Meditation is a common way of relieving stress and anxiety. It can also help you to find a moment of calm and be more mindful. Mindfulness meditation is maybe one of the most well known forms of meditation, but there are a wide range of branches of meditation that are practiced all over the world.
Transcendental meditation is one of them. It’s a simple, natural and effective way to find inner peace. Want to find out more? Keep reading as we explain how to do transcendental meditation, what it is and how to find your own mantra.
What is transcendental meditation?
Transcendental meditation is a form of meditation that involves mentally repeating a mantra or word. This mantra-based practice originates from ancient Vedic teachings, but has been popularised since the 1970s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Yogi is a guru famous for developing and sharing the transcendental meditation technique and organisation. Since then, the technique has been picked up and practiced by celebrities like Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman and the Beatles.
Like many other methods of meditation, it can help to ease the mind and body and allow anyone who practices it achieve a sense of peace and calm. It’s a natural technique that you can practice on your own, multiple times a day to relieve stress and centre yourself.
Benefits of transcendental meditation
As with mindful, spiritual, focus and other types of meditation, transcendental meditation supports a number of mental health and physical benefits. It’s said to help:
Improve cognitive function
Increase emotional control
Improve your quality of sleep
Give you more energy
Reduce stress and anxiety
Reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke
Decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol
These bold claims have been the focus of many scientific studies. From some of these studies, it has been proven to improve cognitive function with students suffering from ADHD, improve responses that correlate with general intelligence and reduce the chances of death, heart attack or stroke by 48% within patients with coronary heart disease.
How is transcendental meditation different from other meditation techniques?
Firstly, transcendental meditation is most popularly taught by a trained teacher, usually through a course or 1-2-1 lessons. It’s commonly believed that this is the only way of practicing it, however qualified teachers have stated that you can practice it on your own. You just won’t receive the accountability and support of a teacher.
Transcendental meditation also differs in that you must repeatedly chant a specific mantra to fully reach a meditative state. Other forms of meditation use common words or phrases, but in transcendental meditation, you use a special word that is picked based on the vibrations it causes. If you’re learning it from a course, your teacher will assign you a mantra based on a secret formula, but you can pick your own if you’re practicing it independently.
It’s described as an effortless practice without any concentration or control of your mind. Other forms of meditation encourage you to clear your thoughts. Transcendental meditation allows other thoughts to pop into your head and you can even become distracted. This is because returning to your mantra will allow you to go beyond the thinking state and return to a blissful level of mind. This state is also known as a restful state of awareness where we can reach tranquillity.
The repetition of your mantra creates a space between you and your thoughts, allowing you to passively observe them without worry. It’s great for separating yourself from your daily anxieties and finding calm from your day-to-day life.
Transcendental meditation is supposed to give you a special rest and relaxation unlike what you’ll achieve with other forms of meditation. You can achieve perfect consciousness and a feeling of being present, which can be hard to find sometimes.
How to do transcendental meditation
As we mentioned before, many people choose to be taught transcendental meditation by a qualified teacher or from a course. This branch of meditation requires a lot of self-discipline, which is where having a teacher can help.
But you can definitely practice at home on your own too. You’ll need to research the process, find a mantra and, of course, make time to practice. We’ve broken down the steps for you below.
1. Find a mantra. Transcendental mantras aren’t real words but focus on the sound they make, so we’d recommend searching for “transcendental meditation mantras” on YouTube. This will allow you to hear how it’s chanted.
2. Pick a mantra that you like the sound of. Play it a few times to familiarise yourself with the sound.
3. Practice saying your mantra. Try and chant it like how it sounds in the video. Close your eyes and focus on the sound it makes and how it feels when you chant it.
4. When you’re ready to start meditation, find a comfortable place to sit. You want to feel relaxed, with your feet touching the ground and your hands in your lap. Don’t cross your legs or arms.
5. Set an alarm for twenty minutes. This is how long each transcendental meditation practice should last.
6. Close your eyes. Your eyes should remain closed for your whole practice
7. Take a few deep breaths to relax yourself.
8. Repeat your chosen mantra in your head.
9. If you become distracted or start thinking about something, simply repeat your mantra again.
10. After twenty minutes, start to gently bend and wriggle your fingers and toes. This helps your body to ease back to the world.
11. Open your eyes.
12. Remain seated as your body and mind come back to the present, or until you feel ready to carry on with your day.
To get the most out of transcendental meditation, you should practice twice a day, every day. It’s common to feel bored or struggle to persist when you begin transcendental meditation, but as you continue to practice, you’ll find it easier and more enjoyable to slip into the feeling of tranquillity.
Choosing your transcendental meditation mantra
When you select your mantra, it’s important to choose a sound that you like and won’t get bored of. This is because you should stick to your chosen mantra for all of your practices. When learning from a teacher, it’s not uncommon to use the same mantra that’s given to you for as long as you participate in transcendental meditation.
You must choose a mantra that has no meaning to you. Mantras are used to encourage your mind to go to that tranquil state, so finding a word devoid of any meaning and sentimental value is important. Otherwise, you may find that it holds too much significance to something in your life or distracts you when you practice.
Transcendental meditation mantra examples
If you’re just starting transcendental meditation, here are a few common mantra examples that you may come across in your research or on YouTube:
Aum or Om
When you chant these mantras, it’s important not to just speak them in your head like regular words. Try varying the length and tone of each letter or syllable. There’s no right or wrong way to say your mantra, so find a way of chanting that feels natural and easy to you. The more natural your chant is, the easier it will be to reach a state of tranquillity when you’re saying it.
Is transcendental meditation right for you?
As with any form of meditation, you won’t know until you try it whether it’s the right method for you. And like when you try anything, it’s important to give it a proper chance before forming an opinion on whether it works for you or not.
Making time to practice and dedicating yourself to seeking tranquillity is essential for gaining the benefits of transcendental meditation.
For more ideas on how to achieve a more balanced, healthier and happier lifestyle, check out the Fushi blog here.