There's a good reason why your doctor or therapist might recommend meditation — maybe you read about it somewhere or heard about it from a friend. Quieting an overactive mind could be the ticket to reduced anxiety and stress. To best achieve relaxation, you need a breakdown of transcendental meditation for beginners.
When was the last time you sat still and simply breathed? How difficult is it to focus in those moments? Transcendental meditation provides the tools to sit comfortably in silence without wandering thoughts and worry. However, unlike other forms of meditation, you need a teacher to assist you in adopting your technique.
Transcendental meditation is straightforward, but it helps to know what you're getting into from the start. Here's a helpful guide to transcendental meditation for beginners to understand the ins and outs of this practice.
What Is Transcendental Meditation?
Although the transcendental meditation technique gained popularity in the 1960s, it's been around for thousands of years under different names. This form of meditation isn't affiliated with any spiritual or religious beliefs despite deriving from Vedanta.
The practice comprises repeating a mantra to still the mind, eliminating thinking and developing a deeper state of consciousness and relaxation. As a result, practitioners experience greater joy, creativity and quality of life.
Transcendental meditation programs have made the practice more accessible than ever. Celebrities and scientific researchers have also given the practice a boost with evidence of its benefits.
How Does Transcendental Meditation Differ From Mindfulness?
There is seemingly much overlap between meditation and mindfulness when adopting a spiritual practice. However, key differences set mindfulness and transcendental meditation apart.
For one thing, transcendental meditation utilizes a unique mantra, which practitioners repeat silently for a more uplifting and soothing session. Mantras help quiet the mind and remove negative thoughts. Yet, the goal isn't strictly training awareness but to attain optimal restfulness.
Conversely, mindfulness emphasizes breath to draw one's focus inward and within one's surroundings. Others might focus on physical sensations, objects and emotions. Regardless of whatever anchors you, your mindfulness practice should aim to improve concentration and consciousness.
Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney and Russell Brand are but a few of the many celebrities who have openly discussed practicing transcendental meditation. In one interview, Brand underscored how this practice allowed him to become more present in the given moment instead of living in the past or projecting the future.
Practitioners will notice several outcomes like this when they adopt transcendental meditation as part of their daily ritual. Some of the physical, mental and cognitive benefits include the following:
More restful sleep
Better pain management
Reduced blood pressure
Lower anxiety and depression
Ability to cope with post-traumatic stress
More energy, creativity and memory
Improved quality of life
More gratitude and compassion
According to one study, practicing transcendental meditation for 20 minutes daily for three months showed significant improvements in burnout, insomnia and chronic anxiety.
A Beginner's Guide to Transcendental Meditation
Like other forms of meditation, practitioners must sit comfortably with their eyes closed while practicing transcendental meditation. However, this type of meditative practice requires instruction from a certified teacher.
The Maharishi Foundation USA provides all the information you need to prepare for one-on-one training with a transcendental meditation teacher. There are four sessions you must attend in person as follows:
Session 1: A 60 to 90-minute introductory session where you receive a mantra
Session 2–4: Three 1.5 to 2-hour sessions with your meditation instructor in person or virtually where you learn more about the practice, learn about the benefits and receive feedback on your technique
Practitioners will come together for a follow-up session 10 days after completing the initial sessions — these meetings are usually with a small group of other beginners. Afterward, you can occasionally meet with an instructor for free anywhere in the United States to refine your technique.
Transcendental meditation may seem difficult for beginners, but they often find it's much more straightforward than they previously thought. It requires little concentration or effort — just the ability to breathe and focus on one's mantra. Experts recommend practicing transcendental meditation twice daily — usually in the morning and the afternoon.
Challenges of Transcendental Meditation
Those taking transcendental meditation courses will reap the rewards of their daily practice. However, it isn't without some challenges you should consider.
The cost of transcendental meditation sessions may cause a financial burden for some. The Maharishi Foundation sets up payments based on income — for instance, you might pay between $540 and $980 depending on your salary bracket. Full-time students must pay $420, while the organization also offers a partial grant to those receiving federal assistance.
Of course, there may also be fewer teachers available in certain areas. Prepare to have to travel to access in-person instruction.
Like any meditation form, some beginners might struggle to adapt. Achieving the ultimate state of relaxation takes practice and won't happen overnight. However, it's important not to become discouraged. Likewise, adjusting to the different sensations overcoming you could also be uncomfortable. While these physical and emotional experiences aren't harmful per se, you may need to get used to them.
There is also a learning curve when taking up transcendental meditation. While concentration isn't necessarily a cornerstone of this practice, you still need to learn how to focus on your mantra. This can be challenging for someone with a scattered mind.
Committing to a daily practice is another challenge you must face. Yet, creating two windows of time for meditation is critical if transcendental meditation is to work for you.
Transcendental Meditation Is the Key to Better Living
Transcendental meditation may not fix all your problems, but it can relieve much mental congestion. Overall, a meditation practice is good for your physical, mental, cognitive and emotional well-being — meaning it can also be the key to improved quality of life.
Consider signing up for transcendental meditation sessions to learn more about it and adopt a daily practice. Your life could very well change for the better.