Q. 473 TM

Q: Good afternoon, I wonder if i may ask you about meditation please ? In particular TM, Transcendental Meditation.

I have been meditating twice daily for two years now and have not noticed any changes, no more calmness or anything really. I enjoy it while i do it but the feeling does not carry over into daily life.

From your experience would it be best to give it up or persevere a little longer please ? Is there something better than thus type of meditation?

A: Can you describe in some detail what you actually do and what you find?

Q: In the morning before dressing and breakfast I sit in a quiet dark room and sit for 20 minutes. Eyes closed . Without forcing it I repeat the mantra slowly in my mind, allowing thoughts to come and go. I have a timer on my phone and the session opens and closes with the subdued sound of a woodblock. After I sit without the mantra for a minute or so before getting up carrying on with the day. The same process again in the evening. The morning is always more satisfying as the house is quieter.

I find that the sessions are relaxing but I haven’t yet experienced bliss or a deep realisation of anything spiritual. My mind is a little quieter than in the past , not so many thoughts. But all those big enticing promises of TM have eluded me. The bliss, the silent mind, the happiness, the contentment. All marketed by the TM organisation and its testimonials.

I have tried meditation before, but this is the only one I have stuck to. Perhaps my expectations were too high? Perhaps I’m doing it ” wrong ” . Maybe to find a meditative state is wiser than setting aside a separate time and place to do TM ?

Is it possible I am reinforcing the ” self ” by continuing with it ?

A: Were you actually initiated by the TM organization? If so, they ought to be monitoring you on a regular basis so as to answer all your questions and make sure thing are progressing ‘as they should’. (But of course they will almost certainly not be Advaitins!)

The duration ought to be 30 mins, not 20. As I recall, it did actually take a few years (more than 2) before I was able to reach a real samAdhi state – and this was almost always in the last 5 – 10 minutes. When you do, you will know – it is a profound stillness. You are aware of everything happening around you but you are the ‘still centre’, able to ignore all of it without effort.

But the main point that is raised by what you say is that you are not going to ‘realize anything spiritual’. This is not the purpose of meditation. The idea is that you gain control of the mind (in the sense that thoughts or external events do not take your attention away from its intended purpose). It is a key part (probably the most important aspect) of your ‘preparation’. The objective is to gain the qualities of discrimination, dispassion and discipline so that you are able to listen to the teacher imparting the Self-knowledge. (This should be someone ‘qualified’ in the traditional sense.) ONLY Self-knowledge can dispel the ignorance that is preventing the realization of your true nature. It will not occur ‘spontaneously’ as a result of any action, including meditation.

There is certainly evidence that TM brings the other, material benefits if you like, of better health, ability to concentrate, etc. I would be skeptical of claims for ‘happier’ etc. – there are other factors at work here! But, again, that is not the purpose as far as Vedanta is concerned. It is the final realization that you are the non-dual Consciousness that rids you of the desires, fears etc. that make your life unhappy.