Those of us who have dabbled in meditation have likely tried various meditation styles—whether it’s mindfulness meditation, walking or running meditation, or even sound bathing, we try this and that, hoping something clicks. If you’re still searching for the style of meditation that best suits you, you may want to consider transcendental meditation, a meditation technique developed in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008) and popularized in the West during the 60s and 70s.
Although this meditation technique is generally considered non-religious, it certainly has a cult following among celebrities, including animal lovers like Moby and Paul McCartney, one-of-a-kind creatives like Oprah and David Lynch, pop stars like Katy Perry, Pink, and Sheryl Crow, and some interesting characters like Rupert Murdoch and Howard Stern. (Quite a varied crowd, no?)
Indeed, the transcendental meditation technique (also referred to as “TM”) has been taught to groups of students, business leaders, and Western spiritual seekers, and the technique seems to be catching. David Lynch says TM “gives the experience of the sweetest nectar of life, pure bliss consciousness” while CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley shares that TM “has made my thought process more ordered. When your stress level is lower, you make better decisions and you have a better thought process.”
Often praised for enhancing creativity and focus while reducing stress, transcendental meditation sounds like it does it all. The good news is that the time commitment isn’t huge—no greater than your average meditation routine. The meditation style encourages practitioners to meditate for 15-20 minutes twice a day, which sounds fairly manageable. In fact, as Pink explains, “I find that when I make the time to practice TM, there’s actually more time available in the day.” The catch? Transcendental meditation must be taught to practitioners by a professional. Courses usually last for a few days and can cost up to $1,500 (although scholarships are available).
In the course, the instructor creates an individualized mantra for each student (that can be practiced silently at home while sitting with eyes closed). The mantra is purposefully meaningless so that it doesn’t conjure any particular associations. Rather, it’s supposed to help practitioners find peace and quiet the constant buzzing of the mind: “Peace is tapping into something that exists in all of us and makes us unique and helps us to be pure,” Sheryl Crow says. “But we get away from that because our brains are so overactive, constantly being dictated by chaos.”
While it’s natural to be skeptical of any meditation style that requires such a financial investment (I know I am), transcendental meditation’s spread seems to indicate that this meditation technique is doing something right. Perhaps it’s the mantra? Perhaps it’s the commitment to meditating 30-40 minutes a day? One thing is for sure—TM appeals to a vast group of personalities, and maybe that says more about meditation in general than anything else, but this meditation style is certainly worth learning more about.
Have you found a meditation technique that works for you?
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Photo: Wikimedia Commons