Transcendental Meditation

Last Updated: October 12, 2023

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Transcendental mediation is a widely popular meditation practice within the health and wellness circles. Being so effortless and easy to practice and with such outstanding results, it is no wonder that it´s grown so popular. 

What is transcendental meditation?

Transcendental mediation, also known as the TM technique, is a silent mantra meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded the method in India in the 1950s and brought it to North America in the 1960s.

The word transcendental means something relating to a spiritual realm, or a space inhibited by various spiritual manifestations. It gets its name because, during the meditation session, the normal thinking process is transcended into a state of pure consciousness. This advanced state is called yogic flying, and those who make it to this state are yogic flyers.

TM practitioners advocate that the practice stimulates a state of consciousness to reduce stress and promote relaxed awareness. While in this state of deep inner peace, people achieve stability, order, and an absence of mental boundaries.

How transcendental meditation is different

The main difference between the transcendental meditation technique and other forms of meditation is that practitioners silently repeat and focus on a personal mantra during the session.

The mantra is a vehicle that settles the mind and guides the self into a profoundly tranquil state. By focusing on this mantra, the TM technique requires minimal effort for the brain compared to other meditation practices.

Transcendental meditation practice requires personalized interactive guidance while other forms of meditation do not, meaning that one cannot learn it independently. TM practitioners must learn the technique through a seven-step course with a certified TM teacher.

How transcendental meditation works

woman experiencing how transcendental meditation works

TM is all about letting go of stress. During the meditation practice, the practitioner begins sitting quietly in a comfortable position with their eyes closed. One will repeat a mantra silently while sitting in a state of perfect stillness. The mantra may be a single word or phrase that is a vehicle in settling down the mind. It is a meaningless sound that the certified TM teacher privately assigns to each student individually.

If executed well, one will reach a state of expansive silence where the body will fill with a warm and pleasant feeling known as pure consciousness. This is known as yogic flying. TM should require little effort, as one simply breathes naturally and concentrates on their mantra.

Learning transcendental meditation

Practitioners learn transcendental meditation differently than other meditation techniques, with a seven-step course from a certified TM teacher. The TM teacher will use the first session as a one-hour introductory, covering a general overview of the TM technique.

The following lecture will be only 45 minutes long. Here, the TM teacher will provide more specific information, and those interested in learning will go to a 10- to 15-minute interview followed by one to two hours of personal instruction.

Once the introductions are complete, a ceremony will take place where the practitioner receives a confidential mantra. During the four following sessions, the students will learn how to use their mantras effectively.

After learning how to use the mantra effectively, there will be three days of checking for correctness, including one or two more hours of instruction. During these sessions, the certified TM teachers will explain the practice in detail, provide corrective feedback, and cover the benefits of regular TM practice.

The certified teacher will continue to meet with the practitioners over the next several months to improve their technique. People will ideally continue to practice TM twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes - once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Benefits of transcendental meditation

benefits of transcendental meditationMany high-quality sources have completed extensive research on TM. The meditative practice supports our mental health and brings inner peace into our everyday life.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Minimizes trait anxiety
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves cardiovascular health

Many published research studies have found TM to support cardiovascular health, brain function, and stress-related conditions. Several peer-reviewed studies from the American Heart Association and other institutions have outlined that it also lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

Most of society has an overactive fight or flight response, leaving people in a constant state of stress and anxiety. Spending time practicing the TM technique teaches people to dim those responses.

Overall, it improves well-being to increase people’s quality of life.

Frequently asked questions

man asking the right questions about transcendental meditation

How are transcendental meditation mantras chosen?

While in a transcendental meditation program, the certified teachers will choose from thousands of potential mantras. Some instructors say they select their student's mantras based on their interviews, while others state they are assigned based on their gender and age.

Where can i learn transcendental meditation?

The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in the U.S. by Maharishi Foundation USA, a federally recognized non-profit educational organization.

There is also a TM Program called “Quiet Time” used in schools, that provides students with two fifteen-minute TM sessions daily to help balance their lives and promote inner peace.

Can transcendental meditation help with weight loss?

Although this is not guaranteed, TM can help with weight loss. It decreases stress and anxiety, which will limit temptations to stress eat and mitigate food cravings. In addition, with regular TM practice, your body will produce less cortisol - a hormone that makes losing weight difficult.

Can transcendental meditation be done lying down?

Yes, one can practice transcendental meditation lying down. Sitting sometimes places stress on the body, including the back and knees, if you haven’t tried meditation before. Further, some like to relax deeper by lying down while meditating.

Can transcendental meditation help with depression?

Scientific research shows that the TM technique can help treat depression. A clinical practice published in The Permanente Journal (2014) concludes that a TM program reduces psychological distress in teachers.

Furthermore, another study from the same journal (2016) found reductions in trauma, anxiety, and depression symptoms in prison inmates who practiced TM.

Can transcendental meditation be harmful?

Some reports outline that it can worsen symptoms of some psychiatric conditions. If you are concerned about your mental health, consult with a doctor before starting TM, and make sure you let your TM teacher know about your condition.

Can transcendental meditation be self-taught?

No, TM cannot be self-taught. One can only learn the TM technique from a certified TM teacher.

Please note that this article is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor.

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Elder C, Nidich S, Moriarty F, Nidich R. Effect of transcendental meditation on employee stress, depression, and burnout: a randomized controlled study. Perm J. 2014;18(1):19-23. doi:10.7812/TPP/13-102

Freeman, Lyn (2009). Mosby's Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach. Mosby Elsevier. p. 176. ISBN 9780323053464

How transcendental meditation alters the brain

Johnson DW, Barnes VA. Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med . 2014;20(5):330-341. doi:10.1089/acm.2013.0204

Ooi SL, Giovino M, Pak SC. Transcendental meditation for lowering blood pressure: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Complement Ther Med . 2017;34:26-34. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2017.07.008

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