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National Meditation Month, USA: How to choose a meditation technique
by Global Good News staff writer
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3 May 2010
Stress reduction, clear thinking, inner peace, and spiritual growth are a few of the reasons millions of people practice meditation today. 'Mindfulness, Zen, the Transcendental Meditation Technique, and many other practices have become household words,' says Tom McKinley Ball, a Teacher of the Transcendental Meditation Programme in Asheville, North Carolina, USA.
With so many different methods available, how does one choose a meditation technique?
Different methods of meditation produce different results
'The first step is to recognize that not all meditation techniques are the same,' says Ball. 'Different techniques have different aims, employ a variety of procedures, and naturally produce different results.' Ball objectively compares the Transcendental Meditation Technique and several other well-known methods of meditation in his article, How to Choose a Meditation Technique.*
'Though proponents of most meditation practices claim health benefits, frequently these claims of benefit cite scientific research that was actually conducted on other forms of meditation, and not on the practice being promoted,' says Ball.
The Transcendental Meditation (TM) Technique is the most extensively researched form of meditation. More than 600 scientific studies, conducted at 250 independent universities and medical schools worldwide, verify the benefits of the TM Technique in virtually all areas of life. Research shows a wide range of improvements, such as improved cardiovascular health and longevity, reduced stress, increased intelligence and creativity, better academic performance, improved brain functioning, higher psychological development, and even reduced crime and conflict on a social level.**
Comprehensive meta-analyses (a procedure for drawing definitive conclusions from large bodies of research) of meditation and stress-reduction techniques show that Transcendental Meditation produces numerous benefits not produced by other techniques. TM is superior to ordinary rest, and more effective in reducing anxiety and increasing self-actualization than other meditation and relaxation techniques.***
What is the Transcendental Meditation Technique?
The Transcendental Meditation Technique is described as a simple, natural, enjoyable procedure to settle the mind, expand awareness, and access the 'limitless reservoir of creativity, energy and intelligence at the source of thought'.
According to Steven Rector, MD, 'Scientists call what happens during TM practice a fourth state of consciousness, a state of restful alertness, unlike waking, sleeping, or dreaming. This fourth state, called Transcendental Consciousness, has its own unique physiological style of functioning—slower breath rate, reduced stress hormones, more orderly brainwaves. . . . The TM Technique allows anyone to effortlessly access this inner field of restful alertness,' which Dr Rector describes as 'a soothing and healing experience'.
Can meditation be learned from a book or CD?
'There are many forms of meditation, practiced for various reasons—such as, to simply relax, to promote a sense of compassion, or to become more ''mindful'' of oneself or surroundings. Most of these practices can be learned either for free or very cheaply, . . . (in a) yoga class, from a book, online, or from a CD,' says Tom Ball. However, the Transcendental Meditation Technique is unique, and if one wants the profound benefits that have been verified by scientific research, personal instruction with a certified TM teacher is needed.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Founder of the Transcendental Meditation Programme, 'revived correct practice of this ancient meditation technique and structured a systematic, standardized, seven-step course of personalized instruction to ensure that everyone everywhere can learn to meditate properly and gain maximum benefit,' explains Ball.
In his first book, The Science of Being and Art of Living, Maharishi wrote,
'By necessity, the practice of Transcendental Meditation is imparted by personal instruction. It cannot be done through a book because it not only involves telling an aspirant how to experience the subtle states of thinking, but an even greater responsibility lies in finding out what the aspirant experiences when he proceeds on that path. . . . The practice of Transcendental Meditation must always be given by the expert teachers of Transcendental Meditation who have been properly trained to give it and who have been trained to check the experiences.'****
* Read the full article, How to Choose a Meditation Technique, by Tom McKinley Ball.
** For a comprehensive overview of research on the Transcendental Meditation Technique, see www.tm.org/research-on-meditation.
*** Orme-Johnson, D.W., and Walton, K. (1998). 'All approaches to preventing and reversing the effects of stress are not the same.' American Journal of Health Promotion, 12, 297-299.
**** Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living (New York: Plume/Penguin Group, 1963/2001), p. 35-36.
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