When I first met Thilde Jensen she encouraged me to try TM to help with my obsession and depressive nature. We have been together for 2 years now and committed to each other last summer. Meditation has become a daily habit for both of us, one that I hope we will carry with us to the end of our days. This is not a sales pitch for TM, honestly I feel like it’s a total scam, I am promoting the medical benefits of any meditation not just a single ‘brand’. Although Thilde and I have settled quite comfortably into doing TM, there are a lot of different styles of meditation each with their benefits and drawbacks. This is a story of my personal path.
The TM style of meditation has been around since 1955 and seems to have changed very little throughout the years. The biggest change to the movement has been the price of the training. It has gone from being free to several thousand dollars for private instruction. So then the question becomes, why should I pay $2,500 for something that I can teach myself for free?
Once of the benefits of paying the course fee is that you are assigned a ‘mantra’ to use during your meditation. What your mantra is almost doesn’t really matter as long as it is not a word that you already associate with an image or thing. ie if your mantra is ‘ice cream’ then repeating that 40 minutes a day is probably not going to help calm your troubled mind and it might make you increase your ice cream consumption. A good and common mantra that is used and handed out is ‘Ohm’. Ohm wouldn’t work for me because all I would think about is an electrical unit of resistance measurement. When you are given a mantra you’re not allowed to talk about it to anyone, somehow that destroys it’s power. I can tell you my mantra that I picked using the power of google and it’s very long at 12 syllables and is pretty hard to remember. I recommend that you pick a mantra that speaks to you, do a google search for Mantra list and you will come up with plenty like this.
So how do I meditate? Don’t eat before you meditate, close your eyes, set a timer for 20 minutes and repeat your mantra. When you start thinking about other things (you will) just gently ease your mind back to your mantra. It’s really that easy. I do it first thing in the morning religiously and if I’m having a tough day I’ll do it later in the day before dinner. 95% of the time I only do it in the morning. Meditation allows me to focus my energy and it calms my troubled mind and obsessive nature. I frequently get stuck in unhealthy ‘ruts’ or ways of thinking and meditating somehow is like pushing your mental car out of a snowdrift.
Everyone can do it, it costs nothing, it can make you happier, more functional and get more of what you want out of life. What’s not to like?
7 thoughts on “How Transcendental Meditation Can Ease A Troubled Mind (aka How I Kept $2500 In My Pockets)”
What you describe is only marginally sorta like TM.
And, to illustrate just how easy it is to get things wrong, I’d like to point out that the price of TM hasn’t been $2500 for several years. Currently, it is $960 for adults and $360 for students of any age, and the David Lynch Foundation has paid TM teachers to go to various places like schools, Indian Reservations, refugee camps, orphanages, prisons, etc., and teach TM for free. All told, 10% of the 5 million people who have learned TM in the past 50 years have learned it for free. many of whom wouldn’t have access to a trained meditation teacher no matter how little they were charging.
Now, getting back to what you claim you know about TM…
TM is explained in several short videos by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:
the basic principle of TM:
the teaching of TM:
growth towards enlightenment via TM:
That last video is very fun, because it suggests that it is possible to figure out the physiology of enlightened people via science, and in fact, research on the psychology and physiology of people who meet the old monk’s definition of enlightenment has been published:
Click to access eeg-of-enlightenment.pdf
Click to access brain-integration-progress-report.pdf
Now, the American Heart Association reviewed all the research on meditation and high blood pressure that was published from 2007 to 2012 and concluced that TM was the only form of meditation with sufficiently good and consistent research that they could say that doctors could recommend it to their patients for the treatment of high blood pressure (see pages 5 and 6):
Click to access HYP.0b013e318293645f.full.pdf
This last is important because 40+ years ago, a professor at Harvard University published a book describing the kind of meditation technique you practice, claiming it had the exact same effects as TM, and yet, 40 years later, after 40 years of research, the American Heart Association won’t endorse the practice you and the professor from Harvard say has the same effects as TM.
This is because TM isn’t really a technique (anyone can say “think a mantra without effort”) but an intuition. TM teachers train for 5 months in how to take their students through the process of gaining that intuition. They rehearse just as hard as professional actors do when rehearsing a play, learning the words, the body-language, the hand-gestures, and tone-of-voice that TM-founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used when he was teaching.
THe result is basically a play, performed by the TM teacher over 4 days, that doesn’t tell a story, but leads to an intuition about effortlessness and mantras.
And, just as you don’t expect “spoilers” for the play to have the same effect as watching teh play without reading the spoilers, you shouldn’t expect to read the spoilers about TM to have the same effect as watching the play meant to “teach” you TM.
This point isn’t lost on some people. The government of Brazil has announced that they want to have 48,000 people trained as TM teachers, one for each public school, so that every public school kid can learn TM for free and have the opportunity to have this kind of benefit:
In fact, the David Lynch Foundation predicts that based on independent research on the 500,000 people they have taught TM to, various governments and disaster relief agencies and prisons and so on will be training enough of their own employees to be TM teachers to that about 10 million people will learn TM for free by the end of 2018.
But hey, continue thinking that you saved $2500 even though the price of TM hasn’t been that in years. I’m sure you’ll find the same benefits.
Thanks for the corrections and the price update. When I asked for training it was $2500, I have no idea what it is now.
$960 for adults, $360 for students of any age (K-PhD) as long as they’re working less than20 hours a week.
And scholarships and grants are available to lower the price further if you have financial hardship.
That sounds way more reasonable than $2500. Thanks for the update.
The $2500 price-tag was set to entice the wealthy to learn as they set the trends and fashions of Society and “the rich don’t shop at poor stores.”
The description of TM given isn’t really TM anyway, and research on TM and other practices suggests that if you don’t got through the official TM course, you’re likely to end up practicing something other than TM.
Of course, you might decide that something other than TM is better anyway, but just a heads up.
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The current price for an adult to learn TM is $400 the last I heard of during 2019.
Herbert Benson, the above mentioned Harvard professor was involved in early research on TM and even though he was not trained as a TM teacher he decided he knew enough to create his Relaxation Response which is not TM at all. The mantra is all important, one cannot guess what is the best mantra for themselves. The TM mantra is based on the individual’s nervous system, therefore it is well suited and will give results that are backed by several hundred research studies over decades. Secondly, the correct way to use the mantra must be taught by a trained TM teacher since it does not involve concentration, contemplation or guided visualization or Mindfulness. To achieve deeper levels of relaxation which is what produces the benefits for the mind and body, the correct way to meditate in an effortless manner must be taught using individual instruction. The Harvard professor’s wife is a TM meditator. When she was asked when her husband would start doing TM she replied, “When Herb stops making money with his Relaxation Response.”
I state the above based on my 46 years of daily TM meditation and I also am a teacher of TM for which I trained for one year. The in residence training took 7 months and there was an additional in the field training which took several months. The first American psychiatrist to become a TM teacher stated in one of his books that he found his training to become a TM teacher as rigorous as medical school. So this is not a method that can be learned by oneself.