There are many different meditation techniques and practices from around the world and many of these are available to anyone. But something that is a lot more secretive and not as widely understood is transcendental meditation.
But what is the big secret around this type of meditation practice and is this something that is a member-only privilege or can we all try out this form of mantra meditation?
In this article, we are going to be delving into the world of this meditation technique and discovering why the people that practice transcendental meditation, TM are so keen to keep their mantras to themselves.
What Is Transcendental Meditation?
Transcendental meditation is a silent meditation technique that incorporates the use of mantras and many people take an interest in this meditation practice. This tradition is widely recognised by the transcendental movement organization, members of which state that this is not a religious practice, despite the original teachings coming from religious and spiritual terms.
The transcendental meditation, TM was created by Maharishi Mahesh yogi way back in the 1950s and so began the TM movement across India and soon, throughout the world. The original program was soon followed by the TM sidhi, created by the same person in 1975.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi spent many years teaching people the TM technique and in the 1960s and 1970s, this was one of the most popular forms of meditation at a time when spirituality and self discovery were rife.
But what exactly does it mean to ‘transcend?’ This certainly sounds like a wishy washy new-age idea that sees a person floating up out of their body or some other crazy idea. However, the concept of transcending is actually far more simple, and realistic than one might think.
To transcend merely means to move to another plane of thinking. The idea is that as you sit in a meditative state, repeating your mantra, the mind begins to calm and your thought is elevated to a new level. This is transcending. So it isn’t quite as out there as a lot of people would have you believe.
Rather than being in a typical state of consciousness, practitioners of TM go into a much deeper state of consciousness and according to those who do the meditations, this can lead to new ideas. Many have talked about how their creativity ignites and while this might not be a way to gain world peace, it is certainly a starting point for those who are looking to improve themselves and get in touch with a deeper part of their psyche.
The transcendental meditation is designed to be done for between 15 and 20 minutes twice a day and involves the use of silent mantras. However, this is not something that you can learn on your own and much like anything, requires a meditation teacher to guide you through the practice. Of course Maharishi is now deceased but there are many other teachers for students who want to learn all the things that surround this mysterious type of meditation.
Teachers tend to offer short courses which give students an insight into the tradition. Furthermore, there is the option to take part in group meditation which thousands of people get involved in.
TM Mantras; What Is The Meaning?
During any given one of these TM experiences, the meditator would focus on a mantra. These mantras are hugely personal and yet the most interesting thing about them is that to those who study the practice; they mean nothing.
It doesn’t appear to make much sense, that we can all agree on. According to one TM practitioner, there are two main factors around the mantra secret of TM.
Firstly, these mantras must move towards silence. The idea is that the vibration of them will slowly fade and ultimately, the mind will become quiet. You might explain this as a way of charming the mind into a relaxed state.
Second of all, the word or sound that you choose for your mantra cannot contain a lot of meaning for you as this will trick your mind into focusing on it too heavily. A significant part of TM is that your transcend and this cannot be achieved if the mind is too active.
Of course, when you begin to explore TM, your first thought will likely be about which mantra you will use but the great thing is that during your study, you do not have to worry about this. The reason is that those who follow this discipline are given a mantra by their guru. Your guru will have been given various mantras over the course of his or her life and will then use these to pass on to others.
Each of us is different and the mantra that is given to you will be unique for your situation and entirely appropriate for you.
You might wonder how you can access an organization that teaches transcendental meditation and there are many around the world. Take, for example, the David Lynch Foundation run by David Lynch who has been practicing TM everyday for more than 40 years. He now passes this knowledge on to anyone who wants to learn. He has also written a book on the practices and this book is available on his website.
Another place that a lot of people flock to in their thousands for TM is Fairfield, Iowa. While this might not seem like the most obvious place for a meditation hub, the area experienced a huge movement and as such, is now one of the most popular places for those looking to learn TM.
What Are The Benefits Of TM?
There are many benefits associated with various sorts of meditation and a lot of these are related to both your physical and mental health. One of the main aims of any sort of meditation is better health, a quiet mind and a sense of relaxation. But is transcendental meditation any different?
Those who are involved in TM would easily be able to relay the various advantages but those on the outside often struggle to see how this can be such a beneficial activity.
But the concept is rather simple. TM has been shown to alter the blood flow to certain parts of the brain. There was a study to back up this blood flow change and this goes to show why practitioners might feel so relaxed yet alert when they are deep in the TM state.
Many have tried to access such a profound relaxation state and failed but through the art of transcendental meditation, it is becoming more and more clear that this is the main reason that the method is so successful.
How Is Transcendental Meditation Different From Mindfulness?
A common question that gets raised by those who are new to TM is how it differs from other types of meditation. Most often, we hear about the contrasts between TM and mindfulness meditation.
Quite simple, mindfulness requires the person to remain aware of their feelings, observe their thoughts and remain in the present moment. Conversely, transcendental meditation requires the person to transcend their thought process to a heightened level through the use of a mantra. This, in turn, promotes a deep state of relaxation and is considered a much more passive process.
Celebrities That Do Transcendental Meditation
In modern times, we often see celebrities jumping on the bandwagon of the latest spiritual craze and this is often nothing more than a publicity gimmick. But where TM is concerned, it would appear that celebs are getting involved in this kind of meditation because they have a genuine affinity with the meditation.
A very notable person who has taken TM and included it his life is Russell Brand. The eccentric actor and comedian has talked openly in a recent video interview about how TM has changed his life.
Ray Dalio is an extremely successful businessman who has claimed that TM enabled him to overcome financial ruin and build his empire to dizzying heights. This is likely in relation to the fact the TM is thought to bring on new levels of confidence and in one article in the Huffington Post, there are claims that suggest that TM allows a person to take risks.
But these people are not the only ones to have noted the many benefits associated with TM, more than 40 years before modern celebrities recognised the power of TM, one of the most famous music groups in the world fell in love with the meditation.
What Do The Beatles Have To Do With TM?
Years ago when TM first became popular, the super-group, The Beatles were at the peak of their fame. If you know anything about them, you will know that The Beatles went through a very significant spiritual journey and this is reflected in much of their music.
They were fortunate enough to have learned transcendental meditation, TM, from the master himself in 1967 along with others including Mia Farrow and Mike Love; and while many people have written and speculated about The Beatles and TM, there are really only two true facts.
The first thing that any member of the group will tell you is that TM had a very significant impact on all of them. As we mentioned, their spirituality was often represented in their music and TM was the inspiration behind some of their most famous songs.
Secondly, the members of The Beatles were once talking about their mantras and one of them asked one of the others to share his mantra. His response was that he would only share it if the other did so first. No one was willing to go first and so ultimately, neither of them revealed his mantra.
This demonstrates perfectly how seriously a practitioner of TM takes his mantra and that no one but you should know what it is. In short, it is for your mind only.
Why Are Transcendental Meditation, TM, Mantras So Secretive?
Many people who are new to these types of meditation want a quick answer to the question of why is transcendental meditation so secretive but in reality, this is not anything that one can understand unless they become a member of the organization and begin their TM journey.
Followers of TM will likely explain to you that if you are willing to go through the intensity of learning TM then you would not want to share your mantra with anyone else. This doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense at first but as students progress through their experiences, they gain a greater understanding of why it is important to act this way.
Furthermore, those who are learning TM and who are avid followers of the practice, want to respect the tradition and this is not a thing that can be done when you go sharing it with others. There is a certain sacredness to it that should remain personal to the practitioner and their journey.
In recent times, we have heard more and more about the advantages and benefits of various methods of meditating. One of the biggest focuses is on things like mindfulness and these practices are pretty much available to anyone who wants to get involved with them.
However, there are other forms of meditating that are not so readily available and in order to start practicing, someone must find a teacher and learn the intricacies of such a method. A great example of this is transcendental meditation which has been practiced since the 1960s and has drawn in some very notable names including the world-renowned rock and roll group, The Beatles as well as some of the most notable actors and business people on the planet.
The idea of transcendental meditation or TM, for short, is that the practitioner silently recites a mantra which is given to them personally by their teacher. As they recite this in a relaxed state, the mind begins to calm and the practitioner will them ‘transcend’ to a higher level of consciousness. While this might sound a little out there; there have been studies to prove that this manner of meditating does have a physical effect on the brain and its blood flow.
However, there is an air of mystery surrounding this form of meditating and those on the outside often ask why it is shrouded in secrecy. In truth, this isn’t because it is some sort of secret society that only members can gain access to. But rather, TM uses mantras that are personal to each practitioner and with great respect for TM and an understanding of the personal journey you would go through, once you receive your mantra, you want to keep it unique to you.