We sat down with TM Practitioner Joey Cosentino for a conversation about his TM journey and his passion — music.
How long have you been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, and what inspired you to learn?
I learned the technique about seven years ago when I was in high school, at the age of 16. I heard about it from my uncle and a lot of my other family members who practice TM. What drove me to it was, at the time I had a lot of anxiety, and I was a huge scatterbrain — still am a bit, but it was maybe worse back then. I needed something to help with this and my mind just went to meditation, it was just like okay, I’ll try that. When I learned it, it was very helpful, and I noticed a lot of benefits just from the first week of doing it. I noticed a lot of that anxiety, that chatter, subside and a lot more benefits, especially with school. I was studying better.
Why did you decide to learn Transcendental Meditation compared to other meditations?
At the time it was the only one I knew about. I didn’t know there were all these other kinds of meditations. But since then I have tried other meditations because I was interested in learning more about spirituality and other techniques. I’ve noticed when I was trying out different meditations that they weren’t as beneficial. I would feel not as energized, not as awake or alert coming out of it. So after trying a few different meditations I ended up landing back on TM and saying, “yeah this, this is the one, I don’t know why I left.”
Is there an experience related to your TM practice that stands out to you in your mind?
There are a few. When I started, there were these experiences that were really cool and new that I didn’t know you could have.
Now it’s just a good place to go and you just kind of relax and feel your body calm down. I always love to feel that, especially at the end of the day, it washes the stress off your body so you can just feel yourself relax. It’s nice when you get that and you come out and you feel like you just slept eight hours. You get a whole new start to the day.
TM has helped me a lot with focusing on school and studying. When I wanted to start getting more organized in school, especially near exam time, I remember studying and I couldn’t believe how in the zone I was. I’ve never done that with studying or school. I’ve never enjoyed studying that much. And that’s an experience that sticks out to me.
How does TM fit into your life?
Oh, very easily, I do it 20 minutes twice a day, as recommended. I just do it first thing in the morning. I’m working at a restaurant right now so I’m working late, usually till the evening. So, I’ll just take a break around 4 pm and I’ll meditate somewhere at work. Occasionally I miss the second one. The first one is always there because it’s the first thing in the morning. And then the second one, I’m able to get in 99% of the time.
When I tell people I do it 20 minutes twice a day, they’re always baffled. It’s not even a thought in my mind anymore that it’s 40 minutes a day, because you start to enjoy and look forward to it after a while.
Have you found value in the TM community and the group follow-ups?
I’ve gone to a lot of follow-ups. Whenever I’m feeling like my practice is maybe not as effortless as it should be, or it’s not going as it should be, I’ll always send a message to David. David’s the one who taught me, so I’ve had quite a few check ins with him. And even some other teachers I’ve had check ins with or going to some group meditations or online ones. It’s always helped me kind of get back on path and get me back, meditating properly.
And even above that, I’ve had so many conversations with other TM teachers. About more than meditation, about other spiritual questions. They’re always more than willing to take the time and sit with me and explain things, or just chat until they feel like my question has been answered.
And then there’s also the online sessions lately, because of Covid there’s been a lot more online Zoom classes, and those have been great as well. I recently attended a lecture on music. I was like “okay I got to look at that one.” And it was very valuable.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about music I would say, and that’s why I’m working at a restaurant right now, I was working at a bank before. I had a good time at the bank and it was a good job. But I had the inspiration to quit my job and start making music. So, I’m working part time at the restaurant, and I’m also now working to try and create songs and do covers. And that’s something that I’ve been putting more of my time towards.
I’ve been playing music since I was a kid — piano since I was six; guitar since I was 12 or 13. I’ve always just had kind of a knack for it, and I also just really enjoy it. It’s something that I can do for hours on end and not realize where the time is going. I might just be playing three chords over and over, but it’s just a lot of fun.
Since you began practicing TM, have you found yourself to be more creative?
I would say yes, I think it has helped me to open to trying more things on the instrument. For example, before I would try and write a song, and just kind of stick to what I know, feel boxed in, and say, “well this is all I know and is all I can work with.”
Now, even if I don’t know all the theory, which I don’t, I feel more comfortable with playing around to see what sticks. Now I’m more open to trying different chords or different patterns that may or may not have a name, I feel more open to doing that and a lot of the time it comes back positive like “oh I just found a new chord” and then maybe later I’ll learn what the chord is. So, TM has helped me open the fretboard to different possibilities that I wouldn’t have otherwise even tried to do because I wouldn’t have thought that they were there.
What does your creative process look like?
A lot of it is playing around and trying out different chords. I’ll usually start with the guitar, and I’ll make a little melody, and then later, I’ll try and add some vocals to that. It usually starts with me just doodling around the guitar and coming across something that catches my ear, and usually that’ll just be like a little bass. Then if I like it, I’ll keep playing it over and over and trying to add new things here and there, and then say, “okay maybe I’ll add a chorus or see what else can I string along from that little tune I just made. What else can I add, what else would sound good?” And that kind of goes back to exploring the key, the fretboard and seeing what else might sound good, and that is what TM helped me with as well, saying “okay, I can branch out from here, I can make a mistake. Who cares if it sounds bad for a bit?” And when you see something that sounds bad you say “let’s not go there” and you go somewhere else, it helps with that.
Has TM helped to accomplish your goals?
I would say TM gives you more focus, and focus is crucial for completing your goals, because you don’t want to be distracted by everything that pops up. If there’s something that I want to accomplish, it gives me that extra bit of clarity, that extra bit of focus. When doing TM, you’ll feel less fatigued. Say I’m doing it during the day, I know I can always take my second TM and kind of get back at it, which gives you a bit more time on it.
What have you noticed in your day-to-day personal and professional life?
I’ve been doing it twice a day for about two years now, and one of the biggest changes in me I would say is I’m a lot less negative, for the most part. I’m not perfect, I still have down days, but TM does help with those as well.
For example, I’m usually one of the least negative people at work. When different obstacles came up, I would say to myself “complaining won’t really help you with that.” Whereas a lot of my coworkers in past jobs even have been more prone to giving up, or putting themselves in that negative mindset, where you treat everything like a task to do or a problem.
I think TM has helped me to stay a bit above that, and try to view everything that comes up, dealing with it in a happy and more understanding way versus letting yourself succumb to more complaining. I think that’s really big, but again not to say that I’m perfect, it’s just I’ve noticed myself catch on to that a bit more and have more of the choice to say “it is what it is. Let’s not make one problem into two.” I would say the consistency and stability of doing TM twice a day every day has played a role in this.
Anything else you would like to share just about your journey of learning and practicing TM?
I would say, learn it and do it twice a day try your best to do it every day, whenever you can. When I started, I was 16, and I wish I had done it twice a day since then, as opposed to doing it just during exam time. One thing I wish for myself as I can go back and be consistent from the start. When I started doing it, the reason I didn’t do it consistently was because you do it, and you feel good and you feel better, and you start to think, at least in my experience, “I feel good now. I’m okay.” But don’t fall for that, even when you’re feeling great, still do it.
Any advice for people who are interested in TM?
I get a lot of different responses when I recommend TM to people. Some people are very interested, some people are more curious, and then some people are more hesitant or think they may not need it or think it’s not for them. Usually, the people that are interested in TM already have some background in spirituality maybe they listen to some spiritual teachers on YouTube or have read some spiritual books so their mind is a bit more open.
A lot of people who are curious, maybe they feel a bit of stress in their life and when I speak about TM, I think maybe there’s a little click, and they say, “okay maybe this might be good,” but there’s still some hesitancy. And a lot of people are completely honest when I tell them, please learn TM. They say, “I’d love to, but I don’t want to pay.”
I tell them two things, I’ll say: first, it costs around $1,000. But I also tell them it’s the best investment, you’ll ever make. I don’t care if you buy bitcoin at $1 and sell for million dollars.
This is the better investment.
And I tell them, there’s no amount of money that you could pay me to stop doing TM. I really mean that, because at the end of the day, TM is for happiness and your well-being. You can’t buy that. There’s no amount of money that someone could give me to say, “okay, here it is, in a suitcase. Cold, hard cash. Don’t ever do it again.” I would say, “no I don’t want your money.” And when I tell people that, they look at me in a certain way, but I tell them “I am serious.”