Transcendental Meditation (TM): Meaning, Benefits, Technique, and More

transcendental meditation

Finding inner peace and clarity in today’s feverish and chaotic world can seem elusive. However, a powerful practice has gained significant attention and popularity for its transformative effects on the mind, body, and spirit. Welcome to the world of Transcendental Meditation (TM). 

Mental techniques like meditation and mindfulness have become increasingly popular in recent years. Some focus on movement, while others involve staying still. Some approaches attempt to clear the mind, while others aim to monitor, observe, or manipulate thoughts and emotions. Read our blog on How to Find Peace of Mind and Happiness that leads to a fulfilling and meaningful life.

One common type of meditation is called Transcendental Meditation.  What is it exactly, and how does it differ from methods? Here’s what to know about this silent mental technique and how it benefits your life. 

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What is Transcendental Meditation?

Transcend means to go beyond. Transcendental meditation is where you silently perform mantra chanting repeatedly in your head. This TM technique focuses on settling your body to restful alertness, where your body is deeply relaxed, and your mind is quiet. However, you are wide awake. Transcendental meditation settles your active mind inwards until you transcend to a state of pure consciousness.

A person must learn transcendental meditation through a teacher. This type of meditation requires no specific equipment, movement, or breathing. It also does not require one to control or monitor one’s thoughts; simply focus on the mantra.

Moreover, a person does not have to have any particular belief system or lifestyle to practice transcendental meditation. However, some people adopt other practices alongside it, such as Ayurveda, a traditional form of Indian medicine.

Also Read: Meditation for Depression: How it Works, Types & How to Overcome

Comparison of Transcendental Meditation with Other Meditation Techniques

The main difference between the TM technique and other forms of meditation is that it is effortless and automatic. It allows the thoughts to come and go rather than emptying the mind of all the thoughts. This mantra meditation is meaningless in helping the mind settle down. 

By repeatedly reciting the mantra, a meditator aims to still the activity of thought and to experience a state of stillness and consciousness, which leads to enhanced creativity, contentment, and vitality. While some meditation practices focus on controlling the thoughts, TM uses the mind’s natural tendency. read our blog on The Best 7 Types of Meditation and explore the other types.

History of Transcendental Meditation

The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed the TM technique from the text of the Hindu Vedas. Born as Mahesh Prasad Varma, he started his spiritual work as a disciple of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, also known as Guru Dev. After his guru died in 1953, he worked to develop his meditation style for all people.  

By 1955, he changed his name and started presenting his method across India before visiting other continents. This TM technique officially got its name when he bought it in the U.S. in 1959.

Maharishi caught the attention of celebrities, including the Beatles, causing interest in transcendental meditation from Maharishi. For the next few decades, he continued to tour worldwide to spread his message, built TM centers, and trained TM teachers. 

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Benefits of Transcendental Meditation

Research on the transcendental meditation technique shows its effectiveness in diverse areas. 

1. Physical Advantages of Transcendental Meditation

  • Lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that the TM technique may reduce blood pressure more effectively than medication. Read our blog on Yoga for High Blood Pressure and learn about the various yoga asanas that help reduce BP.
  • Improved sleep. Study shows those who practiced TM twice a day for a couple of months had less burnout, anxiety, and insomnia.
  • Pain management and/or distraction from pain.
  • Reduces the severity of existing health problems

2. Mental Health Advantages of Transcendental Meditation

  • Reduction in stress, anxiety, and depression. In research, it is observed that TM reduces anxiety in individuals who practice it. Those who benefitted included individuals with high anxiety levels, such as people with chronic anxiety and prison inmates.
  • Management of post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Improvement of self-esteem

Also Read: Vedic Meditation: How This Ancient Tradition Works

3. Cognitive Advantages of Transcendental Meditation

  • Increased productivity, performance, and problem-solving skills
  • Enhanced creativity, intelligence, and awareness
  • Improved energy, focus, and memory

4. Emotional Advantages of Transcendental Meditation

  • Enhanced clarity of thoughts and feelings
  • Increased compassion and gratitude.
  • Improved quality of life and inner peace. 

Steps to do Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation involves repeating a mantra quietly for 15-20 minutes or longer in a silent, dimly lit room without distractions. Before beginning, turn off or silence your cell phones and ensure you don’t get disturbed by anyone. If you wish, you can burn incense or light candles to make your meditation space more comfortable. 

Steps to follow:

  • Sit comfortably on the floor or a chair. Place your hands on your lap.
  • Relax your body, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Ensure to close your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Silently repeat a transcendental meditation mantra (you learned from a meditation teacher or a phrase or a word of your choice) in your mind.
  • Keep your focus on the mantra completely. In case you feel of being distracted, refocus your thoughts on the mantra.
  • After the session, open your eyes slowly. Continue to sit for a few more minutes until you feel ready to get up.

Research suggests that 20 minutes of meditation daily for 45-60 days has measurable effects on the brain. However, it is essential to try shorter or longer sessions to see what works for you. Newcomers can start with 5 minutes a day, then progressively increase to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, and later longer over the course of multiple sessions.

Consistency is critical in meditation. So, if you meditate 10-20 minutes a day or have 5 minutes, try to commit to doing it every day for at least 2 months to reap the benefits.

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Also Read: 8 Powerful Mudras For Meditation (Best Hand Mudra)

FAQs on Transcendental Meditation

1. How does transcendental meditation differ from other types of meditation?

Some key differences between transcendental meditation and other types of meditation include its effortless nature, the use of a mantra, and its consistent practice schedule. While other types of meditation may involve more concentration or control of the mind, TM meditation allows the mind to naturally settle into a state of deep relaxation and inner peace.

2. How to practice transcendental meditation?

Close your eyes, sit comfortably, and practice twice daily for 20 minutes. The transcendental meditation technique does not need an app to guide your meditation. You silently repeat a mantra in your head.

3. Who invented transcendental meditation?

In the 1950s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru, developed the transcendental meditation technique. He developed the transcendental meditation program based on ancient meditative yoga practices. Maharishi introduced the technique as a science and established the meditative state as the fourth state of consciousness. The first three being waking, sleeping, and dreaming.

4. Can I learn transcendental meditation techniques on my own?

To ensure the success of each student, the transcendental meditation method is taught exclusively by certified instructors. These personalized and comprehensive sessions will give you a strong foundation for your transcendental meditation practice’s lifetime benefits.

5. What are transcendental meditation mantras?

Mantras in transcendental meditation are specific sounds or syllables silently repeated during meditation. These mantras are not just ordinary words; they are powerful sound vibrations that resonate with the deeper aspects of our consciousness.

6. How do I find my mantra for transcendental meditation?

Typically, the best way to find your transcendental mantra is to ask yourself what you need. Let the deficit guide you instead of being a weakness, but don’t become too attached to one mantra you think is right. It’s important to try new mantras on and see how they fit. You may be surprised.

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TM offers a pathway to personal growth, stress reduction, enhanced mental well-being, and overall improvement in one’s quality of life. It is an invitation to explore this transformative practice, tap into inner peace, and cultivate a deeper self-awareness. Embrace the potential of transcendental meditation and set out on a journey of spiritual growth, self-discovery, and well-being.

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