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The Transcendental Meditation, or TM technique, is a form of mantra meditation introduced in India in 1955[1][2][3][4] by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1917–2008).[5] Taught in a standardized, seven-step course over 4 days by certified teachers for ~1,500 USD in the United States, it involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day, while sitting comfortably with closed eyes.[6][7] An "advanced form" called the TM-Sidhi program is taught that purportedly develops the ability of practitioners to levitate, walk through walls and become invisible at will, among other powers.[7][8]

In 1957, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began a series of world tours during which he introduced and taught his meditation technique.[9] In 1959, he founded the International Meditation Society and, in 1961, he began to train teachers of the technique.[9][10] From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, both the Maharishi and TM received significant public attention in the USA, especially among the student population.[11][12] During this period, a million people learned the technique, including well-known public figures.[11] By 1998, the global TM organization had taught an estimated four million people, had 1,000 teaching centers, and owned property assets valued at $3.5 billion.[13] TM is a registered trademark of the Maharishi Foundation.[14] It has been reported to be one of the most widely practiced meditation techniques, and among the most widely researched.[15][16][17][18]

Transcendental Meditation is part of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health[19] and is made available worldwide by a number of organizations sometimes collectively referred to as the Transcendental Meditation movement. A 2007 review of Transcendental Meditation, concluded that the definitive health effects of TM cannot be determined as the bulk of scientific evidence was of poor quality.[20] The review concluded that Transcendental Meditation had no advantage over health education to improve blood pressure, body weight, heart rate, stress, anger, self-efficacy, cholesterol, dietary intake, or level of physical activity in hypertensive patients, and that there was no basis in the evidence to prefer one meditation technique over another.[21][22] A 2006 Cochrane review found that TM was equivalent to relaxation therapy for treatment of anxiety.[23]

Transcendental Meditation was held to be a religion by three different US courts in two separate cases: Malnak v Yogi (1977 and 1979) and Hendel v World Plan Executive Council (1996). The claimed "science" behind it has been described as a pseudoscience by Carl Sagan and crackpot science by James Randi.[24][25]



Self characterization

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes Transcendental Meditation as a technique which requires no preparation, is simple to do, and can be learned by anyone.[26] The technique is described as being effortless[27] and natural, involving neither contemplation nor concentration, and relying on the natural tendency of the mind to move in the direction of greater satisfaction.[28][29][30][31]

In his book The TM Technique, Peter Russell, a teacher of Transcendental Meditation who had spent time with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says, Transcendental Meditation allows the mind to become still without effort, in contrast to meditation practices that attempt to control the mind by holding it on a single thought or by keeping it empty of all thoughts.[32] He says trying to control the mind is like trying to go to sleep at night — if a person makes an effort to fall asleep, his or her mind remains active and restless.[32] This is why, he says, Transcendental Meditation avoids concentration and effort.[32]

According to Wayne Teasdale's book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, Transcendental Meditation is what is called an open or receptive method that can be described as giving up control and remaining open in an inner sense.[33]

Anthony Campbell says that because TM is a natural process, its practice requires no "special circumstances or preparations". Campbell writes that Transcendental Meditation is "complete in itself" and does "not depend upon belief" or require the practitioner to accept any theory.[34]

The movement describes itself as being a non religious mental technique for deep rest.[35] The Maharishi refers to the technique as "a path to God".[36] William Johnston says that despite its religious origins the TM technique as introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has no attachments to any particular religion.[37] Former Maharishi University of Management Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, James Grant writes that the Maharishi's techniques for the development of consciousness are non-sectarian and require no belief system.[38]


Transcendental Meditation and its associated organizations has been described as a religion and a cult by governmental organizations. Three different US courts held it to be a religion in two separate cases: Malnak v Yogi (1977 and 1979) and Hendel v World Plan Executive Council (1996). In addition to the 3rd Circuit opinion in Malnak holding that Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intellingence were religious under the Establishment Clause, in 1996 the Superior Court for the District of Columbia ruled in Hendel v World Plan Executive Council that the practice of Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program is a religion and that trial of fraud and other claims for damages by a former TM and TM-Sidhi practitioner against the World Plan Executive Council and Maharishi International University would involve the Court in excessive entanglement into matters of religious belief contrary to the First Amendment.[39] A 1980 report by the West German government's Institute for Youth and Society characterized TM as a "psychogroup". The TM Organization unsuccessfully sued to block the release of the report.[2][40] The 1995 report of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France listed Transcendental Meditation as a cult.[41] The state of Israel has condemned TM which is commonly agreed by anti cult groups there to be a cult.[42]

Scientific community

The claimed "science" behind Transcendental Meditation has been described as a pseudoscience by astronomer and planetary scientist Carl Sagan[43] and crackpot science by magician, skeptic, and founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, James Randi.[25] In a 1982 book he said that TMs claims are no more substantiated by scientific investigation than other mystical philosophies.[44] Martin Gardner a mathematician and magician refers to it as a "the Hindu cult".[45] Transcendental Meditation has been given extensive coverage in Cults and New Religions by Douglas Cowan a Professor of Sociology & Religious Studies, along with Scientology, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), The Children of God, Branch Davidian, Heaven’s Gate, and Wicca.[46]

The press

The Israeli Center for Cult Victims comments that TM is one of the active cults in Israel.[47] The New York Times reports that people who leave the movement refer to it as a cult, and the university its training ground.[48]


Jaime Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, wrote that neither the doctrine nor the practice of TM are acceptable to Christians[49] while a Vatican council published a warning against mixing eastern meditation, such as TM, with Christian prayer.[50] Other clergy, including Catholic clergy, have found the Transcendental Meditation to be compatible with their religious teachings and beliefs.[51][52][53] Religion scholar Charles H. Lippy writes that earlier spiritual interest in the technique faded in the 1970s and it became a practical technique that anyone could employ without abandoning their religious affiliation.[54] Bainbridge found Transcendental Meditation to be a "...highly simplified form of Hinduism, adapted for Westerners who did not possess the cultural background to accept the full panoply of Hindu beliefs, symbols, and practices."[55][56] Bainbridge describes the Transcendental Meditation puja ceremony as " essence, a religious initiation ceremony".[55] Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh of the Greek Orthodox Church describes TM as being "a new version of Hindu Yoga" based on "pagan pseudo-worship and deification of a common mortal, Guru Dev".[57]


The terms "Transcendental Meditation" and "TM" are servicemarks owned by Maharishi Foundation Ltd., a UK non-profit organization.[58] These servicemarks have been sub-licensed to the Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation (MVED), an American non-profit organization which offers the Transcendental Meditation technique and related courses in the U.S.A.[59]


Use of a mantra

During the initial, personal instruction session, the student is given a specific sound or mantra. The sound is utilized as a thought in the meditation process,[60] allowing the individual's attention to be directed naturally from an active style of functioning to a less active or quieter style of mental activity.[60] In Transcendental Meditation the mantra is used as a vehicle on which the attention can rest.[30]


According to Russell, the sounds used in the Transcendental Meditation technique are taken from the ancient Vedic tradition.[61] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains that the selection of a proper thought or mantra "becomes increasingly important when we consider that the power of thought increases when the thought is appreciated in its infant stages of development".[62] The Maharishi says that certain, specific vibrations suit certain people and that this method of meditation enables the mind to experience subtler phases of the vibration until the source of all vibration is experienced.[63]

According to pundits of the mantra tradition and Rig Veda tradition, the sounds used in the Transcendental Meditation technique are taken from the ancient Tantric tradition.[64][65][66]

William Jefferson in The Story of the Maharishi, explains the importance of the "euphonics" of mantras. Jefferson says that the secrets of the mantras and their subsequent standardization for today's teachers of the technique were unraveled by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after his years of study with his own teacher, Guru Dev (Brahmananda Saraswati) so that selection is foolproof, and that the number of mantras from the Vedic tradition, which could number in the hundreds, have been brought by the Maharishi to a minimum number.[67]

Author George Chryssides says that, according to the Maharishi, the mantras for "householders" and for recluses differ. The Transcendental Meditation mantra is an appropriate mantra for householders, while most mantras commonly found in books are mantras for recluses. Chryssides says that TM teachers claim that the results promised by the Transcendental Meditation technique will not occur unless a trained Transcendental Meditation teacher chooses the mantra for the student.[68]

TM meditators are instructed to keep their mantra private. Robert Oates writes that this is a "protection against inaccurate teaching".[69] In his 1997 book, The Sociology of Religious Movements William Sims Bainbridge wrote that the mantras given for Transcendental Meditation are "supposedly selected to match the nervous system of the individual but actually taken from a list of 16 Sanskrit words on the basis of the person's age".[55]

In January 1984, Omni (magazine) published a list of mantras, received from "disaffected TM teachers".[70]

Meaning and sound value

The 1995 expanded edition of Conway and Siegelman's Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change describes a teacher of Transcendental Meditation who says: "I was lying about the mantras — they were not meaningless sounds; they were actually the names of Hindu demigods - and about how many different ones there were — we had sixteen to give out to our students".[71] In the 1977 court case Malnak vs. Yogi (see below), an undisputed fact in the case was that the mantras are meaningless sounds.[72]

In a speech the Maharishi gave in Kerala, India, in 1955, he mentions a connection between the mantras and personal deities and similar references can also be found in his later works.[73][74] More commonly, the Maharishi describes the mantras as working automatically.[74]

Philosophy of science scholar Jonathan Shear, in his book The Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions, characterizes the mantras used in the TM technique as independent of meaning associated with any language, and are used for their mental, sound value alone.[29] Fred Travis, Professor of Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Management, writes in a 2009 article published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology that "unlike most mantra meditations, any possible meaning of the mantra is not part of Transcendental Meditation practice".[28]

In his book Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction, sociologist Stephen J. Hunt says that the mantra used in the Transcendental Meditation technique has no meaning but that the sound itself is sacred.[30]

Teaching procedure

The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in a standardized, seven-step course[6] that consists of two introductory lectures, a personal interview, and four, two-hour instruction sessions given on consecutive days.[75][76][77] The initial personal instruction session begins with a short puja ceremony performed by the teacher, after which the student is taught the technique. During the puja ceremony, the teacher recites text in Sanskrit, part of which has been translated as

Whosoever remembers the lotus-eyed Lord gains inner and outer purity. To Lord Naryan, to Lotus-born Brahman the creator, to Vaishistha, to Shakti, to Shankaracharya the emancipator, hailed as Krishna, to the Lord I bow down and down again. At whose door the whole galaxy of gods pray for perfection day and night.[78]

Following initiation, the student practices the technique twice a day. Subsequent sessions with the teacher ensure correct practice. Session 5, called "First Day of Checking" is to verify the correctness of the practice and give further instruction; Session 6, called "Second Day of Checking" is to understand the mechanics of the TM technique based on personal experiences; and, Session 7, called "Third Day of Checking" is to understand higher stages of human development.[6]

The technique is practiced morning and evening for 15–20 minutes each time, but is not recommended before bed.[11][11][76] According to Russell and the official TM web site, the Transcendental Meditation technique can be learned only from a certified, authorized teacher.[32][79]


As of 1967-1968, fees for instruction in TM in the UK, the US and Australia were variable and equal to either one-week's salary or a flat $35 for students.[80][81][82] By 1975, fees in the US were fixed at $125 for adults, but with discounted rates for students or families.[83] At the time, author John White wrote that fees were "becoming exhorbitant", that TM instruction should be free, or at least much cheaper, and that a lot of people question paying $125 for six hours of instruction.[84] Fees rose in steps over time, to $400 for adults and $135 for students in the US and Canada by 1993, and then were increased to $1,000 for adults and $600 for students in 1994.[85][86] In Britain, TM cost £490 (£290 for students) in 1995.[87] By 2003, fees in the US were $2,500.[88] In Bermuda, where fees had been kept below the international average for many years, a 2003 directive from TM Movement headquarters to increase prices from $385 to $2,000 was partly responsible for the suspension of TM instruction there. A former instructor was critical of the fees for excluding ordinary people and making TM something exclusively for the wealthy.[89] In January 2009, The Guardian reported that the expensive fees for TM instruction had "risked it being priced into oblivion" until David Lynch convinced the Maharishi to "radically reduce" fees so as to permit more young people to learn TM.[90] In 2009 fees in the US were reduced for a one-hour-a-day, four-day course to $1,500 for the general public and $750 for college students.[91][92] Fees in the UK were also reduced, and a tiered fee structure introduced, ranging from £290 to £590 for adults, and £190 to £290 for students, depending on income.[93] The Maharishi was criticized by other Yogis and stricter Hindus for charging fees for instruction in TM, who contented that it was unethical, amounting to the selling of "commercial mantras".[94][95][96]

Tax exempt status

Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, the organization which oversees teaching TM in the U.S., is non-profit and tax exempt.[97] Two entities, the Maharishi School of Vedic Sciences-Minnesota (as a successor to the World Plan Executive Council)[98] in 1997 and the Maharishi Spiritual Center in 2001, were denied tax exempt status because they were found not to be educational organizations.[99] The Skeptics Dictionary refers to it as a "spiritual business".[100]

Supplemental techniques

The movement also teaches, for additional fees in the thousands of dollars, "advanced techniques" of Transcendental Meditation, introduced by the Maharishi in the mid-1970s when new enrollment in Transcendental Meditation collapsed. The TM-Sidhi program, introduced in 1975, expanded the number of offerings.[55][74][101] This later program teaches that, through the power of meditation, one is able to gain various "signposts" of spiritual progress, such as the powers of levitation and invisibility, walking through walls, colossal strength, ESP, perfect health and immortality, among others.[7][102] The Maharishi has said that "thousands" have learned to levitate.[103] James Randi however after investigation concludes that there is "no levitation, no walking through walls, no invisibility".[103]

Health effects

Research quality

A 2003 review that looked at the effects of TM on cognitive function said that many of the 700 studies on TM have been produced by researchers directly associated with the TM movement and/or had not been peer reviewed.[104] TM lacks a solid pathophysiology with proponents claiming it revolves around the growth of “creative intelligence”.[104]

Health outcomes

A comparison of the effect of various meditation techniques on systolic blood pressure.[105]

A 2007 U.S. government-sponsored meta-analysis of research on meditation, including Transcendental Meditation, said that firm conclusions on health effects cannot be drawn, as the majority of the research is of poor methodological quality.[20] Overall, it concluded that the results of TM are no greater than health education regarding blood pressure, body weight, heart rate, stress, anger, self-efficacy, cholesterol, dietary intake, or level of physical activity in hypertensive patients.[21] There does not appear to be a theoretical explanation common to all meditation techniques.[106] The review included all studies on adults through September 2005, with a particular focus on research pertaining to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and substance abuse. In addition, the report found that "When compared to PMR, TM produced significantly greater benefits in SBP and DBP."[107] The report also found that "Direct meta-analysis showed that compared to no treatment, TM did not produce significantly greater benefits on blood pressure. However, there was significant improvement in LDL-C levels and verbal creativity with TM. When compared to a wait-listed control group, TM produced significantly greater reduction in SBP and DBP. Before-and-after studies on TM for patients with essential hypertension indicated a statistically significant reduction in SBP and DBP after practicing TM." [108]

A further analysis of this data set in 2008 reaffirmed the weaknesses of the research, finding that "Most clinical trials on meditation practices are generally characterized by poor methodological quality with significant threats to validity in every major quality domain assessed". This was the conclusion despite a statistically significant increase in quality of all reviewed meditation research, in general, over time between 1956-2005. Of the 400 clinical studies, 10% were found to be good quality. A call was made for rigorous study of meditation.[109] These authors also noted that this finding is not unique to the area of meditation research and that the quality of reporting is a frequent problem in other areas of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research and related therapy research domains.

A 2004 review examined the effects of TM on blood pressure which concluded that there was "insufficient good-quality evidence to conclude whether or not TM has a cumulative positive effect on blood pressure". The review said that the RCTs published had important methodological weaknesses and were potentially biased by the affiliation of authors to the TM organization.[110] In response, TM researchers said that most of the studies in the 2004 review were funded by various institutes of the National Institutes of Health and that, as such, the methodologies were peer-reviewed by experts.[111]

A 2006 systematic review by the Cochrane collaboration found that there was insufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding the effectiveness of meditation for anxiety disorders. After searching multiple databases, only two randomized controlled trials that addressed this question were found. Effects based on this limited evidence is that meditation is equivalent to relaxation therapy.[23]

A 2007 review said that data from two studies found reduced mortality from all causes over a mean period of 8 years in subjects practicing Transcendental Meditation compared to controls. The review said that this finding is consistent with a study that found improved blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cardiac autonomic-nervous-system tone in subjects with cardiovascular disease. The study concluded that, "Findings regarding the effects of psychosocial interventions on disease processes, morbidity and mortality are not yet well established and require appropriate clinical trials."[112] A 2008 meta-analysis of nine studies found a 4.7 mmHg systolic blood pressure and 3.2 mmHg diastolic blood pressure decrease in those who practiced TM® compared to control groups that included health education. Three of the studies were assessed as good quality, three as acceptable, and three suboptimal.[113] The review and its primary author were partially funded by Howard Settle[113] a proponent of TM®.[114]

A 2009 review looked specifically at the clinical applications in psychiatry and addiction and noted that while many studies exist, they were conducted by researchers affiliated with Transcendental Meditation and were not randomized controlled trials. Thus the evidence for treating addictive disorders is speculative and inconsistent.[115] It said that while the quasi-religious aspects and cost may deter people, the simplicity of the technique, the physiological changes it induces, and the apparent effectiveness in nonpsychiatric settings merit further study.[115] According to the Cambridge Textbook of Effective Treatments in Psychiatry, a randomized controlled trial that included the use of Transcendental Meditation in treating alcoholism found that TM® and biofeedback increased abstinence in alcoholics. The textbook concluded that there is not yet sufficient evidence for use as treatment but that meditation can help alcoholic patients in a variety of ways.[116]

This 2009 review said that physiological changes are associated with the practice of TM®, such as a reduction in respiratory rate, decreased breath volume, a decrease in lactate (associated with stress), a decrease in cortisol, and increases in basal skin resistance.[115] EEG research on brain waves has shown an increase in theta waves and a dominant pattern of alpha waves in the frontal and occipital lobes.[115] Other EEG measurements that show neuronal hypersynchrony are similar to those found in epilepsy, leading to concerns about the potential risk of kindling of epilepsy from repetitive transcendental meditation.[7] Other studies have found meditation to be a possible antiepileptic therapy, leading to calls for more research.[7]

A 2003 review concluded that evidence does not support a specific or cumulative effect from TM® on cognitive function. The trials that did show positive results recruited people with favorable opinions of TM®, and inappropriate controls.[104]

A 2009 review of 16 pediatric studies on meditation done in a school setting that included 6 studies on Transcendental Meditation reported that randomized controlled trials on Transcendental Meditation found a reduction in blood pressure and improvement in vascular function relative to health education. A randomized controlled trial on psychosocial and behavioral outcomes that compared TM to health education found that the TM group had decreased absentee periods, rule infractions, and suspension days, but found no difference in the TM and control groups in regard to tardiness, lifestyle, or stress. The review concluded that sitting meditation "seems to be an effective intervention in the treatment of physiologic, psychosocial, and behavioral conditions among youth."[117] Of the 16 studies included in the review, 5 were uncontrolled. The review said that because of limitations of the research, larger-scale and more demographically diverse studies need to be done to clarify treatment efficacy.[117]

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, has said "there is no good evidence that TM® has positive effects on children. The data that exist are all deeply flawed."[118] A 2003 review looked at "well-designed studies" and discussed three randomized controlled trials on students that suggested that TM improves cognitive performance. A study of 154 Chinese high school students found increased practical intelligence, creativity, and speed of information processing. A study of 118 junior high school students replicated the finding, as did a study of 99 vocational school students in Taiwan.[119][120]

Educational psychologist Kairen Cullen, associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, speaking of TM® in a pediatric setting has said it " a very difficult sample group to access and it would be very hard to provide empirical evidence - any claims would therefore be pretty speculative".[118]

Maharishi Vedic approach to health

Transcendental Meditation is part of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH).[19] MVAH (also known as Maharishi Ayurveda[121][122] and Maharishi Vedic Medicine[123]) was founded in the mid 1980s by the Maharishi. MVAH is considered an alternative medicine and aims at being a complementary system to modern western medicine.[124] It is based on Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine developed in India in ancient times.

Research funding

In 1999, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine awarded a grant of nearly $8 million to Maharishi University of Management to establish the first research center specializing in natural preventive medicine for minorities in the U.S.[125] The research institute, called the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention (INMP), was inaugurated on October 11, 1999, at the University's Department of Physiology and Health in Fairfield, Iowa.[126]

By 2004, the U.S. government had awarded more than $20 million to Maharishi University of Management to fund research.[127]

In 2009, the National Institutes of Health awarded an additional grant of $500,000 per year for two years for research on using the Transcendental Meditation technique in the treatment of coronary heart disease in African-Americans. The award was for research in collaboration with the INMP and Prevention and Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. The award was from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 via the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.[128]

Views on human development

According to Vimal Patel, a pathologist at Indiana University, Transcendental Meditation is one of the most scientifically investigated meditation techniques and has been shown to produce states that are physiologically different from waking, dreaming and sleeping.[129] Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says in his 1963 book, The Science Of Being and Art Of Living, that, over time, the practice of allowing the mind to experience its deeper levels during the Transcendental Meditation technique brings these levels from the subconscious to within the capacity of the conscious mind. According to Maharishi, as the mind quiets down and experiences finer thoughts, the Transcendental Meditation practitioner can become aware that thought itself is transcended and can have the experience of what he calls the 'source of thought', 'pure awareness' or 'transcendental Being'; 'the ultimate reality of life'.[60][130][131] TM describes itself as a technology for consciousness.[30]

Seven States of Consciousness

According to the Maharishi there are seven levels of consciousness: (i) waking; (ii) dreaming; (iii) deep sleep; (iv) Transcendental or Pure Consciousness; (v) Cosmic Consciousness (Skt: turiyatita); (vi) God Consciousness (Skt: bhagavat-chetana); and (vii) Supreme knowledge, or unity consciousness (Skt: brahmi-chetana). The Maharishi says that the fourth level of consciousness (Skt: turiya) can be experienced through Transcendental Meditation, and that the fifth state can be achieved by those who meditate diligently. Recent independent reviews of the neuroscientific and physiologic claims of various meditation techniques show that TM does not produce any higher states of consciousness, but is instead related to various sleep stages.[132]


Meditation chambers at the old Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, now in ruins, Muni Ki Reti


According to religious scholar Kenneth Boa in his book, Cults, World Religions and the Occult, Transcendental Meditation is rooted in the Vedantic School of Hinduism, and that fact is "repeatedly confirmed" by the Maharishi's books such as the Science of Being and the Art of Living and his Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.[133] George Chryssides similarly states that the Maharishi and Guru Dev were from the Shankara tradition of advaita Vedanta.[68] Boa writes that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi "makes it clear" that Transcendental Meditation was delivered to man about 5,000 years ago by the Hindu god Krishna. The technique was then lost, but restored for a time by Buddha. It was lost again, but rediscovered in the 9th Century AD by the Hindu philosopher Shankara. Finally, it was revived by Brahmananda Saraswati (Guru Dev) and passed on to the Maharishi.[134] Russell states that the Maharishi believed that since the time of the Vedas, this knowledge was lost and found many times, recurring principally in the Bhagavad-Gita, and in the teachings of Buddha and Shankara, a cycle discussed in the introduction to his commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita.[135] Chrissides notes that, in addition to the revivals of the Transcendental Meditiaton technique by Krishna, the Buddha and Shankara, the Maharishi also drew from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[68] Patel also says that it is derived from Patanjali's Yoga.[129]


In 1955, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian ascetic,[136] began teaching a meditation technique that he said was derived from the Vedic tradition,[137] and which later came to be called Transcendental Meditation. The Maharishi had served as a "close disciple" and secretary to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati from 1941 until Brahmananda Saraswati's death in 1953.[29]

In 1958, The Maharishi began a number of tours worldwide promoting and disseminating the TM technique.[138] This tour began in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmar). The Maharishi remained in the Far East for about six months teaching Transcendental Meditation.[9]

In 1959, the Maharishi taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Hawaii.[9] Later that year, Maharishi went to California and became a guest at the home of Roland and Helena Olson and their daughter Theresa, who later described and published their experiences. He continued to visit and teach Transcendental Meditation from the Olsons' home over the next few years.

1960s and 1970s

According to a history written by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 21 members of the Indian Parliament issued a public statement endorsing the Transcendental Meditation technique in 1963.[139] He writes that news articles on the technique appeared in Canadian newspapers such as the Daily Colonist, Calgary Herald and The Albertan.[140]

Beginning in 1968, a number of celebrities such as Donovan, The Beatles, members of the The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Doug Henning, Clint Eastwood, Deepak Chopra, Andy Kaufman, Jane Fonda, Mia Farrow, Shirley MacLaine, Joe Namath, David Lynch, Stevie Wonder, and Howard Stern, as well as author Kurt Vonnegut and Major-General Franklin M. Davis, Jr reported using the technique.[11][12][141][142][143][144]

In 1970, the first scientific study on the Transcendental Meditation technique was published in Science magazine and the first course on the Science of Creative Intelligence was held at Stanford University in California. The Science of Creative Intelligence however has no scientific basis and aspects of it have been described as "only crackpot science" by James Randi.[25]

As early as 1968, the Maharishi stated that 30 minutes of TM morning and evening by 1% of the population would "dispel the clouds of war for thousands of years."[145] On January 12, 1975, Maharishi introduced the theory of the Maharishi Effect for the first time, based on the finding that in cities in the USA where 1% of the population meditated, the crime rate dropped.[146]

In 1975, the Maharishi began teaching advanced mental techniques, called the TM-Sidhi Program, that included a technique for the development of what he termed Yogic Flying.[29] In that same year, Transcendental Meditation received favorable testimony in the Congressional Record and was advocated by Major-General Franklin M. Davis Jr of the US Army.[60]

A Gallup Poll conducted in August 1976 said that four percent (4%) of those Americans questioned had engaged in TM.[147] The average number of people learning TM fell from a peak of approx. 40,000 a month in 1975 to approx. 3,000 in November 1977.[55][148][149] Bainbridge wrote that, as of 1977, "Most of the million who had been initiated either ceased meditating or did so informally and irregularly without continuing connections to the TM Movement."[55] The official TM web site reports that more than 6 million people worldwide have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique since its introduction in 1958.[150]

1980s to the present

In 1990, a delegation of Transcendental Meditation teachers from Maharishi International University traveled to the former Soviet Union to provide instruction in Transcendental Meditation. The trip, initially scheduled to last ten days, was extended to six months and resulted in the training of 35,000 people in the technique.[151]

The late dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu, tried to purge all practitioners of transcendental meditation from the government.[152]

By 1998, the global TM organization had an estimated four million disciples, 1,000 teaching centers and property assets valued at $3.5 billion.[13]

School programs

For schools belonging to the Transcendental Meditation movement, see Educational institutions

TM in public schools in 1970s - Malnak v Yogi

As of 1974, 14 states encouraged local schools to teach TM in the classroom, and it was taught at 50 universities.[153] Among the public school systems where TM was taught were Shawnee Mission, Kansas,[39] Maplewood,Paterson, Union Hill and West New York, New Jersey,[154] Eastchester, New York[153][155] and North York, Ontario.[156]

In 1979, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the 1977 decision of the US District Court of New Jersey that a course in Transcendental Meditation and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) was religious activity within the meaning of the Establishment Clause and that the teaching of SCI/TM in the New Jersey public high schools was prohibited by the First Amendment.[157][158] The court ruled that, although SCI/TM is not a theistic religion, it deals with issues of ultimate concern, truth, and other ideas analogous to those in well-recognized religions. The court found that the religious nature of the course was clear from careful examination of the textbook, the expert testimony elicited, and the uncontested facts concerning the puja ceremony, which it found involved "offerings to deities as part of a regularly scheduled course in the schools' educational programs".[159] State action was involved because the SCI/TM course and activities involved the teaching of a religion, without an objective secular purpose.[158]

The Malnak decision resulted in the dismantling of the Maharishi's programs to establish Transcendental Meditation in the public schools with governmental funding.[74]

1990s- present: Charter School and "Quiet Time" programs

In recent years, despite the Malnak setback, TM has made a bit of a comeback, with some governmental sponsorship.[74] A number of public charter schools began introducing Transcendental Meditation programs beginning in the 1990s. These include:

  • Fletcher Johnson Educational Center (1994) in Washington, D.C.[160][161]
  • The Ideal Academy Public Charter School (1996) with the approval of the Washington, D.C. Board of Education.[162][163] The 2005-2006 pilot project at Ideal Academy was conducted along with research to document the effects of the program.[160]
  • The Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit (1996). The program was featured on the Today Show in 2003.[164] The school has since been classified by the Skillman Foundation as a "High-Performing Middle School".[165] Over the years, the program at Nitaki Talibah has been funded by various foundations including General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, the Liebler Foundation and more recently, the David Lynch Foundation.

Since 2005, the David Lynch Foundation has promoted and provided funding for the teaching of TM in schools.[166] It subsidizes the cost for training a student in TM, which was $650 per year as of 2004 in the US.[167] In 2006, six public schools were each awarded $25,000 by the David Lynch Foundation to begin a TM program.[168] By 2006, twenty five public, private, and charter schools in the United States had offered Transcendental Meditation to their students.[162] The Lowel Whiteman Primary School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado began using Transcendental Meditation in their school in 2008.[169]

Efforts to re-introduce Transcendental Meditation into public schools have resulted in increased tensions because it is viewed by some parents and critics as an overstepping of boundaries.[170] Some parents have opposed these efforts based on concerns that it may lead to "lifelong personal and financial servitude to a corporation run by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi".[166] In 2006, the Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, California canceled plans for Transcendental Meditation classes due to concerns of parents that it would be promoting religion.[171]

According to a Newsweek article, critics believe that Transcendental Meditation is a repackaged, Eastern, religious philosophy that should not be used in public schools. Advocates say that Transcendental Meditation is purely a mechanical, physiological process.[163] University of South Carolina sociologist Barry Markovsky describes teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique in schools as "stealth religion".[172] According to Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Transcendental Meditation is rooted in Hinduism and, when introduced into public schools, it crosses the same constitutional line as in the Malnak case and decision of 1979. In May 2008, Lynn said that the Americans United for Separation of Church is keeping a close legal eye on the TM movement and that there are no imminent cases against them.[163][173] Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says doing Transcendental Meditation during a school's "quiet time" (a short period many schools have adopted that children use for prayer or relaxation) is constitutional.[163]

Public school TM programs worldwide

Schools in other countries, such as the Netherlands, Australia, India, Ecuador, Thailand, China, Great Britain and South Africa, have also used Transcendental Meditation as part of educational programs.[174]

Corporate programs

Transcendental Meditation has also been utilized in corporations both in the U.S.A and in India. As of 2001 companies such as General Motors helped their salaried employees pay for TM; IBM reimbursed half the TM course fee for its US employees.[175] In 2005 the Washington Post reported that The Tower Companies, "one of Washington D.C.'s largest real estate development companies", has added classes in Transcendental Mediation to their employee benefit program in order "to contain stress-related ailments and health care costs". Seventy percent of the employees at The Tower Companies participate in the program.[176][177][178]

Some Indian companies give their managers training in Transcendental Meditation to reduce stress. These companies include: AirTel, Siemens, American Express, SRF and Wipro, Hero Honda, Ranbaxy, Hewlett Packard, BHEL, BPL, ESPN-Star Sports, Tisco, Eveready, Maruti and Godrej. At Marico, all employees practice Transcendental Meditation in a group as a part of their standard workday. According to the Times of India, it benefits both employees and employers.[179]


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Further reading

  • Denniston, Denise, The TM Book, Fairfield Press, Fairfield, Iowa, 1986 ISBN 093178302X
  • Geoff Gilpin, The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality, Tarcher-Penguin 2006, ISBN 1-58542-507-9
  • Kropinski v. World Plan Executive Council, 853 F, 2d 948, 956 (D.C. Cir, 1988)
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita : A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1-6. ISBN 0140192476.
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Science of Being and Art of Living : Transcendental Meditation ISBN 0452282667.
  • Mason, Paul (2005), Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: The Biography of the Man Who Gave Transcendental Meditation to the World, Language: English, Evolution Publishing, pp. 335 pages, ISBN 0-9550361-0-0 
  • Persinger, Michael (1980), TM and Cult Mania, Language: English, Christopher Pub House, pp. 198 pages, ISBN 0-8158-0392-3 
  • Sagan, Carl (1997). The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 16. ISBN 0-345-40946-9. 

External links

Simple English

The Transcendental Meditation technique, or TM technique, is a kind of meditation, that was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Today, the name is trademarked.

The meditation is practiced while sitting down with the eyes closed and is practiced twice a day.[1]A review of research studies found the effects of this mediation technique to be the same as health education, while other studies found the technique to have positive health effects.



The Transcendental Meditation technique is learned in seven steps. There are two lectures, and a personal interview, followed by four sessions in which the student learns how to meditate and the meditation is checked to make sure the technique is being done correctly.[2]


The goal of the Transcendental Meditation technique is said to be that the meditator continue to feel the deep rest, and the comfort of the meditation while living everyday life.[3]


In 1955, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (born Mahesh Prasad Varma) began teaching a meditation technique he says was based on the Vedas. He gave this method for meditation the name, Transcendental Meditation.[4]

Before this, Maharishi had studied with Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and was his secretary from 1941 until Brahmananda Saraswati's death in 1953. In 1957, Maharishi began the Spiritual Regeneration Movement in Madras, India, on the final day of a festival held in memory of his teacher. In 1958 he began the first of a number of worldwide tours in which he began to teach the TM technique to people around the world.

In the early 1970s, Maharishi began to establish one Transcendental Meditation teaching center for each million of the people in the world, which at that time would have meant 3,600 Transcendental Meditation centers throughout the world. In 1990, Maharishi moved to the town of Vlodrop, the Netherlands, where he began an organization he called The Global Country of World Peace that takes care of all of the teaching of the Transcendental Meditation technique around the world and says there are more than 6 million people worldwide who have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique.[5]

Effects on the Body

Transcendental Meditation has been found not to have any advantages over health education in improving a persons health.[6]

Transcendental Meditation has been researched on since 1970. The earliest study , done in 1970, showed that with the Transcendental Meditation technique the body rests deeply, but is not asleep, and is alert.[7] [8] [9] This study also showed that with the Transcendental Meditation technique stress became less.

A study published in 1977, showed no effect on blood pressure.[10] Later studies show that the Transcendental Meditation technique has positive effects on blood pressure[11], cholesterol[12] , insomnia[13] , aging[14], illness[15][16], smoking, alcoholism[17], anxiety[18], heart attack,[19], and stroke[20].

The Transcendental Meditation technique, religion, and cults

Transcendental Meditation websites say the Transcendental Meditation technique does not interfere with religion[21].

Cardinal Sin, an Archbishop in the Catholic Church believes the technique interferes with Christian religions.[22] There are clergy who believe the technique does not interfere with religious belief and practices.[23][24][25]

Experts on cults say those who use the Transcendental Meditation technique may show cult-like actions,[26] while David Orme-Johnson, a researcher who was once a professor at Maharishi University of Management, says studies show that those who use the Transcendental Meditation technique act in ways that are adult and self – sufficient, and do not act in the way people in cults are said to act.[27]


  1. "The Transcendental Meditation Program".  (on the official webpage)
  2. "The Seven-Step Course". on the official webpage.
  3. Transcendental Consciousness: The State of Inner Peace
  4. Coplin, J.R. (1990)Text and Context in the Communication of a Social Movement's Charisma, Ideology, and Consciousness: TM for India and the West. University of California, San Diego, p. 64
  5. The Transcendental Meditation Program
  6. Ospina MB, Bond TK, Karkhaneh M, Tjosvold L, Vandermeer B, Liang Y, Bialy L, Hooton N, Buscemi N, Dryden DM, Klassen TP. (June 2007.). Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 
  7. Wallace RK. Physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation. Science 1970;167:1751–1754
  8. Wallace RK. The Physiology of Meditation. Scientific American 1972;226:84-90
  9. Wallace RK, Benson H, Wilson AF. A wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state. American Journal of Physiology 1971;221:795-799
  10. Pollack, A. A., Weber, M. A., Case, D. B., Laragh, J. H. "Limitations of Transcendental Meditation in the treatment of essential hypertension." The Lancet, January 8, 1977, 71-73.
  11. Hypertension 26: 820–827, 1995
  12. Journal of Human Stress 5: 24-27, 1979
  13. Journal of Counseling and Development 64: 212–215, 1985
  14. International Journal of Neuroscience 16: 53–58, 1982
  15. The American Journal of Managed Care 3: 135–144, 1997
  16. The American Journal of Managed Care 3: 135–144, 1997
  17. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 13–87, 1994
  18. Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957–974, 1989
  19. Effects of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation on Components of the Metabolic Syndrome in Subjects With Coronary Heart Disease, Archives of Internal Medicine, Maura Paul-Labrador et al,, Vol. 166 No. 11, June 12, 2006
  20. Stroke. 2000 Mar;31(3):568-73.
  21. "Statement on the official website". 
  22. "The basic conflict between Marishi and Christianity". , Roman-Catholic archdiocese of Manila, October 16, 1984
  23. Vesely,Carolin, “Its All in Your Mind” Winnipeg Free Press, March 21, 2006.
  24. Smith, Adrian B., A Key to the Kingdom of Heaven: A Christian Understanding of Transcendental Meditation. Temple House Books, 1993.
  25. Pennington, Basil. “TM and Christian Prayer”, Daily We Touch Him: Practical Religious Experiences. Doubleday, 1977:73
  26. "Group Says Movement a Cult". , The Washington Post, Phil McCombs, July 2, 1987
  27. "Is TM a Cult? - The truth about TM". 

Other websites

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