Let’s Take a Closer Look at what Transcendental Meditation Actually Is
Intrigued? Millions of people are, but maybe you’re not sure where to begin. You might already know how transcendental meditation (TM) reduces stress. Or possibly, you’ve heard how it makes Oprah feel 1000% better.
Transcendental meditation was brought to the United States by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, fondly known as the giggling guru. The western world quickly embraced this style of meditation (with a little help from the Beatles), and it’s most definitely here to stay.
Why is this form of meditation so enticing? The research-proven benefits are nothing short of incredible. The evidence shows that transcendental meditation reduces anxiety, hypertension, and significantly improves cardiovascular health. Other benefits include improved brain function, lower levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone”), and a spark in creativity. It’s no wonder so many people turn to it to seek relief from suffering and to improve their overall health.
No matter who you are or what you do, transcendental meditation is a powerful tool to enjoy life more deeply.
Transcendental Meditation: Meditation for Stress
The transcendental meditation technique can only be taught by a certified instructor to ensure you receive personal guidance and proper, effective instruction (More on how to find a TM teacher below).
First of all, the technique is just that. It doesn’t involve religion, belief, or a change in lifestyle. It doesn’t require you to control your thoughts, and it has nothing to do with mindfulness. It is a mental practice which allows the thinking mind to transcend to a state of restful alertness. I like to think of it as a refreshing, cleansing shower for your brain.
During meditation, your body enters into a deep state of rest, while your brain functions at a higher level. It’s a very different type of rest than sleep; it’s deeply healing and rejuvenating. It’s sorta like a power nap without the groggy feeling. It’s often is practiced for twenty minutes twice a day, typically in the morning and evening (this is variable depending on your rhythms).
How to do transcendental meditation
To find a certified teacher near you, enter your zip code for a list of transcendental meditation centers (there are 180 in the U.S.) and teachers in your area. You can start your journey by attending a free introductory talk or reading about it to learn more and assess if it feels right for you. This provides you the opportunity to speak with a teacher and ask any questions you have.
Wondering what to expect in the course? The instruction takes place over four consecutive days. On the first day, you’ll learn the technique one-on-one with a certified teacher. Over the remaining days, you’ll meditate (one-on-one or in a small group), and receive further instruction personalized based on your needs and experience.
After your initial instruction, you will follow up with a teacher to make sure your technique is on track. From this point on you’ll have free lifetime follow-up and support. You can contact a teacher anytime. I often call my teacher when I have a question or need inspiration. You can also attend refresher courses, advanced lectures, retreats, group meditations, and personal “tune-ups” for your practice.
The cost of learning transcendental meditation
As you may already know, there’s a fee (ranging from $380 to $960) to cover the costs of initial instruction and a lifetime of follow-up training. Why does it cost so much? There are many layers to this question, but it comes down to preserving ancient knowledge. Certified teachers complete an intensive in-residence training so you can learn the technique in its absolute purity.
Don’t be discouraged by the cost. It is accessible to everyone through scholarships, payment plans, and discounts. More than 500,000 full transcendental meditation scholarships have been given to people in need. Apply for a scholarship today at the Maharishi Foundation or the David Lynch Foundation.
It can be challenging to slow down in a world that seems to be running at super speed. Don’t we want to enjoy the view along the way? This type of meditation, as well as other types (such as this gentle, loving-kindness metta meditation), create a little breathing room in your busy day. And it just feels good, much like a daily vacation. Enjoy your exploration.