By: Loan Budy
Right off the bat, we can point out the following differences between TM mantras and mantras you would use and speak aloud for other forms of meditation: – A mantra for Transcendental Meditation is for thinking — not speaking aloud; – TM mantras shouldn’t mean anything to you. It’s all about the sound; – Traditionally, you get your mantra from an official TM teacher; – As you advance, your TM teacher may add other sounds to your mantra; – Your TM mantra is (typically) private and not to be shared with others.
The history of the transcendental meditation technique is worth knowing. Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought this practice to the United States in the 1950s. Originally, you could only learn this practice from a fully-trained TM teacher. With this exclusivity as an essential driver of its business model, TM grew in both capital and influence for decades. In 2010, American filmmaker David Lynch put some of the accepted ideas to the test by using a random German word for his mantra instead of paying a licensed TM instructor to give him one.
TM mantras are a special breed in that their usefulness lies not in their meaning but in the vibration it causes when you repeat that mantra in your mind. At its essence, a TM mantra is a sound that creates a desirable vibration. When it comes to words you know — like love and dislike or compassion and cruelty — you can feel the difference when you repeat these words, even if you only repeat them mentally. Words with a positive association (love, kindness, peace) have a vibration that helps us feel calmer; words with a negative association (hatred, violence, discord) have a vibration that leaves us feeling agitated and unsettled, often leading to physical discomfort.
This is true even when you only think those words without saying them aloud. You can be outwardly polite while seething with dislike for someone, and the takeaway will be predominantly negative — because of your thoughts. On the other hand, if you’re around someone you typically find less pleasant to be around but choose to think about qualities you admire in them, your net takeaway will be positive. TM mantras may not have a meaning you’re consciously aware of, but they can still create vibrations in your mind that strongly affect your mental well-being.
For this reason, every TM mantra (which is more sound than word) must be chosen carefully. Fully-trained TM teachers knew this and were careful to assess each student before assigning a mantra, even if they knew a specific mantra was effective for many people. How a particular mantra (sound) affects you depends on word associations that may come up when you repeat that mantra in your mind. Always tell your TM teacher if specific words often come to mind with your given mantra.
1. Improved Self-Awareness and Coping Skills Transcendental meditation enables you to gain a deeper awareness of the person beneath the noise. The more you practice TM, the more you learn about yourself, and the more confidence you gain in your ability to deal with the challenges that come. 2. Better Brain Function The more you practice TM, the more you’ll see an improvement in your cognitive ability. 3. Reduced Anxiety and Lower Stress Levels With meditation, your mind goes into a state of total relaxation. With gentle repetition, the TM mantra causes disruptive thoughts to recede, quieting your mind. That state of peaceful awareness changes the way you respond to anxiety and stress—for the better.
Less than a century ago, the only way to get a mantra of your own was to have a TM teacher assign one to you. That said, a closer look at the way TM teachers assigned them revealed a chart of mantras based on the age and gender identity of the student. You’ll see those here in the post. While you can still find a TM teacher or sign up for a TM retreat to receive a mantra from an official guide, it’s not strictly necessary to do so. You may, if you prefer, choose a mantra of your own. Choose a mantra you find easy and enjoyable to repeat. By that, we mean it should resonate with you. Be aware of what you feel when you repeat a mantra. Go with the one that feels right to you, whatever your age or gender identity.
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