Transcendental meditation is a technique that is based on ancient yoga practices. Eastern cultures have always practiced meditation in one form or another. However, it only recently arrived in the West. So, chances are you might not have heard about how to meditate. When people hear the word “transcendental,” they might think of it as simply a buzzword.
It might even seem like a cheap marketing scheme to attract young people to quirky things. But this is a profound technique that can help you calm your mind and enter a state of peacefulness. Unfortunately, because meditation is something done to improve your mental health, it doesn’t always get the best reputation, which might seem weird, given how important it is. But you must remember that mental health issues have been stigmatized throughout history.
It’s been less than 100 years since people have started to understand that mental health issues should be taken seriously. But unfortunately, some people still think that mental health issues are just used as excuses not to do things or that people struggling with such issues are insane. Of course, none of these assumptions is true. But their existence makes people feel the need to suppress their struggles. Plus, life is stressful.
People have to balance jobs, which are becoming increasingly more demanding, friends and hobbies. Not to mention that the world is unstable, and there is a lot of added anxiety regarding the economic and political climate. So, there are a million reasons people could become stressed, and if you can’t seem to calm down, you shouldn’t be ashamed. But you need to find some way to relax. So, it might be worth it to give transcendental meditation a shot.
What Is Transcendental Meditation?
Transcendental meditation has been around in its present form only since the 1950s. The current technique has been perfected by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who took inspiration from the Vedas texts of India. These texts are around 4,000 to 5,000 years old, but the knowledge is believed to be much older. The word “Veda” means knowledge.
So, the Vedas, a collection of hymns, held all the knowledge people knew was necessary at that time. These texts are from a time before modern religion and culture ever existed. Still, these texts have greatly inspired Hinduism, which is why they are most associated with this religion. This explains why the teachings and techniques derived from Vedas, such as meditation and yoga, were popular only in the East until a few decades ago.
Consciousness and Meditation
Maharishi wasn’t the first person to use meditation to calm the mind. But he was the first who combined meditation and consciousness and presented it as transcendental meditation to the world. By studying consciousness, he helped determine that consciousness has four stages, not just three, as previously believed. The fourth stage is the meditative state, which explains why meditation is helpful.
One thing that might throw people off is that Maharishi argued that transcendental meditation is a science. While modern understanding of this technique wouldn’t go as far as to support this theory, transcendental meditation is still tied to science. Specifically, it has been shown that it triggers some changes in the brain.
Transcendental meditation is quite simple in theory. You just need to sit comfortably on the floor with your eyes closed. Then, start silently repeating a mantra for about 10 minutes. It works best if you meditate twice a day. The mantra is a word or a phrase that’s supposed to become the only thing you focus on. Some people even use sounds or vibrations.
For example, in movies, meditation is often depicted using someone staying in the lotus position while humming. That’s almost always an example of transcendental meditation. But, if humming isn’t your thing, there are many generic examples you can choose from. After all, the mantra should be something completely devoid of meaning. There are lists made by teachers and experts that show what Sanskrit word you should use depending on age and gender.
The Link Between Transcendental Meditation and the Brain
In the past decade, EKG studies have shown that transcendental meditation triggers changes in brain activity. Precisely, it activates the default mode network. This network is considered the brain’s natural or ground state. This network is a set of brain regions exhibiting low-frequency oscillations during resting.
These regions are activated when someone focuses on internal mental-state processes. More specifically, these regions activate when one is not focused on the outside world. Such processes include introspection, autobiographical memory retrieval, and imagining the future. Or you can enter a wakeful rest when you daydream, or your mind wanders.
Other regions, such as attention networks, are passive when the default mode network is active. Transcendental meditation may help people enter a state of restful alertness. The change in the brain waves supports this noticed during meditation. It also creates a higher connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Plus, it enhances one’s sense of self.
These changes are connected to the default mode network, demonstrating that transcendental meditation has a scientific side. It’s not just a placebo effect but a technique that has empirically been proven to work.
How Does Transcendental Meditation Help Calm Your Mind
1. It Improves Your Physical Health
One of the best things transcendental meditation does is improve your physical health. Maybe that wouldn’t seem connected to the mind, but it is. Something that stresses people more than they think is struggling with how healthy their body is. Maybe you don’t even realize it consciously, but these issues affect you. For example, high blood pressure is tied to high-stress levels.
Not to mention that the symptoms of hypertension are headaches, shortness of breath, and even nosebleeds. But transcendental meditation can reduce and stabilize blood pressure. It could also be as effective as a hypertension medication.
Besides that, transcendental meditation improves sleep. Insufficient sleep is also a leading cause of stress, so getting better sleep will help calm your mind. Plus, it helps with pain management. While meditating, you can distract yourself from any discomfort or pain. You can even help your brain minimize that unpleasant feeling.
2. It Improves Mental and Emotional Health
As discussed previously, transcendental meditation helps reduce high blood pressure, which in turn helps reduce stress. But that’s not the only reason why it helps with anxiety. When you meditate, you transcend into the fourth state of consciousness. In this state, all your worries and struggles fade away. So without stressors, your mind can calm down.
And the best part is, after meditation, when your mind is clear, you can find ways to solve the problems weighing you down. This meditation is also helpful in treating anxiety, depression, and PTSD. This ties into how it helps decrease stress levels. Indeed, you might start reaping the mental health benefits as early as the second week of practicing transcendental meditation.
On the emotional side, a big benefit is that you will have clearer thoughts and feelings. Even though the aim is to clear your head of all thoughts in the minutes you meditate, it will help you create order in your head after you meditate. Plus, it will help increase gratitude and compassion. Allowing you to detach from the present helps put things into perspective. So, it ultimately improves inner peace and calms your mind.
3. It Has Cognitive Benefits
Even though this type of meditation is all about peace and relaxation, it doesn’t only affect the default mode network. When someone practices transcendental meditation regularly, it helps improve certain cognitive functions. For example, it improves productivity, performance, and problem-solving skills.
This is because it helps clear your head of all unimportant thoughts that otherwise impede your cognitive processes. For example, managing everything when your head is clutter-free is much easier. It also helps improve creativity and enhance your intelligence and awareness.
Being more relaxed means that you have the time to entertain and process new ideas, whether those ideas are creative or practical. For example, if your subconscious is considering the possibility of drawing something, after meditating, that idea can come forward, meaning you will be consciously aware of it. This is why you can be more creative. The same goes for thoughts that can enhance your intelligence.
Another bonus is that transcendental meditation improves energy and focus, which ultimately helps you have a better memory. Besides these cognitive benefits being awesome on their own, they also lead to a bonus. They calm the mind because they help you face stress and adversity.
Final Thoughts on Transcendental Meditation and How It Can Calm Your Mind
There are many types of meditation, and they all have merits. But transcendental meditation is arguably the best one. And it’s the one that’s best suited to help you calm your mind. But, of course, some people already practice mindfulness meditation, which many consider the best for reducing stress and relaxation.
But the evidence points towards transcendental meditation being better in all categories. So, if you want to start meditating, your best shot is to give transcendental meditation a go. But you don’t need to compare transcendental meditation to anything else to see just how many benefits it has. And it’s very simple to do. You just need to sit down, close your eyes, and repeat your mantra. It’s such an easy thing to incorporate into your life that you’ll have no issue making it a habit.
And the benefits start showing right away. Transcendental meditation improves your mental and physical health. It also helps you balance your emotions. Not to mention that it strengthens cognitive functions. But the best part is that it activates parts of the brain, specifically the default mode network, responsible for rest and relaxation. So, if you want to be more relaxed and calm your mind, give transcendental meditation a try.