What’s the Deal with Transcendental Meditation?

Meditation is hardly a divisive topic. Most people believe in its benefits for the body and mind, even if they don’t practice it themselves. Transcendental Meditation, however, is a little more controversial.

At first glance, it sounds like a wonderful way to get into a regular meditation practice. Its benefits for health are solidly backed up by a wide range of studies and papers, and it’s been lauded by many stars and celebrities. If you’re considering Transcendental Meditation, it’d be beneficial to know a little bit about its history and why it has such a hit-or-miss reputation.

Where did Transcendental Meditation Originate?

Transcendental Meditation, often simply referred to as TM, was introduced to the U.S. by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s. A controversial figure, Maharishi Mahesh Yoga is said to have derived the technique from ancient Vedic practices.

TM became popularized when The Beatles began singing its praises, even going so far as to travel to India to study the practice. They eventually withdrew their support for the practice, however.

How is it Different from Other Kinds of Meditation?

An average TM session consists of focusing on and repeating a mantra silently in one’s head, the idea being that the practitioner will eventually reach a state of transcendental consciousness. This might not sound very different from any other kind of meditation, but true TM requires working with a certified instructor.

The instructor takes the practitioner through a series of sessions, all focusing on self-correction, according to TM.org. It is through these meetings that the teacher develops a mantra that he or she assigns to the participant.

TM is meant to be practiced twice daily for 20 minutes per session. Over time, the practitioner learns to transcend his or her consciousness, reaching a state of calm relaxation.

Benefits of Transcendental Meditation

TM has a number of proven benefits. Like most forms of meditation, it may calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety levels, lower blood pressure and alleviate pain. However, some studies have found it to be more effective than other methods. This could be because of the regimented structure in which practitioners must participate.

“Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting, like other forms of meditation,” the Cleveland Clinic reported, according to TM.org. “Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking … A 2009 study found Transcendental Meditation helped alleviate stress in college students, while another found it helped reduce blood pressure, anxiety, depression and anger.”

Controversy Behind TM

Though TM has been recommended by the American Heart Association, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and other health organizations, it remains controversial. For one thing, it’s difficult to swallow the fact that one needs to pay a certified teacher for something as basic of a human right as meditation.

Former advocates have also accused the organization of making false claims and misleading practitioners.

Whether or not you give Transcendental Meditation a try is up to you. Regardless of what kind of meditation you decide to practice, one thing’s for sure: A good meditation session never hurt anyone.

85 comments

Lorrie O
Lorrie O4 months ago

An Athe-ist can pray to Athe-na for WisdOM.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Lenore Kudaka
Lenore K2 years ago

ty

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Karen C.
Karen C3 years ago

Meditation calms me down a lot when I'm angry or generally upset. However, I rarely meditate so I should do it more

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

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Jeffrey Stanley
Jeff S3 years ago

TYFS

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Louise A.
Louise A.3 years ago

Informative and thorough - thank you. Personally after exploring various meditation techniques I found my way to TM - that was over 10 years ago and I still practice every day, twice a day. It still is hands down the best tool in my tool bag to help calm my mind and manage my stress levels.

At the time I learned I paid a lot of money - it was $2500 - I saved up for it and had had absolutely no regrets about that money spent. I will have this to use for the rest of my life - seems a very small price to pay.

The cost to learn is less expensive, there are scholarships available too.

For me, my peace of mind was worth it...and still is.

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Sal P.
Sal P3 years ago

A good meditation session never hurt anyone. Very true. “Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting, like other forms of meditation,” “Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking". I can't think of a meditation without breathing or chanting! Can anyone easily achieve the state of a restful mind without thinking???? That would be great.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/whats-the-deal-with-transcendental-meditation.html#ixzz42yqapxOc

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Neville B.
Neville B3 years ago

Dear Barbara S., thanks for your post : )

Sadly, being a church-goer is not proof of being a Christian, as is clear from so many hypocritical right-wingers (as opposed to openly atheist left-wingers). There's line in the Bible that says, depending on the translation: "Be still, and know that I am God". There's no worship of other gods in these practices, and, if these people believe the Devil 'gets in' to people in a childlike state, well, I've not noticed that a calm, open mind is less of a barrier to him than a very large bank account. Also, prayer, and praise, can be meditative, and what do these naysayers think teachers and prophets did when they went 'walkabout' in the desert?

I don't have a problem with people charging for costs and a little profit for their time, and the prices in some places are surely a rip-off. Also, in the past, some fake TM schools claimed they could teach you to 'fly'/hover, which was just a scam using photos of people jumping up from a one-legged stance into a mid-air lotus. Still, one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole bunch.

Dear Nicola F. - have you been trying too hard? : )

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