Transcendental Meditation

Overview

What is transcendental meditation?

Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation. With transcendental meditation, also called TM, you silently repeat a mantra in your head. The focus of transcendental meditation is to settle your body down to a state of restful alertness. Your body is deeply relaxed and your mind is quiet, but you’re wide awake. With this type of meditation, your active mind settles inward until you transcend to a state of pure consciousness. Transcends means to go beyond.

Who developed transcendental meditation?

An Indian guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed transcendental meditation in the 1950s. Maharishi studied consciousness. He created transcendental meditation based on ancient meditative yoga practices. But transcendental meditation doesn’t involve any kind of religion, philosophy or lifestyle. Maharishi introduced the technique as a science. He helped establish the meditative state as the fourth state of consciousness. The first three are waking, sleeping and dreaming.

How many people practice transcendental meditation?

The popularity of transcendental meditation began to increase in the 1960s. The Beatles and other celebrities started practicing the technique. A nonprofit organization called Maharishi Foundation teaches transcendental meditation. Another nonprofit, the David Lynch Foundation, brings transcendental meditation to people around the world. Today, more than 6 million people worldwide have learned transcendental meditation.

Procedure Details

How does transcendental meditation work?

Transcendental meditation is a simple, effortless technique. You sit comfortably on the floor with your eyes closed and practice twice a day for 20 minutes.

With transcendental meditation, you don’t need an app to guide your meditation. Instead, you silently repeat a mantra in your head.

A mantra is a word or phrase that becomes the object of your attention. You drive your consciousness toward your mantra. The transcendental meditation mantras are not English words for objects, feelings or experiences. They’re sounds that help you take your attention from active thinking to a deeper level of self-awareness.

How can I learn transcendental meditation?

To learn transcendental meditation, a certified teacher at the Maharishi Foundation must teach you the technique. The transcendental meditation course includes a one-hour lecture and one hour of formal one-on-one training with your teacher. The course is carefully personalized for you by your teacher.

After these sessions, you’ll receive your mantra. Your transcendental meditation teacher selects your mantra for you. After that, you’ll have three follow-up sessions. At these sessions, you’ll meditate under your teacher’s observation. Then, you can begin to practice transcendental meditation on your own every day, twice a day.

How much does transcendental meditation cost?

People learn the transcendental meditation technique through several sessions. The cost of these sessions ranges from $540 to $980, depending on household income. Also, grants are available for low-income households receiving federal assistance.

Can I learn transcendental meditation on my own?

You may find transcendental meditation resources in books, videos, YouTube, Reddit or various apps. But to properly learn the technique, you must learn from a certified transcendental meditation teacher. Certified teachers have five months of in-residence training. Then they must maintain their certification through continuing education. Also, they give you personalized one-on-one attention to train you on the technique.

Risks / Benefits

What are the benefits of transcendental meditation?

Research in transcendental meditation supports its effectiveness in several areas. It may have physical, mental, cognitive and emotional benefits. These include:

Physical benefits

  • Lower blood pressure: Transcendental meditation has been shown to reduce high blood pressure. Studies have shown transcendental meditation may be as effective at reducing blood pressure as blood pressure medication.
  • Improvement in sleep
  • Pain management and/or distraction from pain.

Mental health benefits

Cognitive benefits

  • Increased productivity, performance and problem-solving skills.
  • Enhanced creativity, intelligence and awareness.
  • Improved energy, focus and memory.

Emotional benefits

  • Enhanced clarity of thoughts and feelings.
  • Increased compassion and gratitude.
  • Improved quality of life and inner peace.

When to Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider?

If you have symptoms such as high blood pressure, stress or anxiety, talk to your healthcare provider. You should speak with them before starting any new treatment or therapy. They may have suggestions for alternative treatments. They may be able to point you toward useful resources, such as finding a transcendental meditation teacher near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between transcendental meditation and mindfulness?

With mindfulness meditation, you focus on clearing your mind of any thoughts. When you notice your mind has wandered, you gently bring your attention back to the present moment.

With transcendental meditation, you repeat a specific mantra to help direct your attention inward. The technique is designed to help your mind settle down and go beyond the present moment.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation. You silently repeat a word or phrase in your mind to settle yourself into deep consciousness. Transcendental meditation has been found to have many health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress. If you’re interested in exploring transcendental meditation, talk with your healthcare provider about your options.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/19/2022.

References

  • Bonamer JR, Aquino-Russell C. Self-Care Strategies for Professional Development: Transcendental Meditation Reduces Compassion Fatigue and Improves Resilience for Nurses. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30741919/) J Nurses Prof Dev. 2019;35(2):93-97. Accessed 1/20/2022.
  • Mahone MC, Travis F, Gevirtz R, et. al. fMRI during Transcendental Meditation practice. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29505943/) Brain Cogn. 2018;123:30-33. Accessed 1/20/2022.
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Meditation: In Depth. (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth) Accessed 1/20/2022.
  • Ooi SL, Giovino M, Pak SC. Transcendental meditation for lowering blood pressure: An overview of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28917372/) Complement Ther Med. 2017;34:26-34. Accessed 1/20/2022.
  • Orme-Johnson DW, Barnes VA. Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24107199/) J Altern Complement Med. 2014;20(5):330-341. Accessed 1/20/2022.

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