WHAT IS TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION?
STRESS IS THE PLAGUE of the 21st century and is a major contributor to a growing list of modern ailments. Meditation is often a viable solution and a wonderful way to relax, promote health, vitality and longevity; cultivate creativity and peak performance; and an inner path to peace and enlightenment. Transcendental meditation (TM), brought to the East and West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is a form of meditation that allows the active mind to settle into a state of inner calm and restful alertness. It is particularly useful in conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and ADHD as it has the ability to induce greater relaxation than the deepest part of a deep sleep. It is the fourth state of human consciousness that is not waking, dreaming or sleeping, yet possesses the ability to produce a powerful, deep rest. It has also been shown in numerous studies to reduce cortisol levels, balance blood pressure, reduce insomnia, lower risk for heart disease, reduce anxiety and depression and improve cognitive function and memory.
THE OCEAN ANALOGY
Bob Roth, executive director at The David Lynch Foundation likens an overly active mind to high tides. You feel the swell of the waves rising all around you as though the entire ocean is in upheaval. However, in reality, the ocean is only active on the surface, and naturally silent at its depths. Our mind may constantly be in go mode and inundated with endless checklists, but within us all is a level of the mind that is already calm, settled and wide awake. It is often described as unbounded creativity, focus, clarity, intelligence and happiness. These qualities are always there, but we’re often stuck at the surface. TM helps us to dive deeper into quieter levels of the mind.
There are 3 major types of meditation:
1. Focused attention. Meditation modalities such as Zazen or Vipassana involve concentration and control of the mind. The goal is to clear the mind from thoughts and focus on breath work. In terms of the ocean analogy, it can be likened to completely stopping the movement of the waves.
2. Open monitoring. A mindfulness form of meditation where you emotionally disengage and observe. You are observing the rise and fall of waves while being present and mindful of the surrounding environment.
3. Transcendent Meditation. Also known as Automatic Self Transcending, it doesn’t involve concentration, but rather allows the active, thinking mind to experience quieter states of thought in order to transcend thought and experience self, or our own unbounded nature.