What is Transcendental Meditation?

Transcendental Meditation: It Does a Body Good

Imagine this scenario – you are sitting quietly in a cozy chair for a couple of minutes of deep relaxation every day. Who wouldn’t want to feel physically and mentally refreshed, with a calmer and more alert mind, increased energy and clearer thinking?

And, the best part, as a result of taking the time to practice this deep relaxation – also known as transcendental meditation – you realize that you can achieve more with less effort and that both your professional and personal lives are much more rewarding.

Transcendental meditation is an easy, effective form of meditation that can help minimize stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and reduce pain along with many other benefits. In fact, recent Forbes research shows that meditation may “influence the body and brain functions of people who practice it” and help “establish a body and mind harmony“. Meditation also increases melatonin levels and enhances your quality of sleep.

As with many other types of meditation, the regular and continuing practice of transcendental meditation can lead to numerous positive changes, including lower overall anxiety levels, a stronger resiliency to stressful life events and overall better daily life satisfaction.

I believe transcendental meditation is definitely worth taking the time to learn about. Keep reading to learn more about this increasingly popular form of meditation.

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What Is Transcendental Meditation?

According to the Transcendental Meditation Organization, “The TM technique allows your active mind to easily settle inward, through quieter levels of thought, until you experience the most silent and peaceful level of your own awareness — pure consciousness.

Basically, the concept focuses on the fact that all of us – at all times – have a quiet, peaceful place in our minds that we can tap into by focusing inward. While other mindfulness-based meditations require you to focus on clearing your mind of thoughts and softly bringing your attention back to the present when you notice your mind wandering, transcendental meditation focuses on a single “mantra” you repeat silently in your head. The mantra can be different for each person.

The technique, which has roots that originated thousands of years ago, was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi more than a half a century ago, and first gained popularity in “the West” in the late 1960s when the popular band, The Beatles, traveled to India and created awareness about their transformative, meditative experience.

So, how does transcendental meditation differ from other meditative techniques? For starters, other forms of meditation can be more challenging to adopt and commonly require a much greater commitment. They also tend to teach extreme concentration or contemplation.

However, transcendental meditation is user-friendly because you don’t need to use either of these tactics. And the best part is that it doesn’t require emptying your mind of thoughts or extreme control of the mind, which can often be tricky.

It’s an easy place to start.

Just as other sports strengthen particular muscles and produce various overall physical effects, so does meditation, via focusing on repeating mantras or serenely observing your mental content result in different outcomes.

The process of transcendental meditation turns on the entire brain and makes it function as one all-inclusive unit. Another aspect that makes the technique unique is that there’s no difference between the brainwaves of beginners and experts — anyone can master it rather quickly. In fact, the positive impacts of practice are commonly apparent following the very first session.

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How Does It Work?

For many people, the transcendental meditation journey starts by finding a certified professional and learning the practice. The majority of teachers are certified by the federally-recognized non-profit organization, Maharishi Foundation USA.

Transcendental meditation is simple to learn, and you can practice it anywhere, any time. According to the experts, here’s what you can expect from a typical session:

  • Start by sitting in a comfortable chair with your feet on the ground and your hands in your lap. Leave your legs and arms uncrossed.
  • Next, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body.
  • Start to open your eyes and close them again. Note: your eyes should remain closed during the next 20 minutes.
  • Next, repeat a mantra in your mind – this is often a “Sanskrit”-like sound you learn from a certified professional while focusing on the sensations that arise.
  • If, during the process of repeating your mantra, you recognize that you have a thought, return to the mantra.
  • Finally, after 20 minutes, start to slowly move your fingers and toes to ease yourself back into the world. Open your eyes and sit for a few more minutes until you feel you are ready to move on with your day.

Most experts suggest practicing this natural, spontaneous process about 15 to 20 minutes, twice per day.

It’s important to note that in transcendental meditation, mantras serve the purpose of giving your mind a specific element to focus on so that your thoughts do not run wild. These mantras are often described as mostly “meaningless” as they are more like “sound” words than actual familiar phrases. Mantras are generally no more than two words.

Also, in most cases, only a certified teacher should assign you a personal mantra. It’s not ideal to select your own mantra because then it can have a meaning attached to it, which can be distracting and reduce the benefits of the meditation. Keep in mind: mantras are the focal point of mediation and should be used to quiet the mind, not drum up memories or feelings.

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A Great Many Benefits

The practice of transcendental meditation is associated with an array of benefits for both your mental and physical well-being. In most cases, people who benefit the most from this type of meditation include stressed-out students, burned-out professionals, those suffering from stress or PTSD, children with a history of trauma, or any individual who tends to feel overwhelmed and is in need of more relaxation and focus.

Some of the most significant benefits relate to brain function, heart health, and, stress/anxiety reduction. In addition, experts have found this type of meditation to be helpful for the following:

  • Boosting focus and learning capability
  • Lowering blood pressure and supporting cardiovascular health
  • Reducing pain intensity, such as back or neck pain, migraines, gastrointestinal conditions, and other muscular disorders
  • Managing symptoms of PTSD
  • Battling alcohol and drug addiction
  • Reducing symptoms of burnout and depression
  • Improving sleep quality, reduce insomnia
  • Helping with attention-deficit disorder
  • Improving some forms of dementia and memory loss
  • Managing autism spectrum disorders

While transcendental meditation practices are usually safe and advantageous in many ways, the process can potentially conjure upsetting or buried feelings (or memories of trauma) in vulnerable individuals, or those new to the experience.

For this reason, I believe practicing with guidance from a professional, especially at the beginning of your journey, is most appropriate.  If you’re experiencing upsetting feelings you can’t shake, increased anxiety, memories of past trauma or sleeplessness I encourage you to reach out. If you’re seeking assistance with any of these challenges I warmly invite you to reach out and schedule a free consultation.

There’s no need to continue this way – I’m here to help.

Jennifer Marcenelle BSN, RN, HNB-BC
Jennifer Marcenelle is a board-certified and registered nurse with over 30 years of experience in the medical industry. She currently holds degrees in nursing and holistic healing, with a specialization in burnouts.

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