So you’ve been reading and seeing all the celebrity hype about Transcendental Meditation lately and are curious to know more? Turns out, unless you’re ready to open your checkbook, there isn’t much information available. While searching for details into this secretive organization, we came across this independent view of Transcendental Meditation posted by the folks at Meditation is Easy:
Transcendental Meditation: The most popular Meditation?
Well I am not sure but it appears that this ‘Transcendental’ thing has been one of the most popular crazes in Western world. Just type any of the keywords related to meditation in Google and you will be surprised to see the numbers of TM related websites on the results pages. Or, alternatively, have a look at ‘Google’s Groups on Meditation. Compare the sheer numbers of posts (and level of activity) in the Transcendental Meditation’ Group with other Groups on Meditation. As compare to other Groups, the ‘Transcendental Meditation’ Group is a behemoth with numerous discussions going on at any given moment.
But being a behemoth does not always mean the best and the brightest.
Transcendental: “Of or characteristic of a system of philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual about the empirical and material”
Transcendence: A state of being or existence above and beyond the limits of material experience
Transcendental Meditation (TM) was introduced to the Western world by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The TM movement began in 1956 in India and is now worldwide, claiming more than 5 million followers, though the actual number of TM advocates is probably much smaller.
Despite it’s being so visible and dominant on the world of Internet & other media (including Print & Television), there is not even a single instruction of Transcendental Meditation available for the use of the general public. If you want to learn it – you’ll have to spend a few hundred dollars for learning it from any of the authorized TM centers spread world over.
Since I didn’t have enough money to spend on learning TM, I decided to find some free resources for learning Transcendental Meditation. I was hoping that maybe there exists any good informational (and free resource) on Transcendental Meditation. However, my search for any good & free informational resource about Transcendental Meditation led me to a surprising revelation.
Though, I could not find any instruction on TM, I came to know (by reading various discussion groups, articles and other opinions) that Transcendental Meditation (with all it’s glittery & world-wide appeal) is just a form of Mantra Meditation. Basically it a set of meditation techniques which primarily involved chanting a ‘Mantra’ as per the instructions provided by the TM Centre.
TM: Scientifically validated – Really?
When the TM student pays the money, he is given his personal mantra to chant along with detailed instructions (such as pronunciation, place and timing) for chanting the mantra. He is told not to reveal the mantra to anybody.
The condition of not allowing the chanter to reveal his mantra to anybody defy any logical explanation. Rather, it appears contradictory to the claims of TM website that it is a ‘scientifically validated’ program. Now if something is scientifically validated, it should be able to withstand all scientific tests in all conditions and places. I could not find any validated (or even invalidated) scientific study that shows that revealing the mantra to others will lessen it’s effects. In fact there is nothing scientific about it. In an excellent article on TM at Skepdic.com I found the following explaination of the above:
“After a TM student pays up to $400 and receives his own personal mantra, he is told never to reveal it to another. Why? Because the same “unique” mantra has been given – on the basis of age – to thousands of people.”
This explains the whole thing. If people can share there mantra with others, who’ll pay the money ?
In my opinion, Transcendental Meditation is a good thing to learn provided you have enough money to spend. Basically it involves chanting of Mantras which are very good tools for achieving a meditative state and in all likelihood, you will be benefited from it. However, use your own discretion while reading various TM recruiting literature (which is full of charts and graphs demonstrating “scientifically” the wonders of TM. You will find things like metabolic rate, oxygen consumption rate, bodily production of carbon dioxide, hormone production, brain waves, etc., all measured and charted and graphically presented to suggest that TM really takes a person to a new state of consciousness).
Meditation is an individual’s journey to his/her true self. All techniques (be it TM, Vipassana, Zen, Dynamic or Death Meditation) are just simple ways to help you understand your true nature – self. Stress-reduction, relaxation and better health are just a few positive outcomes of it. You can get them free of cost if you just try a little bit and explore your inner self.
Practitioners of the TM technique claim it is profoundly different than other types of meditation in they way it is practiced and in the results they achieve. However, others have labeled TM as a cult. While there is no doubt the organization has a lot of funding and remains very secretive, adding to their mystique, they have brought a lot of positive scientific research and mainstream attention to the practice of meditation as a whole, and that can’t be a bad thing. What are your thoughts on Transcendental Meditation? Please use the comment box below!