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Yogic Flying

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Yogic Flying

The TM-Sidhi program is a form of meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1975. It is based on, and described as a natural extension of the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM).[1][2] The goal of the TM-Sidhi program is to enhance mind-body coordination[3] and to support the "holistic development of consciousness"[4] by training the mind to think from what the Maharishi called a fourth state of consciousness[5] or Transcendental Consciousness.[6]

"Yogic Flying", a mental-physical exercise of hopping while cross-legged, is a central aspect of the TM-Sidhi program.[7][8] This has been termed the Maharishi Effect and empirical studies by proponents have met with skepticism and criticism.[9]

Skeptics have called TM or its associated theories and technologies pseudoscience and have refuted the claims made by its practitioners.[10][11][12] It is difficult to determine definitive effects of meditation practices in healthcare as the quality of research has design limitations and a lack of methodological rigor.[13][14][15]

Origin and description

The TM Sidhi program was created as a "natural extension of the TM program" and its purpose is to enhance a person's "progress towards enlightenment".[16]

According to the TM movement the goal is to develop a "higher level of intelligence, learning ability, creativity and neurological efficiency".[16] The Transcendental Meditation technique purports to give the experience of pure consciousness, found at the source of the mind.[17] The TM-Sidhi program, also called "Maharishi Technology of Unified Field", aims to train the practitioner's mind to operate without losing connection with that source.[17][18] According to the Maharishi, by learning to function in this way, thinking becomes increasingly coherent, mind body coordination is strengthened,[3] and the practitioner's desires may be fulfilled more easily.[17]

Derived from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, which taught that there were 52 siddhis or special powers that accompany enlightenment[19] the TM-Sidhi Program consists of formulas or sutras (threads), the practice of which proponents say can lead to development of advanced human abilities, which the program calls Sidhis. The essential aspect necessary to gain these powers is called samyama, a synthesis of three methods taught by Patanjali. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's samyama includes the incorporation of Yogic Flying and other sidhis.[19][20][21] According to Anna Bonshek, by practicing the TM-Sidhi program, a person starts to operate from "self-referral consciousness", and that Yogic Flying shows mind-body co-ordination and the person's ability to "act from self-referral awareness".[21] Physicist Brian David Josephson wrote that the TM-Sidhi techniques operate from the level of pure consciousness, a state which the Sidhis "perturb" by introducing sutras or phrases, containing ideas, which in turn determine the nature of the subsequent effect. According to Josephson, the Sidhis provide experimental evidence of the existence of the creative ability of the state of pure consciousness, as each technique produces a corresponding result.[22]

According to the Maharishi, Yogic Flying is a phenomenon created by a specific thought projected from the simplest state of human consciousness called Transcendental Consciousness.[6] Practitioners say that there are three distinct stages of Yogic Flying: hopping, floating, and flying.[23][24][25][26][27] Referring to quantum electrodynamics, the Maharishi explained the physics of Yogic Flying this way in a conversation with two scientists: "We teach our students that by concentration through meditation they can create an impenetrable field of energy between the ground and their bodies.The greater the field of energy, the higher the meditating man can rise. It is simple Q.E.D."[28][29] The hopping stage is described as "the body moving forward in short jumps".[30] Since 1986, there have been public demonstrations of the hopping stage of Yogic Flying in numerous countries including many locations in the United States.[31] There have been no demonstrations of stage two: hovering or floating, nor any demonstrations of stage three: flying through the air.[30][32] These "short jumps" are said to be the outward expression of the inner experience of lightness and intense happiness.[16] Pictures of people in mid air were taken at the top of a short jump or hop while sitting cross legged.[33] Musician Paul McCartney was with The Beatles in Rishikesh in 1968 for TM training and he asked if the Maharishi could provide a demonstration of levitation. According to McCartney, the Maharishi said "I personally have not practised this art" and did not personally know anyone in the area who did and was therefore unable to demonstrate it.[34]


The TM-Sidhi program, is sometimes referred to as Yogic Flying, was introduced during a downturn in TM program enrollment and reportedly costs thousands of dollars to learn.[35][36][37] The organization directed itself inward and offered additional products and practices to its committed practitioners to continue on the path to enlightenment.[36] These included, in the words of Bainbridge, supernatural compensators, including the TM-Sidhi program.[35] During this period, the Movement began making increasing claims about the powers of TM and the TM-Sidhi program, including the reduction of crime. In her book, author Nancy Cooke de Herrera writes that Charlie Lutes, former President of the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, saw the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program as a financial ploy to increase income in the wake of declining public interest in TM.[38][39]

The Maharishi appeared as a guest on The Merv Griffin Show in 1975 and again in 1977.[40][41][42] According to author James Randi, a magician and critic of paranormal claims, the Maharishi said during a Merv Griffin Show appearance that he had enrolled 40,000 students in the TM-Sidhi program. When Griffin, a practitioner of TM,[41] asked how many of them had learned to levitate, the Maharishi answered: "Thousands".[43] According to a 1977 article in The Los Angeles Times, a spokesman said that Yogic Flying would only be demonstrated if a group of ten individuals each paid $1,000 for the showing. The article quoted Swami Vishnu-devananda as saying that the assertions of flying is a "hoax".[44] Brahmachari Silendra, an Indian Physicist described TM and the TM-Sidhi as an incremental process like "following a map": "We are following the path and right now we are on schedule." [45]

In 1985, civil suits were filed against the World Plan Executive Council and MIU by Robert Kropinski, Jane Greene, Patrick Ryan and Diane Hendel[46] claiming fraud, psychological, physical, and emotional harm as a result of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs. Following dismissal of the other claims by the trial judge, the jury awarded Kropinski $137,890 on the fraud and negligence claims. The appellate court overturned the award, the case was remanded for retrial.[47] The Kropinski, Green, and Ryan cases were then settled on undisclosed terms.[48] The remaining suit by Hendel, not included in the settlement, was later dismissed because the claims were barred by the statute of limitations. In affirming the dismissal, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit held that Hendel's claims were time-barred under the discovery rule because ...the defendants made representations which any reasonable person would recognize as being contrary to common human experience and, indeed, to the laws of physics.   If, as Ms. Hendel alleges, she was told that meditators would slowly rise in the air, and that some of them were “flying over Lake Lucern” or “walking through walls, hovering, and becoming invisible,” and that her failure to go to bed on time could bring about World War III, then a reasonable person would surely have noticed, at some time prior to September 1, 1986, that some of these representations might not be true.[49]

Bevan Morris, president of the Maharishi International University, held the First North American Yogic Flying Contest in 1986, at the Civic Center in Washington DC. 22 TM-Sidhi meditators participated in competitions including the 25-meter hurdles, the 50-meter dash, and the long jump.[50] The winning times and distances: 11.53 seconds in the 25-metre hurdles; 23.33 seconds in the 50-metre dash; 70 inches in the long-jump; and the high jump 24.75 inches.[50] Reporters describe the participants hopping on foam mattresses while sitting cross legged or in a seated "lotus position".[51][52] Victoria Dawson, a reporter for the Washington Post, observed that, "The hoppers remained seated, hopping vigorously among themselves, mixing and mingling with spiritual energy and good feeling".[30] The contest was held annually through 1989.[53] The champion long jumper at the 1989 event explained that the "changing of physiology of the subtle self" enabled him to lift off the ground, and predicted that he would accomplish full flight within three years.[53]

In 1986, the Maharishi organized yogic flying demonstrations, reportedly taking place simultaneously in 1000 cities in 108 countries.[54][55] Documented countries included Hong Kong,[56][57][58] India,[59][60] Pakistan,[61] Philippines, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Iran,[62] Thailand,[63][64][65][66] Cyprus, Ghana, Israel, Lebanon, Kenia, South Africa,Turkey, and the United Kingdom.[67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74]

In a 1987 Washington Post article, the Cult Awareness Network criticized Yogic Flying as "fake". Two former students from Maharishi International University said the activity was "strictly physical exercise ... [with] nothing spiritual about it".[75] The Washington Times report that a student from the University stated that the technique was natural; "If it was strictly physical you'd find people sweating, gasping and panting at the end. And if you did it on your own you wouldn't want to continue."[76]

In the 1998 ABC News special The Power of Belief, journalist John Stossel said Yogic Flying looked like bouncing. A stock analyst who practices Yogic flying was interviewed said it brought him bliss and helped him perform his job more effectively.[77]

Robert L. Park, professor of physics at the University of Maryland and author of the weekly science Internet column, What's New, attended a demonstration in 1999 that was presented at a press conference at the Washington, DC Press Club by physicist and Natural Law Party US Presidential candidate, John Hagelin. Park described 12 "fit-looking" young men who demonstrated levitation following a meditation session and "popped up a couple of inches and thumped back down." Park wrote that "the scene looked like corn popping", and that "there was nothing to suggest they didn’t follow parabolic trajectories".[78]

According to the Global Good News website "on 28 November 2006, the United States achieved invincibility and is stabilizing the number of Yogic Flyers—rising from 1,600 to 1,730—assembled at the Invincible America Assembly in Fairfield, Iowa".[79]


The term "siddhi" means "perfection" and refers to the development of a perfected mind/body coordination.[21] Early advertisements for the TM-Sidhi program stated that its practice could lead to the development of extraordinary abilities such as Yogic Flying, the creation of peace, invisibility, walking through walls, mind-reading, colossal strength, extra sensory perception, empathy, compassion, omniscience, perfect health, and immortality.[23][80][81][82][83] The difference between the TM technique and the TM-Sidhi program is that the TM technique gives the practitioner the experience of their inner Self, the "field of all possibilities", whereas the TM-Sidhi program is a practice that develops the ability to "activate the field of all possibilities".[84] The program claims that one is able to gain the power of levitation and invisibility, walking through walls, colossal strength, ESP, perfect health, immortality and more, as "signposts" of spiritual progress.[85] Skeptic James Randi concluded his investigations by saying there is "no levitation, no walking through walls, no invisibility".[86] Australian psychiatrist Byron Rigby[87] presented a paper at the Sixth World Congress of Psychiatry in 1977, stating that practitioners of the TM-Sidhi program had achieved extraordinary hearing, the ability to see inner organs of the body and objects inside sealed containers with eyes closed, and the early stages of flying and invisibility.[88] Doug Henning explained in a lecture that "You can disappear at a high state of consciousness because your body just stops reflecting light".[89] More important than these abilities is the development and control of the mind that is said to occur.[19]

There are currently 18 sidhis, each with an associated sutra, which is a word or phrase in English. The current TM sidhis include friendliness (repeating the word "friendliness"); knowledge of the motions of the stars (repeating the word "polestar"); omniscience (repeating the phrase "distinction between intellect and transcendence") and levitation or flying (repeating the phrase "relationship of body and akasha (ether)-lightness of cotton fiber"). The chosen sutras are repeated mentally every 15 seconds, and repeated twice. The flying sidhi, which was emphasized by the Maharisihi over the other sidhis for unknown reasons, is practiced after completing the other sidhis, and may be repeated for 5 to 30 minutes, followed by a rest period, and then a 10-minute reading from an English translation of the Rig Veda.[38][90][91] According to Lola Williamson, who practiced the TM-Sidhi program until 1981, the version of TM-Sidhi that is taught to non-TM teachers is slightly different. She writes that after practicing the flying technique each day, practitioners read the Ninth Mandala of the Rig Veda which according to the Maharishi, feeds the Soma created in their guts to the Vedic gods, particularly Indra.[38]


Main article: Transcendental Meditation research

It is presently not possible to say whether meditation has any effect on health, as the research to date has been of poor quality,[13][92][93] including a high risk for bias due to the connection of researchers to the TM organization and the selection of subjects with a favorable opinion of TM.[94][95][96] Independent systematic reviews have not found health benefits for TM exceeding those of relaxation and health education.[13][97][98] A 2013 statement from the American Heart Association described the evidence supporting TM as a treatment for hypertension as Level IIB, meaning that TM "may be considered" but that its effectiveness is "unknown/unclear/uncertain or not well-established".[99]

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.[100] By 2004 the US government had given more than $20 million to Maharishi University to study the effect of meditation on health.[101]


External links

  • Yogic Flying Clubs
  • Yogic Flying - Meditation and Yoga Official YouTube Video
de:Transzendentale Meditation

he:תעופה יוגית

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