Have you heard people talking about practicing TM? I had been hearing about Transcendental Meditation (TM for short) in the past few years and over the past few months it has rose to a fervent pitch. I feel as if every single person I talk to recently talks to me about TM. I began to research it and I realized two things, one being this was the meditation technique that my mom taught me in 7th grade (in the late 90’s) and there is basically NO information out there on it.
I am a long time believer in meditation. I will tell you a quick story of how I came to learn of meditation from my mother and practice is daily for almost 20 years now. My mom when I was young would go into her bedroom and close the door, my sisters and I would sit outside trying to let her to let us in. This was her personal time and she was meditating. I was curious and asked her about it and told me she was given a secret word to repeat in her head over and over. I always asked her what it was and she would never tell me. I still wonder to this day. So as a 11 year old, I picked my own word to do this with. Silly as that sounds, I kept doing this for 20 years every day and when I wanted to relax or shut my brain off after a particularly stressful day. Fast forward to actually learning meditation, I was introduced to guided meditations by a friend of mine and for the past 5 years I listen to one every night. It literally puts me RIGHT TO BED. The evolution continues on my friends, around 3 years ago I was then introduces to the Headspace app. The headspace app is a guided meditation using mindfulness. It is 10 minutes and it takes you a linear path. I absolutely love it and swear by the relaxing effect of meditating. I also find that it allows me to be calmer throughout my day and less reactive in general. Lord knows I need to be levelheaded as an owner of a PR firm and handling client crisis’s everyday. I digress. I meditate every night before bed, I meditate on beaches and anywhere I feel connected to the earth, usually in nature.
(Faux Meditating in Ibiza, have to be honest right?! Was doing it for the photo. This was in front of Es Vedra, a supposed mystical and magnetic location.)
Moving on to the schools of thought, the practice and the nitty gritty of TM.
However, there are many practices and schools of thought, such as mindfulness (I practice this often through my HeadSpace App that I have spoken about before here as being a one of my stress busting must haves), Yoga Meditation, Guided Meditation, Mantra Meditation (this is what my mom had taught me many moons ago), Sound Meditation, Taoist, Buddhist, Transcendental and many more. There are actually over 23 types of meditation.
I googled away and I found if I wanted to learn more about it or get any real information, there is a hefty fee to pay. I haven’t quite figured that part out yet. I believe that this leads to the secret and exclusive aura around this type of meditation. According to TM groups and subgroups, you are not allowed to talk about your process and even required to sign an agreement when being taught that you will never discuss it. From what I gather, you go to classes and that is where a teacher will give you your mantra. Going back to TM, It seems as if transcendental is actually a form of Mantra Meditation. The mantra is key to TM, this is what you focus on and repeat for 20 minutes, two times a day.
Throughout my research and exploring the dark corners of the interwebs I was able to get some more info and find a mantra (you can only get this from a teacher according to TM).
Transcendental Meditation is a specific form of Mantra Meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh in 1955 in India and the West. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Maharishi achieved fame as the guru to the Beatles, The Beach Boys and other celebrities.
It is a widely practiced form of meditation, with over 5 million practitioners worldwide, and there is a lot of scientific research (but skeptics beware, let it be known, many of which are sponsored by the the organization) showing the benefits of TM. However, there are also critics of the Maharishi and his organization, and some people even accuse TM of cultish behavior and faux science.
How to practice TM?
Okay, now that that is out of the way. How to practice it? Transcendental meditation is not taught freely or openly like Mindful meditation or yoga or other eastern practices. The only way of learning it is to pay to learn from one of their licensed instructors. Apparently, once you pay the fee, you get life long support, so there is something to be said for that.
In general, it is known that TM involves the use of a mantra (remember I said TM is similar to Mantra meditation) and is practiced for 20 minutes twice a day with your eyes closed. The mantra is not unique, and is given to the practitioner based on gender and age. They are also not “meaningless sounds, like the ones I made up in 1997, but they are actually Tantric names of Hindu deities.
If you are interested in digging in, the official site is here.
As TM is an expensive journey to embark on, that is for sure, and can also seem like somewhat of a secret society (which hello!? That is kind of cool, lets not lie here) but I have found reccomendations to try something similar. I have heard and read that there is another similar type of meditation, called Natural Stress Relief. It was created in 2003 by a former TM Teacher. It is much less expensive to learn. I read it is $47 dollars compared to $1050. It is said to have stripped out some of the religious and mystical elements of TM, like the initiation session that they call puja and the and yogic flying. You can learn more about NSR in comparison to TM here as well as here.
Or you can just try Mantra Meditation for free, like I have.
Do you meditate? Have you tried TM? Tell me what you think!