What is Transcendental Meditation? A Beginner’s Guide!
Meditation is practiced in different styles with each style carrying its own set of benefits. And while the well aged tradition is growing in diversity and popularity, it can be difficult to understand some of the styles of meditation well enough to get into them the proper way and get to reap the benefits they offer.
Transcendental meditation has been around for a number of decades and people who use this style have reported various improvements which are mentally, physically and emotionally related.
If you are a person looking to learn more about this type of meditation and how to get started with it, we take an in-depth look at it here.
What is Trascendental Meditation?
Transcendental meditation is a form of meditation that allows you to transcend your thoughts to the very source of thought without having to put in too much effort into monitoring or controlling your thought process.
This then helps you get into a restful alertness.
Bob Roth, an experienced transcendental meditation teacher and CEO of the David Lynch Foundation for consciousness based education and world peace, describes it as a simple, effortless and natural way to help your mind get into a deep level of awareness where you feel calm and wakeful.
It is taught one on one by a trained and certified instructor and it uses something called a mantra to help you access the deeper levels of awareness.
A mantra is a sound or a word that has no meaning and is known to be positive and life supporting. It is normally a good sound that makes the mind settle down has been used for thousands of years for just this purpose.
If a sound or a word that has meaning is used, it makes it impossible for the mind’s attention to settle down effortlessly.
Transcendental meditation is administered in a very personalized way for every person which includes finding a unique mantra that creates a connection with the meditator at a deeper level.
It is normally practiced 20 minutes per day, twice a day.
Where Did Transcendental Meditation Come From?
The origin of this meditation strategy can be traced back to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who made it known around the 1950’s to 1960s.
He learned from an ancient Vedic tradition in India and went ahead to make it popular in the western world around this time.
At first, it was taught as a religious and spiritual practice but soon enough many people got interested in it and it was used as a non-spiritual and religious technique to help boost calmness and awareness.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught the practice to a good number of teachers who are now in the range of tens of thousands worldwide.
A few celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres and David Lynch also took up the practice and making it even more famous.
In 2005, David Lynch created the David Lynch Foundation that helps serve transcendental meditation to an even bigger population, mostly for people who are struggling with various issues related to mental and physical health.
How Transcendental Meditation is Different From Other Types of Meditation
Meditation, at large, is normally approached in 3 different ways. There is a focused attention based technique which helps you direct and control your attention.
Some forms of meditation that use this technique include Zazen meditation and Vipassana meditation.
Secondly, there is the open monitoring based technique that is aimed at observing the flow of your thought process. Styles like mindfulness meditation take advantage of this method.
Then there is the automatic self transcending technique which transcendental meditation makes use of.
Bob Roth says that this technique helps the active thinking mind to experience quieter and quieter levels of thought, transcend thought and experience the self, which is our very own nature, which is unbound.
How Does Transcendental Meditation (TM) Work?
In the grand scheme of things, it helps you delve into deep levels of awareness, to the source of your thoughts, a place which is very quiet and calm as well as really alert.
TM experts say that the practice guides you into that place effortlessly.
A good explanation of how this works is by thinking of a playing field that has been divided into 3 sections.
The first section is filled with many players playing all sorts of sports, basketball, badminton, tennis, soccer and volleyball.
Now you can play any of the games being offered there but there are very low chances of you enjoying any since the section is too crowded and everyone wants to play.
Now, you notice a door close to one of the corners of the section that leads into the second section of the playing field. Once you go through the door, and get into the second section, you find fewer people in the section who are playing 3 of your favorite sports.
In this section, you are happy there is no standing in line waiting for your turn to play and there is less noise too. You can easily choose what sport you want to get immersed into and get started in a few minutes.
In this same section, you see another door leading to the third section, and you decide to go see what is there. On entering, you find the section offers only your most favorite sport, and they are in need of one person to make the game as interesting as it possibly can be.
Now, these 3 sections of the field could be compared to levels of awareness, as you get deeper and deeper, it gets quieter and more interesting for you with lots of benefits being at the deepest level.
Transcendental meditation is the method that helps you unlock those levels of awareness.
What Are The Benefits of Transcendental Meditation?
Research reveals that there are many health benefits linked to doing transcendental meditation (1). Some of them include:
2. Improving cardiovascular health (5)
3. Reducing anxiety and stress (6)
4. Reducing depression (7)
6. Handling addiction (8)
7. Reducing PTSD (9)
How Do You Do it?
As earlier mentioned, transcendental Meditation is done for 20 minutes a day, two times a day. In the morning and afternoon. If you are a beginner, you should make sure you are taught by a licensed TM teacher.
TM experts say that, unlike others types of meditation which you can learn from videos, articles and other online resources, transcendental meditation is very personalized and it is taught based on the individual.
You have to attend lectures for a couple of days where you will be walked through the whole technique and trained how do it.
You will also be given a unique mantra that you will be using to meditate and you’ll be shown how to use it properly.
Getting the right mantra for you and making good use of it is key, that is why you have to be walked through by an experienced teacher.
After attending a few lectures, you will be meeting with your teacher once in a while to ensure you are on the right path.
The lectures vary from one hour to an hour and a half where more detailed specifics are shared with the meditator.