User Experiences

Three women meditate

Tom Stern has many clients on his meditation courses, and everyone has a different approach to meditation. Read here about three women’s very different experiences with guided meditation.

By Lotte Dalgaard

Lise, 65, has never meditated and she is also completely sure she can’t.

– I don’t think I have patience enough to concentrate on meditation for 20 minutes, and there are too many things happening inside my head too, she says.

Lise, who is married and has three grown children from two previous marriages, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer six and a half years ago and has been through five rounds of chemotherapy. So it’s not surprising that she has many thoughts and worries. But it has actually always been like that, and even though she has often thought that meditation might be good for her, she doesn’t think she can relax long enough to get anything out of it.

Tom Stern does.

– Anyone can meditate. Don’t demand of yourself that it has to last 20 minutes. Maybe it lasts for one minute. Be realistic.

Tom Stern asks Lise to get comfortable and take some deep breaths.

– Close your eyes and imagine you see a beach. Some children are playing with a beach ball. Which colour is the ball?

– At first it was purple, but then it became blue and white, answers Lise.

– Was that difficult? Asks Tom Stern when Lise opens her eyes.

– No. It wasn’t that difficult. But it was also very short. I would like to remove all sorts of rubbish from my thoughts, but I don’t think I can, says Lise.

– How many years has it taken you to learn having those thoughts?

– 65 years, says Lise.

– You are declaring in advance what can be done and what can’t be done. I know 100 percent that you can meditate. Do you believe me?

– Yes, replies Lise after a few seconds of contemplation, and then she is ready for a guided meditation.

Afterwards, Tom Stern says that it was easy for Lise to meditate. But she got very upset during the meditation, and he tells her that her inability to relax and let go is what made her sick.

– You are in maximum control. You believe that if you let go, this and that will happen. But you don’t owe anything to anyone. Unless you learn to let go of the control and relax, it will kill you, he tells her.

Lise gets upset again but says:

– Now I know what I can do and I am going home to practice, says Lise.

Falling asleep

Anette, 35, has meditated to a CD of Tom Stern’s guided meditations numerous times. She lives with her husband and two children of twelve and six. She has previously suffered from anxiety and stress and takes anti-depressants. Tom Stern asks her why she wants to meditate?

– To find inner calm, relax and … find myself. When I am guided through a meditation I feel myself, and that is something I am not normally good at. It is my “half hour”.

Anette falls asleep every time she meditated, and she is upset abut that.

– I don’t feel like I am getting the best out of the meditation when I fall asleep, she says. And Tom Stern says:

– If I had you on a meditation course for three weeks, I would ask you every morning: Would you like to meditate or would you like to sleep? If your system were generally fatigued, you would reply “Sleep”! The fatigue needs to be flushed out first, maybe that would take two weeks, and then you could meditate during the last week. If you have children, if there illness in the family etc., then you have been missing sleep for a long time, and you have tons of old fatigue in the system. Is it “legal” for you to do nothing at all?

– No, replies Anette.

– You are “allowed” to do a guided meditation in private, but you won’t let yourself take a nap in the afternoon for instance?

– Yes, that’s right, replies Anette.

– If you need to sleep when you meditate, then sleep! There is nothing wrong with that, says Tom Stern.

After the meditation – during which she didn’t fall asleep – Anette says that Tom Stern had guided her through a meditation with focus on achieving more inner calm, let go of worries and be more goal focused.

– I told Tom that I always see myself from the outside when I meditate. I am not really inside my body, I see myself from above, and I always thought that was a mistake. But he explained that it was great, because the body is just a body. It’s everything around it, all the energies that surround the body, that’s the real me.

Tom Stern asked Anette to imagine that her inner calm has a colour, and that she should put on that colour whenever she needs it.

– I imagined rolls of colours lying on the table. Now I know I have my table of colours that I can bring out anytime. I will definitely use that from now on.

Ties to ex-husband

Nina, 45, meditated regularly and has attended a course with Tom Stern in Personal Development just over 10 years ago. So she has years of practice of not worrying, letting go of control and neither getting stuck in the past nor focusing on the future. But she is having a hard time not thinking about her ex-husband, let’s call him N, even though she was the one who ended the eight-year long relationship. She lives alone with her children of 17 and 7, the younger one being her child with N.

– I have a good life, I love my house, my work, my spare time; the kids are doing well and I feel comfortable in my own company. But I feel as if I have some ties to N that make it impossible for my to find a new partner, and that annoys me. Especially because I don’t really understand what that is about. I am in doubt if it is love in spite of all the bad things I went through with him, or if it is sexual dependency, for he is still the only man I feel like having sex with. For that reason, I haven’t been with anyone else in a year, says Nina.

Tom Stern asks Nina what she is looking for in a relationship, and what she has to offer. He tells her to go home and write down how she sees herself on the inside – the things she contains, the things she has to offer; and at the same time write down how she thinks other people see her – how she how she affects others, what she signals.

– You are very visual. You are turned on by looks, and then you compromise on everything on the inside. Other people aren’t necessarily like that. Most people see your nature and don’t focus on your looks. So maybe there should be more consistency between the person you are and the things you signal to others.

Tom Stern decides to do a mixture of meditation and hypnosis with Nina and he asks her to imagine that she is cutting all the ties and strings to N and letting him fly away. Then he asks her to imagine the place inside her where love lives.

– During the hypnosis/meditation I cut the ties to my ex and saw him fly away. He looked scared but I didn’t care, and that felt pretty good. When I had to imagine the place inside where love lives, at first it was a small, grey metallic room. But Tom told me during the process that there were colours, and that helped me move on. There was light in the “room”, and it got bigger. In the end it turned into sort of a diamond shaped area inside my body, and that shape is what I will try to remember and focus on every time N enters my thoughts, Nina says.

After the hypnosis/meditation, Tom Stern encourages her to reawaken her sexuality by initiating some relationships that don’t necessarily have to amount to anything steady.

– In a way I would like to do that, just to move on in that regard. But I don’t like looking for a sex partner on the Internet and I don’t get out on the town much with a 7-year old at home. But I will think about how to find a solution, says Nina.

Right at your fingertips

As something completely new, it is now possible to download Tom Stern’s guided meditations for your smartphone on . You can get started free of charge, but you can also choose to buy some meditations, and you can earn bonus points and get access to even more meditations. Furthermore, you can follow the development of your meditation in a chart, per day, week and month.

– This is a really good way to start meditating. In this way you don’t have to attend courses to learn, and it makes it easy to implement meditation into your daily life. You can meditate anywhere – on a journey, on the train, etc. Whenever you need to boost your energy, you will always have a guided meditation right at your fingertips, says Tom Stern.

Science validates meditation

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA, proved in a large-scale research from 2009 that meditation changes the brain structure of the test persons. The changes were most obvious in the grey brain cells in an area called the hippocampus. This area particularly influences your memory and learning ability. There were also visible changes in areas that according to the researchers are connected to sympathy and empathy, self-awareness and processing anxiety and stress. The test persons also reported fewer stress symptoms.

Research from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, demonstrates that meditation has a positive effect on a number of diseases. Also, science has known for a long time that meditation and breathing exercises result in lower pulse and slower breathing and also a drop in the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.