The good folks over at Wild Divine recently posted “A Brief History of Transcendental Meditation” and gave us permission to republish the article. I thought our valued readers might appreciate additional coverage of meditative techniques given the popularity of the recent Integrative Body-Mind Training, Nature Exposure, and Mindfulness: A Review of Attention State Training Techniques by Mark Johnson.
Transcendental meditation is a relatively new form of meditating in comparison with Yoga and Buddhist meditation. It was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1957 as a way of developing the mind so that a person can rise above, or “transcend”, beyond the noise and stress of daily life. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a student of the famous Hindu Guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. From 1958 onwards, he traveled the world teaching his spiritual regeneration and enlightenment.
Transcendental meditation had its beginnings in the Far East and then spread to the western world. After three years of traveling and teaching, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi realized that he needed to train his followers so that they could spread this form of meditation even further.
The first international training course was held in Rishikesh, India in 1961. As more and more people all over the world realized the benefits of this form of meditation, scientists began researching it and by 1970 the first scientific papers were published espousing the technique. Since then there have been hundreds of such documents published, all of which show that transcendental meditation:
- helps to reduce the stress levels in the body leading to overall good health
- helps to increase a person’s creativity
- helps to heighten the intelligence level of the meditator
- brings about self-realization
- could actually help you to live longer
Transcendental meditation does not have any religious affiliation, but it did have a political association in the Natural Law Party. This political party was formed in 1992 with the goal of using the principles of the meditation as a way of finding ways to solve the problems of society – crime, injustice, economics and environmental issues.
A basic transcendental meditation courses are generally expensive and in spite of the high cost, an estimated five million people all over the world have taken these courses. There are also advanced courses available for extra costs. This process of meditation is relatively easy to learn in the seven-step procedure used in the four days of the course. Each day begins with a two hour lecture and the instruction starts with a ceremony performed by the instructor after which the students learn the technique and start practicing.
The principle behind the technique of transcendental meditation is that the source of all thoughts is the deepest level of the subconscious and is far beyond what the normal senses can experience. In this meditation, the practitioner takes one thought or sound and focuses on this so that it can be experienced in the deepest possible way.
The Maharishi compared it to a bubble of water that starts deep in the water and is only visible when it reaches the surface. He said that our thoughts are the same way – they start in the subconscious and rise to the conscious level of the mind.
In January, 2008, the Maharishi retired as the chairman of the transcendental meditation organization. He passed away the following month in Vlodrop, Netherlands, where he had lived for almost 20 years, coordinating his centers of teaching through an organization known as the Global Country of World Peace.
Wild Divine:republished with permission