The Beatles famously credited Transcendental Meditation with helping them write their best music. Oprah swears by her daily practice. So does billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio, British comedian Russell Brand, and music mogul Russell Simmons.
In fact, the list of celebrities and Fortune 500 CEOs who say Transcendental Meditation has helped them in their personal and professional lives is so long that we may need to start a new list: “Successful People Who Don’t Practice Transcendental Meditation.”
Just what is this popular style of meditation and how does it differ from others? We’ll tell you!
“TM,” the acronym used by insiders, is the practice of sitting for 20 minutes, twice a day, repeating a personal mantra given to you by a TM teacher. The technique is based on a Vedic tradition, an ancient Indian process of enlightenment. Fifty years ago, spiritual leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced the practice to the rest of the world, founding the Transcendental Meditation Program.
“A Creative Edge”
According to the program, TM allows your mind to settle into a state of pure awareness, known as transcendental consciousness. In this state, the body is at its most relaxed, and the brain supposedly has the greatest access to its creative energy. Devotees claim that TM gives them a creative edge, allowing them to be more focused throughout the day and access innovative ideas.
Shel Pink, founder of the cutting-edge SpaRitual line of nail polishes and cosmetics, credits TM for helping her run her successful business. David Lynch, the movie director who is arguably TM’s biggest (and most recognizably creative) spokesperson at the moment, told an auditorium of film students how indispensable TM is to the craft: “it boosts awareness of pure vibrant consciousness” and “experiencing the act of enlivening your consciousness makes creativity flow.” (Check it out here at minute 7.)
But Lynch would also say TM is not just for film students (or celebrities and CEOs). It’s also a potent healing practice. That’s why The David Lynch Foundation raises money to offer TM programs for high-stress, at-risk populations, such as inner-city students and the homeless.
Peter Trivelas, a Navy veteran who now teaches TM to other veterans, agrees that this simple practice has powerful benefits for post-traumatic stress. “TM teaches you to put your brain in a state of profound rest, so your body can begin to repair itself on a profound level.”
Transcendental Meditation’s Big Health Claims
TM probably has more medical studies behind it than any other meditation practice, which is why in addition to helping reduce the effects of stress and trauma, it’s routinely hailed as a kind of cure-all for issues ranging from high blood pressure to diabetes.
Research suggests these claims aren’t overblown. One UCLA Medical School study on patients with heart disease found that those who practiced TM had lower blood pressure and improved blood glucose and insulin levels (linked to diabetes).
Several other studies have suggested that TM can actually slow the aging process and increase longevity among its practitioners. Not surprisingly, these anti-aging benefits regularly draw new converts (and Hollywood types), who stay for the peace of mind.
Learning TM isn’t cheap. The 3-day course costs $1,500, though scholarships are available. And then there’s the on-going investment of your time: taking 20 minutes out of your day—twice a day. How do these very busy people fit it in? “I find that when I make the time to practice TM, there’s actually more time available in the day,” Pink says. “I’m more focused and productive.” —Carla Vass