What is Transcendental Meditation?
This website is dedicated to everything you ever wanted to know about Transcendental Meditation. Some of the most essential topics featured on the site are included in the word cloud – so if you want to jump in right away, then just click on the words you find interesting. You’ll be taken directly to an article about that particular keyword!
What follows on this page is a more linear and compressed back-story. A brief introduction to get you well established in this fascinating world of Transcendental Meditation – or TM, as it is known for short. Here, we’ll map out the
Where does Transcendental Meditation come from?
The technique of Transcendental Meditation is based on ancient yogic wisdom. Among the sages in India, meditation has been practiced for thousands of years – the different techniques transmitted through generations from a master to his disciples. The most powerful practices have traditionally been accessible to a relatively small, elected group of people.
That changed in 1953.
Before his death, a famous meditation master in Northern India, Brahmananda Saraswati – called Guru Dev by his disciples – assigned one his students the task of not only keeping the technique alive but making it available all over the globe. This student, so successful in carrying out the task, became known and honoured by the name Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born 12th of January 1917 in India. He studied Physics at Allahabad University and received his Master’s degree there in 1940. After finishing his academic studies, he started yoga and meditation practice with Guru Dev.
Maharishi began his first Transcendental Meditation tour in the Far East, then crossed the ocean in 1958 – taking Transcendental Meditation to the USA and Europe. Ten years later, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had become the teacher of The Beatles (who travelled to study with him in Rishikesh, India in 1968) and many other Western celebrities.
In the hindsight, this was a period of a massive cultural shift. Meditation in the West came to be seen as normal a practice as taking vitamins or doing aerobics.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi kept working tirelessly – touring the world, writing books, certifying over 40 000 meditation teachers, setting up Transcendental Meditation centres and academic institutions. He died February 5, 2008, having made the teachings on Transcendental Meditation available in almost every corner of the world and having touched the lives of millions of people.
Why should I take up Transcendental Meditation?
Well, no one says you SHOULD. It is not a belief system or an ideology, so you can patiently weigh the arguments without any qualms about making a ‘wrong’ decision. Here are just some of the most common reasons why over 6 million people over the world – from India to Peru, from Canada to Saudi Arabia – have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique over the past 50 years.
More than 350 rigorous scientific studies have been conducted by top-notch academic institutions in the past 30 years to look into the effects of Transcendental Meditation practice. These research projects have confirmed several health benefits beyond any reasonable doubt.
One can go at this from so many different angles. However, the basic point is that TM brings immediate and considerable relief from the ‘dis-ease of the 21st century’ – stress.
Studies show that by balancing the nervous system activation and hormonal levels, Transcendental Meditation offers deep, sustainable relaxation and rest to our body and mind.
As a result, our body and mind no longer overreact to stressful situations. The burden on heart, blood vessels, digestive system and other vital organs is eliminated. We feel less depressed and lose the bitter edge of oversensitivity. We sleep better. There is much less incentive to embrace addictive habits – be it smoking, drinking, doing drugs or binge eating.
This improved physical and mental condition has obvious ramifications for everything we do. Research has documented the ensuing benefits in the areas of school performance, work efficiency, personal relations…
INQUIRY INTO CONSCIOUSNESS
However, not all people start to practice Transcendental Meditation because of its specific health benefits. Many take it up as a tool for realizing a project of altogether different nature – as a means of exploring the expanses of one’s consciousness.
The field of consciousness is difficult to gauge with external measurements. Some attempts have been made, and these indicate that doing Transcendental Meditation increases brainwave coherence. (One result of which is better cognitive and analytical functioning – the mind becomes clear and sharp like a laser beam. And very creative, too.)
Yet this tells very little about the inner experience. The path of meditation takes one to ever deeper areas of consciousness – of peace and bliss that can lead to amazing realizations about the true nature of our being.
Here’s a video clip where Maharishi Mahesh Yogi talks about this essence of consciousness –
So, health and consciousness.
And as is the case with every generalization, this runs the danger of oversimplification – of sacrificing wonderfully rich, eloquent details. Each human being is unique, and so are his or her reasons for practicing Transcendental Meditation.
So let us encourage you to check out – for a sample of telling quotes, personal stories and inspirational testimonials – the section PEOPLE on our website.
Or just click on the famous faces here to see why these celebrities have stepped up to publicly endorse the Transcendental Meditation practice –
The technique: How difficult is it?
After twisting your tongue a few times when trying to pronounce “transcendental”, you may be forgiven for associating the technique of Transcendental Meditation with some dreadfully cumbersome mental acrobatics.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Transcendental Meditation could well be the easiest, most natural exercises in the entire family of ‘techniques’ known to man. You just sit down every morning and evening for 20 minutes, close your eyes, and let your mantra do the work for you.
“20 minutes in the bank, all day in the market place.” – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Neither are there any prerequisites involved. Transcendental Meditation can be practiced by any adult – regardless of his or her health status, lifestyle, socioeconomic level, self-efficacy, race, gender, ethnicity, medical beliefs, job satisfaction, economic variables… you name it. A functioning brain is all it takes.
(What about children? They can start practicing at the age of 10. Children younger than that can learn a special walking technique, called Word of Wisdom.)
How can I learn Transcendental Meditation?
Transcendental Meditation is taught only by certified teachers to ensure that you will get what you came for. So the first thing to do is to look up a TM teaching centre with the most convenient logistics for you – here you’ll find national webpages with all the relevant information.
Before actually signing up for the course, you can attend an introductory talk at the TM centre. Delivered by an experienced teacher, the talk will explain in full detail how Transcendental Meditation can benefit you and how it differs from other practices. All other questions you might have will be answered, too. These introductory talks are completely free of charge and come with no obligation to then learn the technique.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is learned in just 90 minutes on four consecutive days. The course fee depends on the country, various discounts and concessions are usually available. This is the build-up of the 4-day course:
Day 1 – personal instruction with a qualified teacher (1-2 hours)
Day 2 – first seminar, to verify correctness of practice and further instructions (1-2 hours)
Day 3 – second seminar, for understanding the mechanics of the Transcendental Meditation technique (1-2 hours)
Day 4 – third seminar, for understanding higher stages of human development (1-2 hours)
Once you’ve completed the initial instruction, you’ll have the intellectual and experiential knowledge needed to properly practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.
Next comes a series of one-on-one meetings with your teacher and continuing classes – offered at no additional cost.
These sessions stabilise the correctness of your meditation practice to ensure that you gain the full benefits. The meetings can be scheduled at your convenience throughout these first six months of your Transcendental Meditation practice. These follow-up sessions are optional but highly recommended.
As a course graduate, you are eligible for the lifetime programme offered at any Transcendental Meditation centre. This includes receiving the teacher’s personal guidance with your meditation practice, advanced lectures, special events, group meditations, and celebrations.
Where can I get more in depth information about Transcendental Meditation?
To watch videos where Transcendental Meditation practitioners talk about their experiences, or to dive into the best books and movies available on TM, visit the section BOOKS AND VIDEOS on this website. Here’s an editor’s pick for you, for starters –
One last point. While the technique of Transcendental Meditation is exactly the same as it was when taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the world around it is obviously moving and changing. We have collected the most interesting reports on TM practitioners in the section of the website called IN ACTION. Here you can see how daily practice sustains, inspires and elevates human lives in the 21st century. Deeds often speak better and louder than fat volumes of words!