This Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is a
system of meditation which is generally practiced twice daily. One
is introduced to the practice of TM by a teacher. After
a short interview with an initiator (a teacher of TM), there
follows a short ceremony to which the
initiate brings flowers, fruit & fresh cotton
handkerchief. During the puja ceremony the teacher murmurs a traditional
Sanskrit composition (a version of Acharya Vandana)
and performs a ritual set of offerings in front of a portrait of Guru Dev, a
revered Indian sage. Following this ceremony the initiate is given a mantra and an explanation of how to use the mantra to good effect in meditation.
During his time as Shankaracharya,
Guru Dev advocated a method which involves the use of two
techniques practiced simultaneously;
1. 'japa', the 'mental repetition of a mantra'
2. 'dhyana' is 'meditation' or 'contemplation'.
Guru Dev explained that it is necessary to practice both techniques, because by japa alone the mind flits about, and by dhyana alone the mind becomes restrained, but by practising a combination of the two the process is made successful.
In the instructions as to how to practice Transcendental
Meditation one is first asked to understand the how effortlessly
thought occurs, then guided as to how to repeat a mantra:-
close our eyes, naturally we feel some quietness, some silence,
yes? Did you have some thoughts in that silence? Did you
notice that a thought comes effortlessly, spontaneously? This is
how effortlessly we should think the mantra."
"In this meditation, we do not concentrate, we do not try to think the mantra clearly. Mental repetition is not a clear pronunciation. It is just a faint idea. We don't try to make a rhythm of the mantra.
We don't try to control thoughts. We do not wish that thoughts should
not come. If a thought comes, we do not try to push it out. We don't
feel sorry about it. When a thought comes, the mind is completely
absorbed in the thought.
"When we become aware that we are not thinking the mantra, then we quietly come back to the mantra. Very easily we think the mantra
and if at any moment we feel that we are forgetting it, we should not
try to persist in repeating it. Only very easily we start and take it
as it comes and do not hold the mantra if it tends to slip away.
"The mantra may
change in different ways. It can get faster or slower, louder or
softer, clearer or fainter. Its pronunciation may change, lengthen or
shorten or even may appear to be distorted or it may not appear to
change at all. In every case, we take it as it comes, neither
anticipating nor resisting change, just simple innocence."
is no need to try to stop thinking, because thoughts are a part of
meditation. Even if the mind is filled with other thoughts while the mantra is going on, there is no conflict. Our concern is with the mantra,
and if other thoughts are there along with it, we do not mind them and
we don't try to remove them. We are not concerned with them, we
innocently favour the mantra."
"Noise is no barrier to
meditation. Even in a noisy market, it is possible to be thinking
thoughts and whenever we can think, we can meditate. So one can think
the mantra comfortably even though aware of outside noises. We just innocently favour the mantra and do not try to resist noise in any way."
"It is easy and simple. It is just the normal, natural process of thinking the mantra and taking it as it comes. Now, this is how we will meditate, easily, morning and evening."
"One thing is very important, that we do not try to meditate. We do not try to keep the tempo of the mantra
the same, nor do we try to change the tempo. And, we do not concentrate
against thoughts we might have, or against noises we might hear. We do
not resist thoughts, we do not resist noise, we do not resist the mantra
changing or disappearing, we do not resist anything. We take it as it
comes. It is a very simple, natural, innocent process. When we meditate
at home, we start with half a minute sitting easily. That means, close
the eyes about half a minute and then start the mantra easily. And when we want to end meditation then we stop thinking the mantra
inside, but do not open the eyes for about 2 minutes. This is very
important that we start with half a minute of silence and end with 2
minutes of silence."
Importantly, these instructions, about using the mantra
correctly, all rely on the ability of the meditator to witness, to
remember, and if necessary, to adjust, his or her practice. So,
Transcendental Meditation is not simply a matter of sitting quietly and
mentally intoning and repeating a pleasant sound, it also relies on the
ability of the meditator to bear witness to this process. If the meditator repeats the mantra, and is mindful of that repetition, then he is practising japa and dhyana,
and what occurs is that he/she 'transcends' quite naturally and
spontaneously, and at times finds himself/herself in a state of 'restful alertness' where
thought and mental action have subsided and there is a stasis, a
suspension of mental and physical activity. So the mind is stilled and
this is the state of yoga, as described in Patanajali's Yoga Sutras, in Bhagavad Gita, and in innumerable other texts.
There are several explanations offered as to how Transcendental Meditation
because it is 'effortless', 'spontaneous' and 'a
simple natural innocent process'.
Further insight might be gained, about how TM works, from this exchange between a student of TM and Maharishi Mahesh
Question - "How can we think something effortlessly when we are told to try to think it? It doesn't make sense." Maharishi - "Right, it doesn't
make sense. Mind is told to be effortless, and mind is also told to
think this thought. Mind tries to bring together these two
contradictory instructions and in this moment of struggling to do these
two contradictory actions, mind slips between both instructions and
there it slips inward toward the source of thought." Effects
Subjectively, it is as if one were
stepping back a pace, within, drawing one's breath and taking some
compose oneself. One might also say that this TM meditation is
like routinely clearing one's vision or cleaning one's windscreen. But more importantly this
meditation seems to perform the
function of a circuit-breaker, automatically ridding one of accumulated
stress. In short, to many of its practitioners, Transcendental
Meditation is an invaluable practice,
as it seems to enable one to find solace from everyday entanglements
and pressures, whilst simultaneously recharging one's batteries. The
practice is held to yield these benefits without effort, therefore one
told that it is not necessary to change one's philosophy or lifestyle.
So, it is important to understand that one is not being persuaded to
Indian thinking or religion, merely to practice a routine that will
hopefully put a
light in the eye and a spring in the step!
The principal effects of twice-daily periods of
Transcendental Meditation appear to be;
1. Feeling more relaxed .
2. Feeling more capable of attending to one's everyday life.
3. Sensation of well-being
4. Possibility of experiencing higher states of consciousness.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi promoted this system of
meditation, first in India in 1955, and then throughout the West from
1959, dubbing it 'Deep Meditation', then 'Transcendental Deep
Meditation', before eventually settling on the terms 'Transcendental Meditation' & 'TM' by the mid-1960's.
Importantly, Maharishi declared TM to be scientifically verifiable and not
dependant on any belief system or philosophy. Equally important is that he also claimed that TM is not a
writings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi provide some very intriguing food
thought, in that they appear to apply rigorous scientific method to the
of Indian mysticism. Furthermore, the study of the teachings of his guru, Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, often referred to simply as 'Guru Dev', offers an exceptional
opportunity to gain a broad understanding of traditional Indian
Is TM a cult or religion?
Over the years, since the
popularisation of TM, the question has
been raised as to whether or not TM is a religion or cult. In
truth the question has not been answered to everyone's satisfaction,
but, seemingly, if one
simply practices the meditation, and one does not
become overly immersed in any attendant philosophy or get too deeply
the activities of the TM organisation, then one is unlikely to adopt a
cult mentality or feel a compulsion to change one's religious beliefs.
Did John Lennon continue to practise Transcendental Meditation?
"JOHN LENNON WAS ALWAYS MEDITATING" - Yoko Ono
NPR On Point - June 27th 2012, Tom Ashbrook interviewed Yoko Ono
A caller named Craig Berg phoned in and asked Yoko a question:-
Craig - "I read in the press a few years ago Yoko went to a fund raiser
by the David Lynch Foundation to raise money to teach Maharishi's
Transcendental Meditation to disadvantaged youths, and I was wondering
what Yoko thinks about what John would say about such efforts today?