The Gilbert Slomowitz Foundation

Frequently Asked Questions About TM

Does the TM program involve adopting a new lifestyle?

No. TM does not require a change in lifestyle, nor is it a philosophy or a religion. Over six million people of all ages, nationalities and religions, and 50,000 people in the Washington area, including medical doctors, business and government leaders, lawyers, teachers, and students have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique during the past 50 years. TM practitioners report that the reduced stress and increased clarity of mind has helped them to appreciate life more fully and, for religious people, to follow their religions more faithfully.

 

Why do people learn to meditate? 

For a wide range of reasons - for peace of mind, for better health, for better coping ability to handle the stresses of daily life, to do better in school. And the research confirms the benefits. Studies have consistently shown that regular TM practice increases creativity and IQ and improves learning ability among students, decreases anxiety and depression, reduces drug and alcohol abuse, and improves memory. One of the most important areas of research has evaluated the effects of TM practice in reducing high blood pressure, a silent killer that afflicts as many as 65 million Americans, many of them young. Nearly one in twelve teenagers, including one in five African American teens, has hypertension and research on high school students in Augusta, Georgia, found TM practice to be very effective in reducing high blood pressure. This study was conducted by the Medical College of Georgia and published in the American Journal of Hypertension in April 2004.

 

 

Specifically, what happens to the brain during TM practice? 

EEG research shows that practice of the TM technique increases alpha activity (8 to 12 cycles per second) in all brain areas. Alpha activity is the hallmark of restful alertness, inner silence, and wide-awake self-awareness. In addition, TM practice increases coherence in the EEG signals in the frontal lobes - the prefrontal cortex or "CEO" of the brain. Perhaps more significantly, this increased frontal coherence is spontaneously maintained after TM practice during daily activity and has been correlated with improved executive processing, the basis of comprehensive planning, open-minded judgment, and wise decision-making.

 

 
Can the TM technique be learned from a book or a tape? 

No. Many meditation techniques are available today and they are taught in many different ways. However, the Transcendental Meditation technique cannot be learned from a book or a tape - even though the process of TM instruction is very systematized, which makes the TM technique ideally suited for scientific research. TM instruction is very much tailored to each individual who learns the practice. Every person is different, and every person has a different pace of learning and a different set of personal experiences. So the TM technique is taught on a one-to-one basis, by a highly trained and experienced TM teacher, and in a set procedure so that everyone who learns will gain the same profound benefits.

 

 
Do all meditation techniques produce the same results? 

No. That was what most people, including scientists, thought even a few years ago. But now, with sophisticated EEG and brain imaging technologies, it is clear that all meditation techniques are not the same - they produce very different effects on brain functioning. And research also confirms that different meditation techniques have different effects on anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other stress-related disorders. The unique benefits of the TM technique are well documented by extensive research.

 

 
I've read that practice of the TM technique can help create world peace. What is that all about? 

The experience of the most settled state of awareness, pure consciousness, through TM practice, produces a profound state of inner peace in individual life. But this individual peace spreads naturally to the environment as well. Every individual influences his or her family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and society as a whole, every day. Not surprisingly, if enough people are experiencing inner peace, then that peace can radiate strongly enough into the environment to influence social trends. And just as extensive medical research shows that TM practice reduces individual stress and disease, a number of sociological studies, published in respected peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the Journal of Conflict Resolution (Yale University Press), suggest that large numbers of people practicing the TM technique in a given population area can reduce indicators of social stress in that area, including crime and violence. These findings appear to uphold the vision of TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose motivation for introducing the TM technique to people everywhere was to create a lasting foundation for world peace as well as enlightenment for the individual. He has said that, just as light bulbs radiate light and eliminate darkness, individuals experiencing inner peace through the TM program naturally radiate that peace into their environment, contributing to the creation of harmony and peace in the world.

 

 

 
What is a 'mantra'? 

A mantra is a specific sound used during TM practice as a vehicle for the effortless settling down of the mind to the experience of the source of thought, pure consciousness. The mantra has no meaning but is known to produce beneficial, life-supporting effects. When you learn to meditate, you will receive your own mantra- and then, equally importantly, you will learn how to use the mantra properly so that your mind and body settle down to a profound state of restful alertness. It is important to receive complete instruction in how to meditate properly from a trained teacher. The reason is obvious: if you are going to take two 20-minute blocks of meditation time out of your busy schedule, you want to be sure to be meditating correctly and making best use of that time!

 

 
From where does the TM technique come? 

The Transcendental Meditation technique is thousands of years old. It comes from an unbroken tradition of meditation instruction from ancient India. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first introduced the technique to the West over 50 years ago. It was Maharishi's idea to subject the TM technique to scientific scrutiny in order to establish its practical benefits to daily life. Maharishi has trained tens of thousands of TM teachers who are providing TM instruction in all parts of the world. In a recent cover story on science and meditation, Time magazine recently credited Maharishi for the revival of meditation and yoga in the U.S. and around the globe.

 

 
What if a person is a skeptic? 

Being skeptical is a good thing these days. Fortunately, no belief or change in beliefs is required to learn and practice the TM technique and to gain all the benefits. In fact, you can be 100 percent skeptical and the TM technique will work just fine. This is because the technique makes use of a natural mechanism within the mind and body, long forgotten by most people, to settle down and take profoundly deep rest. No amount of belief or disbelief will change that inherent ability.

 

 
Is TM a spiritual practice? 

No, if you use "spiritual" in the sense of a religious practice. But yes, if you define "spiritual" as the nonreligious, holistic development of mind, body, emotions, and sense of self. In the latter case, the TM technique is a deeply healthy and satisfying spiritual practice.

 
For more information on the Transcendental Meditation Program, visit www.tm.org.