You might have heard the phrase before and thought it was some sort of weird hippy dippy cult thing, or maybe a spiritual journey that you’d have to undergo months in the Himalayan mountains to master. The truth is, Transcendental Meditation (or TM, for short) holds no ties to any group, spiritual belief system, or philosophy. It’s so simple that anyone can practice it pretty much anywhere. Follow along, and we’ll teach you how to learn Transcendental Meditation by yourself!
What Exactly is Transcendental Meditation?
Transcendental meditation is a silent form of meditation that ideally takes place for twenty minutes, twice a day. It involves the use of a mantra, but because of its muted nature it is not considered to be “mantra-based”. Meditation teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first implemented the TM technique in 1958. Influential figures such as The Beatles, Russel Brand and Oprah have touted the technique’s effectiveness over the years.
Seven Levels of Consciousness
The goal of transcendental meditation is to achieve such a sense of deep inner relaxation that you come to a state of total awareness. According to Maharishi, there are 7 Levels of Consciousness available to humans. Levels 1, 2, and 3 (which denote waking, deep sleep, and dreaming) are, according to Maharishi, available to “every adult human with a working nervous system”.
Transcendental consciousness is said to be achieved once you read level 4. This is, as mentioned above, a state in which you are completely and energetically attuned to the noise of the world around you. Simultaneously, you are maintaining a deep sense of stillness and calm within yourself.
Will Transcendental Meditation Help Me?
As with other forms of meditation, TM is purported to host an array of health benefits. Various forms of meditation have been around for thousands of years. However, science is only slowly catching up to the measurable benefits of regular practice.
Multiple studies have shown that mindfulness & transcendental meditation practices help to reduce stress. It helps lower blood pressure, battle emotional disorders and/or states such as depression or social anxiety. TM also works to enhance self-awareness, lengthen your attention span, improve the length quality of your sleep, and even assist in inherently controlling pain.
How is Transcendental Meditation Different than Other Meditation Techniques? The “Ocean” Analogy.
Bob Roth, from The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, has explained the difference between transcendental meditation and other mindfulness-based types of meditation with what has come to have been known as the Ocean Analogy.
He likens an overactive mind to being in a boat in the middle of the ocean, with tumultuous waves swelling around you. The ocean appears to be in upheaval, but in reality, it is only so on the surface. At its greatest depths it is naturally silent.
Unlike TM, most forms of meditation rely on quieting and controlling your thoughts. Those with particularly hyperactive minds may end up finding this frustrating.
Typical meditation helps you observe the waves from a place devoid of apprehension or worry. TM teaches you to maneuver the boat to get through the waves more efficiently.
Transcendental meditation is particularly well suited to such hyperactive folk. Completing a successional session takes less discipline compared to more common mindfulness techniques. TM has also been shown to achieve levels of relaxation deeper than your deepest level of sleep when practiced correctly.
Practicing Transcendental Meditation
First thing’s first – you have to decide on a mantra. Picking your mantra has two basic requirements.
First, there must be a meaningless sound. Do not make this mantra the point of focus for your meditation session. Instead, use the mantra to help you rest your attention on something that doesn’t promote conscious thought. Your mind will descend into lesser conscious levels of thinking, until eventually achieving inner silence.
Second, the vibration must have a resonance to it. Think of the well-known “Om” used by yogis for centuries. This is supposed to match the natural vibrational frequency of the mind. In turn, it will soothe and quieten it as it is attracted to your chosen mantra.
After you’ve chosen your mantra, set aside some time and find a seat to position yourself comfortably sitting upright. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax.
Now you may begin. If at any point you find your mind wandering during your session, gently steer your thoughts back toward your mantra. Continue to focus on your mantra for 20 minutes.
At the end of the 20 minutes, open your eyes and remain seated. Take a few more minutes to wiggle your toes and “wake up” so to speak. When you feel ready, you may continue on with your day. Done!
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The Bottom Line
Have you been skeptical in the past of whether meditation will benefit you in any way? Is getting coffee at the Starbucks outside of your local Ashram the closest you’ve gotten to a guru? It might be worth your salt to give TM a try.
The scientific benefits of Transcendental Meditation are numerous (and growing). Furthermore, the technique itself is so flexible that its positive effects are attainable by basically anyone.
So, sit down, be quiet, and go on to live a happier healthier life!
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