"Transcendental meditation (TM) is a simple technique practiced for about 15–20 minutes sitting comfortably in a chair with the eyes closed,” reads the literature.
I’m sorry – I’m with Elizabeth Gilbert. Sounds way easier said than done.
I had insomnia as a child, and my mother would tell me to relax. “Begin with your toes and work your way up to your nose, relaxing each muscle,” she’d direct. I’d be awake hours later, concentrating on relaxing. What finally worked for me was when, as a young woman, I taught myself to listen to my breathing. Works like a charm and I’m now out in minutes. (Interestingly, though, focusing on my breathing is what keeps me awake while meditating.)
I wouldn’t be a walking contradiction if I'd had the good fortune to have grown up in Vedic City. The Maharishi 's Vedic City in Iowa, to be precise.
The Beatles’ “giggling guru," levitating Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is the official founder of TM. The Maharishi International University, later renamed Maharishi University of Management, was founded on the site of Parsons College that closed its doors in the early 70’s. As staff and students soon filled all the available housing in the surrounding communities, he bought adjacent acreage and built himself a consciousness-based city that would serve as a “lighthouse of peace” and dissipate negativity.
Incorporated in 2001, the buildings in the three-square-mile metropolis are designed to ancient Indian Vedic architecture standards and are meant to promote happiness, health, and good fortune. They each face east, have a central quiet space called a brahmasthan, and are adorned with a golden ornament called a kalash. Each has been constructed using green building technologies, and the entire city is off the grid.There are no streetlights, no utility poles, and no gas guzzlers. Use of electric and hybrid cars is encouraged.
Children attending the School of the Age of Enlightenment practice TM twice a day. Yoga is a required PE class. And, get this – all food in their cafeteria is organic.
Yep. No lie. That’s because non-organic, bad-for-you-modified-funky-food is banned in Vedic City. All grocery stores, schools, health centers, spas, hotels and restaurants, therefore, serve only locally grown organic produce. Most of it is grown in the 80,000 square feet of greenhouses and 100 tilled acres at the Maharishi Vedic City Organic Farm.
The Observatory is one of the few such devices on the planet. Constructed on 1.5 acres, the open-air observatory is a series of six-foot masonry sundials compactly displaying the entire structure of the universe. It provides the tool by which to monitor the movements of the planets, sun and stars.
Stay at either the Rukmapura Park Hotel or the Raj Hotel and Resort offering the best of everything ayurveda. The hotel is set on 250 acres overlooking rolling hills, streams, and two 5-acre lakes available for swimming, canoeing and even skating in winter. The spa has a host of prevention-oriented natural health rejuvenation programs to choose from, including extended-stay packages that target chronic disorders. Try a little light therapy with gems, take your first ever TM session, try your thighs at Yogic Flying or simply peruse the Gift Shop and Herbery.
Private tours are conducted between 1:30-4:40 p.m. every day, but reservations need to be made at least two days in advance. Those interested in a prolonged visit to this novel municipality might consider enrolling in an on-farm internship to learn sustainable agricultural practices. Food and housing are provided in exchange for 30 hours a week of farm labor, where participants have the opportunity to learn apiculture, dairying, cheese making, cob construction methods, greenhouse and orchard management, composting, organic pest control and more. Those contributing more than 30 hours earn wages.
Nearby Fairfield is progressive in its own right. Named by Smithsonian Magazine as one of "The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013,” the city is a participant in the novel Blue Zones Project, “a community well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to environment, policy, and social networks.” Modeling programs after cities with high concentrations of centenarians like Blue Zone forerunner Loma Linda, Fairfield is aiming to affect change, one neighborhood at a time. A Seventh-day Adventist community, Loma Linda is a model of healthy living (that includes a vegetarian diet). Little surprise that it leads the nation with the longest life expectancy.
Additionally, Mother Earth News called it one of the "12 Great Places You've Never Heard Of.” Fairfield is said to have more green and solar homes than any other place in the state, and has been dubbed "Silicorn Valley" due to the large number of entrepreneur high-tech businesses. Over the past 20 years, thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses have spawned from the TM community.
And it's home to one of the largest liberal Catholic churches in the nation and to one of the largest synagogues in the state. Oprah’s superlative may best hit the mark – the empress of emotional broadcasting called Fairfield "America's Most Unusual Town."