About Transcendental Meditation

Learn more about a meditation technique used by the Beatles and Deepak Chopra

Transcendental Meditation is one of the most popular types of mantra meditation techniques and has reportedly been taught to approximately 5 million people worldwide since its inception in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Yogi introduced this ancient Vedic ritual to the West, gaining the support of popular personalities such as The Beatles, Joe Namath and Deepak Chopra. The popularity of Transcendental Meditation, which is both an organization created to educate the public on this specific meditation technique and a trademarked name, quickly spread throughout the Western world and beyond.

Transcendental Meditation techniques

Transcendental Meditation technique sounds simple and easy enough, but according to the official Program website, the technique cannot be taught in a book, but must be learned through individual and personalized instruction. Practicing this form of meditation requires a time commitment of 30-40 minutes per day, divided into two 15-20 minute increments. The only physical requirement is to be able to sit at ease while meditating. Simply sitting tall with your back supported by a chair and your feet resting comfortably on the ground makes this meditation technique very physically accessible.

The mental requirements of meditation are typically the most challenging. Transcendental Meditation gives you a mantra to repeat throughout your meditation so that you can still the turbulent thoughts in your mind and focus inward. Focusing on your mantra quiets the mind and keeps us from getting swept away by our endless thoughts. The benefits? According to the Transcendental Meditation website: Enhanced energy, creativity, reduced stress, clarity of thought and balanced mental and physical well being.

Scientific support

Researchers have been studying the effects of meditation ever since yogis from India such as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began to introduce meditation techniques to the West. There are over 500 independent research studies published in respected journals such as the American Journal of Physiology and the International Journal of Neuroscience that verify the assertions made by Transcendental Meditation practitioners. However, the validity of some of these studies has since been criticized.

Two recent studies support the claims that Transcendental Meditation can help treat depression. Participants of the studies were either African American or Hawaiian men or women aged 55 or older, all of whom were diagnosed with some type of cardiovascular health problem. One group required participants to practice Transcendental Meditation twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes, while the other group participated in a health education program twice a day for 20 minutes. In both studies, the meditation group demonstrated reduced symptoms of stress to a far greater degree than the health education control group, leading researchers to give credence to the link between meditation and its ability to control stress and depression.

According to Hector Myers, UCLA Department of Psychology director of clinical training and co-researcher in one of the studies on meditation, the outcomes of the studies are promising and encourage study of the effects of Transcendental Meditation as a complementary treatment for clinical depression. While the scientific validity that is the basis of the Transcendental Meditation school of thought has yet to be completely verified by Western science, the benefits of meditation in general are gaining increasing medical support.

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