Transcendental Meditation: Technique, History and Interesting Facts

Alongside various styles of yoga, meditation has been a common relaxation practice in our society for some time. Many people swear by the so-called Transcendental Meditation, abbreviated TM. But what is behind it? Here you can read everything you need to know about the TM organization and how you can learn the technique yourself .

Transcendental Meditation

How does Transcendental Meditation work?

At first glance, the TM method does not differ significantly from mindfulness meditation, i.e. the variant that is usually associated with the keyword meditation. However, Transcendental Meditation is trademarked and therefore follows a specific concept .

To get the full effect, TM teaches that you should meditate twice a day for 20 minutes . The meditation takes place in a seated position with your eyes closed. Theoretically, you can meditate anywhere and anytime. Eventually, the more one meditates, the easier it is for the brain to find the transcendental state.

Transcending - what does that actually mean? Quite simply: This means an overrun. In Transcendental Meditation , one transcends all mental activity so that the mind's full potential is released. So that's the theory, but what does this meditation actually do?

The Effects of Transcendental Meditation

Like traditional meditation, the primary benefit of TM is its health benefits. Regular Transcendental Meditation is said to promote stress reduction , as one repeatedly enters into an even deeper relaxation than is possible with mindfulness meditation or in the deep sleep phase.

High blood pressure is lowered , the cardiovascular system is supported and serotonin production is stimulated, resulting in increased feelings of happiness that persist even after meditation. The goal is to activate the self-healing powers, which according to TM studies should even help to heal psychological impairments such as post-traumatic stress disorders.

Since the brain is better supplied with blood during meditation, intelligence and creativity are also said to be improved . In principle, these effects can of course also occur with “normal” meditation, but the main difference is that TM seeks complete letting go and mental stillness. It's not about directing the mind, it's about turning it off for a period of time, so to speak.

Learn Transcendental Meditation yourself: Here's how

First of all: If you believe the teachers of the TM organization, you cannot teach yourself the technique, since everyone has a personal mantra and this can only be assigned by a trained teacher. However, there is nothing wrong with trying your own or a popular mantra!

Basically, you should also make sure to sit comfortably during Transcendental Meditation, after all the unit lasts several minutes and your physical condition must not be a distraction. Now feel into yourself and take stock of your condition. When you are ready, start saying the mantra to yourself silently.

In a TM course you will be given your individual mantra, but of course you can also use "Om" or "So 'ham" as a placeholder. The latter means "I am He" and expresses the willingness to let the divine enter. Now repeat the mantra over and over again, bringing your mind back to it if it ever wanders.

It is also important in Transcendental Meditation: Don't force yourself to do anything . Meditating isn't that easy, of course, but overly strict concentration makes you more restless than bringing precious stillness. As mentioned earlier, you can just keep coming back to your mantra. Wait a minute or two after meditating to open your eyes, rather than appearing too abruptly.

history of TM

Unlike yoga or meditation per se, the TM method is not several thousand years old, but was created in 1957 by the Indian Maharishi Mahesh Yogi . His practice gained worldwide attention thanks to prominent supporters such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

TM as organization and teaching

Today there are training centers all over the world, and only those who have completed the official training can call themselves teachers of Transcendental Meditation. There is an esoteric teaching behind the TM organization: Maharishi's declared goal was the establishment of a happier, more peaceful society. In 1976 he founded the “World Government of the Age of Enlightenment” specifically to bring about lasting change in society.

The Maharishi Effect

According to the founder of Transcendental Meditation, this more peaceful society could be achieved with just a small percentage of the population meditating regularly. He traced this self-proclaimed Maharishi effect to a statistic about crime rates in medium-sized US cities: crime there fell while about one percent of citizens meditated regularly.

There is no question that regular meditation contributes to becoming more balanced and therefore more peaceful - the Maharishi Effect, however, is by no means well-founded scientifically proven . It is one of several factors for which the TM organization has long been criticized.

Criticism of Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation has many supporters, but also many critics. The meditation as such is less doubted than Maharishi's organization itself. The TM school is repeatedly in court because it is seen by some sides as a sect or religious cult.

The methods of TM are also viewed with some skepticism. This is not surprising, after all , the organization itself gives hardly any concrete information on meditation practice until you have paid for a course.

At this point, critics often state that the supposedly personal mantra is ultimately determined arbitrarily and actually has no individual value. The fact remains that the positive effects of TM are only scientifically based to a very limited extent. Characteristic elements such as “ yogic flying ”, in which the body is said to begin to float thanks to the ultimate transcendence experience, have so far remained pure theory.

Transcendental Meditation: is it worth it?

Of course, the decision to try officially guided Transcendental Meditation is up to you. Deep relaxation and a state of rest that can be actively brought about are of course important stress-reducing factors. Meditation in itself is always good, but there is no magic formula for it.

If you are not sure whether you should try this method or whether you would rather stay away from it, you can simply try the instructions or switch to a common mindfulness meditation. This will most likely not get you off the ground either, but it will give you an insight into the fascinating world of meditation - it's worth a try!

Our recommendation: