Sivana Podcast: The Silent Power Of Meditation That Can Change The World – Interview With Ann Purcell
The Full Discussion
Ann Purcell is an award winning author and musician who has been teaching Transcendental Meditation for over forty years. She joins the Sivana Podcast to discuss meditation, how it relates to creativity and the power of silence. Ann’s exuberance and wisdom are evident as she speaks, and whether you are a seasoned meditator or have never practiced before, there is a lot to learn and enjoy in this episode.
Where does all sound come from? It comes from silence and actually the “Vedas”, which is the oldest recorded knowledge in the history of the universe say that, within silence, within the field of silence, it’s actually an oxymoron, It’s not just empty flat silence but it’s actually made of sound.
All vibrations begins within silence. Silence itself is the sound.
Namaste, you’re listening to the Sivana podcast. Join us on an exploration of eastern spirituality, yoga philosophy and conscious living for the New Age. This podcast is a production of sivanaspirit.com, where you can find a large selection of om and yoga clothing, spiritual jewelry and unique fair trade gifts from the Far East. Now here’s your host, Ashton Szabo.
Greetings everyone! Welcome to the sivana podcast, I am Ashton szabo, your host.
Today’s show is all about meditation in the mind. Our guest is Ann Purcell, she’s an award winning author and musician who’s been teaching transcendental meditation around the world since 1973. She currently oversees the teaching of TM in girls’ schools and communities in several countries in Africa.
Her latest book “The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment” was published in March of 2015. She also has an album, her seventh, that’s going to be released sometime in July of this year.
Really happy to have her on the show today and welcome.
Thanks so much Ashton for having me.
Absolutely! We’re excited to have you.
So I’ve heard it before and I think I agree with that as well. But I’m curious to hear what you feel that there are no techniques of meditation, but rather there are only techniques that lead you to meditation, as meditation itself is describing a process beyond the mind.
What one do you agree with that in two?
You’re a practitioner of transcendental meditation, for listeners that might not be familiar with, what differentiates that technique from other forms of meditation?
I think quite differentiates is actually in your first question. You talked about meditation and there are no techniques. But you’re right, we are meditating all the time because meditation means to think, to meditate, to reflect, to contemplate and that is what the word meditation means.
Now the difference between to meditate which we all do in our own way sometimes, you can be given certain thoughts to meditate upon and that’s a type of meditation. But the difference between transcendental meditation “TM” for short, is the word transcend. Transcend means to go beyond. So you actually go beyond the surface, thinking up of the mind and that’s the level of the mind where we meditate on.
And you can experience finer and finer and finer. Quieter and quieter, quieter states of thought,until you actually transcend all thoughts, so there is no meditation at that point. It’s just pure being, pure stillness. And also, it happens automatically, there’s no trying to get there or trying to empty your mind of thoughts. It’s a very automatic natural process.
And how did you get involved transcendental meditation? it’s a tongue twister to say for some reason for me, but yeah TM is the short version.
When I was 18 yrs. old, I’d heard about it in high school the year before, but my first reaction was there’s just no way I can sit still for twenty minutes. And then, I ended up in England at a school. There were only twelve other students who I thought I didn’t have anything in common with.
So I was looking to get involved in something just to meet people and I saw a brochure. I was living outside Oxford England and it was a brochure that listed all the plays, Shakespeare plays and lectures. And I saw an ad for transcendental meditation and it just jumped out at me so I went and learned it. And I couldn’t believe that I could actually sit still for twenty minutes and actually enjoy it. So I was hooked from day one and have been doing it for 43 years. Absolutely, regularly, all these years.
How would you say that your meditation practice impacts your daily life? Like the day to day experience of your life?
Gosh, there’s been so many changes over 40 years. I would say the the first thing I noticed is I started to notice nature around me, it was like everything woke up inside me, it was like something had been taken off my eyes, a blinder and everything started look so vibrant and fresh.
But the next thing I notice is that I was able to focus in my school work. I was a freshman in college and It was probably ADD before it was labeled that because I only did well in my work applied like subject and my teacher, otherwise, I was very restless student. And I was able to start studying, I started going to the library which I’ve never done before.
So it really helped my focus ability tremendously. And then, I think over the years, first of all I probably was a pretty emotional person, I had ups and downs like everyone. But over the years there’s been this feeling of inner happiness that just grows more and more and more where now it feels like a full cup that’s overflowing. And also this inner silence has been growing over the years, and that is very rewarding because I feel like instead of getting caught up in every situation I’m able to observe more and then act in a more responsible harmonious way.
And the most fulfilling thing for me is a feeling that my heart is opened up and literally, I feel love flowing out of my heart. And one other thing is that I feel I unleashed this creativity I never knew I had inside me, writing poems, and songs, and music and the book. and that is extremely fulfilling.
That was actually part of my next question, I know you’ve written a lot for Huffington Post, you’ve had some stuff that you’ve written on meditation’s effect on creativity as well if you could speak to that a little bit more how does meditation affect creativity?
Well, where do you think the source of creativity is? If you analyze that, we all have lots and lots of thoughts every day. And the surface level of our thoughts is our to do lists and what we have to do to accomplish the next day, feeding your children. But there’s those deeper quieter thoughts, those intuitive thoughts, those feeling levels, those fine feeling levels and those are the thoughts you could say more profound thoughts, more creative thoughts.
So thoughts come, creativity comes from deep within. All creativity comes from within and I have a quote from David Lynch. Do you know David Lynch? He’s the filmmaker whose hardest…
He teaches a lot of meditation. Is it in the schools? or the kids? or something like that? or he’s got a project something like.
David Lynch Foundation which I once teaching TM in schools, in prisons, and veterans who postural stress just disorder. But he gets the most beautiful simple explanation on how TM affects the creative process.
So this is the quote from David Lynch from his book called “Catching the Big Fish”. This is him speaking.
“Here’s how it works, Inside every human being is an ocean of pure vibrant consciousness. when you transcended transcendental meditation, you dive down into that ocean of pure consciousness, you splashed into it and it’s bliss you can vibrate with this bliss. Experience in pure consciousness enlivens it and 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”.
And that’s my own experience. I’ve felt after I started meditating, these thoughts would start bubbling up inside of me in forms of poems and melodies. It’s like, where is this coming from? and I just had to write them down to catch them and I started to feel more like a vessel where these thoughts would just start flowing through me. But they come from a very quiet, very deep level and pure consciousness, our state of pure silence is the source of infinite creativity. In fact, the whole universe was created from what physics called unified field, the source of all the manifest universe.
And inside of us, you can say we have a unified field, that pure side level of being. And when we transcendent experiencing that level, we are experiencing the source of all creativity. And then that creativity filters through our own individuality, and we create what we see around us, it triggers or resonates with what we see around us and that becomes our piece of art or our song.
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And one of your methods of creative output is singing, you’re a singer and I know that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, was very much into sound in vibration He’s the founder of TM. Actually I’ve spent a lot of time india, a lot of the time has been spent living in Rishikesh, where I did go and spend some time at the Maharishi’s Ashram there which of course was abandoned then.
But one of the things that I found really fascinating. For some people, they might know this, the Beatles Ashram, so the beatles ashram came there, believe in the in the 60’s and they did a lot of stuff there.
I went there in 1974.
Oh wow. So it was still in operation then I’d imagine…
Maharishi was there. I happened to go on a trip when he was there in 1974.
So now or at least when I was there I believe this was 2007 or 2006. I was pretty overgrown, you got wild elephants going through there every now and then and it’s pretty beat down in some places, although I think I heard something about them starting to restore it which is fascinating.
But the thing that really struck me was how many sound domes they had on the land like how much they were into sound and vibration.
One of my teachers in Thailand had a giant sound dome on the land and to just sit in there and do the meditations was phenomenal just to have that extra vibratory quality. How do you find that singing in meditation compliment one another?
Well first of all, I consider myself more of a songwriter than the singing. I do sing but I guess I’m very shy about that singing.
How do they compliment each other?
How does music and vibration, so we can expand it beyond just saying.
Yes, music and vibration compliment meditation or our co-existed meditation.
Where does all sound come from? Let me ask you that question.
It comes from silence and actually the vedas which is the oldest recorded knowledge in the history of the universe say that, within silence within the field of silence, it’s actually an oxymoron. it’s not just empty flat silence but it’s actually made of sound or vibration begins within silence.
Silence itself is a sound. And when we meditate and experience the transcendent in time, some people notice it right away, some people in time notice it. They actually begin to hear the silence. and then within more time they can hear frequencies within silence.
And I’d like to give an example of how maybe you’ve experienced this.
Have you ever walked at night and you don’t hear the silence because you’re walking? You hear your footsteps, maybe you’re with a friend and then you go sit in a park bench and then you stop talking and then you notice the silence.
Have you ever had that experience?
And then after a while, you’re sitting listening to the silence and then you hear crickets in the silence. you notice that actually their sound, their subtle sound, we could say the crickets in the background make up the sounds.
Have you ever had that experience?
So that’s very similar analogy. Meditators who in time, not necessarily right away, but there meditating. And after some time, they begin to notice the silence of the transcendent becoming more and more clear and the more mature experiences is hearing that the silence is actually made up of frequencies.
Physics actually tells us that the universe, the unified field is just vibration, vibrational strings called super string. I’m not a physicist, so please don’t ask me to elaborate on that but they do say that the universe is just a humming symphony of the superstring.
So I think that’s how best music relates to meditation or silence, and the more musician can have that experience of silence and those deeper qualities of his own consciousness, I think the music will reflect that. And we know that silence is very important, a lot of people say that silence that gives the beat actually.
When you figure the difference between noise and music is that silence, is the space between where you choose to place vibration.
Exactly! Exactly! So the more you can experience silence in your own consciousness, I think the more profound, more terno, more harmonious resonance that music will have in the environment.
In fact, in India you probably heard when you were there can of Gandharva Day Music, ancient classical music of India?
Not specifically but I mean classical Indian music ,yes but that the name doesn’t…
Yes, well Gandharva music have what are called ragas that reflect the morning, the vibration early morning.And then the vibrations at noon will be a different raga of reflecting the vibrations.
And then, in the afternoon and evening night, early morning so that music in Gandharva class Indian classical music is based on the frequencies of nature, which I think with your experience in India what you call those sound domes where you can actually hear the vibration in very quiet places.
We’re talking about silence here, What is the silent revolution?
That was a play on, I’ve read an article by Arianna Huffington, she started in the sleep revolution. She’s on a campaign to get everyone to get a good night’s sleep because of course, there’s many health benefits of sleep and there’s many ill effects to one’s physiology, if you don’t get proper amount of sleep but then there is another lady who had written a blog on Huffington Post I think it was called the quiet revolution.
I think it was the quiet revolution.
She have written a blog and made a TED Talk and I think it had lots of lots of YouTube video hits about people who are quiet and that they should be listened to. And so I thought, well why not take it one step deeper and call it the silent revolution of the silent, silent revolution, silence revolution. Because silence the deeper you go into your mind, the deeper you go closer to being the more power there really is.
And so I thought, if we have a silence revolution, which simply means that everyone if they could experience their own silence, they would have met that vibration of silence which has a very calming coherent, orderly, effect in the environment that that would be the most profound revolution. It would be the basis of all other revolutions and it would be a revolution of evolutions. Meaning that it would be all in the evolutionary direction, it would always be harmonious to the environment.
Well I tend to get skeptical on these, well if we just did this in the world would be a better place type statements but meditation is one of the things I’m a firm believer. If we had it in schools everywhere and teaching kids at a young age to meditate the effects and the impact that would have on the world would be unmeasurable.
Well it’s not just based on concept or theory. There’s a lot of research, I think three hundred sixty peer reviewed studies that practicing TM actually changes the neurophysiology. Even in the first meditation, there’s more coherence between the left and right hemisphere of the brain. And in time, that coherence built into activity and other research shows decrease oxygen consumption showing that the whole physiology settles down and in schools it shows as increase ability to focus, improved grades, decrease absent, more harmony in the schools. and it’s really based on the scientific research that transcendental meditation is getting except in the part of all the school projects around the world over three hundred thousand students have now learned now. Thanks to David Lynch and his foundation.
So it’s it’s not just an abstract nice thought, it very concretely change in the physiology of the students to be more orderly, more coherent, more calm within themselves, more able to focus in their school.
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And you mentioned some of the impact that it’s having on students. I’m wondering if you could tell us a little bit about the work that you do in girls’ schools, in communities, and in Africa. And how meditation is helping to impact those people in those communities.
Yeah. A few years ago in 2008, We started a woman’s TM organization to do outreach to women’s groups all around the world. And in addition, we’ve been starting girls’ schools, the most established girls school now is in Bali, Uganda. and the government is now supporting the school.
And the school is starting to win awards but another school project which is actually in Thailand, a Buddhist school and have over five hundred students now with the transcendental meditation.
And these students are students who come from very troubled backgrounds, that don’t have parents ,or often on the streets, or were young girls who were maybe on the streets as prostitutes and they were taken by the Buddhists to put into their school and it’s all fundraising. It’s on to help these girls.
And the school, in the beginning, didn’t even think of having awards or winning awards but now their winning all types of awards in the school in Thailand. I have personally been involved in some school projects in Kenya, we’ve had three schools in western Kenya in the ninety miles area that have implemented a transcendental meditation in their school with very good results.
That school project does not have scientific research, but many of the other school projects have had scientific research and as we move forward we will have more research in all these schools in Africa. We actually have a university in South Africa that has four or five hundred students that are doing very very well in gain to get their masters degree and gaining top level jobs in the country now.
Amazing! Well I love to know especially in the time that we live in, the scientific method as it were, can’t describe everything but what it allows is an opportunity to take a lot of these things that some of them have been clouded in mystery in less provable types of claims.
Now we’ve got these methods where we can sit down with people and actually test what sort of actual repeatable results can we see from these types of things so I think it’s a really beautiful blend where yes science is not going to be able to explain everything, nor does it need to by any means. But I think it is great to have especially for a Western mind. more verifiable and repeatable vedas that shows like, wow how does this stuff actually work.
We’re not just taking the word of somebody from a thousand years ago or the guru but rather like, hey look we can show that this stuff works. So it allows us to get behind a little bit more of these for the Western, more rational thinking mind perhaps.
I think you have an interesting point there.
Now, that it’s been accepted in the West, it’s starting to be accepted again in Eastern country based on the scientific research that was done, that have been going in the West in meditation.
And Maharishi who brought TM to the west was very bond of the faith, the neurophysiology of enlightenment. Because he thought right from the beginning days, he encourage scientific research, and he thought if it has all these profound effects on the physiology that’s what people are reporting there has to be some physiological changes and because TM has been taught in the things systematic way all around the world where everything is taught in an objective systematic way, it has allowed objective research to be done on it now for over fifty years, and that National Institute of Health has funded over twenty five million dollars worth of that research.
Wow. So what advice would you give to somebody who wants to start or perhaps just deepen a meditation practice?
Well, you can’t learn transcendental meditation from the book. The whole effectiveness of TM is in effortlessness. And most people when they try to do it on their own, they try to meditate, they try to empty their mind of thoughts which is virtually impossible to do. And a teacher of TM has gone through four months of in-depth training, really just to give that experience of effortlessness and to answer any question that comes up based on that experience.
So as a first step, I would recommend that first off, one wants to find out about it. They can go to, we have a website for women called TM-woman.org, or the main TM website TM.org, they can find out all the scientific research where there is a TM sent to near them.
It’s a four day course, and you learn actually to meditate in the first day, and you receive a mantra. And the mantra are always kept private because if we talk about the mantra on the surface level it will be associated with the surface level of the mind. And the purpose of the mantra is to experience wider levels their meaning and meaningless thoughts that have a very positive sound vibrations that allows the mind settle down to those quieter levels.
So you receive a Mantra and the technique to learn how to meditate how, to use them all. And then there’s three follow up days and you’re given more knowledge based on your experiences meditate in those three days.
And I know you’ve got a lot on your website, you’ve got books out, you’ve got your albums. Where’s the best place for people to find you to get your book? To find out more about you?
Thank you for asking that.
My website is enlightenmentforeveryone.com, and through the website you can go to my Facebook page and noise posting, my blogs, when I post a blog on my website, when I post a blog of Huffington Post. I also post beautiful quotes by Maharishi and beautiful photograph. And also my book is available, “The Transcendental Meditation Technique and the Journey of Enlightenment” through my website but also on Amazon.com. and other major book applets.
Awesome! Wonderful! I’ve enjoyed talking to you today. I’m sure our listeners have learned a lot and gain some insight into meditation in particular transcendental meditation. It’s been one of the chat with you today and thank you so much for being on the show.
Thanks so much for having me Ashton. It was wonderful talking to you and I wish you great success with the wonderful podcast you’re doing.
Thank you very much and again we’ll have the website all that in the show notes as well so if anyone is listening and their driving or anything. Don’t worry you can check out and get that info later so you don’t have to try to scribble anything down right now.
For everyone else thank you so much for tuning in today and listening.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the show, hope you have a very deep silent and present moment.
Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this show today. Please go over the iTunes, write a review, and let us know what you think. It helps us in creating new content for all of you. It also helps new listeners get a sense of what to expect from the show.
We really appreciate your feedback. Thanks again for listening. Namaste.
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