Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness.
The technique has been described as both religious and non-religious, as an aspect of a new religious movement, as rooted in Hinduism, and as a non-religious practice for self-development.
While meditating, the person practicing TM sits in a comfortable position with eyes closed and silently repeats a mantra. A mantra is a word or sound from the Vedic tradition that is used to focus your concentration.
According to supporters of TM, when meditating, the ordinary thinking process is “transcended.” It’s replaced by a state of pure consciousness. In this state, the meditator achieves perfect stillness, rest, stability, order, and a complete absence of mental boundaries. Unlike some forms of meditation, TM technique requires a seven-step course of instruction from a certified teacher.
A TM teacher presents general information about the technique and its effects during a 60-minute introductory lecture. That’s followed by a second 45-minute lecture in which more specific information is given. People interested in learning the technique then attend a 10- to 15-minute interview and 1 to 2 hours of personal instruction. Following a brief ceremony, they're each given a mantra, which they're supposed to keep confidential.
Over the next several months, the teacher regularly meets with practitioners to ensure correct technique.
People practice TM twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes. That usually means once in the morning before breakfast and once in the afternoon before dinner.
TM does not require any strenuous effort. Nor does it require concentration, or contemplation. Instead, students are told to breathe normally and focus their attention on the mantra.