Several years ago, I was a candidate for plantar fasciitis. I had somehow inflamed the tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting my heel bone to the base of my toes. I was in danger of having that band snap, leaving me hobbled forever.
It started in my right foot. I limped to a podiatrist. He took x-rays, prescribed anti-inflammatories, assigned me exercises (that I didn't really do), and put orthopedic inserts in my shoes. There was some mild relief.
Then, in a couple weeks, it was more painful than ever. And, worse yet, it had spread to the other foot, too. Knowing too little of medical science, I thought, "Right. It's contagious. My left foot has caught it from my right foot."
Rachel, a colleague at my office, stepped in and handed me an article, saying: "There is an epidemic of foot ailments in this country. This article says it's stress-related."
Well, I know a cure for stress. It's meditation. I had learned how to meditate when I was 14. My sister, off at college, was practicing Transcendental Meditation. So, I wanted to do it, too. My dad, a fellow who never threw a ball with me, immediately volunteered to join me, because I couldn't yet drive myself to the lessons. Then, Dad broke his leg. So, Mom joined us, because we needed a new driver. We received the family discount. After two introductory classes, we all showed up for our instruction, to receive our mantras. As everyone has ever done, we brought three offerings: a white handkerchief, two pieces of sweet fruit, and six flowers.
I've practiced TM off and on for the three decades since. It's always had a great effect on me. In my teens, my grades went up right away. Was that due to TM? I don't know, but why not, at least partly? Surely, 20 minutes of sitting quietly in the morning and 20 minutes of sitting quietly in the afternoon is good for a teenager. You don't have to buy into the mystical qualities of the mantra or the global politics of peace that TM promises (or grow a beautiful beard like the founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) to agree that kids should enjoy some quiet time each day.
Over the years, of course, I've found myself undisciplined enough to make time to meditate every day.
But when Rachel said that my foot problems might be stress-related, I went home that evening and meditated for 20 minutes. The next morning, I meditated for 20 minutes. And by noon that day, the problem was gone. Completely.
It makes me wonder what physical benefits meditation brings. It certainly cured my foot problems. What problems do I have inside me that produce no symptoms today, but that meditation helps?
I still struggle to meditate twice each day. Or even once each day. But I know that if I go more than a few weeks without meditation, my foot starts to ache. And so I meditate. And the foot is immediately healed.