Practices in Meditation come with varying degrees of spirituality, ritual and benefits. Some are more adept to a life of calmness and relaxation, while other methods fit the quick reboot and recharge requirements of a more contemporary lifestyle. Over centuries, meditation has been created, practiced, developed, and even adapted. Heart Rhythm Meditation, Kundalini, Guided Visualization, Qi Gong, Mindfulness, and Transcendental Meditation are all different practices offering some different (and some similar) benefits, but since I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 5 years, I think we will start there!
Transcendental Meditation (TM) is probably the most sustained and widely used method of contemporary Meditation, with an estimated 6 million people (or “T.M.ers” as we refer to ourselves) around the world meditating twice a day. Each meditation session lasts approximately 30 minutes. This involves 5 minutes surrender to the process, 20 minutes of meditation, and another 5 minutes to ease out of the transcendence with calmness and peace.
Even though the technique and spiritual base remain largely unchanged, TM has allowed people from all faiths and philosophies the opportunity to discover deep rest and mindfulness without compromising their personal beliefs.
TM started as a spiritual practice of silent mantra mediation in India in the 1950’s by Maharishi Mahesh, although its origins go back to the Vedic traditions that shaped Hinduism. In the 1960’s and 70’s, the practice jumped in popularity with the opening of meditation centers and TM teacher training programs, and then shifted it’s focus to a more technical presentation of meditation, drawing a wider interest from people who had previously felt confronted or excluded by the spiritual nature and time commitment that came with traditional mediation practices. It now has an impressive international celebrity following, including Oprah Winfrey and David Lynch.
For me, learning Transcendental Meditation came at the perfect moment in my life. My career and schedule were becoming increasingly challenging, and TM offered me an extraordinary relief from stress and anxiety. At first I was surprised that there were so few traditional elements of meditation. I was given my personal mantra, but I wasn’t asked to focus on breath or the absence of thought. In fact, I was asked to embrace thought, and was taught how to use it to get my mind to a place deeper than REM sleep; to the transcendence.
I was also surprised to find TM to be more of a mental meditation, not connected to any religion, philosophy, lifestyle or spirituality. I chose to embrace its spiritual roots, but I knew that was not a necessary part of learning or practice. For me, the unique experience of drawing your mind to a place of deep rest comes with a very quiet sense of spiritual calmness, so it became a part of my personal experience, allowing me access to more holistic results, and to a place beyond thought, beyond spirituality…almost beyond meditation itself. To put it simply, Transcendental Meditation not only changed who I am in the world, it also changes what the world is in me.
Find out more about Transcendental Meditation here: http://www.tm.org/