A new centre teaching an ancient Indian technique has opened in Invercargill.
Transcendental meditation or TM lets people achieve what has been described as a state of restful alertness.
Margaret Johnstone who runs the centre, said it is a bit like falling awake.
"It's a natural process but everyone's different yet everyone wants to feel good and feel better. It is very beneficial to take a few minutes to relax."
Mrs Johnstone, originally from Invercargill, learned the method while studying at the University of Otago.
"I couldn't ever see a reason to stop doing it. I find it invaluable."
The modern practice was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi more than 50 years ago but it is based on an ancient Vedic tradition of enlightenment with knowledge handed down by Vedic masters in India over thousands of years.
Since the Maharishi's 1962 New Zealand visit more than 100 people have become qualified TM teachers and 40,000 have learned from them.
More than 6 million people worldwide practice TM, including many celebrities such as actor Hugh Jackman and musician Sir Paul McCartney.
Hundreds of scientific studies have shown the benefits of using it. Even the American Heart Association has recently encouraged using it as a way of reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
"Teaching people to meditate lets the brain become more awake and enables the body to function normally," Mrs Johnstone said.
She has been teaching the method on and off for about the past 40 years.
"I've taught about 70 people in the past few years here in Invercargill and my aim is 1 per cent of the people in Invercargill."
There is a one-off payment to learn the technique at the centre and with it you can use any of the thousands of facilities worldwide.
But the learning centre is open to everybody.
"It's a free space for people to come and meditate. People can come in and ask a million questions or whatever they want," Mrs Johnstone said.
The new centre is by the library in the former community policing centre on Dee St.
- Invercargill Eye