How is Transcendental Meditation Different?
Types of meditation
Science has identified three main types of meditation using brainwave EEG patterns and cognitive processes. Controlled focus (concentration) techniques involve the most mental effort or cognitive control. Open monitoring (mindfulness-type practice) involves less cognitive control. Automatic self-transcending (Transcendental Meditation) uses still less mental effort (no cognitive control).
"Focused attention" meditations are characterised by concentration or controlled focus on an object of meditation. Brain waves recorded during these practices are typically in the gamma frequency, a pattern commonly seen during any highly focused or controlled mental activity. (Lutz A, et al, 2004)
"Open monitoring" (mindfulness) attends to the contents of experience without intervening in it. It is characterised by frontal theta brain waves, seen during memory tasks, internal focus, and drowsiness. (Cahn, Delorme, & Polich, 2010)
"Automatic self-transcending" practices go beyond their own activity, allowing thinking to subside spontaneously. Transcendental Meditation allows the mind to effortlessly transcend the meditation process itself. The category is called "automatic" because the meditator is not involved in any attempt to control or sustain the process. Frontal coherent alpha brain waves characterise this more restful state of mind along with increased inner wakefulness. (Travis, Arenander, & DuBois, 2004; Travis et al., 2010)