Transcendental Meditation (TM) offers similar health and well-being benefits as other forms of meditation. It helps reduce anxiety, increase mindfulness and manage insomnia, among other benefits. Developed from earlier, traditional meditation techniques in India, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi popularized the method beginning in the 1950s. Today, TM has millions of adherents worldwide, including creative influencers such as Tom Hanks, Lykke Li, Tim Ferris, David Banner, Ramani Ayer, Russell Brand and director David Lynch. Dozens of celebrities, artists, musicians and even business people attribute their enhanced creativity—at least in part—to this daily meditation practice.
So what makes transcendental meditation unique? And is it right for you?
How is transcendental meditation different?
The benefits of meditation have been published in numerous studies over the past few decades. This research has made daily meditation a popular means of self-care and improved well-being, one which is used throughout the world today. Yet despite its popularity, many individuals quickly become frustrated and give up on their meditation routine. Even knowing the health benefits of meditation, their attempts prove more vexing than relaxing.
That frustration with meditation usually boils down to one fact: Some of us simply can’t clear our minds.
General restlessness, discomfort or diagnosed ADD or ADHD makes mindful meditation nearly impossible for many. The concept of “emptying your thoughts” can be akin to telling a depressed person to simply “cheer up.” It’s not that simple and, for many, the effort only adds to their anxiety.
TM differs from other forms of meditation in that it does not require “emptying the mind.” Nor does it require deep concentration or attention. Rather than fighting the urge of restless thought, TM harnesses and redirects that impulse. A simple, silent mantra occupies your mind, warding off distracting thoughts while in a comfortable, seated position such as on an affordable meditation pillow. In just 20 minutes per day, you will be practicing transcendental meditation.
What is a mantra?
A mantra is simply a sound, word or phrase which you repeat to clear your mind of other thoughts during meditation. For some, a mantra can embody a deeply religious, cultural or personal meaning. For others, it may be any word or other utterance such as a nonsensical sound. Many first starting TM may vocalize their mantra, but practitioners soon find themselves repeating the sound silently.
As a popular reference, you may be familiar with “om” as a mantra common in yogic meditation. My personal mantra is “banana.” For me, the word has an interesting yet simple cadence and soon loses meaning upon repetition. More often, however, people choose a monosyllabic sound. Your mantra can be literally anything you choose.
What are the benefits of transcendental meditation?
While more accessible for some, TM offers similar rewards as other forms of meditation. Reduction of stress and anxiety, greater overall presence and mindfulness, and physiological benefits such as reduced blood pressure are each experienced by daily practitioners. So if you’ve found other forms of meditation difficult, mantric-based transcendental meditation could be the best for you.
How does TM connect to other self-care practices?
Given its yogic origins—including breathing and posture—it’s no surprise that TM overlaps with yoga among many of its practitioners. But that does not mean you need to take up yoga on your first day… or ever. That’s entirely up to you, and TM on its own still offers the benefits of a meditative practice plus simplicity and a potential creative edge millions love.
Whether you enjoy nature walks, positive journaling or other daily habits to build resilience, TM is adaptable to any belief system or lifestyle. Twenty minutes per day is all you need to feel clearer of mind, more creative and more resilient. The rest of your day—and what you do with this increased vitality—is entirely up to you.
How do I get started with daily transcendental meditation?
If you are interested in transcendental meditation, the nonprofit TM Community offers resources to learn more. It’s a good start, but maybe the idea of joining a “community” is more than you’ve bargained for. Don’t worry. One of the great things about TM is its adaptability to your needs and lifestyle. Meditation apps featuring mantric-based meditations can help you test the waters of meditation styles to find your best fit.
In fact, some of the best meditation apps provide guided meditations so even beginners can get started in a meditation routine. If mantric-based TM is your preference, they provide natural sounds, soothing music and breathing exercises to help you begin your journey of self-care, greater resilience and happiness.
Bryan enjoys the digital space where arts and technology meet. As a writer, he has worked in education, health and wellbeing, and manufacturing. He also assists smaller businesses in web development including accessibility and content development. In his free time, he hikes trails in central Florida.