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Transcendental Meditation Technique and More

Updated on March 4, 2014

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:

  1. Solely mantra;
  2. Solely thought;
  3. Mantra and thought coexisting;
  4. 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.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM)
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM) | Source

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.

An Introduction to the Transcendental Meditation Program


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    • Steven102 profile image

      Steven 4 months ago from Cairns QLD

      Great article, thanks for sharing all that time ago. iv had a crack at it also

    • Happymommy2520 profile image

      Amy 13 months ago from East Coast

      This is the best article I have read on TM. Very simple and to the point. I have been practicing TM for only a week now and am feeling the benefits. More concentration and better mental control. Love it. Have a wonderful day!

    • profile image

      Nathan 2 years ago

      Good article. I did the TM course a couple of months ago and really struggle with it. Just so many thoughts. Non stop.

      You say "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."

      How can you repeat mentally without focusing? Can you please explain how you have managed to do this? I just seem to have so many thoughts. Then bring the mantra back into focus and then fully focus on mantra and somehow it slips away again and back to thoughts.

      I agree with what you have said above. I shouldn't be focusing on the mantra but it still should be there. Just don't really know how to do this.

      I find the teaching very difficult to understand. They say it is easy and pretty much just leave it at that. They never really go into how to say the mantra.

      Any ideas or thoughts you can share would be appreciated.



    • profile image

      Federika 2 years ago

      Great read, thanks

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 3 years ago from Malaysia

      KenWu, I won't say that I've benefited from it but I have seen others benefited. I was doing Reiki on a devoted TM practitioner and was pleasantly surprised that her positive qi was flowing into me instead! That was when I really believed in TM. But then again, it could be any form of meditation technique, not just TM.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 3 years ago from Malaysia

      Walter, not sure about that but it looks quite trickery to me. Anyhow you have benefited from such classes.

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 3 years ago from Malaysia

      KenWu... on the contrary. That was the cheapest. They charge you, based on one week of your salary. A doctor and his wife paid RM5,000, after much negotiation. Nowadays, the course costs thousands.

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Heard about Transcendental Meditation before but never bothered to learn more about it and your article comes in time to put me in the right mind. Awesome!

      It seems that the 5 Day TM course you attended was a ripoff. RM180 in those days are quite a lot. Nvm, karma is a bitch!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 years ago from london

      Good on you, Kathi,

      Keep it going.

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      I do guided meditation, but always like to try new techniques. . . there's lots of good information here, thank you for sharing!!! Kathi :o)

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Manatita44, thanks for dropping by. I agree with you that meditation is an "inner experience". The inner experience is hard to describe. All I know is that I used to be very unhappy but when I started meditation, I felt as if my brain was realigning itself and since then, I no longer felt the unhappiness that I used to feel. In a way, you can say that there's a fundamental change in my life. Also, I stopped asking whether God exist because, somehow, the question never bothered me again and I just accepted that God do exist. Having said that, I cannot say that my experience is typical of everyone. On the contrary, I believe that everyone will have their own unique experiences.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 years ago from london

      meditation is an inner experience and would help us all. Good of you to highlight this.

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Kaybear012, the TM technique is a very easy technique to learn. So why do they need to stretch it over 5 days to train a person? Well, how do you justify charging such a high fee, just by telling you to repeat a mantra without focusing on it, a statement that can be made in less than 30 seconds flat? Ever wonder how Maharishi could afford so many Rolls Royce, and an air-con cave to boot?

    • kaybear012 profile image

      Kayla Hancock 4 years ago from Chicago

      Definitely gonna try this!! Thanks =]

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Gcrhoads64, in Goenka's Vipassana, you focus on 3- inch squares of your entire skin in sequence, moving from head to toe. Personally, I think the TM technique is easier. You don't have to attend the TM course because the technique is really very simple. You can read more about it in the internet and if you need the mantra, read Demystifier's comment in the hub, "My Views On Transcendental Meditation", and follow his links to the website that will provide you with the information.

    • Gcrhoads64 profile image

      Gable Rhoads 4 years ago from North Dakota

      I wasn't familiar with the left/right brain theory, but after looking it up, I am definitely a left-brain type. I will look into the Vipassana meditation, too.

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Gcrhoads64, actually, all forms of meditation achieve the same purpose. You just have to find the one that suits you most. I learned more than 8 types of meditation and I find that TM and Vipassana meditation are most suitable for people who are very left-brained. They need something, such as a mantra, to occupy their mind during meditation, otherwise their mind will never stop thinking.

    • Gcrhoads64 profile image

      Gable Rhoads 4 years ago from North Dakota

      This is very intriguing. I have a lot of stress in my life right now and it would be nice to stop the negative thoughts.

      The health benefits talked about in the last video are amazing. I know a few people who have high blood pressure and ADHD who could benefit from TM.

      Thank you, WalterPoon

    • WalterPoon profile image

      Poon Poi Ming 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Billybuc, actually the technique is very simple, you don't even need to take the course! You can find the mantra in the internet (the other hub on TM also provides a link). Thanks for dropping by... you're always so supportive.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never done this....heard about it most of my life but never tried it. Perhaps it is time????

      Thank you for the instructions my friend, and I hope you are enjoying your weekend.