Addiction, Depression, Recovery: One Woman’s Journey

From Maia Akiva’s first words it’s easy to understand why she’s a motivational speaker. Her journey is empowering, and it sets the tone for her work. She had started down a path of self-discovery and health-recovery, when one of her favorite radio show hosts, Howard Stern, mentioned the words “Transcendental Meditation” (TM) on his show. Maia said, “I just felt, ‘I want that.’ I was very open to trying it and seeing what happens.” What happened next was her own personal transformation with two defining features of her adult life: depression and addiction.

“I was trying to get sober for a while before I started TM. I tried a lot of different forms of ‘healing’.” The TM technique had been in Maia’s periphery for some time, but after she attended a David Lynch Foundation event with a friend, she decided it was time to learn. She says, “Once I started, it took me a year to get sober, but I noticed right away that there was a different reaction to and experience of my addiction and sobriety. I had this feeling of really deep-rootedness that I had never had before. It was like I was able to experience sobriety from a much deeper place; not just from my mind.”

With that experience, she was able to engage with sobriety in a more real and tangible way. “I’ve been sober since the summer of 2012. Now I consider TM to be part of my sobriety practices. Sometimes I meet other recovering addicts at events that I go to in LA, and they say the same thing: that TM really helped them get sober. Sobriety is a very difficult thing, but with TM, it was able to come to fruition.”

The TM technique is not a “medical treatment,” but numerous studies show a positive relationship between TM and recovery from addictions. Dr. William Stixrud, a clinical neuropsychologist and adjunct faculty at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., says: “Transcendental Meditation […] regulates the stress response. […] ; it allows people to experience inner happiness, peace, self-satisfaction, and release from stress—which are the things that many […] seek through the use of drugs and alcohol.”

Addiction recovery was not the only benefit Maia noticed after starting TM. Like 15 million American adults who are impacted by depression, she had suffered from it for much of her life, compacted by emotional trauma from childhood. “It actually took me two or three years after starting meditation to realize that my periodic depression was also gone; I don’t suffer from depression anymore. Now I have good days, and I have bad days, but my whole feeling of being a depressed person is not there anymore. That change started when I learned TM, and continues to this day. Of course, I’ve done a lot of other work on myself and a lot of healing. But to me, TM is when it switched from A to B. You know, that was a big part of my journey to living a more positive life.

Numerous studies indicate that regular practice of TM correlates with a decrease in symptoms of depression. For example, a 2014 randomized controlled study, published in The Permanente Journal, found a decrease in depressive symptoms and psychological distress in a four-month follow-up focused on employees.

Journey Out Of Addiction And Depression

Maia repeats that these changes didn’t appear overnight, but occurred gradually as she continued her TM practice. She notes the importance, for her, in meditating regularly, in having it be part of her routine. “I did notice that the few times that I stopped meditating for a month or two, my mood slowly, slowly, became worse, and I retreated to my old habits. But when I’m meditating regularly, I’m just going on with my life and maintaining a certain level of happiness and acceptance. It shows me that I do need to practice every day, and it’s definitely a priority for me in staying sober.

Cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, M.D., confirms the importance of regular practice for increasing health benefits. “Just like exercise or changing your diet, you have to do TM regularly to create the change in the physiology. We know that the change is persistent if you make a regular, routine practice of it.”

Today Maia’s award-winning, self-help short stories and plays have been published and produced throughout the United States. Maia’s own journey with addiction, depression, and Transcendental Meditation continues to inspire her work and life; she’s made a career of motivating others to pursue a richer way of being, free from addictions.

Maia Akiva is a Motivational Speaker, Entertainer, Facilitator, a reality bender and an emotional researcher who dips into every flavor of human behavior and self-discovery.

Maia Akiva is a Motivational Speaker, Entertainer, Facilitator, a reality bender and an emotional researcher who dips into every flavor of human behavior and self-discovery. She uses self-help fiction, magical realism, original visual storytelling, and emotional coaching. Originally from Israel, her award-winning, self-help plays and short stories have been produced and published all over the United States. Over the past 10 years, she has been inspiring hundreds of people to go on a journey of understanding, asking themselves some important questions about their inner emotional lives, their struggles, and their relationship with themselves. She’s also led self-discovery workshops at Models of Pride, the biggest LGBTQ youth conference in the US; Brave Trails Camp; Resilience Treatment Center; and many other places. You can find her at: