Think meditation is only for yogis and spiritual gurus? Think again. A technique called transcendental meditation (TM) is showing up again and again as the subject of countless medical research studies. The results strongly suggest that the daily practice of quieting the mind can render some serious health benefits. According to a study recently published by the American Heart Association, people who had been meditating for five years showed their blood pressure and overall risk of stroke and mortality reduced by almost 50 percent. Researchers also found that those practicing TM reported less stress, anger and anxiety. Celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld and Oprah Winfrey have publicly endorsed the method as well. “TM is a simple, easy-to-learn, enjoyable-to-practice technique,” said Bob Roth, a TM instructor of over 40 years. Roth is also the executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing TM instruction to the masses.
The foundation is currently implementing TM in inner-city schools, as well as with returning veterans. Derived from India’s ancient Vedic tradition, TM was introduced into the United States about 50 years ago. At its core, this form of meditation is really about allowing the agitated, overthinking mind to settle down to its own natural, peaceful state. This is accomplished through two 20-minute daily meditative sessions where the meditator sits comfortably in a chair with eyes closed. According to Roth, the method is different from other forms of meditation in that it requires no concentration or control of the mind. Instead, it allows the meditator to connect with the settled, quiet part of the mind that’s present within every human being.
This state of deep rest is the core of TM and is believed to revitalize the body and wake up the brain. “The thinking mind is like the ocean,” said Roth. “Rough waves are on the surface in stormy weather, but the depth of the ocean is always silent.” The TM method can only be taught by a certified instructor and comes with a $1,500 course fee. However, organizations like the David Lynch Foundation provide scholarships to those in need. Payment plans are also available.
By Marianne Hayes