“I’ll tell you my greatest regret,” comedian Jerry Seinfeld confesses in an interview with Howard Stern. “I didn’t know the importance of the morning TM in those days. If I’d had two TMs, I’d still be doing the show now. [Without that second TM], I did not have the energy. I was exhausted, painfully exhausted, all the time.” Now Seinfeld is practicing TM twice a day, and though he’s in his 60s, he has more energy than ever. Watch Seinfeld ►
Filmmaker David Lynch says he hasn’t missed a meditation in more than 40 years. You can imagine how many demands there are on a director’s time. “Mr. Lynch, where should we put this prop?” “David, I can’t say the line that way.” “Mr. Lynch, we’re over budget, and we have to talk.” Time demands are so great, in fact, that he never misses a meditation.
Or take billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio, who has said that the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique is the reason for his success. When the going gets toughest, he says, he always makes certain to get in both his meditations.
“I didn’t know the importance of the morning TM in those days. If I’d had two TMs, I’d still be doing the show now.” —Jerry Seinfeld
Is TM in the Same Class as Eating and Sleeping?
We don’t give up eating when things get busy. We may not follow the age-old advice of three regular meals on time, but we eat. Maybe we have a hot dog while running through the airport, but our body insists on it. Eat!
We don’t give up getting dressed. As a matter of fact, when we know we have to perform—especially in the limelight—we go for high-fashion, neatly pressed, and matched. We don’t (heaven forbid) not get dressed when we’re super busy.
How about sleep? Admittedly, it suffers when we’re under pressure. We can’t get to bed, and we can’t switch off once we get there. But we know we need it, and if we go very long without it, our performance really suffers.
Is our TM practice truly a necessity in the same class as eating, sleeping, or getting dressed?
When we have a big deadline or a meeting with the higher-ups or that audition we’ve been dying for, what do we need most? A strong, fully functioning prefrontal cortex in the brain… It’s our competitive edge.
Taking Care of Our Brains
Well, when we have a big deadline or a meeting with the higher-ups or that audition we’ve been dying for, what do we need most? A strong, fully functioning prefrontal cortex in the brain. That’s where we choose the right words for our presentation or come up with the added creative juice for that audition. It’s our competitive edge.
What if we don’t have it, and we let the pressure get to us? Then the organ in charge is the amygdala, the fear center. What does it do? It shuts down that precious prefrontal cortex and leaves us floundering there in our big moment in the sun.
TM, as the research shows, quiets the amygdala and wakes up the prefrontal cortex. It’s arguably just as important as sleep, which we can do without for a short while. And it’s arguably more important than eating a full meal because we’ll surely cram in something and get on with our business. We can even get by without our best clothes, maybe.
But our brains? Our fully functioning prefrontal cortex in all its creative, decision-making, priority-setting wonder? Go in without that, and we have a recipe for failure.
TM quiets the amygdala and wakes up the prefrontal cortex. It’s arguably more important than sleep, which we can do without for a short while.
Don’t Even Think about It
Here’s some advice. When you get into one of those super-busy days when there isn’t time to eat, sleep, or dress properly, one of those days like final exams or the big meeting with the investors, should you consider skipping a meditation? Don’t even think about it. That’s the time to be sure to meditate both morning and evening.
Jim Meade, Ph.D., is a full-time TM teacher in Los Angeles and author of 30 books, including The Answer to Cancer with Dr. Hari Sharma and five in the famous Dummies series.