Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a type of meditation that involves the use of a mantra, a sound or phrase, that is repeated silently in the mind. It was developed in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian spiritual leader, and is one of the most widely practiced forms of meditation in the world.
TM is taught in a standardized, systematic way by certified teachers, and involves practicing twice a day for 15-20 minutes each time. During the practice, the meditator sits with their eyes closed and repeats the mantra in their mind, allowing their thoughts to come and go without judgment or analysis.
Proponents of TM claim that it can lead to reduced stress, increased creativity and productivity, improved cognitive function, and better overall health and well-being. However, the scientific evidence supporting these claims is mixed, and some critics have raised concerns about the high cost of TM instruction and the lack of transparency around its organization.
What is the TM Meditation technique?
The TM meditation technique involves sitting comfortably with the eyes closed and repeating a mantra, which is a sound or phrase that has no specific meaning, silently in the mind. The mantra is given to the meditator by a trained TM teacher during a personal instruction session.
During the practice, the meditator allows their thoughts to come and go without judgment or analysis and gently returns their attention to the mantra whenever they notice their mind has wandered. The technique is practiced for 15-20 minutes twice a day, typically once in the morning and once in the evening.
According to the TM organization, the practice of TM allows the mind to settle down to a state of deep inner calm, which can result in a range of benefits including reduced stress, increased creativity and productivity, improved cognitive function, and better overall health and well-being. However, the scientific evidence supporting these claims is mixed, and more research is needed to fully understand the effects of TM on the mind and body.
How is TM meditation different?
TM meditation differs from other types of meditation in several ways. One of the main differences is the use of a mantra, which is a sound or phrase that is repeated silently in the mind during practice. This is different from other forms of meditation that may focus on breath awareness, visualization, or other types of mental focus.
Another difference is the approach to thoughts during practice. In TM, the meditator is encouraged to allow their thoughts to come and go without judgment or analysis and to simply return their attention to the mantra whenever they notice their mind has wandered. This is different from some other forms of meditation that may involve more active efforts to control or suppress thoughts.
TM is also taught in a standardized, systematic way by certified teachers, and involves a specific set of instructions and guidelines for practice. This is different from other forms of meditation that may be learned through self-study or less structured instruction.
Finally, the TM organization places a strong emphasis on the benefits of the practice, including reduced stress, increased creativity and productivity, improved cognitive function, and better overall health and well-being. While other forms of meditation may also offer similar benefits, they may not be promoted or marketed in the same way as TM.
TM Meditation Benefits
The TM organization claims that regular practice of TM can have a range of benefits for the mind and body, including:
- Reduced stress: Research has shown that TM can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, leading to reduced stress and anxiety.
- Improved cognitive function: Studies have found that regular practice of TM can lead to improved attention, memory, and cognitive flexibility.
- Better cardiovascular health: TM has been linked to reduced blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health, which can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Enhanced creativity and productivity: Some research suggest that TM can enhance creativity and productivity by improving brain function and reducing stress.
- Improved overall well-being: Practicing TM may lead to greater feelings of well-being, happiness, and inner peace, as well as better sleep and overall quality of life.
While some of these benefits are supported by scientific research, it’s important to note that not all studies have found significant effects of TM on these outcomes.
Additionally, the TM organization has been criticized for making exaggerated claims about the benefits of the practice, and some critics have raised concerns about the high cost of TM instruction and the lack of transparency around its organization.
How to practice TM Meditation?
Here are the basic steps to practice TM meditation:
Find a certified TM teacher: TM is usually taught by certified teachers, who can provide personalized instruction and guidance. You can find a teacher in your area through the TM organization’s website.
Attend a personal instruction session: In a personal instruction session, the teacher will provide you with a mantra, which is a sound or phrase that you will repeat silently in your mind during practice. The teacher will also explain the technique and answer any questions you may have.
- Choose a quiet, comfortable place to meditate: Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably and meditate without distractions. You can meditate on a cushion or chair, whichever is more comfortable for you.
- Sit with your eyes closed and repeat your mantra: Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and repeat your mantra silently in your mind. Allow your thoughts to come and go without judgment or analysis, and gently return your attention to the mantra whenever you notice your mind has wandered.
- Practice for 15-20 minutes twice a day: The TM practice is typically done for 15-20 minutes twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Gradually increase your practice time: As you become more comfortable with the practice, you may choose to gradually increase your practice time to 30 minutes or longer.
Remember that TM is a personal practice, and the experience may vary from person to person. It’s important to approach the practice with an open mind and without expectations and to be patient with yourself as you develop your meditation skills.
History of TM Meditation
TM meditation was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher, in the mid-1950s. Maharishi, who was born in 1918 and died in 2008, studied physics and philosophy in college and later became a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya (spiritual leader) of Jyotir Math monastery in northern India.
Maharishi began teaching TM publicly in the late 1950s and early 1960s and gained a following in the United States and other parts of the world. He founded the International Meditation Society in 1959, which later became the Spiritual Regeneration Movement Foundation (SRMF), and then the TM organization.
In the 1960s, Maharishi gained widespread publicity and celebrity endorsements, including from the Beatles, who studied with him in India in 1968. He also developed a range of programs and initiatives, including the establishment of universities and schools based on principles of consciousness-based education.
Over the years, the TM organization has faced controversy and criticism, including its claims about the benefits of TM, its high cost for instruction, and its association with some controversial figures. However, the organization continues to promote TM as a powerful tool for personal growth and social change and has trained millions of people worldwide in the practice.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a meditation technique that involves the use of a mantra or sound to help the practitioner achieve a state of deep relaxation and transcendence. Over the years, several studies have been conducted to investigate the benefits of TM, and some of the key findings include:
- Stress reduction: TM is effective in reducing stress and anxiety levels, as well as improving overall emotional well-being.
- Improved cognitive function: TM has been shown to improve cognitive function, including memory, attention, and focus.
- Reduced risk of heart disease: Research suggests that TM may lower the risk of heart disease by reducing blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health.
- Improved overall health: TM has been found to have a positive impact on various health outcomes, such as reduced inflammation, improved immune function, and better sleep quality.
Overall, TM appears to be a safe and effective meditation technique that can provide a range of health benefits. However, it is important to note that TM is not a substitute for medical treatment, and anyone with a health condition should consult their doctor before starting a new meditation practice.
Also Read: A Brief Introduction to Stoicism
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