...I never dabbled in TM. ...
A bit off-topic: TM is simple and easy to do. It takes a bit of practice, that's all.Here is practical TM explained in 5 steps:
- To start: Sit down comfortably somewhere relatively quiet and peaceful, hands on knees, and relax. Pick a meaningless (to you) word-sound - e.g., (say) "reerong". Say it out loud and keep repeating it. This is your mantra. It must have no real meaning for you. Keep saying it and close your eyes, then listen to the sound of your voice saying the mantra over and over. Make the sound of your voice saying the mantra your sole focus of attention. Do this for about 5 minutes, listening to the sound of your voice saying it slower, then faster, then slower, maybe a higher tone, then a lower one, so you become familiar with how you sound whenever you speak the mantra.
- Internalise: Then, still listening with the mantra as your sole focus of attention, slowly reduce the volume of your voice until it fades away into silence, but continue to to hear it in your mind, repeating the mantra endlessly, slower, faster, higher lower, whatever you feel "sounds" right. You are the only one who can "hear" your voice repeating the mantra in your mind, and the sound of it is your sole focus of attention.
- Practice: For the first time, do this silent mantra for about 10 minutes, then stop and slowly make yourself aware of the world about you. After that, perform this silent mantra meditation each day, twice a day if you can, working up to about 15 minutes each time - no more is necessary. Never use the mantra aloud after that first time, unless it is to remind yourself of what it sounds like in your voice whilst you are still learning how to do it.
- Distractions: As you meditate, external sounds or thoughts like bubbles will percolate up from your mind, and these will momentarily distract your attention from the mantra. When that happens, just gently come back to mantra. Don't get frustrated or annoyed with the distractions and bubbles, they represent your mind's natural state whilst being awake, so just calmly focus on getting back to listening to the imagined sound of your voice repeating the mantra in your mind.
- Skill: Pretty soon, with practice, the majority of your 15-minute meditation time will be spent purely on focusing on listening to the imagined sound of your voice repeating the mantra. Each time, stop after the approx. 15 minutes and slowly make yourself aware of the world about you. Then make yourself alert with deep breaths. Be kind to yourself and avoid abruptly snatching yourself back into alertness. Don't worry if the meditation makes you fall asleep. It can be a super way of calming the mind and getting to sleep when you are tired but your mind is buzzing.
That's all there is to it really. No mumbo-jumbo. You might be surprised at how it improves your state of mind and health.