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)

video: Are all meditations the same?

Video: "Are all meditations the same?" Dr F Travis (4 min)


"Meditations differ in both their ingredients and their effects, just as medicines do. Lumping them all together as 'essentially the same' is simply a mistake."

- Jonathan Shear PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Virginia Commonwealth University

video: Roth on effortlessness
Video: "Is TM really effortless?" Bob Roth (1 min)

 

 

 

Want more comparisons?

Visit this blog post (opens in a new tab/window).

video: TM v Mindfulness

"TM and Mindfulness"
Dr N Rosenthal (1 min)

TM differs because it's …

1. Effortless

Unlike other techniques, the TM technique involves no concentration, contemplation or control of your mind. It is effortless and enjoyable, and is practised sitting comfortably.

2. Evidence-based

Over 300 peer-reviewed research studies on  TM  document a wide range of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, and improved heart health and cognitive function.

3. Standardised for effectiveness

Every certified TM teacher ensures consistent effectiveness in your results.

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