Transcendental meditation (TM) is a relaxed state of mind. It is a technique that avoids any kind of distracting thoughts, and it also promotes a state of self-relaxation or relaxed awareness. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi derived this technique from the ancient Vedic tradition of India. This technique was brought to the US in the 1960s.
The person who is practicing TM has to first sit in a comfortable meditation position. The eyes should be closed, and the mantras should be repeated silently. Mantra are sounds from the Vedic tradition that have been assigned by a teacher. While one is in this meditation pose, all the ordinary thinking processes need to be transcended. These thoughts should be replaced by a state of pure consciousness. When we say a state of pure consciousness, it would mean the meditator has to achieve perfect stillness, order, and stability, and he should be completely absent out the mental boundaries. Certain studies have mentioned that the technique of meditation is known to heal a lot of medical conditions, because it reduces chronic pain, lowers high blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, and lowers anxiety attacks. However, there are more studies being conducted on this topic. The best effects of this type of meditation would be produced only if this technique is practiced correctly and regularly two times per day for at least twenty minutes.
Any type of meditation, be it TM or any other kind, is safe for healthy individuals and also helps to improve the quality of living. However, there are certain studies that suggest that meditation alone should not be used as a single treatment for any kind of medical condition. One should also go to a doctor for conventional medical care.
Learning and Practicing
TM is not linked to any religion or philosophy, and it does not require a person to change his current lifestyle. However, unlike other forms of meditation, TM requires an individual to go through a seven step course of instruction-based learning from a certified meditation teacher.
During the class, the TM instructor would first present general information about the technique and also its pros and cons. This introductory lecture would last about an hour. This is then followed by another lecture that would be about 45 minutes. In this lecture there is more specific information given about TM. Then those people who are interested in learning this technique are asked to attend a 10 to 15 minute long interview, along with one to two hours of personal instruction. After each brief ceremony, the individual is given a mantra, which he or she is supposed to keep private.
After this comes three days of checking for any correctness, along with an hour or two hours of instruction. During this session, the teacher would do the following:
- The teacher would provide a more detailed explanation about the practice.
- Provide any correction, if required.
- List the benefits of the regular practice in greater detail.
Over the course of the next several months, the teacher would regularly meet the practitioners who were really interested in TM and ensure the correct technique is followed. Those who are really interested in TM practice this method twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes. Usually, this technique is practiced first thing in the morning, before breakfast, and before dinner in the afternoon or evening.
There are no strenuous efforts required from the individuals that practice TM. It also does not require extreme concentration or contemplation. All it requires is the student to practice breathing normally and at the same time focus on the mantras provided to him.
There have been certain studies that detail out that meditation of any type can either worsen or prove to be better for the individual. In some instances, it can lead to worsening of certain symptoms, especially for people who have certain kinds of psychiatric conditions or those who produce feelings of anxiety and disorientation. On the other side, some of the people believe that TM is known to help people deal with anxiety. There are mixed reviews. If an individual has an existing mental condition, then it is better to consult the doctor before starting TM. Also, the meditation instructor should know about the current condition.
All about Mantras
TM is not all about mantras; one cannot call it a mantra-based meditation like many other meditations. However, it does involve some portion of the mantras. The main core of TM is toward transcending. The great Indian Teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the one who had introduced this technique to the world. He had mentioned that mantras are specific thoughts that suit each individual. This is a suitable sound for all of us, and the mantra is received from the trained teacher of TM. With the use of these mantras, the person who is practicing TM starts experiencing the thought of that sound, which later starts to minimize the thought to experience the finer states of the thought.
In other meditation techniques, the mantra acts as a focus for the mind; however, this is not the case with TM. When it comes to meditation with TM, the mantra acts as a vehicle wherein one should focus so that the attention gently rests on it. It gives time for the mind to settle down into increasingly subtle levels of thinking. The mantras in TM have two important qualities. These are very much vital for the process to occur smoothly.
- Mantras are meaningless sounds: Whenever there is a word used with meaning, our mind keeps it on the surface, and there is a constant thought process going about in the mind with regard to the word. Due to this, our mind does not go into the transcend mode; hence, the mantras provided in TM do not have any meaning attached to them. They are meaningless.
- The mantra sounds have vibration that has resonance: The vibration of the mantra word has resonance with its main source in the primordial hum or Oum. This gives the mind a very blissful feeling, due to which it gradually fades in that direction. The mantra has the ability to attract and charm the mind with its vibration sound. Hence, the mind settles down in the silence mode with the mantra.
Origin of the Mantra
The mantras that are greatly used in the process of TM come from the Vedic ancient tradition of India. They are basically Sanskrit words or sounds. Sanskrit is the language that is the closest possible. It is a human imitation of the natural vibrations that are produced by the dynamism of the field unified. There are some mantras that have the power to heal specific parts of the body, but this is not the case with TM. Since the mantras used in TM are for transcending, the mantras have a holistic effect, or one can say a healing effect, for the whole mind, body, and soul.
There are thousands of mantras available for TM. Out of these, a small number of mantras with certain known effects are used. The teacher would use one that is suitable for you. This is done through selection, which is passed by the Maharishi by using a simple procedure that ensures that it is correct. It is very much important to get the mantra only from a trained TM teacher, since this knowledge has been passed on to them. The effects are very well-known both in the past and present, which ensures that the mantra is always positive and enhances life. Also, the teacher does not receive these mantras very easily. They get these mantras and procedures after months of intensive training. Once the mantra is shared with the student, he is asked to not share it with anyone else. Even teachings of the same are not to be taught to anyone else. This is done so as to ensure that the purity of teaching is preserved, and it also ensures that the person who is receiving it should get the proper and full instructions.
TM vs. Other Meditation Techniques
As we all known, conducting different types of exercise produces different effects on the overall body. For example, lifting weights, dancing, playing tennis, and jogging would all produce different effects on the overall body. Similarly, doing meditation by focusing on a candle or repeating mantras also has different effects. It is said that practicing TM has its own unique sense of effect on the overall body. While practicing TM, it turns on the brain and lets it function with a holistic approach; this then leads to excellence in various field, whether it is corporate, artistic, or athletic. One of the other features in TM is that there is no difference in the brainwaves of both the experts and the beginners. One can experience the positive effects of TM from his very first session.
We all know meditation has proven to be very beneficial for the human race as a whole. It tends to calm the mind and reduce anxiety and stress. Below is the list of few of the benefits one can experience by practicing TM:
Relief from stress – Who would not want to get rid of stress, be it physical stress, mental stress, or emotional stress? One of the main benefits is to provide relief from stress. In today’s changing lifestyle, stress has been the biggest disease that is eating up our lives. It has been the main cause of many medical conditions and broken relationships. TM provides deep relaxation in the mind, and it brings out the inner peace in the person. The main effects of TM when it comes to providing stress relief are:
- Balancing out the hormone levels
- Increasing the brain coherence
- Balancing out the nervous system activation
Improves efficiency at work – There has been research that was conducted in both smaller and bigger companies. It was found that, across the board, those individuals who were regular meditators of TM showed significant improvement on many of the crucial measures such as:
- Improvement in leadership qualities
- Effectiveness in handling any kind of situation or while dealing with stressful conditions
- Improvement in sense of job satisfaction
- Maintenance of a proper professional relationship at work
- Stabilization of the mind while at work and while performing any kind of tasks that require significant mental awareness
- Improvement of overall health
Beneficial for children – Those children who would regularly practice TM mediation showed excellence in a number of fields. Below are some of the benefits listed for the children:
- The academic results showed a positive impact
- The negative behavior of kids at school showed a drop, along with reduction in absenteeism
- Reduction in any kind of school-related stress
- Reduction in depression and/or anxiety
- Intellectual increase, along with improvement in cognitive performance
- Stability in blood pressure – Various studies have proved that regularly practicing TM has shown a great improvement in those individuals who are suffering blood pressure related issues. TM practice leads to a lowering of the blood pressure in those people who are suffering from hypertension, elderly individuals, and people suffering from heart related disease. It controls stress and improves sleep.
- Improves heart performance – Various studies also show that, along with reducing the blood pressure, TM practice also has great benefits in reducing a lot of various types of cardiovascular conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, left ventricular hypertrophy, etc. Those individuals who would regularly practice this meditation for twice a day were 48 percent less likely to develop or suffer a heart attack or stroke.
- Treats alcoholism – Apart from improving the overall health of the person and his quality of life, TM practice is also known to help fight the bad habit of alcohol consumption. It has been seen that the effect of TM on reducing the alcohol habit is five to eight times larger than that of other types of programs or therapy. Apart from helping to quit alcohol, TM also helps the person to recover from the aftereffects of quitting. It provides emotional support.
TM may help you improve your quality of life, and it is generally a safe technique for everybody. Be sure to ask your doctor and your instructor about any concerns, and be sure to mention any medical conditions.
- Meditation has innumerable benefits, both on the mind and the body of the individual.
- Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a relaxed state of mind that helps to avoid any kind of distraction from entering the mind.
- This technique was derived from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from the ancient Vedic tradition of India.