Transcendental meditation (or TM) is one of the most popular and accessible genres of meditation and many people who practice it say it is one of the easiest forms of meditation to start with as a beginner. It involves repeating a phrase (known as a mantra) over and over, without having to visualise any images, scenes or colours and typically each meditation session lasts just 20 minutes.
Numerous benefits have been shown for people who meditate on a regular basis and although many of them are anecdotal, it’s been suggested that it helps with depression and anxiety, stress, eating disorders, addictions, and may even help with infertility, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain. It’s also been shown that meditation can boost creativity and clarity of mind.
Meditation vs. mindfulness
Mindfulness has been the buzz word of the last year and is often spoken about when talking about meditation. But although mindfulness can be a technique to help with certain meditations, it’s actually quite different to TM. Mindfulness has been defined as ‘the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment’. Whereas in TM and many other types of meditation, the aim is to completely silence the mind, rather than focus it.
How to get started?
Anyone can learn to meditate but if you’re keen to learn TM, you’ll need to find a certified trainer to begin with. In the UK you can take a look at uk.tm.org to find a certified teacher near you. You’ll take a course with a trainer that typically lasts four sessions, after which you’ll have the tools to practice this way of meditating for life.
There are hundreds of different types of meditation – if TM doesn’t sound like it’s for you, you may prefer the sound of guided visualisation meditation or zazen meditation which focuses more on breath patterns.
Whatever style of meditation you choose, the benefits in this often chaotic and busy world are clear - and if you’re curious why not give it a try?
Written by Ruth Tongue