If there ever was a time that Ireland needed a little spirituality it is surely now.
Wise men of thought (wiser than the dour, sourpuss economists who seem to get off on telling us the bad times are only going to get badder) have long told us that meditation is a more substantial reality than that which we normally take to be reality. Many people are searching for a more meaningful existence, and Transcendental Meditation (TM) is providing the answer for some; myself included, my mum was dead a year last Sunday and TM helped me through some if not all of that darkness.
Next Tuesday, Transcendental Meditation Ireland will try to answer the need for something deeper in a country and a people shaken by recession with the public launch of the new TM website.
"It's obvious that many people in Ireland have become very disillusioned with life," influential TM teacher Noel O'Neill told me. "The material dream that had been held up to them has been pulled out from under their feet and many are left with nothing but debts and a life-long mortgage. Even the people who are not financially crippled are facing ever increasing levels of stress. TM is becoming increasingly recognised as a means of dealing with these stressful situations. When we practise TM we become aware of an inner aspect of our lives, a silent level of our minds which is untouched by the chaos going on around us. We discover a sense of happiness which is dependent on nothing else but ourselves, we become more self-reliant and don't let our situation overwhelm us," Noel says, adding that the new site -- www.tm-ireland.org -- contains endorsements of TM by the likes of David Lynch, Paul McCartney, Clint Eastwood, Jerry Seinfeld and a whole host of Irish TM luminaries like Dr Donn Brennan.
"I'm actually huge into meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and that really helps create not only a sense of balance, but serenity and a calm state of mind. It helps me deal with life's ups and downs," she says.
She also spoke of the influence of Hollywood director David Lynch's book on TM and creativity, Catching the Big Fish, and how the technique has helped her as an actor.
"All aspects of life improve with TM -- mental, physical and spiritual," says Noel. "The research is there for anyone to see. Now we need a new formula for living life. We are 'human beings', it's the aspect of 'being' that has been ignored in life. We are only aware of the surface values of life, our happiness is dependent on outside things, how much we get paid, how big your house is etc, but as we now know all these things are subject to very rapid change.
"Being, the silent field of creativity that lies deep within everyone, however, is not subject to change, and it is this aspect of life, this side of our nature that we experience and enliven when we practise TM. True lasting happiness can only come from within us."
Noel says that there is an upsurge in interest in TM worldwide. " Oprah Winfrey surprised the ladies of Fairfield, Iowa, who practise Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's Transcendental Meditation when she meditated with them last Wednesday evening," he says.
Drogheda GP Dr Alan Moran says he looked into TM, and saw how relaxed it left people, how it lowered blood pressure, and left people with an overall feeling of calmness and wellness. Their thoughts were clearer, they slept better and seemed to adjust to life's ups and downs better.
"Daily I meet people who I feel could benefit from TM I see them suffering in large and small ways from worries and annoyances that they have allowed under their skins. People ask if I do TM, I say it's a bit like a stockbroker who comes across a fund which is doing really well, is stable, and has a long history of doing well and paying dividends to those who are part of it. Would that stockbroker then buy shares in that fund?"
Noel O'Neill adds that the new Irish site will give up-to-the minute details of all the latest research on TM.
The site will also include details about a new book by internationally respected psychiatrist, Norman E Rosenthal, Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation.
"The site will answer any commonly asked questions," says Noel, who will speak at its public launch at 3pm on Tuesday in Buswells Hotel, Dublin, along with Dr Donn Brennan GP, Dr Joe Hayden (TM Ireland national director) and TM teacher John Burns.
More information on TM can be obtained by visiting www.tm-ireland.org or by contacting Noel O'Neill at 012845742/0861946792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.