Australian cartoonist Michael Leuning offered a profound insight regarding modern life when his cartoon character Mr. Curly declared:
I believe the world is sick with exhaustion and dying of restlessness… the prolonged ongoing state of fatigue to which our world seems to be rapidly adapting is ultimately soul destroying as well as earth destroying… love cannot take root in this sad situation…. Tiredness has become the most suppressed feeling in the world. Everywhere we see people overcoming their exhaustion and pushing on with intensity—cultivating the great mass mania which all around is making life so hard and ugly—so cruel and meaningless—so utterly graceless—and being congratulated for overcoming it and pushing it deep down inside themselves as if it were a virtue to do this.
Fatigue is dangerous—for you women who don’t realize just how threatening it is to mental, physical and emotional health, consider the high statistics of women reporting side effects of fatigue such as depression, heart disease, stroke, panic attacks, breakdowns, divorce, and counter-intuitively—even insomnia!
In a 2015 Huffington Post article, author Holly Phillips reported:
In 2010, women across the U.S. named fatigue among their top five health concerns in WebMD’s annual Year in Health survey. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center found that there is literally no job more exhausting than being a mother. In the American Psychological Association’s 2012 Stress in America survey, 45 percent of women reported feeling fatigue due to stress. And in a 2011 study, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York found that women consistently report higher levels of fatigue than men do.
Modern life is exhausting because we often feel compelled to live by its standards. Nobody wants to be the one to tell their boss that they can’t work late. Nobody decides they shouldn’t have a child because they’re just too tired. We take that overnight flight to Paris though we’d just as soon stay home. Our identity and self-esteem are so tied up with so much of our career, home and social life, that we are afraid to compromise any of it, but exhaustion overtakes us when we don’t pay attention to our limits. People make bad choices when they’re tired. Choices that involve alcohol, drugs, over-medicating, arguing, overeating, and worse.
Sound familiar? Does your work ethic take priority over your need for rest? Do you even remember how it feels to be fresh and rested anymore? Do you ever acknowledge your exhaustion in a serious-enough light to stop everything and just lie down? The kids never seem to stop needing our attention, our significant-others want some “together time”, work deadlines are relentless, financial pressures persists, and our body seems to need more and more upkeep with various kinds of exercise. Modern so-called time-saving technology like smartphones and computers create greater pressure to respond to every situation and demand immediately. Who believes she has the time to rest?
A broad overview of the general circumstances of women today seems to indicate that, as opportunities increase for women, so do the demands and pressures of life, which in turn increase fatigue, stress and anxiety. Yet no woman desires less opportunity or less freedom. So the solution is certainly not for women to deny themselves the chance to grow and thrive. Instead, we need a solution that prevents and diminishes the stress and exhaustion that assail today’s women. The Transcendental Meditation program has proven to be that solution, regardless of a woman’s age, circumstance, religion, culture or occupation.
Candace Badgett, PhD, international trustee of Transcendental Meditation for Women and co-owner of the Raj, an award-winning Ayurveda Health Spa, explains:
During the Transcendental Meditation practice, the mind effortlessly settles to quieter levels of thinking, transcending the agitation of the active mind. The mind silently rests in a state of alert peacefulness and fullness. Twice-daily experience of inner silence not only replenishes depleted reserves but creates a vibrant consciousness. While the mind is resting, the body correspondingly rests deeply, eliminating fatigue and creating a naturally relaxed, stress-resilient physiology, capable of great dynamism.
Along with the rapid, deep and rejuvenating rest which the TM technique facilitates comes a natural balancing in hormonal and neurotransmitter functions, as well as the wide array of benefits found as a result of the dramatic and unique increase in brain wave coherence during the practice. Published peer-reviewed research shows decreased heart disease, decreased mortality, decreased medical care utilization, and decreased medical expenses. This research on TM’s benefits has not been exceeded in the last forty years, in scope or in statistical significance, by any research on other meditation techniques.
After she learned the Transcendental Meditation technique, a career woman and mother of three said:
Enjoying transcendence twice a day, every day, the overall effect is to experience life as less stressful and more vibrant. There are times during my meditation when I have had a feeling of such complete relaxation and contentment that was so charming, that I felt like there was nothing left to do—that I could have stayed in that state forever. And when I came out I felt so light, both in body and mind, and so happy, I felt like I could do everything and be everything with ease, with joy, with fullness of heart.
Rest is good. Taking time for the profound rest of TM so that one’s mind and body can recoup and refresh is essential to a healthy productive life. But health is far more than the absence of disease—it is the realization of one’s full potential of mind, body and spirit. Far from it being selfish to take this “time-out,” taking the time to transcend will gradually establish us in a state of peak capacity, infinitely elevating our ability to nourish our family and environment. And it may be the only way to begin to culture enlightenment—the antithesis to cartoonist Michael Leuning’s description of an utterly graceless soul-destroying life of relentless fatigue.
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals in the USA.