Transcendental meditation (TM) is one form of meditation that was popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the mid 1950’s, starting a movement in awareness of the technique. This form of meditation works with a Mantra given to you by a TM teacher. Whilst it is necessary to be given this mantra by a certified TM teacher by the TM Movements’s book, I personally feel that any positive sound or word can be used. Meditation itself after all is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years. But awareness was brought to TM specifically in the West as many people found the practice beneficial to managing stress.
The TM technique differs from other forms of meditation because it is not encouraged to try to empty the mind or silence your thoughts or draw your attention to your breath. Teachers of TM believe those techniques are counter productive. “The effort (even if small) required by such techniques impedes transcending. In other words, it prevents you from naturally experiencing the state of deep inner peacefulness.”
How to Practice Transcendental Meditation
TM technique is easy and feels natural to practice. Anyone can learn this technique and enjoy its benefits. It is however called a practice because it does require just that. Be patient with yourself in the early weeks of application. Like any routine, it takes adjustment and attention. Meditation is meant to be practiced 2x a day for 20 minutes. It can be done anywhere you are — at home, in the office, waiting in the car, etc. It is done silently, with your eyes closed. The beautiful thing about TM is that it is not attached to religion and there is nothing you need to believe in. It is not a magic trick or some metaphysical hoop-la. It has actual measurable physiological effects on the body. It is a form of self development. Apart of the ongoing journey to tap into the best version of yourself possible.
Don’t get Stuck in the Do-Do Mentality
Most people operate in a state of being I like to call the do, do, do mentality. “I need to do this, I‘ve got to make sure to do that…” Always concerned about what we are supposed to do next, we do not have appreciation for the present moment. Are all of these to-do tasks who we are? Or are they simply just what we do? There has to be more meaning to our life, there has to be a way to tap into who we really are readily and not just what we are “supposed” to be do-ing.
Think of it like this… the ocean can be volatile and active at its surface but quiet and calm deeper down.Our minds are much like the ocean in this sense. Once we go below the noisy surface of lists, distractions and worries, there you will find a place of quiet, endless intuition and peace. Deeper down, there is a plane of mental existence that is already calm, houses clarity and creativity and is naturally at peace. It is always there, at every moment. And anyone has the capability to tap-in and chill-out.
The Physiological Effects of TM Mind and body are not separate. They communicate with and impact one another all day. So if you are chronically stressed or chronically thinking negative thoughts, it shows up in your body.
More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies were conducted at more than 200 research institutions, including Harvard Medical School and Stanford Medical School.
Research shows that during TM, your body achieves a state of relaxation and rest, which allows depression, tension, anxiety and disease causing stress to dissolve. This happens because cortisol levels can drop up to 30%, serotonin levels increase and prolactin (responsible for sense of well-being) increases. Regular meditation decreases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke, mental health disorders such as PTSD. Click here to see a comprehensive list of published research articles.
Transcendental Meditation’s Effects on the Brain
Stress can interfere with these two parts communicating. Do you make good decisions when you are stressed and drained? Research can now tell us why.
Stress causes the frontal part of our brain, the part of our brain that is responsible for our emotional stability, to disable itself. The frontal lobe also controls decision making, planning, problem solving and sense of self. Chronic stress can cause the amygdala, that part of the brain that governs fear and anger to get locked in “on” position and take over. TM deactivates this area and allows the front of the brain to awake. They call this “transcending”.
There are many different types of meditation and TM is just one of them. It is one of the easier techniques to master, although you do need to be consistent. The health benefits of meditating are well documented and can be experienced by anyone! I encourage you to give try it and see what sort of changes it can make in your life.