What Happens During Transcendental Meditation?
The word “transcendental” describes what happens. During Transcendental Meditation, busy surface thinking is transcended. The TM technique creates the initial conditions for transcending to occur effortlessly. That is, naturally.
In transcending, the mind settles down to a state that is perfectly still yet alert. At the same time, the body enjoys a state of rest that is deeper and more refreshing than night sleep.
For latest research showing transcendental consciousness - the whole-brain coherence that occurs uniquely during Transcendental Meditation - refer to Research Report 2 in the Latest News page.
The many benefits of TM all spring from the natural tendency of body and mind to function in this coherent - highly orderly - way.
Most people experience transcending only fleetingly - it's those blissful moments that occasionally occur at the junction point between wakefulness and sleep. During Transcendental Meditation, transcending occurs repeatedly, and at will, and more deeply. And, of course, effortlessly.
Other meditation techniques rely on individual effort. They are mental exercises that keep the mind active and do not access the mind's natural tendency to transcend its own activity. See Research Report 1 in Latest News and the page Aren't All Meditations the Same?
During Transcendental Meditation, oxygen consumption, a prime indicator of levels of rest and activity, decreases by about double the drop that occurs during night sleep: about 16 per cent compared with about 8 per cent. This deeply refreshing state cannot be attained by effort or concentration. Only nature can do this for you.
Why does the body need less oxygen during Transcendental Meditation?
Because it adopts a more energy-efficient style of functioning. The arteries expand so that more blood flows with less effort. Heart rate decreases. The volume of lactic acid, the biochemical associated with anxiety, drops markedly. Electrical skin resistance, which decreases in anxiety states, rises sharply. This integrated complex of changes cannot be brought about by individual effort.
In this state of least excitation the body automatically neutralises accumulated stress – physical abnormalities - and carries out repairs and renewals. It is the opposite of the primitive, now obsolete, fight-or-flight response, which can lead to hypertension if frequently provoked by the fast pace of modern life.
Many people think that they would be unable to sit still during meditation. However, the natural tendency of the mind is to transcend, so the settling down of both mind and body occurs automatically.
Transcending is an enjoyable experience that meditators look forward to.
Video clip: Dr Fred Travis on brainwave coherence during Transcendental Meditation with links to scientific charts on TM’s effect on mental and physical health: www.mum.edu/tm_research/welcome