The Transcendental Meditation® Technique
by Vicki Peterson
always wanted to meditate but I never knew how. I tried emptying my
mind of thoughts and just got a headache. Staring at a candle got
boring after a while. I gave up, thinking I just couldn't concentrate
hard enough. When I went to my first Transcendental Meditation lecture
in 1971, the teacher said, "It's easy, anyone can do it." Given my
previous failures at meditation, I was skeptical. But I gave it a try,
and within three days I knew this was the path for me.
Most people think that meditation is something else that people do, like jogging and playing solitaire, listening to music and petting their cats. But doing things involves the active mind. If the active mind is like waves on the surface of the ocean, then the Transcendental Meditation technique is like diving to the silent depths of the ocean.
A technique is a better way to do something that is based on deeper understanding of the laws of nature. You can't move a huge boulder with your bare hands no matter how hard you try, but with the technique of a lever you can move that same boulder with one finger. The unbroken tradition of Vedic knowledge, embodied by His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, has deep understanding of the laws of nature governing consciousness. For more than 40 years Maharishi has been teaching an effortless technique to transcend thoughts.
It is practiced for 20 minutes twice a day, sitting comfortably with the eyes closed, as a preparation for effective activity. The boundaries of experience effortlessly expand and you experience deep silence while remaining awake inside. Anyone can do it. You don't have to be smart, educated, vegetarian, religious or able to sit still in a chair. You don't have to understand what you've just read or even believe that it works. If you are human and awake you can learn how to transcend.
The TM technique is in accord with the laws of nature that govern human awareness. What do you notice about your mind? That is has a
lot of thoughts? That it's always moving around? Bingo. Observation Number One: The mind is constantly moving. Most people stop there and give up, complaining that it would be too difficult to train the mind to stand still. They are right. Forcing the mind to stay on one object of perception goes against the nature of the mind.
It seems that the mind is always looking for something more: more knowledge, more fun, more power, more joy - just more. Observation Number Two: The mind is always moving in the direction of greater satisfaction. That means it will never be completely satisfied by anything less than infinity.
The mind will find fulfillment only when it moves beyond objects into the infinite field of awareness itself. The Sanskrit word Ananda describes the bliss of pure consciousness. Bliss attracts the mind like no-thing could. And we don't have to go anywhere to find it. Pure consciousness is just the simplest form of our own awareness, located at the source of thought.
So: An infinite field of pure bliss lies at the basis of our busy minds; and our minds always move in the direction of greater happiness.
When the mind takes the right angle and lets go, then its own nature automatically draws it toward bliss. If this is true, then why do we have to learn a technique? Human abilities to walk, talk, eat and read are all learned. Transcending is no different. We have the innate ability but we have to learn the technique of taking the correct angle. In every time and place people have transcended spontaneously, without any technique. But they could not duplicate it later by trying or teach others how to do it.
The TM technique is not concentration - forcing the mind to remain fixed on one object. It is not contemplation - thinking about the meaning of something. It is also not contriving an emotion or a mood of calmness, peace or happiness. Full understanding of theTM technique comes from direct experience. You can learn it from a qualified teach in two-hour classes over four consecutive days.
The technique involves allowing the mind to be aware but uninvolved on the level of meaning. Each student is given a particular sound, chosen for him or her, which does not have a meaning. This special sound has a harmonizing, life-supporting effect at all the more subtle levels of the mind as it settles into the
| transcendent. Not being
engaged in meaning, which would keep the mind on the surface, the mind
is free to take its natural direction - straight toward Bliss.
The teacher also gives the technique of how to use that sound, in just the right sequence for each student. The knowledge of how to choose, give and use the sound comes from a living tradition of Vedic knowledge, unbroken for thousands of years. Every TM teacher has been trained and personally qualified by Maharishi, the modern exponent of the Shankaracharya branch of the Vedic tradition.
To prepare to teach effectively, each instructor performs a simple ceremony of gratitude to the tradition of knowledge while the student looks on. Transcending is too important to be left to inexpert guesswork.
More than 600 scientific studies have verified that TM practice produces a unique state of restful alertness, twice as deep as deep sleep, and that daily practice gives rise to innumerable health benefits which can lower the cost of health care.
According to a 1991 study reported in the British Medical Journal, only 15 percent of modern Western medical practices have been verified as effective by scientific research. Think about this! Insurance companies will reimburse for a heart transplant but they totally ignore a technique that has been repeatedly verified to nourish the heart at a deep level.
I know there is a tendency in some circles to yawn that the TM program is old-fashioned. Maybe a technique that has withstood both the test of time and scientific scrutiny is worth reconsidering.
Transcendental Medication and TM are registered trademarks, licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation.
Vicki Peterson is a writer and TM Instructor in Muncie. For more information, call 765/286-5087.
Branches January/February 1998