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Transcendental Meditation

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Transcendental Meditation

A logo used to show TM practice.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) refers to a specific form of Transcendental Meditation movement and to the movement itself.[1][2] The TM technique and TM movement were introduced in India in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008).

The Maharishi taught thousands of people during a series of world tours from 1958 to 1965, expressing his teachings in spiritual and religious terms.[3][4] 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 late 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 case[4][5][6]

TM is one of the most widely practiced, and is among the most widely researched meditation techniques.[7][8][9] It is not possible to say if it has any effect on health as the research to date is of poor quality.[10][11][12]


The Transcendental Meditation (TM) program and the Transcendental Meditation movement originated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the organization, and continued beyond his death (2008). In 1955,[13][14][15] "the Maharishi began publicly teaching a traditional meditation technique"[16] learned from his master [22] the Transcendental Meditation technique has remained relatively unchanged.

Among the first organizations to promote TM were the Spiritual Regeneration Movement and the International Meditation Society. In modern times, the movement has grown to encompass schools and universities that teach the practice,[23] and includes many associated programs based on the Maharishi's interpretation of the Vedic traditions. In the U.S., non-profit organizations included the Students International Meditation Society,[24] AFSCI,[25] World Plan Executive Council, Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, Global Country of World Peace and Maharishi Foundation.[26] The successor to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and leader of the Global Country of World Peace, is Tony Nader.[27][28]


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

The meditation practice involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with one's eyes closed.[29][30] It is reported to be one of the most widely practiced,[31][32] and among the most widely researched, meditation techniques,[7][8][9][33] with hundreds of published research studies.[34][35][36] The technique is made available worldwide by certified TM teachers in a seven-step course,[37] and fees vary from country to country.[38][39] Beginning in 1965, the Transcendental Meditation technique has been incorporated into selected schools, universities, corporations, and prison programs in the U.S.A., Latin America, Europe, and India. In 1977 a U.S. 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.[5][6] The technique has since been included in a number of educational and social programs around the world.[40]

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,[41][42] and as a non-religious practice for self-development.[43][44][45] 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.[46]


The Transcendental Meditation movement refers to the programs and organizations connected with the Transcendental Meditation technique and founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental Meditation was first taught in the 1950s in India and has continued since the Maharishi's death in 2008. The organization was estimated to have 900,000 participants worldwide in 1977,[47] a million by the 1980s,[48][49][50] and 5 million in more recent years,[51][52][53][54][55][56][57] including some notable practitioners.

Programs include the Transcendental Meditation technique, an advanced meditation practice called the TM-Sidhi program ("Yogic Flying"), an alternative health care program called Global Country of World Peace, and the David Lynch Foundation.

The TM movement also operates a worldwide network of Transcendental Meditation teaching centers, schools, universities, health centers, herbal supplements, solar panel, and home financing companies, plus several TM-centered communities. The global organization is reported to have an estimated net worth of USD 3.5 billion.[61][62] The TM movement has been characterized in a variety of ways and has been called a spiritual movement, a new religious movement,[63][64] a millenarian movement, a world affirming movement,[65] a new social movement,[66] a guru-centered movement,[67] a personal growth movement,[68] a religion, and a cult.[64][69][70] Additional sources contend that TM and its movement are not a cult.[71][72][73][74] Some state that participation in TM programs does not require a belief system and is practiced by people from a diverse group of religious affiliations including atheists and agnostics.[75][76][77][78] The organization has also been criticized as well as praised for its public presentation and marketing techniques throughout its 50-year history.

Health effects

It is currently not possible to say whether meditation has any effect on health, as the research to date has been of poor quality,[10][11][12] including a high risk for [79][80][81] Independent systematic reviews have not found health benefits for TM exceeding those of relaxation and health education.[10][82][83] A 2013 statement from the American Heart Association conferred a Class IIb, Level of Evidence B, classification to TM as a treatment for hypertension.[84] This designation generally means that a treatment "may be considered in clinical practice" but that its effectiveness is "unknown/unclear/uncertain or not well-established".[85] The section on meditation finished by stating: "Because of many negative studies or mixed results and a paucity of available trials... other meditation techniques are not recommended in clinical practice to lower BP at this time."[84] According to the American Cancer Society, "available scientific evidence does not suggest that meditation is effective in treating cancer or any other disease".[86]

There has been ongoing research into Transcendental Meditation since the first studies were conducted at UCLA and Harvard University and published in Science and the American Journal of Physiology in 1970 and 1971.[87] By 2004 the US government had given more than $20 million to Maharishi University of Management to study the effect of meditation on health.[88]

Maharishi Effect

The Maharishi Effect is a paranormal claim that a significant number of individuals practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) and the TM-Sidhi program have an effect on the environment.[65] This hypothetical influence was described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s and was later termed the Maharishi Effect as a result.

With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program in 1976 it was proposed that only the square root of one percent of the population practicing the TM-Sidhi program, together at the same time and in the same place, would increase "life-supporting trends". This was referred to as the "Extended Maharishi Effect".[89][90]

Evidence that TM practitioners[91] believe support the existence of the effect has been shown to lack a causal basis,[92] include cherrypicked data,[93] result from believers' credulity,.[92][94]


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  32. ^ Schneider, Robert; Fields, Jeremy (2006). Total Heart Health: How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease with the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications. pp. 148–149.  
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  35. ^ Rosenthal, Norman (2011). Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. New York: Tarcher/Penguin. p. 14.  
  36. ^ Freeman, Lyn (2009). Mosby's Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach. Mosby Elsevier. p. 176.  
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  42. ^ Aghiorgoussis, Maximos (Spring 1999). "The challenge of metaphysical experiences outside Orthodoxy and the Orthodox response". Greek Orthodox Theological Review (Brookline) 44 (1–4): 21, 34. 
  43. ^ Chryssides, George D. (2001). Exploring New Religions. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 301–303.  "Although one can identify the Maharishi's philosophical tradition, its teachings are in no way binding on TM practitioners. There is no public worship, no code of ethics, no scriptures to be studied, and no rites of passage that are observed, such as dietary laws, giving to the poor, or pilgrimages. In particular, there is no real TM community: practitioners do not characteristically meet together for public worship, but simply recite the mantra, as they have been taught it, not as religious obligation, but simply as a technique to benefit themselves, their surroundings and the wider world."
  44. ^ Partridge, Christopher (200). New Religions: A Guide To New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 184. It is understood in terms of the reduction of stress and the charging of one's mental and physical batteries. 
  45. ^  
  46. ^ Shear, Jonathan, ed. (2006). Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions. St Paul, MN: Paragon House.  
  47. ^ Stark, Rodney; Bainbridge, William, Sims (1986). The Future Of Religion. University of California Press,. p. 287.   "Time magazine in 1975 estimated that the U.S. total had risen to 600,000 augmented by half that number elsewhere" =[900,000 world wide] "Annual Growth in TM Initiations in the U.S. [chart] Cumulative total at the End of Each Year: 1977, 919,300"
  48. ^ Peterson, William (1982). Those Curious New Cults in the 80s. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing. p. 123.   claims "more than a million" in the USA and Europe.
  49. ^ Occhiogrosso, Peter. The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World's Religious Traditions. New York: Doubleday (1996); p 66, citing "close to a million" in the USA.
  50. ^ Bainbridge, William Sims (1997) Routledge, The Sociology of Religious Movements, page 189 "the million people [Americans] who had been initiated"
  51. ^ Analysis: Practice of requiring probationers to take lessons in transcendental meditation sparks religious controversy, NPR All Things Considered, February 1, 2002 | ROBERT SIEGEL “TM's five million adherents claim that it eliminates chronic health problems and reduces stress.”
  52. ^ Martin Hodgson, The Guardian (5 February 2008) "He [Maharishi] transformed his interpretations of ancient scripture into a multimillion-dollar global empire with more than 5m followers worldwide”
  53. ^ Stephanie van den Berg, Sydney Morning Herald, Beatles guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi dies, (February 7, 2008) “the TM movement, which has some five million followers worldwide”
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  56. ^ Bickerton, Ian (February 8, 2003). "Bank makes an issue of mystic's mint". Financial Times (London (UK)). p. 09.  the movement claims to have five million followers,
  57. ^ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Spiritual Leader Dies, New York Times, By LILY KOPPEL, Published: February 6, 2008 "Since the technique’s inception in 1955, the organization says, it has been used to train more than 40,000 teachers, taught more than five million people"
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    Beckford, James A. (1985). Cult controversies: the societal response to new religious movements. Tavistock Publications. p. 23.  
    Parsons, Gerald (1994). The Growth of Religious Diversity: Traditions. The Open University/Methuen. p. 288.

    For neo-Hindu, see:
    Alper, Harvey P. (December 1991). Understanding mantras. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 442.
    Raj, Selva J.; William P. Harman (2007). Dealing With Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia. SUNY Press. p. 129.
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  70. ^ Sagan, Carl (1997). The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 16.  
  71. ^ Harrison, Shirley (1990). Cults: The Battle for God. Kent: Christopher Helm. pp. 93–103 "none of the other 'cultic qualities' defined by cult watchers can be fairly attributed to TM."
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Further reading

  • Alexander, Charles and O'Connel, David F. (1995) Routledge Self Recovery: Treating Addictions Using Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Ayur-Veda ISBN 1-56024-454-2
  • Bloomfield, Harold; Cain, Michael Peter; Jaffe, Dennis T. (1973) TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress
  • Clark, Christopher and Sharma, Hari (1995) Churchill Livingstone, Contemporary Ayurveda ISBN 0-443-05594-7
  • Deans, Ashley (2005) MUM Press, A Record of Excellence, ISBN 0-923569-37-5
  • Denniston, Denise, The TM Book, Fairfield Press 1986 ISBN 0-931783-02-X
  • Forem, Jack (2012) Hay House UK Ltd, Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ISBN 1-84850-379-2
  • Geoff Gilpin, The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality, Tarcher-Penguin 2006, ISBN 1-58542-507-9* Pollack, A. A., Weber, M. A., Case, D.
  • Jefferson, William (1976) Pocket Books, The Story Of The Maharishi, ISBN 0671805266
  • Kropinski v. World Plan Executive Council, 853 F, 2d 948, 956 (D.C. Cir, 1988)
  • Marcus, Jay (1991) MIU press, Success From Within: Discovering the Inner State That Creates Personal Fulfillment and Business Success ISBN 0-923569-04-9
  • Oates, Robert and Swanson, Gerald (1989) MIU Press, Enlightened Management: Building High-performance People ASIN: B001L8DBY2
  • Roth, Robert (1994) Primus, Transcendental Meditation ISBN 1-55611-403-6
  • Skolnick, Andrew "Maharishi Ayur-Veda: Guru's Marketing Scheme Promises the World Eternal 'Perfect Health'!", JAMA 1991;266:1741–1750,October 2, 1991.
  • Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh (1968) (Bantam Books) Transcendental Meditation: Serenity Without Drugs ISBN 0-451-05198-X
  • Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh (1967) Penguin, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita : A New Translation and Commentary ISBN 0-14-019247-6.

External links

  • Official TM site
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