Transcendental meditation, the short version
Meditation is a practice whereby individuals focus the mind on something to train their awareness and calm themselves. It comes in many forms. Transcendental Meditation is one form of meditation focused on transcending the mind to achieve pure awareness and therefore a new sense of peace, creativity, and self-realization.
Transcendental meditation, the longer version
Most of us go through our days in a near-panic to get things done – go to work, meet the deadline, buy groceries, exercise, see friends, pay the bills, put out the trash, work on that house project, pick up the kids from school, take the dog out for a walk, clean the house, call your mom, and on and on. The list of things to do is endless and our minds are constantly in go-go-go mode, thinking about 50 different things at once.
The result is that most of us spend much of our days in medium-to-high levels of stress, overwhelm, and perhaps even shame. I know for me when I don’t get everything done that I “need” to my brain starts telling me stories that I’m not good enough. I won’t be loved if I’m not productive and successful.
Meditation, in many different forms, is a method used to both focus the mind and bring calmness and clarity into our lives. By clearing the mind of thoughts or focusing on particular aspects of our minds, we free ourselves from the go-go-go mode of our lives and into a state of peacefulness, presence, and acceptance.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is one type of meditation, developed in the 1950s and based on ancient Vedic tradition. Unlike mindfulness meditation, which often encourages people to focus on the sensations in their body or one particular thought or feeling in the present moment (for example, gratitude), TM trains people to try and transcend thought altogether. Typically, TM practice involves sitting in silence for 20 minutes, twice a day, every day. By transcending thought, TM practitioners believe they can access a state of pure awareness (or “the source of thoughts”) and in doing so promote active inner wakefulness and therefore higher levels of peace, self-realization, and creativity.
TM is among the more researched forms of meditation. And the results, while still debated among the scientific community, point to many positive effects. American Heart Association studies indicate TM reduces blood pressure. A 2012 American Psychological Association review of more than 150 studies asserted that TM helped managed anxiety, negative emotions, and neuroticism while supporting learning and memory.
But beyond that quantifiable benefits, TM practitioners (and meditation practitioners in general) consistently report increased levels of well-being. It is a method that has been tested and affirmed for millennia. And doesn’t it make sense? In such a complex, hectic world, we all need time to be at active rest: not sleeping, but not asking our minds to do anything but just be. In doing so, we create space for the incredible power of our minds to recharge, strengthen, and explore our depths.
Transcendental meditation, in practice
The TM technique is taught in the U.S. by Maharishi Foundation USA, a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization. The Foundation certifies TM teachers, who are then available to train individuals around the world. To find a TM teacher go to https://www.tm.org/find-a-teacher?type=homepage.
Full TM scholarships are also available to-risk children, military veterans, domestic violence victims, homeless people, and others in need, through partnerships with the David Lynch Foundation and other non-profit organizations.
by Bob Roth
In Strength in Stillness, Roth breaks down the science behind Transcendental Meditation in a new, accessible way. He describes how Transcendental Meditation is a uniquely accessible, effective, and efficient way to reduce stress, access inner power, and build resilience.