Tobin Dale is a Nashville rock and roll guitarist and vintage guitar enthusiast. He recently shared with us his experience practicing the technique of Transcendental Meditation and how it has helped him with his mental health.
How long have you been practicing the technique of Transcendental Meditation and what has inspired you to learn it?
I started about 5 years ago. As a lifelong Beatles fan, I was aware of that, of course, but I personally always found it weird. I noticed that a sober friend of mine, who struggled with many of the same things I did, had made a noticeable change in his behavior. He seemed not only happier but more complete, and it was obvious just by being around him for a short period of time. I asked him what he had changed and he told me he had started practicing TM. This was the first time I was able to really see the benefits of first hand meditation, and I wanted to!
What was your general perception of meditation before learning the MT technique? Did that change after your first meditative experiences?
Initially, he thought of it in the same terms as religion; I respected the beliefs of others, but I still hadn’t found anything that would work for me personally. When I started practicing MT, it became clear that it was much more of an inner journey and not an organized religion. It helped me connect with my own spirituality without being dogmatic and fit in perfectly with my lifestyle.
What are your 3 favorite “tools” for a healthy and happy life?
I think having an outlet like playing music has been extremely cathartic for me; in fact, one of the reasons I chose to pursue it as a career was that it was one of the best cures for depression that I have struggled with all my life. TM has become another indispensable tool to help me solve these problems. The third has been therapy. I was afraid to seek help for a long time, but I recently decided to see a professional and the benefits were immediate. I can hardly recommend that anyone with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health problem find someone they trust and talk to them regularly. It’s not always the first person you choose, but in the end, you find the right fit and it can change your life.
Could you talk about how your MT practice has helped you with your depression and anxiety?
Depression has been something I’ve struggled with all my life. Whenever I remember, I was medicated, either professionally or effectively through my own substance abuse, but I never felt like it was really the best way to help me. After I was left sober, I felt that there was nothing to help me fight the demons I was trying to control. The TM didn’t take the depression out of me, but it did help make it feel a lot easier to deal with and overcome. The despair I felt for so long has been no problem. Of course, I still have days when I tend to exhale, but if I can practice TM, I find it much easier to get out of this head space. Anxiety only became a problem later as I went later in life and felt I had more to lose. TM is the most effective way I’ve found to keep up with the moment and not get carried away worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. It’s a fantastic “pause” button and has made life so much more enjoyable for me and my wife!
What are your passions? What is a typical day of the week?
Music is, of course, my biggest passion and it has influenced every aspect of my life. In normal times I split my time between being a traveling guitarist, both with my own bands and as a hired sideman, and pursuing my other passion, which is buying and selling vintage guitars. Since the pandemic, I’ve relied heavily on the latter, but a typical day for most of my career has involved learning songs if I’m at home, along with many hours of travel before a show. Ever since I learned the MT technique, I’ve been trying to complete my second 20-minute session of the day just before I get on stage, as I find that the added focus and energy I receive really benefits my performance.
Can you talk about the greatest successes and failures you have ever experienced? What did you learn from them?
I consider the two big moves I’ve made in my life to have been successful. Without a family or a group of friends integrated into any of the cities, it always seemed to me like starting over. Being able to find myself, standing up and really working in the industry I chose, on my own merits, is something I’ve been very proud of. It has opened the door for me to some exciting moments that are the highlight of my professional career and personal life. Surely there were also failures. I struggled with alcohol addiction for several years and found it difficult to stay focused on my real goal, which was to succeed as a musician. I can point to the moment when I finally made the decision to get help and move away from drugs and alcohol as the most important turning point for me, and even though that was a low point, the lessons I’ve learned have helped me get to the next highs, so I don’t regret anything.
If you could give advice to a person when you are thinking of pursuing a life or career like yours, what would you say?
I think anyone thinking of pursuing a career in music should agree with the idea that it’s always a bit of a struggle, so you have to enjoy the whole process. The tendency of many people is to have high expectations, but to be truly successful, I think you have to be motivated by a genuine compulsion to play. Regardless of money, travel, success, any of these other things, the idea of spending your life playing music should be rewarding enough for you. When you accept this, everything else is just an added bonus!
Finally, do you think that the MT technique has helped you to achieve your goals? If so, how? Absolutely! The most obvious way is that it has helped me keep my goals in perspective, and by pausing to reflect, I can recognize the progress I have made. I tend to charge up front and never give myself credit for things that happened yesterday, but TM keeps me much more focused on the present. I also think it has helped me stay sober and focused on my goals, as well as energize and improve my confidence. I really wish I had started practicing much earlier!
For more information on MT technique, you can find your local MT teacher here ►
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