Chapter 3: Relaxation
Transcendental Meditation (TM) refers to a specific form of mantra meditation called the Transcendental Meditation technique, and less commonly to the organizations that constitute the Transcendental Meditation movement. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008) introduced the TM technique and TM movement in India, in the mid-1950s.
The Maharishi taught thousands of people during a series of world tours from 1958 to 1965, expressing his teachings in spiritual and religious terms. TM became more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as the Maharishi shifted to a more technical presentation, and his meditation technique was practiced by celebrities. At this time, he began training TM teachers and created specialized organizations to present TM to specific segments of the population such as business people and students. By the early 2000s, TM had been taught to millions of people, and the worldwide TM organization had grown to include educational programs, health products, and related services.
The TM technique involves the use of a sound or mantra, and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day. It is taught by certified teachers through a standard course of instruction, which costs a fee that varies by country. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement, it is a method for relaxation, stress reduction, and self-development. Varying views on whether the technique is religious or non-religious have been expressed including by sociologists, scholars, and a New Jersey court.
TM is one of the most widely practiced and researched meditation techniques. It is impossible to say whether or not it has any effect on health, as the research to date is of poor quality.
The meditation practice involves the use of a mantra for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with the eyes closed. It is reported to be one of the most widely practiced, and among the most widely researched, meditation techniques, with hundreds of published research studies. The technique is made available worldwide by certified TM teachers in a seven-step course, and fees vary from country to country. Beginning in 1965, the Transcendental Meditation technique has been incorporated into selected schools, universities, corporations, and prison programs in the US, Latin America, Europe, and India. In 1977 a US district court ruled that a curriculum in TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) being taught in some New Jersey schools was religious in nature and in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The technique has since been included in a number of educational and social programs around the world.
The Transcendental Meditation technique has been described as both religious and non-religious, as an aspect of a new religious movement, as rooted in Hinduism, and as a non-religious practice for self-development. The public presentation of the TM technique over its 50-year history has been praised for its high visibility in the mass media and effective global propagation, and criticized for using celebrity and scientific endorsements as a marketing tool. Advanced courses supplement the TM technique and include an advanced meditation program called the TM-Sidhi program.