There's No Place Like Om


When I was a kid, I discovered the Beatles. They had already disbanded, but their music really spoke to me. Eager to learn more about them, I read a comprehensive biography of their lives—from their childhoods in Liverpool to their worldwide fame. But for some reason, the part of their history that really caught my attention was their discovery of the teachings of Maharishi Mehesh Yogi, a guru with whom they spent time in India. I became fascinated with the idea of Transcendental Meditation–if the Beatles found it transformative, I wanted to learn more! So I bought one of the Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation books. Much of it went over my 11-year-old head, but I enjoyed the exercises like quieting my mind by concentrating on a sound or mantra, like Om, and soon was able to relax myself on command. It was so much easier to quiet my young mind than it is now. But I recently learned about a very simple practice you can do anytime, anywhere: the Portable Mantram. It was developed by psychologist Doug Oman (Om Man!) and colleagues as a method for helping veterans with PTSD manage stress and improve coping, safety, calmness, and resilience. If you’d like to try it out, simply repeat a mantra of your choice throughout the day when you are not actively using your mind, like when you are doing the dishes or folding laundry. You can say it out loud, or silently to yourself. This helps cultivate a stillness and non-reactivity to stressful situations by calming the “monkey mind” that jumps from the present situation to the past (which is beyond your control) and then to the future (which hasn’t happened yet). This method has the same physiological effect of calming the nervous system as deep breathing, but can be used by people with respiratory issues. Plus, it’s inconspicuous, so can be practiced whenever you need it, no matter who’s looking!