new release by linda egenes

The Ramayana

A New Retelling of Valmiki's
Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive

Tarcher Perigee
(an imprint of Penguin Random House)

by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy
with an introduction by Michael Sternfeld

“This new version is so simply and
beautifully written it will stir your soul.”

—David Lynch

BY LINDA EGENES

Flavia Finnegan and her FamilyWhen you meet someone as happy and radiant as Flavia Finnegan, wife, mother and career woman, it’s hard to imagine that she ever felt fear or trauma. Yet traumatic events can happen to anyone.

Flavia, now 40, grew up in Brazil and as part of her undergraduate work as an international business major, she spent a year studying in Stockholm. “I felt safe and protected there,” she says. “I loved learning in a completely new environment, experiencing different food and colors and weather. I felt blessed to have those experiences.”

Riding a wave of achievement and on a fast-paced career track, her next stop was an internship in the financial district of New York City. She arrived in 2000—just in time for the terrorist attacks of September 2001.

“I was living and working close to the World Trade Center and it was a very frightening experience. I saw people afraid to open their mailbox for fear of a bomb being inside. I went from living in a safe environment to that time in history. It was a big shock and in terms of interacting with others I became fragile, afraid of what could happen the next day. I felt so vulnerable.”

Two years later, she returned to Brazil. But even living in her home country didn’t make her feel safe. “I wasn’t the same me anymore,” Flavia says. “I had anxiety attacks and panic attacks. I started looking for a different type of lifestyle that would give me the inner strength and stability to deal with my fears of the outside environment.”

In her quest to change her life, Flavia began practicing yoga and eating healthy foods. She had heard about the Transcendental Meditation technique and knew that many prominent people practiced it, but, as she puts it, “the message had never reached my heart.” Then she heard a famous surfer from Brazil share how the practice of TM had made him feel more connected with his environment, with nature.

“It had a big impact on me,” she says. “I could see that he had to be deeply connected with his surroundings to swim into the middle of the sea, amidst sharks and other predators, and to survive five- or six-story-high waves. I could feel that he felt safe and secure inside, and his story touched me at a deep level.”

Flavia continues, “I realized immediately that this was what I was looking for: a different type of connection with my environment. I knew I had to get over my fear and anxiety of living in big cities, where you don’t know if the next person you meet is going to make your day shine or affect your life in a negative way.”

After getting in touch with the TM Center in Sao Paulo, Flavia learned to practice TM. “TM came to me as a gift,” she says. “Learning to meditate took me to another level. I’m very grateful. I started to experience an untroubled state of mind, an inner security and freedom from anxiety. I started to feel that whatever happened each day, the big and the small, I could be happy for being alive and experiencing the sun and wind and the people around me that contributed to that moment. TM gave me the inner calm to enjoy every moment.”

Flavia also credits TM with giving her the courage to become a mother. She says that before she started meditating, even though she was married to a wonderful man, she didn’t think she wanted to raise a child in this world.

She says, “Practicing TM gave me the confidence to see the future with more optimism. It helped me to center myself, to embrace myself and others with a full heart, with openness again. When you experience your divine source within you, you begin to see other human beings as you are—a body full of high energy with a perfect being inside. After all, we all have a body that can self-heal; we all have a mind that is infinitely creative. Once you have that awareness, you see a reflection of yourself in everyone. I walked many miles to cross that bridge to motherhood and TM helped me with that.”

Flavia practiced meditation regularly during her pregnancy, which she says helped her to enjoy the many changes taking place inside her. “When you’re pregnant for the first time, your mind and body go through a lot of change. Nature takes the time to prepare you. It’s a cosmic journey but with all the ups and downs in hormones and transformations, it can be challenging. TM had such a great impact on me—it helped me rest deeply and made me feel so tranquil.”

Flavia feels that practicing TM also had a calming effect on her daughter, now 18 months. “Every time I meditated when she was in the womb, I could feel her becoming very peaceful. Since birth she has been contented and likes to smile and loves music,” she says. “She’s a bubble of happiness.”

Today Flavia is enjoying her role as a mother, wife and career woman. After years of working as a financial manager for Citigroup in Miami, she now is studying part-time to be a CPA. Flavia no longer has a fear of her environment or the people around her. She notes that once she started practicing TM, she started attracting more positive people and experiences into her life.

“Once you experience inner peace in your life, you start to radiate joy and everyone wants to be closer to you,” she says. “You naturally attract more love into your life and your relationships become even more loving. Either you are helping someone or they are helping you. With meditation, somehow there is more joy inside you and more joy for everyone around you. This is true for professional connections, for better friendships, for better health, for better family life. It’s a beautiful path, to have TM enriching all the moments of my life.”

She also says she is no longer afraid of the challenges her child will face in the world, as she was before she started TM. Her fear of others has transformed into love.

“I went from being very insecure to being much stronger and more confident inside, and I started experiencing unconditional love toward everyone and everything, all creatures on earth,” she says. “It’s my perception more and more that we all come from the same divine source. Wishing love for my daughter and husband becomes unconditional love for all. It becomes so unbounded and extends to all the children I see on the street. And I want my daughter to experience the best of everything—to gain knowledge, to travel, to experience new people and to love those around her.”

Flavia says, “I hope my story will reach someone who is in pain or in fear for some reason. Once you start TM you can face the world with a much better attitude. TM gives you that time you need to recharge, open up your eyes and express your love again. If there is someone who has been stressed to such a level that she has lost her base, lost her hope—like me, she can strengthen her base. I hope my story touches someone who is looking for a way to reach that inner peace, that inner life.”

Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive  (TarcherPerigee, a division of Penguin Random House), co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, April 23, 2015. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

Sharon Isbin by J. Henry Fair

Sharon Isbin by J. Henry Fair

When you hear a musician play who stirs your soul and at the same time is so in command of her craft that she makes it look simple, you know you are in the presence of a true artist.

Sharon Isbin has made the intricate art of performing classical guitar look simple. Considered the leading classical guitarist of our time, she was named “Best Classical Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine and is the first guitarist in over 43 years to receive two classical GRAMMY Awards (in 2001 and 2010). A former student of Andrès Segovia and a graduate of Yale University, she has played at the White House and Carnegie Hall. Her rise to stardom as a woman playing an instrument that is usually played by men was chronicled in Sharon Isbin: Troubador, a recent documentary on her creative performances and collaborations with artists in a variety of genres that was released last fall by American Public Television.

She has also expanded the repertoire of classical guitar, persuading leading composers such as John Corigliano to create classical guitar music for her to play with their orchestras. Called the “Monet of Classical Guitar,” she is known for her ability to express different colors or emotions through her music.

For Isbin, it’s all about expressing her feelings in her work. “I love to be expressive on the guitar with lyricism, dynamic contrasts, nuances, phrasing, articulation, and a panoply of colors and timbres,” she says. “I cultivate these techniques to serve the music and to communicate it with feeling and emotion. For example, I can make the guitar sound like a human voice by connecting notes of a melody with nuances of sound while shaping the contour of the line as a vocalist would do. This also creates a three-dimensional quality and depth.”

Isbin likens her creative process to being a director of a play. “I choose music that I love and which speaks to me, and that makes it easy to be expressive. The more I play a new work, the more I discover in it. My goal is to enter the mind of the composer, while feeling and expressing the emotion from within. In a way, I explore different characters of a piece much like actors do with a script. And when choosing dynamics and shadings to delineate the different layers and levels of voicing, architecture, and structure within a work, it’s much like a director staging and guiding actors in the foreground, middle, background, etc.”

As head of the guitar department at the Aspen Music Festival and The Juilliard School, Isbin has developed an original technique for teaching classical guitar. Yet she doesn’t limit herself to classical music—she has embraced a musical palette that ranges from bossa-nova to jazz to folk, collaborating with other guitarists and musicians in new ways.

“I explore a variety of genres, from my home base in classical, to unusual collaborations in jazz, bossa-nova, folk, country, rock, and even film music such as performing on Scorsese’s The Departed,” she says. “But most important to me and to listeners is the emotion, lyricism, sensuality and passion.”

For instance, her 2010 GRAMMY award-winning Journey to the New World is an exploration of folk music beginning in the 16th century British Isles, Ireland and Scotland, and crossing the ocean with the immigrants to the New World.

“Its centerpiece ‘Joan Baez Suite’ was written for me by John Duarte and inspired by music Baez made famous in the early part of her career. When Joan heard it, she offered to sing on the album, and performs beautiful renditions of “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Go ‘Way from my Window”. Virtuoso country fiddler Mark O’Connor concludes the journey joining me in the folk suite he wrote for us.” At 58, Isbin is not slowing down. How does she have the energy to continually expand her repertoire and explore new ground by collaborating with so many other top artists?

It turns out she has a secret.

“I have done Transcendental Meditation since I was 17 years old,” she said in a recent NY Times interview. “I do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. I really believe it has helped make me the person that I am. Because it is an extraordinary way to release stress and allow it to dissolve, so that you can focus on what you want to focus on, and have your energy towards very positive things.”

When she performs, Isbin says she enters a state similar to the “zone” that top athletes report. “It puts me in touch with my innermost creative core and enables its expression through music,” she says. “Most importantly, it facilitates instant access to a state of ‘cosmic’ immersion, of being in the flow or in ‘the zone’ when performing, a state of being very similar to one I enter daily when practicing TM. It’s a sense of communion with the energy of the universe, the audience, the composer and the music, without ego or interference. It’s a feeling of unity between the listeners and me, a sense of “oneness” in which we are all experiencing the beauty of the music together. That sensation is one of the reasons live performances can be so powerful—everyone is focused and transported, the experience is unique and in the moment, never to be replicated.”

For Isbin, TM helps with all of the creative aspects of her work. “Because TM is so effective at eliminating stress and distraction, it encourages laser sharp focus and concentration for any task,” she says. “Practicing TM has inspired heights of creativity for me on many levels: as a musician, arranger, educator, writer, and artistic director.”

See a trailer of Sharon Isbin: Troubadour

Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, February 19, 2015. Reprinted with permission.)

BY LINDA EGENES

Spring Allergies and Ayurveda

Spring flowers, ragweed, dust, mold or pet dander can cause your immune system to overreact to harmless natural substances.

Instead of reserving its immune response for viruses and bacteria, your body sounds a false alarm when exposed to a certain food, pet dander, pollen, or even a blade of grass — and tells the immune system to attack. Sneezing, nasal congestion and itchy, watery eyes; indigestion; swelling; or skin rashes — these are some of the all-too-familiar results.

According to Maharishi Ayurveda, accumulated toxins (ama) prevent your immune system from functioning normally and cause the overreaction. Ayurveda suggests a multi-faceted approach — adjustments in lifestyle and diet and specific ayurvedic herbal supplements.

Spring Allergies and Ayurveda – Herbs for Spring Immunity

Ayurveda has deep regard for the intelligence of the immune system, and offers a sophisticated in-depth body of botanical knowledge and lifestyle tips, centuries old, supporting it. For example, certain ayurvedic herbs will help support your body’s natural immunity to allergens by helping to eliminate existing toxins and, at the same time, promote a healthy response to harmless allergens. The herbs also work to support the healthy functioning of your liver. As your body’s natural filtration system, your liver filters toxins and chemicals from the food you eat and the water you drink.

In this way these herbs offer a natural, long-term approach to allergens. The product containing these herbs is called Aller-Defense.

Uphold Immune Strength

Supporting the body’s immune system to combat allergens is exactly what Maharishi Ayurveda suggests as the long-term, effective solution to a healthy response to allergens. Herbs can play a helping role in this.

In the spring, impurities (called ama) that have been stored in tissues of the body, including your largest organ, the skin, tend to dissolve due to the rising temperature in the environment. These toxins can build up in the microchannels of the body (the shrotas), blocking them. When the microchannels are blocked, nutrients are not delivered properly to the cells, and the body’s immune system becomes weakened. Then, in the spring, as plants bloom, they fill the air with pollen (allergens) at the very same time the body’s defenses are being challenged with a flood of melting ama. This is the reason that, according to the ayurvedic model of health, our reaction to allergens spikes in the spring.

The Spring Flood of Ama

Traditional ayurvedic experts view the body’s overreaction to respiratory allergens as a problem occurring in a particular sub-dosha of Kapha, called Shleshaka Kapha. This sub-dosha is responsible for maintaining moisture in the upper respiratory tract.

As the digestive impurities (ama) in the body start dissolving, they combine with Shleshaka Kapha to form a thick, sticky toxin called shleshma, which starts to fill the respiratory tract and sinus cavities. The entire respiratory system, as a result, becomes a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and health imbalances. This is the reason why allergen sensitivity can become a sinus or respiratory issue. This is also why a Kapha-reducing diet of lighter foods that are easier to digest is recommended. These kinds of foods are easier on the body and help flush ama out.

Strengthening the Body’s Defense Systems

If one has to choose one product to remove ama from the system and support digestion and elimination (the underlying basis for all health…digestion), one should take Organic Digest Tone. It is an everyday detox that tones the digestive tract and eliminates ama. It also allows the system to metabolize foods and other herbals more effectively. It is the supercharger for good digestion and assimilation. One can eat the best foods available and take the best herbs to be found, but without strong digestion, they are being wasted.

The long-term solution is to delve into the root cause of allergen sensitivity and support the body’s immune system. The Aller-Defense herbal formulation from Maharishi Ayurveda helps remove toxins from the body and strengthen immunity. Aller-Defense helps block toxic reactions by improving digestion, and reduces sensitivity to allergens by nourishing and purifying the liver. This herbal formulation enhances the body’s overall capability to fight allergens.

What about diet?

Researchers have found that a diet that includes regular intake of certain spices can reduce vulnerability to plant allergens. These spices contain natural chemicals that include flavonoids and phenols. For example, turmeric is rich in curcumin, a compound that is known to support a healthy inflammatory response. Turmeric can also help improve digestion and balance the flow of bile. Sage, red pepper, cumin and coriander are some other spices that are known to help with allergen resistance. Sautéing a combination of ground turmeric, cumin and coriander in ghee and using the mixture to season vegetables is a way of incorporating some of these ayurvedic herbs/spices into your diet.

From the ayurvedic perspective, it is important to follow a Kapha-Pitta pacifying diet if one is prone to an allergen response. When the body mistakenly attacks harmless allergens, the body’s immune system releases various chemicals. So it is considered essential to pacify Pitta, because Pitta regulates chemical functions in the body. Drinking Organic Pitta Tea or using the Organic Cooling Pitta Spice Mix (food seasoning) is a convenient way of doing this. It is also important to pacify Kapha to counteract sluggish digestion and congestion. This is especially true in the Kapha season (spring). One of the most effective ways to pacify Kapha is to take Organic Digest Tone. It is an everyday detox that tones the digestive tract and eliminates ama.

Taking products that relieve allergen symptoms provides only temporary relief and does not address the root cause of allergen response — the body overreacting and mistaking harmless natural substances as dangerous.

Herbal Help in Spring

Sniffle Free — Cold weather can compromise your body’s ability to handle cold temperatures that can put out your digestive fire and weaken the body. Sniffle Free supports natural digestive fire, which is often compromised by colder weather. This formula also aids your resistance to the cold, helps lubricate the lungs and helps restore your body’s balance of moisture and mucus.

Elim-Tox — helps cleanse toxins and purify the body. It feels good to clean house and get rid of old junk in your life. It feels even better to clear old impurities from your body. Elim-Tox helps purify toxins from your whole body — down to the cells. You’ll feel healthy, clear and light. And let’s face it. Modern life is full of toxic input. There are chemicals and preservatives in your food supply, toxins in the air and water, and digestive impurities that build up due to poor eating habits, not to mention the toxic build-up that results from mental, physical and emotional stress.

In Maharishi Ayurveda, these impurities are called ama. They disturb digestion, overall metabolism, liver functioning and the healthy breakdown of fats, leading to weight and cholesterol problems. They interrupt circulation, leading to poor nutritional input to the cells. They block elimination, causing digestive disturbances. They interrupt the immune system, leading to allergen resistance issues and health problems. Do you feel groggy after eating? Are your joints feeling stiff? These are signs of toxic build-up. Other signs include an unpleasant body odor, a heavy feeling in your body, or a coated tongue in the morning. Toxins mask the sophisticated intelligence of your body, creating health issues and discomfort instead of health. Yet toxic build-up is virtually unavoidable in today’s fast-paced world. Stressful jobs, environmental pollution and fast-food diets contribute to toxic waste in the body. And no matter how pure the food you eat, if your digestion is out of balance, your own body will create digestive toxins.

Elim-Tox-O is a gentle formula that helps cleanse your body’s natural purification systems without forcing, making it the recommended choice for people who have a tendency towards acne, occasional heartburn, and excess stomach acid or who have a lot of “fire” in their physiology.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI],June 4,2014. Reprinted with permission.) 

 

BY LINDA EGENES

tractorladyMy mother gave me many gifts. She passed on her love of gardening, her joy in simple acts like arranging wildflowers or listening to the song of the cardinal, and the pleasure of reading a book. She taught me how to turn the other cheek when wronged, how to “go high” even when others “went low.”

But her greatest gift was to be happy.

Not that her circumstances weren’t challenging at times. When my brother was just a few months old in 1949, my parents picked up stakes in Ohio and towed their tiny mobile home to Memphis, Tennessee.

They quickly found a seven-acre parcel of land northeast of the city and parked their trailer on it. There they would literally camp for four years, with an outhouse for a toilet and an outdoor pump for water, while they built their first home. My father worked as an engineer at International Harvester designing plows and farm equipment during the days, and toiled late into the evenings and weekends to build a small house without mrtgage or debt.

I was born while they still lived in the trailer, and my mother would set my bassinette under the trees while she washed my cloth diapers using a bucket, an immersion coil, and a hand-cranked wringer. The home was finally ready to move into when I was two, and my sister, Cathy, was the first baby born in a home with indoor plumbing.

Yet my mom never spoke of those years as a hardship. On the contrary, her face would light up as she told stories of raising her babies in the fresh air and working side-by-side with Dad to build their own home on their own land. Looking at pictures from that era, she is always dressed stylishly and is smiling radiantly (my favorite picture is of my petite mother sitting on their tractor wearing high heels). To her it was all a grand adventure. In fact, she often said, “Those were the happiest years of my life.”

My dad was transferred north when I was six, and they did it all over again, building a beautiful passive-solar custom home in the Chicago suburbs. That home was truly a paradise, surrounded by charming wild flower gardens, birdsong and the shady protection of tall oak trees.

Basically my parents lived the American dream and prospered. Years passed and my sister and brother and I grew up and lived our lives in other states.

We were a happy family, but the true test of happiness, we were to find, was how you respond when life takes a direction you don’t foresee.

The Test of True Happiness
When our parents reached their 80s, we started to see signs. Mom was repeating herself many times in a conversation. Dad stopped raking the leaves or monitoring their finances. On the same day in January 2009, my mother and my father were diagnosed with dementia, confirming our worst fears. It was the most devastating day of my life.

Cathy and I scrambled to help parents who had never asked for anything—their creedo was to stay independent and help others. Cathy took over their financial affairs and I started spending half my time in Illinois—managing their home, their healthcare, and the incredibly devoted, round-the-clock healthcare providers whom we hired.

Caring for one parent with dementia is a challenge—caring for two was clearly beyond my capacity to give at times. Yet as a “parent to my parents,” I knew that above all, I needed to remain calm and happy, as my mom had done for us all these years.

“Happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances,” said Martha Washington, our nation’s first First Lady. This was what my mother modeled. Yet I also knew it was hard for me to be happy when I got too tired, when I got too stressed.

At this point in my life, I was incredibly grateful for my daily practice of Transcendental Meditation, which helped me find both calm and courage within. Many times the chaos of the day—or the stress of taking charge of my parents’ lives—overwhelmed me. Yet as I sank into the soft, blissful state of my own pure awareness each morning and evening, my body let go of the stresses of the day and my mind let go of the worries. When I came out of meditation, I felt fresh, rested. Suddenly solutions would appear.

My mom had learned TM years before and found it helped her be less nervous and enjoy life more. She hadn’t continued, but now we often meditated together, and when she opened her eyes, she was glowing with light. In many ways, we grew closer during these years. As a middle child, I relished having her to myself for shopping and other outings. Her dementia, it turned out, was vascular and not a progressive form like my father’s, so her personality and ability to interact lovingly remained intact. She made friends with the caregivers, basking in their attention. She found a way to laugh often, to be happy with her new circumstances.

I truly believe that this was not a superficial kind of moodmaking on her part, but resulted from her ability to draw deep from her inner resources. As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique says in his book, On the Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Commentary, “If his happiness does not lie in the outside world and yet he is happy, his happiness can only be within himself” (Chapter 5 Verse 24).

Long story short, the time came when my parents could no longer stay in their beloved home, but needed additional care. Cathy found a truly progressive and uplifting memory care facility close to her home in Oakland, CA, and generously made plans to retire early so she could give our parents the loving attention they needed.

Changes kept coming to our family, and not the kind you look forward to. Within two short years, my mom had lost her husband, her home, her short-term memory, and her ability to walk, write, and read due to a stroke.

Being Happy is a Precious GiftBeing Happy Is A Precious Gift to Others
Needless to say, our entire family was struggling with loss and grief, but our tiny mother was struggling the most. My parents had been so devoted to each other that we wondered if, like many close couples, Mom might lose the will to live at all.

But with the same determination that made her recover her speech in the year after her stroke, Mom began to adapt to her new situation.

With childlike eagerness, she sat next to Bill or Barbara, the activity directors, like the teacher’s pet. She found she was good at trivia. When Bill called out “Illinois,” she was the first to name the capital: “Springfield!”

She learned new songs. If you stopped to talk to her, she smiled and took your hand and kissed it. She radiated joy. When a caregiver handed her a fruit smoothie at snack time—a replacement for pastries—she first asked if I wanted some and then sipped it with gusto. “It’s delicious,” she’d say. “You should order one!” as if we were lounging poolside at a spa.

The miracle was that our shy, introverted mother not only adjusted to her new circumstances—she embraced them and everyone she met with joy.

When I’d call from Iowa to speak to her at night, she sometimes told me she was working during the day, helping other people. I believed her. She was working to make others happy, with her smile, her gentle humor, with her radiant being. Her last words of advice at the end of every phone call: “Be happy.”

I learned early on that she was making this choice every single day. Occasionally on the phone she would slip into sadness about my dad. “He was such a handsome young man,” she’d say. “He was always helping me.” She’d sob a little, but then, as if talking to herself, she’d say, “But I can’t dwell on that. I have to be happy.”

Like any children, we could not bear to see our sweet mother suffer, so this was the greatest gift she could have ever given us. Through her joy and gratitude, she turned darkness into light. Ever my teacher, she also became my hero.

Our mother passed away just three months ago. This is our first Mother’s Day without her, made even more poignant by the fact that this year her 90th birthday also falls on that day, and our entire family was planning to gather for a grand celebration.

Yet I can only feel grateful for my mother’s many gifts and remember the words she spoke to me the last time I called her. “Be happy,” she said. It’s easy to do that, Mom, when I remember your radiant smile.

Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, May 14, 2017. Reprinted with permission.)

Categories: Uncategorized

The Journey of Enlightenment by Ann Purcell

The Journey of Enlightenment by Ann Purcell

By Ann Purcell, guest blogger

Many artists get asked the question, “What is your creative process?” I think most artists would say that it just happens and that they don’t have a particular process. Why some people are artists, musicians, writers etc. and others are athletes, business people, social workers etc. is a magical mystery.

I never considered myself a creative person, nor did I grow up in an artistic atmosphere. I was raised near the ocean where outdoor sports was the way of life. I played tennis; my parents were golfers and my brothers surfers. In school, I excelled in sports and did not pursue writing, music or art. Artistic pursuits weren’t even a consideration.

In 1972 I learned the Transcendental Meditation technique. One of the first things I noticed as a result of the practice was that I had all this extra energy, which needed to be directed into some channel. I took up cooking. After about two years I started to hear words and phrases in my head. I began a journal to write down what I was hearing. Sometimes I would write prose and on occasion I wrote a poem. In time poems, or the first couple of lines, began to sound inside my mind.

Soon I started to hear melodies as well. I did not consider myself to be musical. I never even thought of trying out for the school singing groups as I did not have a strong voice. However, I had a passion for listening to music and alone in the car, I would sing away to the songs on the radio. I also listened to my records for hours in my room.

 

What Unleashed My Creativity?

What was happening inside me? Why was I starting to hear and write songs and poems? During my meditations, I experienced a deep level of silence. It was like a crystal, still pond that I could also visually see. I realized I was accessing the source of all sounds, words, and music — the field of infinite creativity. Also, the surface noise in my head — anxiety, pressure from work, to do lists, etc. — was dissolving as stress was released due to the deep rest I gained during TM.

Accessing this field of pure silence twenty minutes twice daily in my TM practice unleashed this flood of creativity. Being clearer headed was allowing me to perceive the stream of creativity that was rising from this very still level within.

 

The Source of All Creativity

In his book, Catching the Big Fish, the great filmmaker David Lynch describes this creative process:

“Here’s how it works: Inside every human being is an ocean of pure, vibrant consciousness. When you “transcend” in Transcendental Meditation you dive down into that ocean of pure consciousness. You splash into it. And it’s bliss. You can vibrate with this bliss. Experiencing pure consciousness enlivens it, expands it. It starts to unfold and grow . . . . You can catch ideas at a deeper level. And creativity really flows. It makes life more like a fantastic game.”

Many artists and musicians describe this effortless experience of creativity in which they feel they are not doing anything and the process of creation is happening by itself.

The following poem called “Am I the Poet?” expresses this effortless flow of creativity.

 

Am I The Poet?

 Am I the poet of this poem

of each expression rising from within?

Silence stirred, an impulse heard

beyond all meter, beyond all word . . .

 

Am I the writer of these lines?

Each phrase appearing on my screen

is just a seed sown for silence to flow

in any way the wind blows . . .

 

Am I the composer of this song

of the sounds of silence singing?

Wholeness bent, on self-intent

for me to be silence’s instrument . . .

Some people are naturally born with specific creative abilities and also seem to have a deep connection to the spring of creativity within themselves. However, I know now first-hand that anyone can develop their creativity if they first tap into the field of silence and infinite creativity by practicing TM.

 

All Life is Creative

Creativity is not just limited to the arts. Mothers have to be resourceful every day in raising children. In business, creativity is the name of the game. Every act of life can be a creative endeavor. The flow of creativity is intensely joyful. If you want to unleash the waves of creativity in your life, dive into the depths of your consciousness to the infinite source of all creativity and you will soon enjoy the effortless flow of a more creative, happier, and fulfilling life.

Ann Purcell is the author of the book The Transcendental Meditation technique and the Journey of Enlightenment. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post. In addition she is a singer-songwriter and has produced many CDs including her recent release, You’re a Hero— Songs for Children.

 

 

 

 

Friends are asking me to post examples of enlightened leadership from the Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic that is freakily relevant for our times.

The first thing I’d like to share is Rama’s response to a refugee crisis. At this point in the epic, he is about to fight Ravana, the demon king, who not only terrorizes the people but has stolen Rama’s devoted wife Sita. Suddenly, Vibhishina, the brother of the demon king, appears in Rama’s camp seeking refuge.

Although his brother Ravana is a demon, Vibhishina is a high-souled being who has tried to stop his brother from his destructive ways, and has been driven from his own kingdom for speaking up. He has nowhere else to go, plus he wants to help Rama and fight on the side of truth. When Rama consults his ministers, all but the wise Hanuman advise Rama to kill Vibhishana before he kills them.

 

Here is Rama’s enlightened and infinitely compassionate response:

 

“To be true to Dharma [natural law],

to be kind,

to be the knower of truth,

you must give shelter

to one who begs for mercy—

even your own enemy.

Protect him with all your power,

even with your life.

If you do not show mercy,

but allow the one to die

who has thrown himself

at your feet,

then with death he takes

all your good deeds,

leaving behind only

a stony heart.

Thus will I welcome Vibhishina,

thus would I welcome even Ravana,

thus do I welcome all

who seek refuge in me.

Excerpted from The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy (Tarcher Perigee, a division of Penguin Random House), 2016. 

 

 

 

 

Categories: book excerpt, Ramayana

From Huffington Post 09/08/2016 08:35 am ET 
Supriya Venkatesan is a veteran of the U.S. Army, a wellness junkie and a freelance writer
The Ramayana – A New Retelling

 

The ancient epic Ramayana is the most widely read story in the world and many consider it to be the ultimate spiritual guide. The stories are celebrated over fire dancing Kecaks in Bali to reenactments all over India and Thailand. It tells the tale of an enlightened prince who was unjustly banished to the forest for 14 years. But he didn’t go alone. His super devoted wife and brother followed him. The three had encounters with friends and foes—from wise sages to horrific demons to flying monkeys and wise bears. The climax occurs when the prince’s wife is captured by an evil demon-king and the hero must battle armies of demons and liberate the earth from darkness. Noted scholar Michael Sternfeld says in the introduction to The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive (just out from TarcherPerigee), “the Ramayana has been described as the original epic quest—comparable to the Bible, Star Wars, and Romeo and Juliet all rolled into one.”

With the explosion of yoga and meditation in the west, there are readers who also want to understand this story more deeply. The problem is that because the original tome was in three volumes, the translations were very long and cumbersome to read, or were very short and lacked spiritual depth. Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy spent the last 18 years writing this new version to fix that. They wanted to portray the poetry of the original text and still illuminate the profound spiritual heritage of India. This book is so lyrically rendered that you won’t even notice the wisdom seeping in. (Tweet this)

In a conversation with Linda Egenes, she says, “this story has endured because the theme is dharma, a Sanskrit term that refers to living in a way that upholds the path of evolution, maintains balance, and supports prosperity and spiritual freedom.” Adulting would be way more fruitful if we used this guide to achieve balance, abundance, and yogi-hood. (Tweet this)

Linda tells me, “The Ramayana makes the abstract principles of dharma concrete, and the life of Rama, the hero, serves as an example.” In this story we see that even when prince and princess are pressed to their limits, they demonstrate compassion and forgiveness to friends and foes alike. One of the most telling moments happens at the climax of the story when the demon-king has been destroyed. The prince mourns the death and consoles the demon’s brother and tells him, “Death quells all enmity. We have achieved our purpose. Perform his rights with honor, for he is as dear to me as he is to you.” The Ramayana offers practical wisdom to anyone on a spiritual path. The role of meditation and yoga in developing wisdom and enlightenment are clearly exemplified in Rama’s life not only as a prince, but also as a warrior and enlightened yogi.

Linda has been a longtime practitioner of the Transcendental Meditation technique and was fascinated to find that throughout the story, Rama is guided by wise sages who practice meditation and yoga deep in the forests where he is exiled. She says, “It has been an amazing undertaking to work with this manuscript during the past 18 years, and in many ways it has inspired my own journey of transformation and growth.” Throughout the book, the authors use novelistic techniques to keep the modern reader turning the pages and being transported into a land and era that propels the transformation of those who read it. Linda says, “The heart-stopping story of Ramayana unfolds in layers of meaning and feeling, revealing hidden values that transform us and speed us on the path of self-realization. This was my experience, and I hope it will be yours too.”

Linda Egenes, M.A., and Kumuda Reddy, M.D. have collaborated on four other books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda. Linda is an adjunct assistant professor at Maharishi University of Management, and Dr. Kumuda Reddy is a retired professor at State University of New York and practitioner of Maharishi Ayurveda health care. Linda can be reached at www.lindaegenes.com and Dr. Reddy at www.allhealthyfamily.com.

Original Story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/57d15a2ee4b0eb9a57b7a0ad?timestamp=1473338566278

Categories: Uncategorized

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-9-33-31-amTune in today at 11:00 a.m. Central Time at http://delphiinternational.com/donna-seebo-show/ to hear Linda Egenes interviewed on the Donna Seebo Show live! Linda will talk about her new book, The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D., (#TarcherPerigee, Sept. 2016). If you miss the show, check out the archives on the same page!

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Linda Egenes holding her latest book

Photo by Cheryl Fusco Johnson

Oh, that magic feeling when the book you’ve worked on for 18 years is in your hands and it looks so beautiful! Big thanks to the editing and production team at Penguin Random House.

Waves of gratitude to the many, many friends who helped me along the way. To everyone who has already bought a copy, I am grateful beyond words. Over 1,000 copies have already sold, thanks to all of you!

Coming Sept 6, 2016

Pre-sales only $11.47 at Amazon.com

What people are saying about  The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy (TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House).

 “I love the story of the Ramayana and this new version is so simply and beautifully written—it will stir the soul!” David Lynch, Oscar-nominated film director

 “A luminous new rendering of an epic that remains as relevant as it is timeless.” —Craig Pearson, author of The Supreme Awakening

“This retelling of the Ramayana is an impressive compilation, beautifully narrated, mingled with thoughtful poetic expressions both original and modern. A retelling for all times, it stays true to the original Valmiki Ramayana, and its exalted execution by Egenes and Reddy sounds natural to the ear for modern readers.”Bal Ram Singh, Ph.D.,
Director, Center for Indic Studies
at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and author of Exploring Science in Ancient Indian Texts

“At last! A retelling of Valmiki’s Ramayana that understands and expresses the role of consciousness in thought, speech, and action. This elegantly written version is the one to read.” —Rhoda Orme-Johnson, Ph.D., co-author of The Flow of Consciousness

 “This vernacular prose retelling features narrative clarity, richly textured imagery, and a luminous storytelling voice that leaps off the page. This is a treasure that begs to be read out loud.” —Hertha D. Sweet Wong, Ph.D., assistant chair of the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Sending My Heart Back Across the Years: Tradition and Innovation in Native American Autobiography

 “In this wonderful newly abridged adaptation by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy, the Ramayana takes on new life.  Egenes and Reddy have given us a text that is lucid and lyrical, eminently readable, and will make a fine addition to libraries and classrooms.”  —Steven Schneider, professor of English at University of Texas-Pan American and editor of The Contemporary Narrative Poem: Critical Crosscurrents

 “The Ramayana is one of the great treasures of mankind. It tells a gripping story but it is very long and it is in Sanskrit. Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy have retold the story at manageable length in beautiful English and they have kept the dramatic tension, which makes the reader want to read on. I know the story well but I could not wait to see what came next. Well done.” Vernon Katz, Ph.D., author of Conversations with Maharishi

“This eminently readable and poetic retelling by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy captures the flavor of the ancient text, brings out philosophical and spiritual truths sometimes glossed over by modern translators, and flows so smoothly it is hard to put down.” — Jack Forem, author of Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

 “Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are resplendent in our minds and ensconced in our hearts as we traverse the beauty, tragedy, and adventure of the Ramayana in this elegant retelling of the classic.”  Saraswati Nagpal, author of Sita, Daughter of the Earth 

 “Perhaps the best modern retelling to date, this version by Egenes and Reddy is true to Valmiki’s text yet keeps you turning the pages. Will be appreciated by adults and children, Indian and Western audiences alike.”

 Chandrika Tandon, Grammy nominee and founder of Soul Chants Music

 “This lovely and sensitive adaptation of the Ramayana is easy and enjoyable to read without losing the deeper layers of insight that make the story timeless.  I heartily recommend it!” Prudence Farrow Bruns, Ph.D. in South Asian Studies, University of California Berkeley, and author of Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song.

 “In this new prose translation of the Ramayana, Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy maintain the cadence and richness of language of the original poetic epic. Sternfeld’s introduction provides a new dimension to understanding the depth and breadth of this universal story.”

Care Connet, poet and author of Diary of the White Bush Clover: A Peace Pilgrimage

“These authors portray Vedic life in its larger and deeper context, bringing out the nobility of the heroic action of the characters. It is beautifully written, suitable for all ages, and keeps the reader engaged. By the end I was moved to tears.” —Susan Andersen, Ph.D., co-author of The Flow of Consciousness

 

 

 

 

BY LINDA EGENES

 

Tolerance as a State of BeingAs tensions rose in Paris and demonstrations swept Western Europe in January of 2015, people around the world wondered how to stop religious intolerance and promote peace and goodwill among all people.

Yet with racial and religious hostilities worldwide reaching a six-year high, as reported in the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, intolerance is a global issue that affects us no matter where we live.

While schools, religious groups and families can do their part in promoting racial and religious tolerance, you have to wonder if tolerance can, indeed, be taught.

The research shows yes, and no. Some researchers question whether schools can help, since educational institutions have historically reinforced racial and economic inequality. Yet one study (Henze, 2001) showed that certain pro-active approaches on the part of teachers could reduce racial and ethnic conflict. These included:

  • Multicultural or ethnic assemblies and special events
  • After-school programs and other opportunities for students to mix
  • Conflict-resolution training
  • Recruitment of diverse staff
  • Teacher-driven professional development on issues of equity
  • Teaming between classrooms, usually a bilingual class with a traditional class

I know from personal experience that parents talking to their kids about racial and religious tolerance can make a difference in their attitudes and behaviors. For instance, I was raised in Naperville, an all-white, middle-class suburb of Chicago, yet during the integration battles of the 1960s my parents made a point of telling us that if a racially diverse family wished to move into our neighborhood, they would be welcome. They taught us to never to use derogatory labels and to show respect for people of all races and all religions.

They also encouraged me to enroll as a camp counselor at a bi-racial summer camp in our town. The counselors and kids were half from our suburb and half from the inner city. It was a formative experience, and fortunately for me, paved the way for many loving friendships with people of diverse races and religions around the world.

As I write this, I’m wondering what causes us to think of another human being as “other” than ourselves in the first place?

It seems like part of the problem comes in when people try to create unity on the surface of life, to have the thought, “If only everyone had the same belief system as me, then there would be no fighting in this world.”

Unity at the surface of life and unity at the depths are two different things.

In fact, when unity is deep in a person’s psychology, when someone has a strong sense of self, a strong sense of who they are, they don’t feel threatened by another person for having a different belief, race or religion, because they experience the connectedness between all beings on a deep level. Instead they appreciate, celebrate, and exult in the differences of others.

It’s like a well-watered garden. Each type of flower is different—a rose, a dahlia, a daisy—yet at their source they consist of the same colorless sap. No one feels threatened by the diversity of flowers in the garden—in fact, that’s what makes the garden so beautiful.

Tolerance seems to have a lot to do with self-actualization, as a person who is more stable in themselves will be less likely to feel threatened by people who have different religious beliefs. And, just as you would expect, tolerance, acceptance of others and lack of prejudice are characteristics of self-actualization as found in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

So if self-actualized people are more likely to be tolerant of others, then the question remains, how do we help people to become more self-actualized? Throughout the ages, meditation has been a tool to develop the self, to become more self-actualized or enlightened, and to enjoy inner and outer peace.

Now modern research shows that the Transcendental Meditation technique helps develop self-actualization. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality in 1991 compared independent research studies and concluded that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique increased self-actualization by about three times as much as procedures of contemplation, or concentration. A 2005 follow-up study of university students, also published in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, showed that university students who were practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique increased significantly on self-development (ego development) when measured after graduation, in contrast to control students at three other universities who were not participating.

After one month of practice of the Transcendental Meditation program, individuals developed a more strongly defined sense of self-concept, in comparison to matched controls. They also reported that their ‘actual’ self was closer to their ‘ideal’ self as reported in the British Journal of Psychology in 1982.

I think it’s important to recognize that TM itself is not a religion nor does it involve embracing a particular belief system. Over six million people of all different religions, races and beliefs practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. The beautiful thing is that people often report that practicing TM strengthens their understanding and belief in their own religion. Yet at the same time, as the research shows, it simultaneously promotes acceptance and tolerance of those who are different from us, who have a different religion, race or belief system.

In a 1971 interview Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, noted that as someone starts to practice the TM technique, “they start to dive deep within, they begin to feel better and the stresses are less, and life becomes easier and ‘help thy neighbor’ becomes an instinct, an inspiration to everyone. One doesn’t have to know from the teaching to know that ‘help thy neighbor’ is a good thing. It becomes a habit. So in this way one begins to live their religion. Living the religion is by developing pure consciousness. Religious life is life, which is spontaneously lived. It’s not a matter of thinking and doing good, but one is structured in doing good.”

In other words, helping our neighbor, helping other human beings, no matter what their color or economic status or religion, becomes a spontaneous action for someone who is developing pure consciousness through daily meditation. Tolerance becomes a natural state of being.

Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, March 19, 2015. Reprinted with permission.)

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