The Power of Transcendental Meditation

By Bob Roth

Maharishi taught us the the simple yet precise technique of how to personally teach any individual to transcend — to effortlessly access the deep stillness that lies within every human being

“From his earliest days of teaching TM in the world in 1958, Maharishi focused on researching and understanding the science of Transcendental Meditation…Since then, more than four hundred scientific studies have shown the wide-ranging benefits of the TM technique for improving brain and cognitive functioning, cardiovascular health and emotional well being.”

Some studies which stand out include:

  • American Heart Association: 5-year randomized controlled study on patients with established coronary heart disease reported a 48% reduction in death, heart attack, and stroke in subjects in the TM group compared to controls.
  • IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca: Volunteers were asked to perform TM for 3 months with an fMRI machine being used to monitor their ability to deal with stress both before and after TM as well as compared to a control group. The study found that “the group of meditators reported a reduction in psychometric scores reflecting perceived depression, anxiety and stress in opposition to resilience and social skills”.

Bob asks the question of what it actually means to meditate?

When I talk about meditation, I use an analogy. I tell my students, you are in a little boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and for as far as you can see, there is an expanse of blue.

But all of a sudden, the water begins to get choppy, and you find yourself surrounded by huge, thirty-foot waves. You could easily think, ‘The whole ocean is in upheaval!’

The whole ocean? Not really. Because if you could look at a cross section downwards, you would see that only the surface is in turmoil. The Atlantic is several miles deep, and at its depth, the ocean is very, very, calm. Down there is an unbounded expanse of peace and tranquility, entirely undisturbed by the turbulence above.

Like the waves on the surface of the ocean, the surface of the mind can be active — even noisy and turbulent. Some characterize the surface o the mind as the ‘monkey mind.’ I like to call it the ‘gotta-gotta-gotta’ mind.

Different meditation techniques will require different levels of effort, difficulty and will impact the brain in different ways. The three types are:

  • Focused Attention: You are asked to stop your wandering ‘monkey’ mind and clear your thoughts which is a lot of work. This technique produces Gamma waves which can be found when one does any type of challenging task like solving a math problem. You are in the boat trying to stop every wave as it approached you.
  • Open Monitoring: Open Monitoring (or mindfulness) revolves around learning to observe thoughts dispassionately, as they come and go. This is more a dream-like state in which you produce theta brain waves associated with creativity, daydreaming and memory tasks. Like Focused Attention, OM is a cognitive process and keeps your attention in the present moment. You are in the boat watching the waves rise and fall dispassionately.
  • Automatic Self-Transcending: You are in the boat and understand that you must go down to the depth where it is truly peaceful and calm. With TM you are asked to find the field of ‘pure consciousness’ or what scientist describe as your mind in a state of ‘restful awareness’. It is there in all humans but we have lost access to it. “The purpose of TM is to open the door to this unbounded field. There is no concentration or control of the mind; nothing guided; no suggestions or passive observation”.

TM works on 4 different levels:

  1. “The mind has different levels: the surface levels of the thinking mind are active, often excited, and sometimes heated, while the deeper levels are calmer and more expansive. The deepest level is, by nature, most satisfying.”
  2. “It’s the nature of the mind to be drawn effortlessly to fields of greater satisfaction.”
  3. “TM gives the attention an inward direction, and, through the proper use of a mantra, the mind naturally and effortlessly settles down to its own quiet, peaceful, transcendent state of awareness.”
  4. “This experience produces a unique state of restful alertness, which is at the core of the constellation of neurophysiciological changes to mind, body and behaviour”