’s beliefs installed into their minds without their consent. Many of us, myself included, returned home from these courses with new beliefs that we had not freely chosen.

In the “Comments” section of my TM-Free Blog essay “Post-Hypnotic Suggestion and Trance Logic,” published 2/06/09, Gina has wittily and brilliantly compiled a list of many of the beliefs she was taught by the TM movement. Since Maharishi’s teachings changed from week to week, each of us who spent time in the movement will have a different list. One technique that I have found helpful in “unhooking” from the TM movement is to make my own list, look at every item on it, decide whether I actually believe that item or not, and if I believe it only because Maharishi said it was true but I have no other reason for believing it, to consciously remove it from my beliefs, and to break the taboo and do it.

By doing this, I have discovered that, for me at least, all the beliefs are linked together in my brain. Therefore, as long as I believe and continue to obey even one proscription, I find myself reeled into the entire Maharishi belief system.

For example, when I first attempted to separate myself from the TM movement, I came up with two strategies: choosing a new mantra for myself, and meditating in the lying-down position. I thought that by meditating in this manner I had broken Maharishi’s hold over me. It was only when someone encouraged me to cease any sort of TM-related meditating for the sake of my recovery that I gave up my new and improved technique. When I gave it up, I discovered that even though I had changed two variables in the TM technique, I had still been meditating two times a day, 20 minutes each time, morning and evening, before breakfast and before dinner, on an empty stomach, starting with one half minute of silence and ending with two minutes of silence, and using the mantra in the exact way Maharishi had taught us.

It was only when I quit meditating all together, I realized just how thoroughly I still believed. I found myself fearfully thinking, “Oh no! I can’t give up meditating. It is my safety net, assuring me physical health, mental health, spiritual progress, support of nature and superiority to other people!” Stopping meditating all together helped me break the pull of those beliefs. And when I stopped meditating, I felt as if a weight of grief had been lifted from my shoulders.

I have also discovered that, for myself at least, it is important for the sake of my recovery to unearth, question and reverse every single tiny little insignificant belief associated with TM. (I believe this is what Sudarsha, one of the contributing writers for TMFree, has referred to as "clawing ones way out of the Maheshistic belief system, one millimeter at a time.")

For instance, on my TM Teacher Training Course in La Antilla, Spain in 1974, Maharishi instructed us to never blow out candles, (specifically, candles used during TM initiation) but to fan them out with one’s hand. More than ten years after leaving TM, I realized that I was still fanning out candles. I believed that this was certainly an inconsequential rule, but I decided that for the sake of my recovery, I would stop fanning out candles as an experiment. So I blew out the next available candle, and to my surprise, I found fear and a number of beliefs parading through my mind: “Oh no! Blowing out that candle was a bad move! My life force goes out of my body when I blow out a candle! That weakens me! My life force is precious. It needs to be preserved. My body is a delicate vessel, especially since I have been spiritually purifying it all these years. Preserving the life force will lead to enlightenment. Therefore having sex is bad. Hmm, is this why I have been uncomfortable hugging my partner? Is this why I’ve been scared to have sex?”

It was amazing how many significant beliefs and behaviors were connected to that one minor proscription. So in the spirit of recovery, I am listing all the beliefs I can remember that I imbibed during my time in the TM organization between 1971 and 1981. Maybe they will remind you of beliefs you didn’t realize you still had. Or maybe they will inspire you to write up your own list. If you'd like, share your list in the “Comments” section. What have been your experiences with “unhooking” from the beliefs that Maharishi taught?


Don’t eat: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, peanuts, chocolate, coffee, tea, cooked honey, brown rice.
Eat lots of: nuts (especially almonds), fruits (especially oranges), milk products (especially yogurt), honey, white rice.
Don’t partake of cigarettes, alcohol, recreational drugs.
Do the TM “grace” before meals, silently, with eyes closed.

Never miss a meditation.
20 minutes each time.
Twice a day.
Don’t say the mantra aloud, or write it, or think it outside of meditation.
Don’t teach anyone except by the approved 7 steps.
Meditate in a sitting position.
Do not meditate when the stomach is full.
Meditate before breakfast and before dinner.
Don't meditate right before bed.
Start with ½ minute of silence, and end with 2 minutes of silence.
Put pets out of the room when you meditate – they will drain your energy.
All other meditation techniques are inferior- don’t do them.
Use the mantra in this manner: (well, you know what I mean).
TM is not a religion.

Hatha Yoga:
Lie down for the amount of time instructed before doing hatha yoga. (Specified time, taught on different courses, varied from 10 minutes to 30 minutes.)
Do the yoga postures that you were taught by the TM organization.
Do them in the order taught.
Do them for 10 to 20 seconds each.
Do them in the manner taught.
Do the yoga postures immediately before doing pranayama (yogic breathing exercises.)
Do pranayama the way it was taught in the TM organization, for the amount of time taught, and immediately before doing TM.

(Side note: I recently took a hatha yoga class. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised at how much benefit and pleasure I got from doing the postures the way my experienced yoga teacher taught them! We did postures that I didn't learn in TM, and we held them a lot longer than 20 seconds, and we did them in a different order, and she showed me better ways to do some of the postures that I had learned in TM. [I’d been doing at least one wrong for 20 years with no results.] Personally, I recommend taking a yoga class, or learning from a yoga book, or even practicing hatha yoga from a yoga magazine, to get unhooked from "TM asanas.")

Only wear natural fibers.
Don’t wear hand-me-downs.
Wear bright colors.
Women, cover up your arms and legs.
If Maharishi touches your coral bead necklace, he has "blessed" them.
Wearing the beads next to your skin will help your spiritual growth.
Don't let anyone touch the beads after Maharishi has touched them, or it will undo the blessing.
Dignified clothes are best.

Mental Health:
Psychotherapy is bad for you.
Don’t see a therapist.
To heal emotional problems:
- do TM
- go on residence courses
- do more asanas
- bath more frequently ("Psychological problems are caused by not bathing frequently enough." - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi)
- read the Ninth Mandala (Sama Veda) out loud.

Sex is bad for you.
Having sex slows down spiritual growth.
One of the worst things you can do for your spiritual progress is to have sex if you're not married.
When you have sex, you exchange karma with your partner.
Only lifetime celibates can achieve immortality.
Don't have public displays of affection.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is a supernormal person. He is not a person like you and me.
Women, stay in bed for the first three days of your menstrual cycle.
Don’t criticize, don’t gossip.
When you say curse words or dirty words, you create a demon.
That which you put your attention on grows stronger.
Many sidhas putting their attention on something causes results.
Social and political action is a waste of time.
Do not place on the floor any flowers that you will be offering.
Do not sniff flowers that you will be offering.
Sleep with your head facing east.
Be in bed by 10:00 p.m.

Oh yes, and fan out your candles – don’t blow them out.

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