Patrice Gladwin’s Wellbeing Story
My meditation teacher, Patrice Gladwin, has been practising and teaching Transcendental Meditation, a form of silent mantra meditation, since 1972.
I’ve been practising this style of meditation myself for 3 years and it has greatly enhanced my life. I’m aware the word ‘transcendental’ is powerful and can put some people off. There are lots of labels for wellbeing practices that can be challenging or intimidating.
It’s important to remember all meditation techniques simply enable you to come back to yourself, take time out, slow down and reconnect. At State of Liberty, we believe it’s important to approach this practice with curiosity and playfulness, slowly discovering what works for you.
Today I’m honoured to be sharing Patrice’s wellbeing story with you…
SOL: How many years have you been meditating, at what age did you start and how did you discover it?
Patrice: I’ve been meditating for 47 years. I started at the age of 22.
The first person I met who practised transcendental meditation was a concert pianist in Australia. He said it made him able to practise 2 extra hours a day and that his playing was better.
Then in London and in Scandinavia where I was studying to become a potter, I kept meeting people who were stronger than me and more creative. They all did transcendental meditation, so I put two and two together.
Later, when I was living in Germany, I took a flat that was too big and too expensive partly because I was told the lady next door practised transcendental meditation! She was a lawyer, ten years older than me, and I grilled her for a month, every evening. She answered all my questions wonderfully, but then I started to miss my boyfriend in Australia and I was borrowing her phone and she said in a very stern voice, ‘Patrice, you are an unstable person! I am not talking to you anymore about meditation. I am taking you to the teacher and you must learn.’
I think I learnt transcendental meditation because, even though I was only 22, I had been through most things and had suffered enough. I was the eldest of seven children. I helped bring most of them up. My family were huge world travellers. My father flew aeroplanes in the Arctic and we lived in California, Canada and Australia, but my parents were very temperamental people. Through myself and through them, I felt I had suffered enough. I just didn’t want to suffer anymore.
What I needed more than anything was knowledge. I had studied sciences and humanities, but no one was explaining how human life worked. Transcendental meditation offered a new perspective, there seemed to be something very substantial in the idea that the body and mind are only offsets from consciousness.
What is human consciousness? It remains a question until the very first time you realise consciousness is not just being conscious of the flowers, of the weather, of the time, of your hunger, of your feelings, of the job to be done.
There is consciousness itself, pure consciousness, and that consciousness is the most human thing about you. It’s bliss, its inner, its silent and it’s beyond space and time. Without experiencing this fundamental consciousness, we are wandering around in the dark, looking for the next pleasure, the next job, the next thing to buy.
SOL: Have you had any health challenges in your life that meditation has helped you with?
Patrice: I’ve had 3 children all with happy, drug-free births. I am sure meditation was 50% of the story because I was relaxed enough to not be clenching up against the contractions.
I will be 70 very soon and the meditation itself has kept me incredibly young and energetic. I think health, both mental and physical, come from happiness, a happiness that grows into new seasons and new phases all the time. The ability to love and appreciate keeps on growing and keeps me healthy and young.
SOL: Can everyone learn to meditate?
Patrice: The most important thing is that it’s natural and effortless. There is no trying, no mind control, no concentration. It is not a mental exercise, it’s nothing but a pleasure because every human being has a body, a mind, a brain and a personality. Everyone has an inner being. Everyone has an inner potential, and that inner potential just happens to be transcendental, it just happens to be beyond space and time.
If you travel the world and talk to people on a very grassroots level, in whatever language they speak, they talk about connecting with their inner being. It’s not their memories, it’s not their imagination, it’s not the ego, it’s not their education – it’s their inner self, their true self.
During transcendental meditation you take thought at the busy, active level of the mind and you begin to experience that thought backwards. It becomes quieter and quieter, more peaceful, more orderly, until you reach the finest impulse of thought and then go beyond that to an area where there is no activity of thinking. Yet you’re more awake, more aware, more alert than ever and that is a pleasurable, sweet, enjoyable and reassuring experience.
It’s not just a mental experience, it’s a different state of consciousness. Research on transcendental meditation shows it gives you access to what’s called ‘the fourth major state of consciousness’.
‘The fourth major state of consciousness is as natural and necessary to life as waking, dreaming and sleeping, a state more alert than waking but more deeply rested than deep sleep.’ – New England Journal of Medicine, 1971
SOL: What’s happening in the mind during transcendental meditation?
Patrice: The mind is settling down into that sweet, enjoyable, silent, blissful state of inner self. The body settles down to a state of rest deeper than sleep. The mind becomes more alert, more aware than ever, but the body is in a deep state of rest.
This combination of restfulness and alertness allows the whole system to revamp itself and clear out stress. The mind sharpens, becoming more creative and fresh. You come out of a meditation feeling ready for anything.
Meditation is not just messing around with the mind. Transcendental meditation has one goal: to give you access to your inner self, to give the body access to that fourth state of consciousness so it stops that crazy habit of accumulating stress and strain which limits people’s bravery, their ability to love and their ability to change. It’s accessing that deepest, strongest, most powerful part of yourself. Suddenly, everything becomes possible.
SOL: How is transcendental meditation taught?
Patrice: All over the world, it’s taught in exactly the same way.
Your first instruction is a one-to-one session for 1 hour. You learn the technique and then meet in a tiny group with others who have just learnt the technique too. You meet 3 evenings in a row for explanation, clarification, answering questions – everything that is needed to make your practice effortless and perfect. Then you have follow-ups over the next few months to check your practice.
Basically, once you’ve learnt it, you’ve got it for life. You’re not tuning into anybody else’s ideas, or teachings or philosophies of life, you’re simply having that experience of your own inner and most blissful, strong, happy state and that deep profound relaxation each day to clear out stress and strain.
SOL: You also talk about ‘instinctive right action’ as a result of meditating, can you explain?
Patrice: When you’re meditating twice a day, your bravery and creativity grows in a completely, natural, organic, gentle fashion. You experience right action and right decisions that are intuitive, easy and comfortable for you and other people. You’re able to make decisions that cannot be reached by writing a list of pros and cons. They are intuitively right.
SOL: I’ve noticed a profound shift since meditating twice a day, what actually happens?
Patrice: How do you use the human mind? All great civilisations use the same analogy:
‘Like a bow and arrow, you draw back into yourself, bring your mind to your inner silence and inner bliss and then you move forward and let the mind fly.’
Meditation is to prepare for the day, so the heart and mind can be the most powerful. Practising regularly allows you to cultivate stability in your creativity and your energy. It makes you very brave to take on new projects, new relationships, new jobs and new responsibilities. Life is less a series of ups and downs and more an expression of your full potential and your full creativity.
Love Lizzie xx