Meditation is hardly a divisive topic. Most people believe in its benefits for the body and mind, even if they don’t practice it themselves. Transcendental Meditation, however, is a little more controversial.
At first glance, it sounds like a wonderful way to get into a regular meditation practice. Its benefits for health are solidly backed up by a wide range of studies and papers, and it’s been lauded by many stars and celebrities. If you’re considering Transcendental Meditation, it’d be beneficial to know a little bit about its history and why it has such a hit-or-miss reputation.
Where did Transcendental Meditation Originate?
Transcendental Meditation, often simply referred to as TM, was introduced to the U.S. by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s. A controversial figure, Maharishi Mahesh Yoga is said to have derived the technique from ancient Vedic practices.
TM became popularized when The Beatles began singing its praises, even going so far as to travel to India to study the practice. They eventually withdrew their support for the practice, however.
How is it Different from Other Kinds of Meditation?
An average TM session consists of focusing on and repeating a mantra silently in one’s head, the idea being that the practitioner will eventually reach a state of transcendental consciousness. This might not sound very different from any other kind of meditation, but true TM requires working with a certified instructor.
The instructor takes the practitioner through a series of sessions, all focusing on self-correction, according to TM.org. It is through these meetings that the teacher develops a mantra that he or she assigns to the participant.
TM is meant to be practiced twice daily for 20 minutes per session. Over time, the practitioner learns to transcend his or her consciousness, reaching a state of calm relaxation.
Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
TM has a number of proven benefits. Like most forms of meditation, it may calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety levels, lower blood pressure and alleviate pain. However, some studies have found it to be more effective than other methods. This could be because of the regimented structure in which practitioners must participate.
“Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting, like other forms of meditation,” the Cleveland Clinic reported, according to TM.org. “Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking … A 2009 study found Transcendental Meditation helped alleviate stress in college students, while another found it helped reduce blood pressure, anxiety, depression and anger.”
Whether or not you give Transcendental Meditation a try is up to you. Regardless of what kind of meditation you decide to practice, one thing’s for sure: A good meditation session never hurt anyone.