How does TM practice differ from other forms of "mantra" meditation?

“Mantra” meditation and the Transcendental Meditation technique

The TM technique is completely effortlessness and involves no concentration. It is different in many ways from common "mantra" practices...


There are many forms of “mantra” meditation — traditional japa, Deepak Chopra’s "primordial sound" and Benson’s relaxation response, to name a few. Mantra meditation practices are usually forms of controlled focus, employing degrees of concentration or sustained attention. 

The Transcendental Meditation technique, a process of "automatic self-transcending," involves silent use of a specialized mantra or sound but uses the mantra in a specific and unique way without concentration or effort. The TM technique is fundamentally very different from other forms of “mantra” practices — including those mentioned above.

What's a mantra?
The Sanskrit word 'mantra' came into common English usage in the 1970s as millions of people around the world learned the TM technique. The word now appears in English dictionaries, defined as “a repeated word or phrase.”

The different kinds of mantra meditations use a seemingly endless variety of "mantras" and use them in many different ways. Some forms of mantra meditation are religious — such as "centering prayer" — others, such as TM practice, are free of religious context.

In the Transcendental Meditation program, the word 'mantra' has a specific meaning: it is a vehicle for transcending — for going beyond mental activity to finer and finer stages of the thinking process, until one arrives at the field of pure consciousness at the source of thought. This experience is described as the deepest, most powerful and creative level of mind, a state of pure potentiality. 

Personal instruction in the TM technique involves learning two main components: 

• A mantra or sound that is suitable for the individual
• How to use the mantra to transcend

How TM practice is different:
The Transcendental Meditation technique differs from other mantra-type meditation practices in these basic ways:

• The use of specific mantras (sounds not associated with meaning) known to be effective for settling the mind and awakening our inner potential — sounds proven to produce life-supportive, all-positive results

• The traditional, specialized way in which TM mantras are imparted, ensuring that the student gets the correct mantra in its proper form — and in accordance with the time-tested teaching procedures of this ancient tradition of meditation

• The way one is taught to use the mantra properly in meditation — in a natural, effortless way that allows the mind settle inward and transcend

• The TM technique’s purity or authenticity in the Vedic Tradition

• A systematic method of instruction — with experienced, rigorously trained certified teachers — so the technique can be easily learned by anyone and will consistently produce positive results

• Support and follow-up, including personal "checking" of meditation to stabilize correct practice — as needed, free for the rest for your life

• Extensive validation by scientific research

If you attend an introductory talk on the TM technique, the teacher will help further clarify the distinctions between TM practice and other forms of meditation.

VIDEO: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the correct use of mantras

I heard that some mantras have meaning and can be religious — is this true of TM mantras?

What if I meditate using a mantra that has a meaning?

Do the TM mantras have roots in a religious tradition?

Why are the TM mantras kept private?

So once I learn, I can’t teach the TM technique to others?

Read more about the three major categories of meditation techniques:

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