Transcendental Meditation (TM) as was propagated and spread by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 1950’s has its origins in the Vedas, a set of ancient Indian religious scriptures regarded as sacred in Hinduism, texts which contains hymns, philosophy and techniques developed by the sages, known as rishis and yogis, of ancient India, thousands of years ago.
One well known form of meditation technique derived from the Vedas is the mantra. Mantras are sounds or words which practitioners repeat either out loud vocally or in the privacy of their mind. This is done until they elevate their consciousness beyond the limited realm of personal thoughts and feelings, transcending, in fact, the physical and mental realm. The aim of both mantras and TM is to dive inward, moving beyond the psychological and narrative aspect of the mind, until you’re able to reach a place of complete mental clarity, silence and inner peace.
The essential role of mantras in TM
Having said that, Transcendental Meditation cannot be practiced without a mantra. Though the founder Mahesh Yogi explicitly said that the mantras should not be spoken aloud, written down or assigned meaning, practitioners of TM sometimes do compromise.
In the Vedic tradition and to a certain degree in TM as well, mantras are considered sacred sounds and words that should ideally be taught by a teacher who knows and holds the meaning of their truth.
If you’re struggling with choosing the “right one”, mantras are readily found online, alternatively, we’ve have a list of our own hand-picked mantras for mental relief and for sleep that you can have a look at.
There is generally little to no harmful effects in practicing TM, the only negative we can think of is an unhealthy addiction to the practice itself, which ends up hindering you from reaching the intended goal. Having said that, when taught and guided by someone experienced, one who knows how to use a mantra properly, which pitfalls to avoid, how and when to practice, the effects will most likely be more effective. This is one of the main reasons why Transcendental Meditation is usually taught in a course, where the teacher picks the most suitable mantra tailored for the specific needs of the practitioner.
Nonetheless, if you do not have the economic resources to invest in a Transcendental Meditation course, you do not need to worry: In fact, carefully and consciously creating or choosing your own mantra is our main recommendation as it is simple and free yet can be just as powerful and transformative! As long as the mantra speaks to your soul, enhances your well being, mostly by allowing you to relax, it can and will have great benefits for your mind and body.
How to practice TM
- Once you have chosen your mantra, whether one a teacher decided for you or one you chose yourself, sit down comfortably, preferably on a meditation cushion and with your legs crossed in a half-lotus position.
- If you need or feel like it, you can also lay your back. Remember that all you really have to do is be comfortable, so adjust your body in whatever way feels best and don’t feel like you have keep your posture super straight at all times in order for the mantra to be effective.
- Once you’ve established your position, close your eyes and start repeating, either out loud or, preferably, in the privacy of your own mind. Repeat the mantra for 15 to 20 minutes.
- If thoughts arise and you notice that you’re beginning to pay more and more attention to them, gently relocate your attention and get back to the mantra.
- The practice should be quite effortless. Don’t try to control the mind by concentrating too hard, don’t judge or label thoughts and don’t worry about emptying your mind.
- After 20 minutes or so, start moving your toes and your fingers, gently returning to your body.
- Then, open your eyes and take your time to feel all the effects of the session sinking in, and only get up when you feel ready to go back to your day.
Experienced meditators of TM recommend using this technique twice a day for best results.
The benefits of TM
Transcendental Meditation can be quite beneficial for your mental and physical health. This simple technique is especially great for inducing well-deserved relaxations of the mind and to a certain degree the body, since it does not need anything external, and it can pretty much be practiced anytime, anywhere.
- From a physical point of view, Transcendental Meditation has shown to increase the oxygenation of the blood, which in turns can significantly reduce risks of heart attacks, lower blood pressure and prevent from hypertension.
- From an emotional perspective, it can help with the management of stress and of negative emotions, which can lead to more harmonious relationships with others and with oneself.
- There’s a growing body of research also pointing out to the amazing beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation on improved memory and clearer thinking, as the profound relaxation can fully restore the neural pathways of the brain.
TM is seen in many different ways, depending on who you talk to. For some it is a legitimate spiritual tool to attain wellbeing and mental health, while for others there’s nothing “transcendental” nor “meditative” to this technique. TM has also been labeled a cult by some individuals, groups and authorities while simultaneously been fervently endorsed by celebrities like The Beatles and David Lynch.
Whether Transcendental Meditation is the right spiritual practice and technique for you is entirely up to you. For us at TrueRelaxations, meditation is about “cultivating conscious awareness of the present moment, as it is“. This is why we recommend that you compare TM with other meditation techniques like for example ACEM, mindfulness and vipassana to name a few.
-  Benefits of meditation: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth
-  https://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2018/04/06/harvard-study-relax-genes
-  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-transcendental-meditation-alters-the-brain#Previous-proof
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4895748/