Transcendental meditation: what it is and why it’s worth practising

What do Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Paul McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow, dozens of Wall Street businessmen and David Lynch have in common? 

Apart from success, wealth and public attention, they all practice a particular kind of meditation as the foundation of their well-being and peace of mind. For them, Transcendental Meditation has become a pillar and inspiration for every day.

What is Transcendental Meditation

Everyone has heard of meditation. You may run through the ranks with light speed; you may limp from stress to stress. But one day, you begin to wonder, how to take the pressure off? Spa, sports, yoga, and meditation come to mind. 

The practices of mindful observation and mental cleansing are now available to everyone. 

They do not require adherence to religion. You can meditate anytime, anywhere. The main thing is to stop, be quiet and observe.

Mostly, that observation of thoughts becomes the main problem for people, so they don’t meditate. 

Most meditation practices suggest looking at the thought stream, like gliding through it. Then, after thousands of intense hours, you may get rid of thoughts—for a moment. You train your brain like a savage mustang, learning to control your thoughts.

However, not everyone is capable of quietly observing thoughts. It’s nearly impossible shutting them down and enjoying the “silence of the brain”. Futile attempts are annoying and discourage meditation.

Enter Transcendental Meditation (TM) into the picture

The creator of TM is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He brought his technique from India to the United States in 1959. The US bohemians immediately loved it, followed by the wider population. Today, the number of TM practitioners exceeds 6 million people. That compares with Bangkok population, or half of Los Angeles, 2 Buenos Aires or 3 Paris. Impressive?

The beauty of this meditation is that it does not require getting rid of thoughts. The mind needs to become aware of the surface and deep layers of thought. That’s how you eventually understand their source and draw inspiration and insights from it. 

The common meditation attempts to change the type and content of thoughts, reduce their number to quiet the mind. In contrast, transcendental meditation does not control the mind in any way and does not involve concentration. When you reach a deeper level of the mind, you realise calmness, tranquillity and alertness at the same time.

Does it work?

The medical community has been studying Transcendental Meditation for many years. 

Studies have found positive effects on people with PTSD and alcoholism, personalities prone to anxiety and overstimulation. TM can reduce stress and pain and improve intelligence, creativity and learning abilities.

The American Journal of Psychiatry published research showing that 40% of people who practised TM for 2 years quit drinking within the first 6 months of practice. Within three years of practice, 60% had already stopped drinking.

Experiments have also shown a deep relaxation of the body during meditation:

  • a decrease in breathing speed and volume;
  • a reduction in heart rate;
  • a general reduction in agitation to a level like we experience during sleep.

Transcendental meditation has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to achieve calm and clarity of mind. It develops self-actualisation, creative impulses and increases energy.

How to practice TM

The keys to Transcendental Meditation are the mantras. You select one or more mantras online for self-practice. Suppose you need mentoring from a guru and support from like-minded people. In that case, you can graduate from Transcendental Meditation courses for a certain fee. Also, you can take a course by David Lynch himself at LIFTA.SPACE (https://lifta.space/en).

Practice time is 2 times a day for 20 minutes. That’s all Transcendental Meditation requires of you. The technique is simple:

  1. Sit up straight, feet on the floor, hands on your knees. Don’t cross arms or legs. You can meditate at home, in the underground, in church, anywhere. You may use the classic Buddha posture, but it isn’t necessary. 
  2. Close your eyes and breathe deeply; the magic is all about inactivity and lack of effort.
  3. Repeat the mantra with the feeling that it is gradually melting away, leaving a state of inner stillness. If an extraneous thought arises, return to the mantra. Teachers can help you manage your internal sensations better.
  4. After 20 minutes, wiggle your fingers and toes and then return to your productive day.

Choose mantras for meditation with the help of a mentor. They say it’s easy to find your sound on YT or in published guides. But there are certain subtleties in choosing the most comfortable sound for each individual.

The mantra and its euphony doesn’t matter much. You benefit from the daily habit of releasing stress by repeating the combination of syllables.

Transcendental meditation is a practice that involves no change in lifestyle or beliefs. You can be a Christian, eat bacon or vegan, like boxing or drawing. The procedure is effective in any case.

So, practise TM or not?

Any meditation works differently for different people. No one can say whether TM is better or worse than other practices. Scientific studies point to the positive effects of the technique. But is transcendental meditation a panacea? Criticism exists, as with any other spiritual practice, as with any phenomenon in general.

So how do you decide if it’s worth practising or not? You can try Transcendental Meditation to discover something new. It may broaden your horizons, so you form your opinion about its usefulness or uselessness.

Listen to yourself, your feelings after 30 days of continuous practice. Do you see the benefits and feel better? Then Transcendental meditation is your choice. Don’t notice any change? Consult a spiritual teacher and try new practices.

Discover yourself through meditation and start a new round of your self-development!