How Old Is Transcendental Meditation?

A woman meditating at sunset.

If you are studying meditation and different meditation techniques, there is no doubt that you will come across Transcendental Meditation. Transcendental Meditation has become more popular since the 1950s when it was founded. It is a new and more modern approach to meditation.

You may ask how old Transcendental Meditation is, but also where it came from. Since it is not found in ancient transcriptions and was not in practice during the early beginnings of humanity, it has a new and popular history. However, Transcendental Meditation is a descendent of older meditation techniques, part of the Vedic tradition of India which dates back to several thousand years ago.

The Transcendental Meditation that we know of today has been around for around 50 years, beginning in 1955.

Where did Transcendental Meditation originate?

Young female practising meditation in sand dune jaisalmer India.

Transcendental Meditation originated in India. It was also first taught in India before reaching outside countries. Through tours from teachers, Transcendental Meditation reached almost 900,000 participants by 1977. Since then, it has only grown in popularity and has reached many different countries and cultures.

Who invented Transcendental Meditation?

A stunning photo of pavement with lot of trees.

In the 1950s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, travelled India and the world to research and gain an understanding of meditation. His intention was to find the original understanding of meditation and how it creates a happy and peaceful mind. During this time, he was a disciple of Swami Brahamananda Saraswati, who was the leader of the Shankaracharya tradition.

Maharishi Mahesh had learned the Transcendental Meditation technique from his leader, which was known as a traditional meditation technique. While Transcendental Meditation is slightly different from its beginnings, it was used regularly by the monks of the Shankaracharya tradition known as Raja Yoga, meaning the “royal path to unity.” This pre-transcendental technique was described as a mental resource that was untapped by the conscious mind.

As a way to show that his ventures through India and the world showed him true meditation, Maharishi Mahesh began to teach this form of meditation in 1955. During this time, he named the technique Transcendental Deep Meditation. It was later renamed Transcendental Meditation.

When did Transcendental Meditation become popular?

Transcendental Meditation grew in worldwide popularity due to Maharishi Mahesh’s efforts. In 1958, he started a number of tours throughout the world promoting it. His first tour started in Rangoon, Burma, and he stayed in the far east of Asia for six months, teaching and promoting his meditation.

In 1959, Maharishi Mahesh reached the United States and began to teach Transcendental Meditation to western society and culture. He toured Hawaii, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. In the same year, he even founded the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in Los Angeles, where he created offices that taught people in the United States Transcendental Meditation from 1959 to 1965.

Maharishi Mahesh also reached Germany and London, bringing the movement to Europe and the United Kingdom in 1959. During this time and his grassroots efforts, he was able to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

What is Transcendental Meditation and how do you do it?

A woman meditating with incense.

Transcendental Meditation is a simple meditation practice that is performed for 20 minutes twice a day while sitting with your eyes closed. During this time, you will repeat a mantra in your mind silently for the duration of the meditation. The technique will allow you to concentrate on one idea or statement.

Rather than focusing on your breath, you are listening to the mantra. Transcendental Meditation is used as a way to feel peace and calmness. It works as a stress reliever and an anxiety coping mechanism.

It will aid you in feeling present and finding deeper meaning in life. The Transcendental Meditation organization claims that the technique aids children with ADHD, and helps creatives focus and create art or projects. According to the organization, here are six things that go into Transcendental Meditation:

  • It is effortless: The Transcendental Meditation website claims that even children can perform meditation. There is no concentrating, control of the mind, or trying to empty the mind.
  • It is authentic: Even though it was used before the movement started by Maharishi Mahesh, he created the movement and changed the technique to be what it is today.
  • It is unique: Most meditations focus on breathing, emptying the mind, or focusing. Transcendental Meditation markets itself as a meditation that does not require focusing, only the mantra.
  • It is evidence-based: The movement has found and published research studies to show how the technique benefits people’s health.
  • It is established: Due to the efforts of Maharishi Mahesh, Transcendental Meditation has become an organization and movement with multiple teachers and students. It welcomes people of all religions, ages, and cultures.
  • There is no religion involved: The meditation movement is not based on any religion or philosophy. There is no religious expectation that comes out of this movement or meditation technique.

While some people may say that there is no scientific evidence that it benefits people’s health, Transcendental Meditation has given a tool to people to aid them in their daily life. People all around the world have found deeper meaning in life, and new creative abilities from using the technique daily.

What is a mantra?

Young woman doing Mantras meditating in lotus pose.

The main part of Transcendental Meditation that sets it apart from other meditation techniques is the mantra. The mantra is constantly repeated throughout the meditation session. The mantra is a meaningless sound that is only used as a vessel to calm the mind.

Other meditations may use words, visuals, or music. However, when you focus on a mantra, you are able to focus on the present by only focusing on the sounds around you.

How many meditation techniques are there?

Woman meditating with candles and incense.

There are countless amounts of different meditation techniques. Not one is better than the other. If you find that one meditation technique works better for you than another, then it is best to choose what works for you.

There are a few popular techniques that you can look into other than Transcendental Meditation.

  • Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness meditation comes from Buddhist teachings where you focus on your thoughts and how they flow. You become aware of patterns, sensations, and the way you breathe, becoming more focused on the present.
  • Spiritual meditation: Spiritual meditation is a prayer, where you pray to the higher being you believe in. Here you are either repeating phrases or focusing on one certain idea that you are trying to deliver to the god you believe in.
  • Focused meditation: A focused meditation concentrates on your five senses. This means focusing on smell, taste, sight, touch, and listening to what is around you.
  • Movement meditation: Movement meditation is most popular in yoga, where you are focused on your body and your breath. However, this can be practiced when walking, or even in calming activities like gardening.
  • Progressive relaxation: Progressive relaxation is a form of meditation that focuses on relaxing each part of the body until you are completely calm. You simply focus on certain parts of the body and how your breath calms your body.
  • Loving-kindness meditation: During a loving-kindness meditation, people focus on how they receive love from people. This means focusing on opening your heart and mind to accept other people and how they show love to you.
  • Visualization meditation: Visualization meditation is when you focus on calming pictures of nature and landscapes. Your mind is focused on the setting and reaching the present by looking at what is directly in front of you.

When picking a meditation technique, it is okay to experiment and find what works best for you. It is your meditation experience, along with your road to enlightenment. So, it is all up to you how you want to reach your destination.

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