Enlightenment Is Sexy author Valerie Gangas turned tragedy into triumph after the painful death of her mother. “On January 25, 2011, I lost the love of my life, my mother,” she explained. “We had a bond that can only be described at soulmate level. And when she died, I died right along with her. One day, four months after she’d passed away, I broke . . . and I mean completely. As I fell down to my hands and knees in the shower, I howled out for someone, anyone, to help me either kill myself or save me. In that moment, I completely surrendered. Within days, someone steered me in the direction of learning Transcendental Meditation.”
Gangas told me that after one 20-minute meditation her whole world turned around. “After silently repeating the mantra my teacher gave me, I dove into a part of my soul I never knew existed. They say the Kingdom of Heaven is within—well, by the end of my first meditation, I knew what that meant. Since discovering the power of transcendental meditation, she was hired by Oprah’s team and now travels the world preaching its power. Here she shares with us the five ways transcendental meditation can, as she says, completely rock your world. If you’ve tried it, please share your experiences in the comments!
For 13 years (you read that right – 13 years!), I had a sleeping disorder. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my mom fought stage 4 breast cancer for 13 years, but at the time, I didn’t put the pieces together. I just knew that every night it was gonna be torture to try and fall asleep, and actually stay asleep. No amount of wine or pills would end this nightmare for me. After my first meditation session, I never—and I mean never—had another sleepless night. That first day, I went home and slept ’till the next day when I had to go back for day two of instruction (it takes four days in a row to learn transcendental meditation). Meditation had become my new, all-natural sleeping pill.
Before my mother passed away, I was running a popular restaurant/bar in Chicago, helping my mom, dealing with dysfunctional relationships and doing everything in my power to have an A+ social life. I didn’t really have time for peace. Once I learned to meditate, the chasing and the distractions and the chaos all just stopped. Nothing felt out of control to me anymore. That has been one of the greatest gifts meditating has brought me. A constant stream of tranquillity.
This may sound kind of odd, but since I learned to meditate, I’ve found myself naturally moving away from constantly using my intellect as my guide through life. Now, I mainly lean on synchronicity and my intuition as my personal navigating system. I sometimes tell people I haven’t used my brain in three years, that I follow my soul. That approach has led me to some pretty incredible adventures. I started skydiving because I love the feeling of flying freely. I started working with Oprah Winfrey and her team three weeks after I learned to meditate. I followed the signs and ended up on one of the coolest adventures ever.
After I learned to meditate, pure happiness started flowing through my veins 24/7. I actually would describe it as a subtle state of ecstasy. When you’re sleeping well, finding peace in your life and partnering up with the cosmos, happiness just starts filling you up. It’s not anything you need to pursue . . . it just is. I realized looking back on my life, there were many times I truly was miserable. And no amount of partying or talking to a therapist could completely change that. I needed to get in touch with the power inside myself to really turn that around. It’s not “outside” . . . everything we’re really looking for lies within.
I always felt like I had purpose in my life, but at the same time I always knew there was something more for me. I loved my job managing the restaurant, traveling, hanging out with my mom and all of my friends, and spending time dating. It was cool and I was relatively content, but my real purpose—my “dharma”—hadn’t revealed itself. For some unknown reason, after I learned to meditate, certain gifts started to emerge out of my soul. For instance, out of thin air, I was able to speak in public. In fact, my first speaking gig was with Oprah. I stood in front of her and her main executive, Sheri Salata, and spoke my truth like I was put on this earth to talk to them. Zero fear. The words just flew out of my mouth and were followed by intense energy and power.