What is Transcendental Meditation?
You often hear statements like “millions of people practice it around the world”. And that there are “hundreds of scientific research studies on its benefits”. But what is the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, really?
Here is the essence of TM in a nutshell.
The TM technique
In brief — and contrary to what the name itself might suggest 😉 — the Transcendental Meditation technique is a very simple, natural and effortless way of letting your mind settle down into an extremely calm and wise state of rest. Best effects are produced with regular practice of two times twenty minutes a day.
We’ll come back to the “calm” and “wise” part in a second.
But first the issue of mantras.
Mantra, a sound which delivers
Though TM is not a mantra-based meditation in the sense that its main core and direction is oriented towards transcending, it does involve use of mantras.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the great teacher from India who introduced the TM technique to the wider world, said: “Mantra is a specific thought which suits us, a suitable sound for us which we receive from a trained teacher of Transcendental Meditation.
By using this mantra, the practitioner experiences the thought of that sound and starts minimizing that thought to experience the finer states of that thought – until the source of thought is fathomed and the conscious mind reaches the transcendental area of being.”
As you can see, though the technique itself is easy to enjoy and practice after you’ve learned it, it is a fairly finely-tuned stuff based on traditions thousands of years old.
This is the main reason why it makes sense to play it sound and learn it from a qualified TM teacher (here’s the list of contact information for teaching centers by continent and country). It’s the only way to make sure that you get your money’s worth.
How much does it cost to learn TM?
The fee for learning TM varies across countries, but it usually reaches into hundreds of dollars per the 4-day course. For example, in the U.S. you can take the course for around 1,000 USD — with several options of scholarships and paying schedules available.
Still seems expensive, at the first glance?
However, even if it is expensive in terms of its nominal cost (that is, in terms of how many ice-creams you could buy for this amount of money, or how many classes you could take at your Pilates studio), this probably isn’t the calculation which matters the most.
At the end of the day, it’s the worth of your deal which counts: it’s about what you get for your money. Buying a brand new Ferrari for a couple of grands wouldn’t be such a bad deal, right?
And in this context, TM could well be the most useful investment you can possibly make in your life. Here’s why.
What doing TM will give you
As said earlier, doing TM regularly will make your mind-body system naturally calm and wise.
It will make it CALM as it has a well-proven effect of letting your nervous system settle into a state of deep rest. This will automatically turn the notch down on your level of stress.
And as you begin to feel more and more at ease in your skin, and stop fretting about all those innumerable projects and life’s little problems, everything else tends to click into place, too. That’s why TM is proven to have a positive impact on your blood pressure, immune system, eating habits, good night’s sleep, etc.
A nice, healthy state of impassionate vegetation? Nope. While making you calm, TM practice will also make you WISE and EFFICIENT.
As the dust of our daily neurosis settles, our mind will naturally become more open, clear and insightful. With TM, artists will become more creative, students more able and discerning, businessmen will make smarter decisions and sportsmen reach their full potential. You can go through hundreds of such testimonials and stories.
There’s nothing mystical, religious or magical about this process, however; the wisdom of our mind simply starts to manifest itself when given a chance.
How is TM different from other meditation techniques?
As weightlifting, tennis, and ballroom dancing strengthen specific muscles and produce different overall effects in the body, so do focusing on a candlelight, repeating mantras or trying to dispassionately observe one’s mental content result in different outcomes.
According to research, the practice of Transcendental Meditation is unique in many a sense.
For one, TM seems to turn on the whole brain and make it function as a holistic unit. This is a common feature of those people who report peak-performances in business, art or sports.
Another peculiar feature of the TM technique is that there is no difference between brainwaves of experts and beginners — one masters it quickly. In fact, the positive effects of practice are usually apparent already from the very first TM session.
Best video introduction to TM
If you are an auditive learner, then you may find this introductory video extremely useful.
It is recorded by Bob Roth, one of the most qualified TM teachers around — and the 20-minute video covers all the most important topics like what happens during TM, how we know if it really works or not, what’s its effect on the brain, etc.
For further reading
- As the wise old Chinese saying goes, images are often worth thousands of words. So here is a post made up of ten photos which best sum up the story we’ve been trying to weave on this page. Take a look and see for yourself!
- Scientific research in the field of meditation is an ongoing process. This page will give you all the most important studies and cutting-edge results. From health issues such as addiction, heart disease and multiple sclerosis to various skills and experiences (Does meditating raise your IQ? How can “transcendental experiences” and “higher states of consciousness” be measured?)
- Who are the people among the millions of TM practitioners whom you already know? Perhaps not personally, but having seen them on the screen or on the stage, or strutting around in fancy suits in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos? A continually updated list of TM celebrities, from A to Z.
- A handpicked selection of ten most useful books about TM. From scientific research to first-hand accounts, from basic introductions to pointers on the road towards more advanced levels.
Some useful websites
- Official home page of the TM organization
- Transcendental Meditation channel on YouTube
- The David Lynch Foundation: offers scholarships for learning TM to inner city schools, veterans of war, people in the HIV / AIDS community etc.
- TM for women (note that the technique itself is exactly the same; the website just offers information from and for women practitioners)
- Latest TM related news and stories on Facebook