What Is Transcendental Meditation? / The History of Transcendental Meditation / Should You Consider Transcendental Meditation? / Major Benefits of Transcendental Meditation / Stress Relief /Improved Academic Performance / Helps with Quitting Smoking/Alcohol / Lower Blood Pressure / Reduces Risk of Heart Disease / How to Practice Transcendental Meditation / Advanced Tips, Tactics and Tools For Better Meditation / Making Transcendental Meditation a Part of Your Life
"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day; unless you're too busy... then you should sit for an hour." - Old Zen saying
We live in a world that is hectic, chaotic and stressful. People are constantly harried and hassled. Career struggles, family commitments, health issues and many other pressing issues are always fighting a battle in our heads.
Millions of people around the world have frazzled nerves and are just tired of the stresses of day to day life. The dreams that they had when they were young have become smeared with the grime of day to day living and struggling to make ends meet.
The daily grind… the slogging to pay the bills… it’s a vicious cycle that has sapped their energy and soul.
Is there ever going to be relief? Is there a way out from this madness? Can one only be happy by sitting on the sun-kissed beaches of a tropical island? Is there ever going to be peace of mind?
There is one answer for all these problems. It’s called meditation. Mention this to most people and they’ll roll their eyes and say, “I’ve got no time for this mumbo jumbo nonsense.” It’s people like these who need meditation the most.
For centuries, our ancestors have meditated to be an oasis of calm in a world that is chaotic. There are immense benefits to meditation.
People mistakenly believe that they need to sit under a tree or on the top of an icy mountain with their eyes closed for them to meditate. The truth is that you can meditate anywhere as long as there is silence within you. There is no need to meditate for hours either. Even 10 minutes to 30 minutes is highly beneficial.
There are many types of meditation such as Buddhist meditation, Vipassana meditation, Metta meditation, Mindfulness meditation, etc. In this guide, we’ll be looking at one of the most powerful methods of meditation. In fact, it is often shrouded in mystery and misconception.
This meditation is known as Transcendental meditation (TM).
Even celebrities such as Russell Brand, Katie Perry, Cheryl Crow, Sir Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Ellen DeGeneres, Cameron Diaz, Clint Eastwood, Hugh Jackman, Jerry Seinfeld have mentioned that they practice transcendental meditation. Famous business figures such as Russell Simmons, Jeff Weiner, Adrianna Huffington and Edward Saatchi practice it too.
Are you curious to know what it is? You are? Excellent.
What Is Transcendental Meditation?
"Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt." - St. Francis de Sales
Transcendental Meditation just like most types of meditation is meant to help your mind calm down and settle. Most people have a mind that is constantly racing with thoughts and emotions. TM is about reaching a level of peace and silence effortlessly.
Stress is a major cause of many illnesses in the mind and body. Health problems such as weight gain, cancer, inflammation, neuroses and many more have been directly or indirectly linked to stress. Transcendental meditation arrests the problem at its roots.
It calms you down and shuts down the stress. While it is not a panacea to all ills, transcendental meditation helps to prevent many problems from taking root. Like they say, prevention is better than cure.
Generally, transcendental meditation is done twice a day. If time does not permit, you could start off doing it just once a day. People who start off with meditation are often apprehensive in the beginning because they feel that they could be putting their time to better use.
Yet, after a few sessions of TM, they notice that they are able to clear their mind and calm down. The worries, aggravation and agitation that were pulling them into a downward spiral seem to just melt away and are replaced by a sense of inner peace.
Once this happens, they are much more willing to put aside time for meditation. The more you meditate, the more you will look forward to it. It’s perfectly fine to just start off with one session a day.
You could learn transcendental meditation from a book or video. However, if you can learn it from a teacher one-on-one, that would be ideal. You will learn it in a proper setting and how to do it correctly. Anything worth doing is worth doing properly.
The general idea will be to practice transcendental meditation for 20 minutes at a go with your eyes closed.
It’s a simple, natural technique practiced for 20 minutes twice a day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. There is no force of thought or control required with TM. It doesn’t involve concentration, contemplation or self-reflection.
It transcends all that. Pun fully intended.
The ease and simplicity of transcendental meditation makes it easy for most people including children and even soldiers who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to practise. It is so potent that it can calm down even those who are highly stressed out.
The transcendental meditation technique is easy to learn and as you keep doing it, it will become even easier.
The History of Transcendental Meditation
"Meditation can reintroduce you to the part that's been missing." - Russell Simmons
Transcendental meditation has a long and rich history that spans several decades. In the interest of keeping this guide focused and from becoming a tome, we’ll look at the main highlights. If you wish to know more about transcendental meditation, you could do more research at your local library or online.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) began with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi around 1955. Despite the fact that he has passed on, his meditation technique is still going strong. The Maharishi learned this art from his master, Brahmananda Saraswati. It was initially referred to as Transcendental Deep Meditation. After some time it was called Transcendental Meditation.
The popularity of transcendental meditation spread through the efforts of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He started travelling all over the world promoting, teaching and spreading awareness of transcendental meditation.
In 1959, he introduced transcendental meditation to the Western nations such as Los Angeles, Hawaii, London, Germany and San Francisco.
The Maharishi then set up a school to train TM teachers. Over time, as the popularity of transcendental meditation spread, more and more people started joining the school to become qualified TM teachers.
In 1970, when Maharishi conducted a course in Maine, he had about 1,200 people attend his course. Over time, this number kept increasing. Today, we have thousands of trained TM teachers all over the world.
It is highly recommended that you learn transcendental meditation from a good teacher. It will help you to master the basics and the process will be much smoother and faster.
Should You Consider Transcendental Meditation?
"Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak." - Ma. Jaya Sati Bhagavati
You most definitely should consider making transcendental meditation a part of your daily life.
We often hear so much emphasis on eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise. So much emphasis is placed on the body. They usually say, “Healthy body equals healthy mind”.
Is this true? Only to a certain extent.
There are many people with healthy bodies but their minds are a mess. If you’re in doubt about this, you could always visit a prison close to you. The inmates are often strong and ripped but they’re often angry, sad, depressed or even psychotic.
To have a healthy mind, you must meditate. You must take time to step back and give your mind a rest from the constant turmoil in life.
Exercise is beneficial to the body and it only helps the mind for a short while. You take your mind off your worries when you’re exercising, but when you stop, all the stress and unhappiness returns. In some cases, if you do mild exercise such as walking or stationary bike, you may actually find yourself thinking about your problems or worries during the training session.
You’ve not trained your mind to relax. Only meditation can achieve this. When your mind is at ease, your soul is at ease too. You develop a sense of inner strength where you know that you can handle whatever life throws at you.
Once the worries and inner voices in your head and heart are shut out, everything becomes much clearer. You’re able to think more effectively. Things that were taking up all your mental energy suddenly cease to be so draining.
This is the power of transcendental meditation.
Everybody will face stress or problems of some kind or another. Children face stress in school, adults face stress at work, and mothers get stressed over family commitments and seniors are stressed over health issues or loneliness. There is no end to stress. You can’t run away from it.
It will find you wherever you go. The only way to deal with stress is to learn how to manage it and let it go. While there are many stress management methods such as prioritising tasks, sleep, etc. none come close to being as effective as transcendental meditation.
Transcendental meditation treats the cause and not the symptoms. The cause is stress and your way of thinking.
You need meditation… and you probably need it now.
There is nothing to lose and everything to gain from learning and practicing transcendental meditation. Once you learn it, this will be a skill that you carry with you for the rest of your life. It will be something that you can do at any age. Unlike Cross-fit… which will probably make you collapse when you’re 70, meditation will lift you up and make you feel alive.
It will help you immensely as you age. Seniors often cite loneliness, regrets, the sadness of missing a spouse, etc. as problems in old age. To make matters worse, ailing health takes a toll too.
To most people, old age may seem almost like a fairy tale with old ladies watering gardens and old men reading the newspapers while they rock back and forth on a rocking chair. Reality, however, is a tad bit starker.
Studies have shown that many seniors often die 6 years after they retire. The reason for this is that they feel hopeless and life seems to have lost its purpose.
Transcendental meditation will calm them down and put the soul at ease. It is highly beneficial to seniors and will give them the strength and will to live their golden years with vigour and vibrancy.
Major Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
"Meditation is listening to the divine within," - Edgar Cayce
The benefits of transcendental meditation are similar to the benefits of most types of meditation. In this chapter we’ll look at the benefits of transcendental meditation. If these don’t convince you to start with TM, nothing will.
This is the major benefit of transcendental meditation. There are numerous benefits such as hormonal balance, clarity in thinking and an optimally functioning nervous system.
People who are constantly stressed are often nervous, frazzled, etc. There’s a reason they say, “Don’t get on my nerves.” With transcendental meditation, the behavior of others will not affect your inner peace.
Improved Academic Performance
Students and children who practice TM will find it easier to concentrate and stay focused. Many young people are easily distracted since we live in an age with smart phones, instant notifications, social media, etc. Attention spans are fleeting and there is a constant need to be entertained.
Transcendental meditation will reduce the stresses from school, anxiety, peer pressure, etc. When concentration improves, the students will learn better and their intellectual and cognitive abilities will improve.
Helps with Quitting Smoking/Alcohol
Studies have shown that people who practice transcendental meditation will find it much easier to quit smoking or give up alcohol. The main reason that people struggle to give up these addictions is because of the cravings within the body.
Transcendental meditation will diminish these cravings. It will not make the cravings totally disappear but it will mitigate them to the point where compliance is much easier.
TM will reduce the stress associated with quitting a negative habit. Transcendental meditation has increased the quitting rates of addicts tremendously. Alcoholics who started meditating found that they had a marked increase in their ability to abstain from alcohol.
Lower Blood Pressure
Blood pressure levels have always been linked to stress levels. People with high stress levels usually have high blood pressure or blood pressure related issues. TM reduces stress and as a result improves blood pressure. Isn’t it amazing how powerful TM is?
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Just when you though it couldn’t get better, it does. Transcendental meditation has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease. This ties in closely with the earlier benefit of good blood pressure.
There are many other benefits of transcendental meditation such as better quality sleep, higher levels of happiness, improved relationships and peace of mind. These are priceless and you can’t buy any of them.
Yet, there is one more very powerful benefit of Transcendental meditation that is often not mentioned. This benefit is crucial to finding peace and happiness in life. Transcendental meditation elevates your thoughts. Your being is on a whole different level of vibration.
We live in a material world obsessed with possessions and greed. People are in a rat race without realizing that even if they win, they’re still a rat. Transcendental meditation will help you stay grounded and not lose sight of what truly matters.
India’s most popular movie star, Rajinikanth, once said,
“Whether you have a Maruti or a BMW, the road remains the same. Whether you travel economy class or business, your destination does not change. Whether you have a Titan or a Rolex, the time is the same. Whether you have Apple or Samsung, the people who call you remain the same. There is nothing wrong in dreaming a luxurious life. What needs to be taken care of is to not let the need become greed. Because needs can always be met... but greed can never be fulfilled.”
Rajinikanth goes to the Himalayas to meditate often. He walks the talk.
Transcendental meditation… It could be the missing piece in your life’s jigsaw puzzle. Use it to complete your life.
How to Practice Transcendental Meditation
This chapter will show you how you can practice transcendental meditation. It is by no means a comprehensive guide but serves as a primer.
This is a starting point.
There is no substitute for being guided by a trained TM teacher. You can find a TM teacher by looking online. You will be required to pay a fee to learn how to meditate correctly. Treat this as a one-time investment because once you have learned it, you will not need to pay for it again. It’s an investment because you will be reaping rewards for the rest of your life.
Initially when you’re first starting out, you will need a quiet environment. It could be in the comfort of your own home or if your office is quiet, that will do too. As you get more proficient at meditating, you will be able to do it anywhere despite the noise and distractions. However, when you’re first starting out, silence is essential.
Assume a comfortable sitting posture. You could sit on a chair, bed or floor. The key point to note is that transcendental posture is ALWAYS practiced in a seated position. You do not do transcendental meditation while lying down. The goal is to meditate and not to drift off to slumber land.
With most types of meditation, there is a need to concentrate. This usually stresses people out further because they often find their mind drifting off or a million different thoughts enter their head while they’re trying to meditate. This is perfectly normal. Even experts face this problem. It takes a lot of practice to silence the mind.
With the TM technique, there is no need to concentrate or focus. Transcendental meditation is supposed to be natural and effortless.
Once you’re in the seated position, you could place your hands on your lap or by your side. Next, you will chant a rudimentary sound that doesn’t have any meaning. You do not want the sound you make to conjure any thoughts or images.
The sound you make could be an “aaaaahhh” or “ummmmmm”. It doesn’t matter what the sound is as long as it’s comfortable for you. This is your mantra or chant.
Imagine all your thoughts rotating around this chant. The chant is like a cone spiraling downwards. Initially you may have thoughts popping up. Do not force them to disappear. There should not be effort here. Stay focused on the chant as it leads you down the zone where there is little thought.
If your mind starts drifting, gently guide it back towards the mantra. After some time, your thoughts will slow down gradually and diminish. It will happen on its own accord without forcing.
As you approach the “zone” where there is not much thought, you will notice that the tension in your body starts dissipating. Your heart rate will slow down and you might experience a tingling sensation in your hands and feet. It’s all perfectly normal.
Now that you’re in the zone, you should try and remain in this zone for about 20 minutes. Any thoughts that form will usually dissolve into nothing. You are at rest and you’re doing it right. In the event that thoughts do return and start running amok, refocus on the mantra and return to the zone.
That pretty much sums it up. Aim to do this twice daily.
Advanced Tips, Tactics and Tools For Better Meditation
Unlike other types of meditation, you do not need special equipment such as subliminal audios, aromatherapy, etc. Transcendental meditation requires none of these. However, it doesn’t hurt to try a few tactics and tools out if it makes you feel better.
There is no forcing in transcendental meditation. The process is supposed to be effortless.
There is No Right or Wrong
Forget about your need to do it right. The obsession with performing well and attaining results is best left with your job. With meditation, all you need to do is relax and drift down into the zone. If it doesn’t work in the beginning, don’t fret. You’ll get it with time.
Darken Your Surroundings
Some people can do transcendental meditation in a bright room. However, many people find it easier to meditate in a dark room.
You could use scented oils and candles if it makes you feel more relaxed. Ideally, the scent shouldn’t be the kind that draws thoughts to your mind. A generally pleasant smell might help you reach the no-though zone faster.
Stretch Before Meditating
Some people have bodies that are tense and tired. If it helps, do some stretching exercises so that you feel relaxed and limber.
Leave Your Hands Where They Are Comfortable
Don’t place too much focus on the hands. Some people prefer them on the laps. Others prefer to leave the hands at their side. Do what feels comfortable to you. There is no right or wrong. So, as long as your hands are in a comfortable position, don’t focus on them.
Use a Yoga Mat
Many people prefer sitting cross legged on the floor. Sometimes it may be painful to sit on a hard floor. You can always use a yoga mat for some cushioning.
Do Not Eat Before Meditating
Digestion uses up energy and often leaves a person feeling sleepy. This is why people often feel sleepy after lunch. The body is using up energy to digest the meal. Have a light meal an hour or two before you meditate. In this way, you will be awake and not hungry during your meditation.
Find a Qualified Instructor
As mentioned earlier, your learning curve will greatly improve with the help of a trained TM teacher. Get one if you can.
Make It A Habit
Initially when you’re starting out, you may not be in the habit of meditating. It will be tempting to skip a day or do. Do not do this. Aim to meditate daily for a month and you will see and feel the difference. It takes time to cultivate a habit. Forget the 21 day myth about being able to form a habit within 3 weeks. It takes much longer.
Practice meditating once or twice a day every single day till you reach the point where you feel like you must do it or your day will not be right. That’s when you have the habit and this is a great one to have.
Making Transcendental Meditation a Part of Your Life
By now you should realise how beneficial transcendental meditation is for your mental, physical and spiritual health. It is easy to do, doesn’t cost a cent and is full of benefits.
Once you have the habit of meditating daily, you will most probably never give it up. You should then introduce your family and friends to transcendental meditation. It is normal to be met with skepticism and jokes.
Your meditation will let you take that in stride. Encourage them to try it out and see for themselves. Spread the word. Teach your spouse or children or partner how to meditate. Let them do it and experience the beauty of transcendental meditation.
You might want to give other types of meditation a try just to see if you like them. In most cases, you will return to TM, but if you’re curious, keep an open mind and try the rest.
All that matters is that you feel relaxed and refreshed. Your mind should be at ease. You should feel a sense of calm that you didn’t feel before you meditated.
Any time you feel stressed over something, take a step back and take a few minutes to meditate over the issue. It will help you gain perspective.
Have a big decision to make? Meditate first.
Awaiting a result that you’re worried about? Meditate first.
Everything is going perfect and you couldn’t be happier? Meditate first.
Transcendental meditation will help you look at the world through calm, peaceful eyes. Keep calm and meditate.