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Meditation teacher Noel O'Neill (left) and Dr Donn Brennan from Maharishi Ayurveda

Meditation teacher Noel O'Neill (left) and Dr Donn Brennan from Maharishi Ayurveda

Meditation teacher Noel O'Neill (left) and Dr Donn Brennan from Maharishi Ayurveda

As we know (though Truman Capote had to remind us) life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.

These last few years, the third act has been more badly written than ever for most of us - for reasons that are far too obvious to go into but tend to involve money problems, sizable amounts of debt, water charges, taxes coming out our ears. . . along with large dollops of stress and worry.

There's a great proverb that goes something like - fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.

This is all well and good if we lived in an ideal world where you could just snap your fingers, Zen-like, and become Wilde's maxim of "be yourself, everyone else is already taken", but sometimes you need a little help getting there. As Bono sang, sometimes you can't make it on your own.

I've been practising Transcendental Meditation, or TM, for a good few years now. Yes, before I tried it I, like you, feared it might be a load of post-hippy gobbledegook for new age crackpots.

I don't know if this will put you off or encourage you but Russell Brand dubbed it "a shower for your brain." He also said TM kept him sober. (As any of you who saw LIFE Magazine last Sunday will perhaps know, I personally don't see any difficulty in having the occasional drink. So yes, you can drink and do TM. )

I was lucky enough to have lunch a few years ago with one of my favourite film directors, David Lynch. He told me how TM gives the user "effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within." I was going to ask him for the winning Lotto numbers, too, but his point is essentially correct: TM, like any other mediation practised daily, will make you happier and more creative on a more real level.

It did awaken something in me. It certainly gives you the tools to see and feel more positivity in life. It is then up to you whether you want to use the tools.

OK, I can't yogic fly - yet! - around the Sunday Independent offices. And I'm not saying I walk around in a peace-and-love bubble like The Beatles after they came back from India and that I'm never an impossibly grumpy ginger gobshite, but I am definitely saying that TM works for me.

For this, I have to thank Noel O'Neill and Dr Donn Brennan, both of whom have helped me understand how Maharishi's Ayurvedic approach to living, to life, is worth investigating.

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Noel and Donn possess two of the most engaging intellects in these lands; and as such, it was a joy of sorts to sit down with them in Monkstown a few days ago amid the mania of Christmas outside the window and hear their thoughts on it all.

Prepare yourself, then, for a magical mystery tour into deeper consciousness (and no - I'm not planning to start my own cult in the office.) Joking aside, meditation of any sort has got to be helpful in this recession-ravaged age we live in, where stress and worry play permanent havoc with our health, physical and mental, whatever about spiritual.

"Many people, doctors included, suffer stress," says Dr Brennan, adding that he feels. "Transcendental Meditation is the best natural approach to reduce stress and has many health benefits." "Stress is the Black Plague of the 21st Century," adds Noel, "and Transcendental Meditation is one of the most powerful ways to combat stress."

"As you know," Donn continues, "I work in the most ancient health tradition called Ayurveda, from which TM comes, and see the benefits of TM for patients all the time. The beauty of it is that, once learnt, you can practise it for the rest of your life.

"After an examination of many different types of meditation," Noel claims, "the American Heart Association has recommended TM as the only form of meditation shown to reduce blood pressure. However the real beauty of TM not only lies in its ability to help create a healthy body but also in the growth of happiness, love and more meaningful existence experienced by many people who learn TM."

"TM is not mindfulness," Dr Brennan. "Mindfulness can require effort and concentration, TM is easy and enjoyable. They are two different procedures; different cognitive processes; the nervous system and body behave completely differently in the two practices and the benefits are different. Mindfulness develops a skill, for example to become less affected by some disturbing pattern of thinking.

"The regular practice of TM brings about a total state of integration and relaxation that persists throughout the day. The range of benefits, both mental and physical, seems wider for TM."

Noel says: "TM is a technique that allows you to experience the full value of your mind -not just the surface value of fleeting thoughts, but the quieter, more refined, more powerful levels of your being. You draw on the great reserves of intelligence and energy that is your own true nature, and all aspects of your life benefit from this. As we are fond of saying 'water the root to enjoy the fruit'." With that, I leave my two gurus and go forth to, er, water my root.

For further information, visit www.tm-ireland.org and www.ayurveda.ie or call the centre number on (01) 2845742 or Noel O'Neill on (086) 194679.


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