Unlike mindfulness-based meditations, which focus on clearing the mind of thoughts and gently bringing the attention back to the present moment when it wanders (as it will), TM is based on focusing on a single mantra, which is silently repeated. This mantra is unique to each individual, and those who complete training programs are typically assigned mantras based on their personal characteristics and are expected to be a good fit.
Transcendental meditation is a type of meditation technique. The Transcendental Meditation program, also known as the TM program, requires you to silently repeat a mantra in your head. The goal of Transcendental Meditation is to bring your body into a state of restful alertness. Although your body is deeply relaxed and your mind is quiet, you are fully awake. Your active mind settles inward during this type of meditation until you reach a state of pure consciousness. To transcend is to go beyond.
Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
The benefits of transcendental meditation are various. From mental, spiritual, physical and emotional, the range of benefits goes beyond our mere understanding. Here is a detailed overview of the benefits of transcendental meditation.
1. Helps with Heart Disease
Scientists have recently focused on the potential of TM to lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease.
A meta-analysis of nine randomised controlled trials published in 2008 discovered that regular practice of TM may have the potential to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure to clinically meaningful levels. Another meta-analysis published in 2017 suggested that practising TM could lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the same rate as other lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. However, the study’s authors also advocated for more independent research.
A 2019 randomised control trial of 85 Black hypertensive patients found that TM may help prevent cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients.
A small scoping review of six articles published in 2021 found that TM was associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in non-Hispanic Black women.
2. Overall Mood Betterment
Stress reduction is a key benefit of meditation in general, and TM is no exception.
A 2019 systematic review of 22 studies found that meditation, including TM, can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety in breast cancer patients. A small 2020 study found that TM improved participants’ perceived depression, anxiety, and stress.
In a 2021 pilot randomised control trial, patients with cardiovascular disease were divided into three groups. One participant received standard cardiac rehabilitation. Another group did yoga, and a third did TM. While all three groups experienced improved well-being, the authors suggested that TM could serve as preliminary support for cardiac rehabilitation. TM was found to be a safe and effective way to significantly reduce negative psychological symptoms and burnout in a 2021 study of emergency workers during COVID-19.
3. Deal with PTSD Issues
A 2018 study of 29 veterans found that TM could be an effective support for veterans suffering from PTSD.
Four studies on TM were included in a 2021 review of the impact of meditation on veterans with PTSD, three on mantra meditation, two on mindful meditation, and one on breathing meditation. All interventions, according to the authors, improved PTSD symptoms. According to a 2020 study of South African college students, practising TM twice a day could help with PTSD and depression.
4. Helps in Overcoming Substance Use Disorder
There has been little research on TM and substance use disorder in particular. However, a 2018 study of adults who were new to meditation found that regular practice of TM could reduce alcohol cravings and use. Larger controlled studies, according to the authors, are also required.
5. Spiritual Benefits are Amazing
According to Guzman, people who practise TM report feeling more connected, empathic, and compassionate towards themselves and others.
Participants with type 2 diabetes who had undergone amputation were given three sessions of TM instruction in a 2021 clinical trial. According to the trial findings, spiritual care interventions such as TM may improve well-being. However, spiritual benefits are inherently difficult to define and quantify.
6. The Physical Benefits are Amazing
In 2017, one study reviewed eight meta-analysis studies, which means it was a study that reviewed several studies that reviewed other groups of studies—in total, an analysis of dozens of studies and thousands of participants.
While there were some discrepancies, the overall trend indicated that TM is effective in lowering blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that TM be used in clinical practice based on this evidence.
7. Mind and Mental Health
In 2014, another meta-analysis looked at 14 research papers that looked at 16 studies and 1295 participants. 7 This study discovered that TM was effective in reducing trait anxiety when compared to control groups who received their regular anxiety treatment. Trait anxiety is a type of anxiety that occurs on a regular basis rather than as a passing mood.
The findings also revealed that subjects experienced significant reductions in anxiety during the first two weeks of practice but that these reductions could still be maintained three years later. Interestingly, those who had the highest levels of trait anxiety at the start of the study—those in the 80th to 100th percentile range, such as veterans with PTSD and prison inmates—had the greatest decrease in anxiety, dropping to the 53rd to 62nd percentile range.
The Final Words
According to an official Transcendental Meditation website run by a TM-based nonprofit, TM must be taught by a certified TM teacher over four consecutive days. (This can be very useful, but it is also somewhat expensive.) Because TM research is primarily based on the type of practice learned in this manner, the precise benefits demonstrated in research may be dependent on having learned the technique from a certified instructor in this manner.