Reflecting On Transcendental Meditation

Posted On Oct 16, 2021 |

Transcendental meditation is a powerful meditative practice that can improve, focus, inspiration, physical and mental wellbeing. Could you commit?

I’m an avid advocate of meditation. Over the years, I have experimented with several techniques and discovered that a combination of them gave a completeness to the meditation experience. This resulted in the evolution of Headspace Meditation.

Meditating has got me through many challenging times in my life. Daily, it continues to serve mind, body, and soul and with it, I am:

More productive
More Decisive
Less Anxious

I have several health issues, but they don't overwhelm me as much as they could. When it gets tough, a rational mind, a balanced perspective and a calmness are my best friends. All of this is easily possible because of my journey with meditation. I have learned, practised, and taught several types of meditation, and all of them serve a slightly different need. I will summarise some here, but they include:

Transcendental Meditation
Yoga Breath
Guided Visualisations

Transcendental Meditation

I first encountered transcendental meditation ™ in my late teens. A friend who was studying at university came to stay and explained she was using this method. It would mean that twice a day for 20 minutes, she would need some time and space for this. I was curious about it, so she explained it to me.

TM is a meditation practice that involves a mantra. The mantra is personal and should not be told to anyone else, as it would dilute the personal sacredness of it. Your TM teacher gives it to you. The mantra is a word that is heard within the mind and acts as a focus and distraction from random thoughts. It is a word that has no meaning and is unlikely to induce new thoughts and ideas. You should only ever whisper your mantra to your teacher as confirmation you are using the right one and pronouncing it correctly.

Researching TM, you can find many scientific studies that conclude it improves physical and mental health and even lowers the crime rate if enough people practice it.

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought TM to the west. He was an engineer and, whilst on a retreat in Nepal, his mentor taught him this method. The Maharishi is also famous for his association with the Beatles, who he taught the practice to when they visited India.

Returning to my friend and her TM, she informed me that one 20-minute TM session was as restful to the body as 4 hours of sleep. She claimed that during her long nights of study before exams; it had got her through this time, helped her focus, and left her feeling as refreshed as if she had 8 hours of regular sleep!

Informing me that the body will cycle through all its essential processes every 20 minutes and that by doing TM twice a day, she believed she could maintain energy, focus, and better health. It seemed too good to be true, but I saw in her the results and my friend was a much happier person than I had known before. Plus, her exam results were the highest in her year!

I gave it a try and enrolled with a teacher in Harrogate. In just 4 sessions, over 8 weeks, I was feeling better, energised and very focussed. Later, I became a TM teacher myself.

The mainstay of TM is that you focus upon hearing your mantra in the mind. You stay fully aware, but with the mantra, you transcend conscious thought and reach a point of awareness and stillness simultaneously. Reaching this point is called the transcendence.

We can use the analogy of the iceberg. Imagine an iceberg with the tip above water representing our consciousness when awake, alert, and interacting with the world. Then the submerged part of the iceberg is our subconscious, where all our experiences, memories, thoughts, hopes and fears all live. Beneath the iceberg is the deep sea, where there is almost no activity – just peace. With TM, we can reach the deepest part of the ocean and rest our mind there, with no conscious thought, and without hearing the mantra anymore. We would then have transcended.

iceberg analogy TM

Transcending, whilst incredibly restful, leads to a super awareness – a super-consciousness. Yet the moment your thoughts creep back in, you resurface. The key is to have no expectation but to work with the mantra. All levels of TM are beneficial and it's important that if you don’t transcend deeply, it is not a failure of any kind. In fact, when emerging from transcendence, we are often aware of inspiring ideas and images and there are many beautiful experiences in between.

The commitment required is to sit for TM twice a day. You will build up slowly to 20 minutes twice a day. Many believe that 40 minutes a day meditating is too much time. Add up all the time spent on social media, watching tv etc and you will soon realise how such a small investment can make a big difference to your overall wellbeing.

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Categories: meditation