Transcendental meditation is a modern term for an ancient meditation practice where mantras are used to calm the mind. Meditation is a yoga practice originated in ancient India whose original purpose was to attain liberation. But with the evolution of human lifestyle, all forms and practices of yoga have gained popularity in the modern world due to their properties of healing and restoring health and peace. Transcendental meditation also has numerous healing and restorative effects on health. This article describes what transcendental meditation is, how it is different from other forms of meditation, how to do it and what its benefits are.
Meditation is a part of yoga which has been practiced in ancient India since immemorial times. Meditation is not a new concept. It has also been practiced by people from various cultural and geographical backgrounds. It started getting recognized by the health industry, because it has amazing benefits on mental health as it brings about mental peace, clarity of thought, improved focus, and better sleep and overall reduced stress levels.
Transcendental meditation or TM is a relatively new term for a type of meditation which works by silent repetition of a mantra for some minutes while sitting quietly with the eyes closed. The mantra is provided by one’s guru. Transcendental meditation is becoming increasingly popular and a broadly practiced one in the west. It has gained even more popularity since celebrities have started doing it.
Various Types of Meditation
There are many techniques for meditation. With the older ones still being preferred by some, modern and slightly modified ones are also popular amongst others. TM was developed by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, contemporary to Osho, who revolutionized meditation techniques around the 1970s and propagated his modern idea of dynamic meditation all over the world. Meditation can be broadly classified into active and passive, where in the former one the practitioner is doing an activity during the actual duration of meditation; and in the latter one the practitioner is silent and steady and may require instructions throughout the actual duration of meditation. Meditation techniques are also divided into ancient and modern ones based on the era of their origin, for example, the meditation techniques used and taught by Krishna are the oldest, those taught and practiced by Buddha are ancient, the ones described by Patanjali are medieval, and those devised by Osho are modern. TM is a mantra meditation that is a kind of ancient and passive meditation, because mantra meditations have been used in pre-vedic periods, only the term ‘transcendental’ is new.
How Transcendental Meditation is Different
Transcendental meditation has been experienced to be different from other meditation techniques. The people who have tried many techniques and found TM to be the most suitable for them, say that TM is in the following ways better than other forms of meditation: 
- TM retains individuality: the technique of TM is carefully created every time for every person willing to do it. It is then taught individually to every person by experts who have assessed the individual needs of the person seeking TM. It can be said that TM is personalized.
- TM can be done by everyone: some techniques of meditation require the person to do specific things that cannot be done voluntarily, such as removing things and thoughts from the mind, or watching the flow or change of thoughts, or developing a strong concentration over time, or even controlling the mind. It is said that TM can be done by just anyone and everyone.
- TM is systematic: it is said that TM is more systematic than any other technique of meditation since it has been researched about a lot. It has also been found out to be greatly beneficial for conditions relating to the brain and its functioning, the cardiovascular system, and stress relief.
- TM is effective: TM is said to be effective and promising. It is even said that the benefits of TM are confirmed to happen to an individual after they begin practicing. However, it depends on the individual and their dedication regarding the practice.
How to do Transcendental Meditation
While it is difficult and technically wrong to pass on the instructions on how to practice meditation in a written format, here is an idea about how transcendental meditation is done so that one may prepare themselves for an actual initiation into the practice, and know what to expect. Ethically, you should be initiated into TM by a guru who would give you a mantra that would suit you the best.
- Find a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed by anyone. It could be a room with minimum furnishing, or a lawn or a garden where people don’t talk or play.
- Sit on a chair or a bench (if practicing in a park), or your sofa. Your feet should be gently resting on the ground. They shouldn’t be hanging freely or bent while resting on the ground.
- Place one hand on the lap and the other one besides it. Keep the palms of both the hands upwards.
- Neither the arms nor the legs should overlap each other.
- Close your eyes and keep the back straight, resting on the back of the bench/ chair/ sofa.
- Breathe deeply and fully a few times and then open your eyes. This is the preparatory practice.
- Now close the eyes again gently. Say the mantra that your guru had given you while initiating you into TM. Keep repeating this mantra slowly and continuously. If possible, do this mentally without speaking the mantra from your mouth.
- Even if a nearby sound or a thought disturbs you in between, do not get annoyed or distracted by it. Simply return to the mantra repetition.
- Sit still throughout the practice; do not move any part of the body.
- After around thirty minutes or so, stop repeating the mantra. Don’t force yourself to keep an idea of time since it can interfere with the meditation. Instead, use a timer to mark the end of the set duration.
- Since you have sat still for the duration of the meditation session, the limbs might have gone numb. Slowly move your toes first and then fingers to feel sensation in them.
- Feel the blood circulation in the limbs.
- Open your eyes.
- You can now end the session and do any activity that you have to, or you can keep sitting for some more time.
Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
The benefits of transcendental meditation begin even before the person starts doing it, since it fills them with a positive attitude that they can do something to make their mental and physical health better. Upon initiation into TM, the individual can actually start realizing the beneficial effects of transcendental meditation practice.
- TM relieves stress immediately.
- It relieves anxiety within a few sessions.
- It induces a feeling of peace and calm.
- It increases productivity.
- It improves focus and concentration.
- It improves performance in various fields of life.
- It sharpens communication skills.
- It makes time management and organizational skills better.
- Individuals feel less helpless and more in-charge of situations.
- TM improves their self-esteem and confidence.
- It makes one sleep better.
- It eases pain from the body.
- It eases menstrual cramps in women.
- It also improves PMS and menopausal discomfort in them.
- It also makes bowels better and reduces irritable bowels.
- Regular and guided practice can manage depression.
- It induces a prolonged positivity in individuals.
- It deepens their understanding and cognition.
- It restores one’s overall health and mental peace.
Meditation is extremely beneficial for everyone. It can bring about surprising results for the healthy as well as those who are suffering from certain physical or mental ailments. Transcendental meditation, like other forms of meditation, is healing and calming. It is popular amongst the western cultures because of its ease. TM is certainly the easiest of all techniques of meditation but this doesn’t mean that it can be done by anyone on their own. It should be started only upon one’s initiation properly done by a guru who would tell the person a mantra suitable for them. Transcendental meditation is recommended and suitable for everyone.