At the age of 25, I was at a crossroads in my life. My six-year contract with the U.S. Army was about to come to a close, and I stood before a multitude of options, not knowing which path to walk down. I began to talk with my ex-military friends that had returned to civilian life to see what the best option might be for me.
Quickly, I realized that no matter what it was they were doing, they weren’t really happy. Most of my friends were doing work they didn’t like, even though it paid well. Too many of their marriages were in shambles, and the only joy they received was from alcohol-induced numbness, several times a week.
I saw that this was the life that I could expect to lead if I went down the route they had taken. I’d have a nice, secure job but faced the possibility of living a life that would feel empty, devoid of the depth that I secretly craved.
The Path of a Seeker
This all happened before I learned the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique, and so I began on the path of a seeker. I had always sought my higher self since I was a child, and being of Indian ethnicity, I was very familiar with the Vedic tradition. I knew the stories and ceremonies, but the real essence of it was lost to me.
I considered going to India to find a proper guru but realized I couldn’t do that because I had real-world responsibilities like mortgage payments and a younger sister who needed me. So, I consciously held an intention—a sankalpa as it is called in the Vedic tradition—that I would be able to understand the Vedas while living in America, and maybe it could even be paid for by my GI Bill.
Finding My Way Back Home
It seemed like an impossible dream, but through the powers of Google, I found Maharishi University of Management (MUM). The moment I laid eyes on the MUM website, I knew this was my destiny. Now I can see that through Transcendental Meditation and MUM, I was finding my way back home—to the inner wisdom that had always been guiding my life.
I did gain a lot from my time in the military. I learned to think on my feet and get things done quickly in high-pressure environments—especially when mortars were landing nearby, and my only concern was protecting the lives of the soldiers I was responsible for, even more than my own life.
My ability to feel compassion and love for another human being—that came from learning TM. And at MUM my heart was nourished, which really allowed me to flower and blossom in ways that I could not have foreseen.
I achieved the rank of Sergeant at the age of 21—much faster than my peers. And to top that off, I was a girl, so I really stood out. I led anywhere from 5 to 15 soldiers at a time, almost always men who were almost always older than me. I had to run faster, work harder, be smarter, cuss louder, and fight harder. I learned how to be physically and mentally strong, highly disciplined, and vigilantly alert.
However, I would say that the skills I find most valuable in life were not from my time in the military but from my practice of the TM technique. My ability to feel compassion and love for another human being—that came from learning TM. And at MUM my heart was nourished, which really allowed me to flower and blossom in ways that I could not have foreseen.
A New Vision of Life
Since I was fascinated with writing and how it worked in business, I majored in media and communications with a focus on writing. This led me to New York City, where I interned for the David Lynch Foundation working in public relations.
Part of my work involved going out into the field with TM teachers who were teaching meditation to veterans. The transformations I saw in those veterans when they learned the TM technique were so powerful, so deeply moving, that it created a profound transformation within me as well.
That’s when I realized I had to be a TM teacher. That was it. This was where the real work was done. I wanted to be a change-maker. This was what I had to be doing, not just influencing people through writing, as powerful as that is. Media is great, but this was the real deal.
Becoming a TM Teacher
The TM Teacher Training Course was a very transformative experience for me. After my 15-month deployment in Iraq, I had plenty of stress to release. Fortunately, a lot of those impressions left my physiology, and I was able to let go of a lot of self-criticism, doubt, and negative feelings. That allowed me to have compassion not only for myself, but for everyone else in the world.
I finished my Teacher Training Course on December 21, 2012 and returned to New York to work full-time as a TM teacher. In addition to teaching TM, I also became the Director of Communications and Expansion for the TM program in the NYC Metro area, which allowed me to continue developing my writing and public relations skills and to focus on outreach.
I would say if you want to succeed in life, if you want to achieve your full potential, you have to meditate regularly. It’s crucial, it’s vital.
When I was with my TM students, I could really feel like they were my children. They sent me sweet thank-you emails and gave me little gifts because they were so blown away by their experiences of transcendence and felt nurtured within our relationship. It’s a very powerful experience, and every day it got stronger. My ability to love, to give to the world, and to nourish others was really expanding.
Rest Is the Basis of Activity
If I have any advice for you, it’s to be regular with your TM practice. Maharishi says that rest is the basis for activity. So you have to come back to the Self. That is where your power lies.
I would say if you want to succeed in life, if you want to achieve your full potential, you have to meditate regularly. It’s crucial, it’s vital. Take advantage of Maharishi’s advanced programs that allow you to live your life from a deeper level. And I strongly recommend the TM Teacher Training Course, not just to teach, but for your own personal growth.
Every day I would wake up and think I have the best job in the world. All the skills I have gained, all the aspects of my personality and everything that I am have come together for this moment, for this new direction in life.
It’s so fulfilling; there’s just nothing like it. To be able to teach the TM technique, to “whisper infinity” as Maharishi says, and to look into the eyes of a student and see the burden of stress and strain lift off—it’s so wonderful to be a part of that process. The army taught me how to survive, but with TM I’ve learned how to thrive. And that is such a beautiful thing.
Editor’s note: Supriya Venkatesan has since become a wife, mom, and freelance writer. She has published for TIME, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. She is currently working on a memoir based on her experiences in Iraq.