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We hear a lot about meditation these days—for better health, for increased productivity, and for relieving stress and anxiety–and who couldn’t use less anxiety right now? Maybe you’ve tried to meditate and found that you just can’t concentrate or feel contemplative with all that you have going on.

But did you know that there are different forms of meditation? All forms of meditation can be generally put into three categories:

  1. Focused Meditation, which use some form of concentration to try to control the wandering mind.
  2. Open Monitoring Meditation, in which one observes the thoughts as they come and go.
  3. Automatic Transcending Meditation, which allows the mind and body to effortlessly settle down to a deep state of calm.

I tried all of these types of meditations, but found the most results from the last type, and have been enjoying it daily for 50 years now. Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a simple, natural, technique that involves no concentration or contemplation. There is no religion or philosophy involved. In a few minutes it gives the mind and body a very deep rest that automatically dissolves stress and has profound benefits for both mind and body.

There are now nearly 400 peer-reviewed independent research studies on the benefits of TM, including:

  • Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, November 2012, a journal of the American Heart Association: 5-year randomized controlled study on patients with established coronary heart disease reported a 48% reduction in death, heart attack, and stroke in subjects in the TM group compared to controls.
  • Hypertension, June 2013: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association concluded that the TM technique is the only meditation practice that has been shown to lower blood pressure.
  • Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, October 2013: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found significantly greater effect of TM in reducing trait anxiety than treatment-as-usual and other alternative treatments, including mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) and other meditation and relaxation practices.

Learning TM involves a four-day (about one and a half hours a day) course taught personally by a certified teacher. The course has been excellently adapted to be taught remotely except for the first private session, which takes place in a very safe space. There is a course fee based on a sliding scale, and as a non-profit organization half of all course fees goes to teach people who are at risk: veterans with PTSD, prisoners, survivors of domestic violence, school children, etc.

For more information on local courses please call the Asheville TM Center at 828-254-4350, and to learn more about the technique and the programs it supports, visit tm.org or the David Lynch Foundation at davidlynchfoundation.org

 (Jane Roman Pitt is an enthusiastic member of the Training Partner family, and has been a TM teacher since 1973). Thank you Jane for this article.