Transcendental Meditation Technique and More
The TM Experience - How Transcendental Meditation Works
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a mantra meditation technique that was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1958. Because of its simplicity, it is especially suitable for those who have tried stilling their mind with other meditation techniques, but had not succeeded.
TM works on the premise that the mind behaves like a monkey which refuses to sit still. Its technique is based on the principle that, to control the monkey-like mind, you need a small fire (a mantra) to destroy the big fire (thoughts).
What is a mantra? A mantra is just a word, usually two-syllabled, that is pleasing to your ear, but has no meaning associated with it. Words that end with "ring" (or similar) are commonly used. The TM technique is very simple.
The Transcendental Meditation Technique
Sit in a comfortable position. It is not necessary to sit in a cross-legged lotus position, unless you want to. You can take 3 deep breath, if you wish, and when you are ready, close your eyes and mentally repeat the mantra slowly in your mind, without verbalizing it (roll up your tongue, if you find that you are doing so). When you meditate, you will find that your mind will undergo 4 mental states interchangeably, not necessarily in the same sequence:
- Solely mantra;
- Solely thought;
- Mantra and thought coexisting;
- Neither mantra or thought.
It is very unlikely for beginners to experience the 4th mental state, i.e. neither mantra or thought, in your first few attempts. When you do experience it, turn your glass and rejoice! Well, not exactly. Even if you do not experience the 4th mental state, it's still not wrong. The 4th mental state cannot be achieved by conscious effort but through regular meditation. The important thing is that you should not hold on to the mantra, while meditating. If you do so, that would be the only mental state that you'll experience in the entire meditation session. Thus, what you should do is to repeat the mantra mentally, without focusing on it.
But what if my mind wanders and is only filled with thoughts, e.g. thoughts about what I want to do after the meditation session and stuffs like that? Well, as long as you are not aware that you're thinking, it's okay. But as soon as you become aware, you should slowly start all over again with your mantra.
And what if I realize that I've thoughts and the mantra coexisting in my mind? It's the same. Eliminate any thoughts from your mind and start with the mantra all over again. Conversely, if you realize that your mind is repeating the mantra for too long, it obviously means that you are holding on to your mantra. Stop focusing on it, and let it fade, so that your mind can experience at least the first 3 mental states interchangeably. Every mental state is part of the Transcendental Meditation technique, so there is no right or wrong mental state. Point is that you must allow the mental states to interchange, otherwise you will never experience the 4th mental state of neither thoughts nor mantra.
When you achieve the 4th mental state, you've transcend. It's a very nice feeling but once you say to yourself, "Wow, what a nice feeling!", that mental state disappears instantaneously because thought has come in. So you start all over again.
Practice TM meditation for 20 minutes, twice each day in the morning and evening. As with all meditation techniques, do not meditate with a full stomach. You may also use the TM technique for a few minutes during the day to help you center yourself, if you're feeling agitated or upset.
Health Benefits of Meditation
There is no doubt that Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a very powerful and yet, a very simple meditation technique that you should consider, if you have tried other techniques and failed.
If the two videos at the beginning and end of this hub gives you the impression that you can only achieve those health benefits mentioned, only through Transcendental Meditation (TM), allow me to say that any meditation technique is merely a vehicle to achieve a calm state of mind. It is the calm state of mind that produces all the health benefits mentioned in the video and not the technique itself. As Deepak Chopra says in his book, Journey Into Healing, deep healing occurs "in the silence spaces between our thoughts". So, if you've been practising other meditation techniques and feel comfortable with it, you should just stick to the technique that you're comfortable with.
My 5-Day Transcendental Meditation Course in 1982
I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1982. Today, you have to pay a fee that varies from country to country. During my time, it was "free".
Now, what do they mean by "free"? According to my TM teacher, the course that I was going to attend had already been paid for by the previous group of students. Therefore, I need not pay for my course. But to ensure the continuity of the TM mission, I had to pay for the next group of students.
So what difference does it make if each student pay for their own course? No difference, right? All I know is that when Maharishi was taught the technique by his guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, the understanding was that he was not allowed to commercialize it. Thus, it seems like he had to find a way of charging a fee, without appearing to be charging a fee.
Now, how much should I pay? There was a private interview with each student. We were all told that since the TM teacher would be sacrificing one week of his time with us, we would, likewise, have to sacrifice one week of our salary. Salary figures were all based on trust, since we were not required to provide supporting documentation.
At that time, I had just resigned from my job, so one week's salary is zero. The TM teacher told me not to take the course until I had a job. I said that since I had the time, I might as well take it then, and he told me that he would charge me a minimum price of RM180.00 (US$72.00 at the time; I'm told that they charge a few thousand ringgits these days!), take it or leave it.
I was then told to come the next evening for the 2nd day of the course, with one white handkerchief and 5 flowers of different colors, as the free preview that evening would be considered as one day. When I told the TM teacher that the newspaper advertisement said it was a "free preview", he countered by asking me who was going to bear the expenses for the preview.
2nd evening: We were told that each of us would receive a unique mantra, based on the inspiration that the TM teacher would received from Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (Maharishi's guru), when we paid our respect to the deified Guru at a makeshift prayer altar. When I was told by the TM teacher as to what my mantra was, I was so surprised that the mantra was ALMOST exactly the same one as that which my friend had told me. (As a matter of fact, my friend had advised me not to attend the course, since he could teach me the technique in 15 minutes flat.) Not bad for the teacher because he got one day's salary from each one of us for spending a mere 5 minutes each in front of the altar!
3rd evening: Each of us had a 10-minute private interview with the TM teacher. The TM teacher asked me to repeat the mantra and I repeated what he had told me. "No, no, no.... not this, it's that!" And what was that? It was the EXACT mantra that my friend had told me!
4th evening: We had a 2-hour group meditation-cum-review session. After the 20-minute meditation, each of us were asked to tell about our experience. When it came to my turn, I told the TM teacher that I had experienced the 4th mental state of "no thoughts and no mantra", while practising at home. He didn't seem happy and interrogated me, asking me how long it lasted. I was stumped because I didn't know either. Finally, I said: "Just a few seconds, probably."
5th and last evening: We had another group meditation-cum-review session. Since we just had a preview the evening before, there was not much to talk about, so we adjourned early, ending the 5 consecutive evenings of training.