What is Transcendental Meditation?

Beatles with Maharishi Mahesh

With the Launch of Transcendental Meditation by the David Lynch Foundation worldwide, I thought I’d explore TM, it’s scientific benefits and some techniques for your own personal practice.

Historically Transcendental Meditation (TM) was introduced by an internationally famous Yogi (or spiritual consultant/guru) named Maharishi Mahesh in 1950. What brought TM to the fore front of pop culture was when the Beatles went to stay at the TM institute aka “Ashram” in Rishikesh, India – the massive institute is the size of many university campuses here in North America and such an incredible place to explore. I had the privileged of having an “unofficial tour” of the closed institute in August 2010, all I can say is – what an experience – some pics of it below for you to see the meditation buildings and surrounding jungles of the Himalayan Mountain Region.

Meditation Huts at the Maharishi Mahesh Ashram 2010

During the Beatles stay there were about 2000 students of meditation staying at the institute -the Beatles wrote their famous “White Album” in what they called one of the highest creative states they’ve ever experienced, brought on by the relaxed state of meditation.

Entry to Maharishi Mahesh Institute for TM in Rishikesh India

This following by pop icons, brought TM into all levels of entertainment, especially with the increase of Modern day stressors and the reality that we have everything we could ever need, yet our happiness is at record levels of low – Transcendental Meditation, provided and still provides the possibility to reconnect to your core values, develop resilience and self-awareness, and most powerfully develops a physical/mental sensitivity that heightens every experience you can think of – personal/work life, communicating with others, sex, food, etc.

As witnessed at the Benefit Evening Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan NYC on December 13th, 2010 – TM is now being supported powerfully by the top physicists, neuroscientists, cardiologists and entertainers across the globe. Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Clint Eastwood, Russell Brand, Kate Perry and many more launched one of the largest educational programs of Meditation to schools across the globe, providing the proven benefits of eliminating Depression, reducing Stress & Anxiety, reducing Obesity (which is caused primarily by Stress), and developing higher levels of intellect.

If you wish to view the Benefit Evening filming please click here to check it out (I highly recommend sending it to anyone you feel would benefit from stress reduction, and especially depression).

So now that we know where it originated from let’s take a look at what it’s all about – here’s the definition and fundamentals of Transcendental Meditation:

Transcendental Meditation holds true to the universal commonality of all Meditations of Body, Breath and Mind Awareness. This scanning of the body, awareness of breath and then entering awareness of your mind’s thoughts bring you into a deep relaxed state initiating the “Relaxation Response” as described by Dr. Herbert Benson, Harvard University Professor in his International Best Selling book The Relaxation Response (click the link if you wish to read the review and buy). The Relaxation Response brings you into a state of relaxation deeper than sleep – which in turn releases the stressors that sleep can’t. This takes about 10 minutes. After this you move towards repeating a mantra (or harmonious Vedic meaning rich word), that is given specifically to you by a certified teacher that brings you even deeper into the meditative state – this lasts for about 5-10 minutes. The practice is repeated in the morning and before sleep developing lasting preventative physical and psychological wellness.

Here’s a simple beginners practice to experience the Transcendental Meditative State:
  1. Find a quite peaceful space where you will not be disturbed by anything, anyone
  2. Assume a meditative position on a cushion, chair or lying down – whatever is most comfortable (seated is best)
  3. Relax your body completely making sure you spine is erect and shoulders in line with your spine, head as if it was on a swivel at the top of your spine
  4. Scan your body very slowly from Toe to top of Head relaxing each muscle as you scan
  5. After your body has been scanned, bring awareness to your breath for 5-7 minutes, simply be aware of the coolness of breath on the inhale and the warmth/moisture on the exhale
    1. You can envision a hollow tube filling and depleting of air in your lungs
  6. When your thoughts start entering your mind-scape – follow each one with full awareness, no judgment and no expectation, simply view it for what the thought is, simply a thought.
  7. When you’ve seen the thought to its simple truth (as in there’s nothing more you can get out of it) bring your awareness back to your body and breath
  8. Allow a new thought to flow in – if no thoughts enter, simply be aware of the stillness of your body
    1. (It takes about 10 minutes for these first steps 1-8)
  9. “Aum” which is a word of many meanings – primarily symbolizing birth, life and death, and is universally used throughout many ancient meditations techniques. To experience the effects of TM it is a good introductory meaning rich word to repeat in your practice.
    1. Pronounce the Aum in a very long and drawn out way and simply view it as a thought in your mind. Repeat as many times as comfortable.
    2. Do this repeated relaxing long Aum for about 5-10 minutes (or whichever is comfortable)
  10. When ready to flow out of the meditative state keep your eyes closed and rub your hands together and massage your face and body.
    1. When finished bring your hands back to your knees and very slowly, gently open your eyes.

For more information visit www.tm.org

There are two points to help you in your practice, Be Patient and Be Playful – have fun with it as the exploration of thoughts and the subtleties of your body can be quite the adventure if you make a resolution for it to be as such. The only two difficulties lie in the ego and chattering mind. The ego will tell you “This will never work for me, I’m too far gone” or “This will never work for me, I’m to far above this” let the ego go it is foolish and takes away from the experience. The mind will chatter – let it, don’t repress anything simply observe and let everything take it’s course in a state of no evaluation, no judgment.

Enjoy!



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