I was 7- yrs. old when my parents went on vacation to Mallorca, a small island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Barcelona. They were there for 2 weeks and loved it. 6 months later we moved from our home on Yarrow point, Bellevue WA to Cala Bona Mallorca, Spain.

It was 1970 and we were the only Americans living on that side of the island. I went to the only school in that area, a small grade school. 8 grades, 1 room and 1 teacher. 50 students total. My teacher had never had a foreign student who only spoke English in a place where only Spanish and Mallorquin was spoken. Franco was still in power at that time and did not allow Mallorquin, the language of Mallorca, to be spoken in the schools. Only Spanish was allowed. My teacher was fantastic and made sure I spoke Spanish without a foreign accent so I would not be ridiculed. Kids can be very mean sometimes. They did not understand why this little girl could not read or write or speak Spanish. I did not know how to play their games and wore strange clothes. (During times of Franco, girls did not wear pants)

After a few months and being put back a grade, I learned enough of both languages to start to understand what was being said. And how to answer basic questions. Long story short, I was called the Yankee. On the black board I frequently saw Yankee Go Home. The culture was so very different from mine. For instance, we were taught that animals have no souls and therefore have no feelings and it was okay to kick them. I was constantly standing up for what I believed, but it was not easy being the only one who had my beliefs. My mother was at a loss, she could not help me with my homework since it was all in Spanish, and she had no time to go to talk to my teacher. I would have had to be her interpreter anyway.

In 1972 the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was coming to Mallorca to do an initiation into TM, Transcendental Meditation. Of all places, he came to the hotel right next to our souvenir shop. My mother was so excited. She had never heard of this Maharishi (no Google back then) yet somehow she knew this was going to be of great help for both of us to learn to cope with this new living situation.

She signed us up for initiation. She told me that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet some very special people. I had no idea what was about to unfold. Finally the long awaited Day came! I still remember going into a large room in the hotel. It was so calm yet full of what seemed like a sea of people in beautiful clothes : whites, yellows, orange and reds. Like a beautiful sunrise. They were chanting beautiful music. It was the most peaceful I had ever felt. We were taken to separate rooms and an instructor came in. We were both initiated into Transcendental Meditation separately. What an experience!

I started meditating as instructed, 10 minutes a day for the first week, then 20 and with much time and practice I was told I could get up to 30 minutes. I thought 30 minutes? No way can I concentrate that long on thinking about nothing. I felt such great comfort while meditating I soon got up to an hour a day.
TM taught me how to free my mind of all my worries and allow me to be myself. I was not weird or different while I meditated. It was a time where I wasn’t constantly trying to fit into this culture I did not understand.

I have been meditating ever since then. It helps me as an adult to be able to ground myself, listen to my intuition and think through a difficult situation. All this living in two very different cultures for 17 years and learning to deal with whatever comes my way has helped me really tune into my empathic self and gain acceptance of that which I do not understand. (although my nick name as a child was The Why Why Girl)   I am so fortunate to have meditation in my life.

Jeanine is a Reiki Master and is available for private healings at East West Bookshop on weekend