Transcendental Meditation (TM) refers to a specific form of silent, mantra meditation and less commonly to the organizations that constitute the Transcendental Meditation movement. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi created and introduced the TM technique and TM movement in India in the mid-1950s.
The Maharishi taught thousands of people during a series of world tours from 1958 to 1965, expressing his teachings in spiritual and religious terms. TM became more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as the Maharishi shifted to a more technical presentation, and his meditation technique was practiced by celebrities. At this time, he began training TM teachers and created specialized organizations to present TM to specific segments of the population such as business people and students. By the early 2000s, TM had been taught to millions of people; the worldwide TM organization had grown to include educational programs, health products, and related services.
The TM technique involves the use of a silently-used sound called a mantra, and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day. It is taught by certified teachers through a standard course of instruction, which costs a fee that varies by country. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement, it is a non-religious method for relaxation, stress reduction, and self-development. The technique has been seen as both religious and non-religious; sociologists, scholars, and a New Jersey judge and court are among those who have expressed views on it being religious or non-religious. The United States Court of Appeals upheld the federal ruling that TM was essentially "religious in nature" and therefore could not be taught in public schools.
TM is one of the most widely practiced and researched meditation techniques. It is not possible to say whether it has any effect on health as the research, as of 2007, is of poor quality.
The Transcendental Meditation program and the Transcendental Meditation movement originated with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the organization, and continue beyond his death in 2008. In 1955, "the Maharishi began publicly teaching a traditional meditation technique" learned from his master Brahmananda Saraswati that he called Transcendental Deep Meditation and later renamed Transcendental Meditation. The Maharishi initiated thousands of people, then developed a TM teacher training program as a way to accelerate the rate of bringing the technique to more people. He also inaugurated a series of world tours which promoted Transcendental Meditation. These factors, coupled with endorsements by celebrities who practiced TM and claims that scientific research had validated the technique, helped to popularize TM in the 1960s and 1970s. By the late 2000s, TM had been taught to millions of individuals and the Maharishi was overseeing a large multinational movement. Despite organizational changes and the addition of advanced meditative techniques in the 1970s, the Transcendental Meditation technique has remained relatively unchanged.
Among the first organizations to promote TM were the Spiritual Regeneration Movement and the International Meditation Society. In modern times, the movement has grown to encompass schools and universities that teach the practice, and includes many associated programs based on the Maharishi's interpretation of the Vedic traditions. In the U.S., non-profit organizations included the Students International Meditation Society, AFSCI, World Plan Executive Council, Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, Global Country of World Peace and Maharishi Foundation. The successor to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and leader of the Global Country of World Peace, is Tony Nader.
The meditation practice involves the use of a silently-used mantra for 15–20 minutes twice per day while sitting with the eyes closed. It is reported to be one of the most widely practiced, and among the most widely researched, meditation techniques, with hundreds of published research studies.  The technique is made available worldwide by certified TM teachers in a seven-step course, and fees vary from country to country. Beginning in 1965, the Transcendental Meditation technique has been incorporated into selected schools, universities, corporations, and prison programs in the US, Latin America, Europe, and India. In 1977 a US district court ruled that a curriculum in TM and the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI) being taught in some New Jersey schools was religious in nature and in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The technique has since been included in a number of educational and social programs around the world.
The Transcendental Meditation technique has been described as both religious and non-religious, as an aspect of a new religious movement, as rooted in Hinduism, and as a non-religious practice for self-development. The public presentation of the TM technique over its 50-year history has been praised for its high visibility in the mass media and effective global propagation, and criticized for using celebrity and scientific endorsements as a marketing tool. Also, advanced courses supplement the TM technique and include an advanced meditation program called the TM-Sidhi program.
The Transcendental Meditation movement consists of the programs and organizations connected with the Transcendental Meditation technique and founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Transcendental Meditation was first taught in the 1950s in India and has continued since the Maharishi's death in 2008. The organization was estimated to have 900,000 participants worldwide in 1977, a million by the 1980s, and 5 million in more recent years, including some notable practitioners.
Programs include the Transcendental Meditation technique, an advanced meditation practice called the TM-Sidhi program ("Yogic Flying"), an alternative health care program called Maharishi Ayurveda, and a system of building and architecture called Maharishi Sthapatya Ved. The TM movement's past and present media endeavors include a publishing company (MUM Press), a television station (KSCI), a radio station (KHOE), and a satellite television channel (Maharishi Channel). During its 50-year history, its products and services have been offered through a variety of organizations, which are primarily nonprofit and educational. These include the Spiritual Regeneration Movement, the International Meditation Society, World Plan Executive Council, Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation, the Global Country of World Peace, and the David Lynch Foundation.
The TM movement also operates a worldwide network of Transcendental Meditation teaching centers, schools, universities, health centers, herbal supplements, solar panel, and home financing companies, plus several TM-centered communities. The global organization is reported to have an estimated net worth of USD 3.5 billion. The TM movement has been characterized in a variety of ways and has been called a spiritual movement, a new religious movement, a millenarian movement, a world affirming movement, a new social movement, a guru-centered movement, a personal growth movement, a religion, and a cult. Additional sources contend that TM and its movement are not a cult. Participants in TM programs are not required to adopt a belief system; it is practiced by atheists, agnostics and people from a variety of religious affiliations. The organization has also been criticized as well as praised for its public presentation and marketing techniques throughout its 50-year history.
It is not possible to say whether meditation has any effect on health, as the research is of poor quality, and is marred by a high risk for bias due to the connection of researchers to the TM organization and by the selection of subjects with a favorable opinion of TM. Most independent systematic reviews have not found health benefits for TM exceeding those produced by other relaxation techniques or health education. A 2013 statement from the American Heart Association said that TM could be considered as a treatment for hypertension, although other interventions such as exercise and device-guided breathing were more effective and better supported by clinical evidence. A 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found no evidence that mantra meditation programs such as TM were effective in reducing psychological stress or improving well-being. A 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis found that TM may effectively reduce blood pressure compared to control groups, although the underlying studies may have been biased and further studies with better designs are needed to confirm these results. A 2014 Cochrane review found that it was impossible to draw any conclusions about whether TM is effective in preventing cardiovascular disease, as the scientific literature on TM was limited and at "serious risk of bias".
The first studies of the health effects of Transcendental Meditation appeared in the early 1970s. By 2004 the US government had given more than $20 million to Maharishi University of Management to study the effect of meditation on health.
In the 1960s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi described a paranormal effect claiming a significant number of individuals (1% of the people in a given area) practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) could have an effect on the local environment. This hypothetical influence was later termed the Maharishi Effect. With the introduction of the TM-Sidhi program in 1976, the Maharishi proposed that the square root of one percent of the population practicing the TM-Sidhi program, together at the same time and in the same place, would increase "life-supporting trends". This was referred to as the "Extended Maharishi Effect". Evidence, which TM practitioners argue supports the existence of the effect, has been criticized as lacking a causal basis, being derived from cherry-picked data, and being based on the credulity of believers.
The organization has been the subject of controversies, and labelled a cult by several parliamentary inquiries or anti-cult movements in the world. Some also say that TM and its movement are not a cult. The TM movement has been characterized in a variety of ways and has been called a spiritual movement, a new religious movement, a millenarian movement, a world affirming movement, a new social movement, a guru-centered movement, a personal growth movement, a religion. Participants in TM programs are not required to adopt a belief system; it is practiced by atheists, agnostics and people from a variety of religious affiliations.
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TM is a movement led by Maharishi Mehesh Yogi, ...
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Proponents of the program denied that Transcendental Meditation was a religion; the Third Circuit concluded that it was.
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The small number of studies included in this review do not permit any conclusions to be drawn on the effectiveness of meditation therapy for anxiety disorders. Transcendental meditation is comparable with other kinds of relaxation therapies in reducing anxiety
- Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhaneh M, et al. (June 2007). "Meditation practices for health: state of the research". Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) (155): 1–263. PMC 4780968. PMID 17764203.
Scientific research on meditation practices does not appear to have a common theoretical perspective and is characterized by poor methodological quality. Firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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Transcendental Meditation (TM), a concentrative technique ... has been the most extensively studied meditation technique.
- Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhaneh M, et al. (June 2007). "Meditation practices for health: state of the research". Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) (155): 62. PMC 4780968. PMID 17764203.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Rosenthal, Norman (2011). Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. New York: Tarcher/Penguin. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-58542-873-1.
By my latest count, there have been 340 per-reviewed articles published on TM, many of which have appeared in highly respected journals.
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This lawsuit was the most significant setback for TM in the United States ... Since then TM has made a comeback of sorts with some governmental sponsorship
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- Chryssides, George D. (2001). Exploring New Religions. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 301–303. ISBN 9780826459596."Although one can identify the Maharishi's philosophical tradition, its teachings are in no way binding on TM practitioners. There is no public worship, no code of ethics, no scriptures to be studied, and no rites of passage that are observed, such as dietary laws, giving to the poor, or pilgrimages. In particular, there is no real TM community: practitioners do not characteristically meet together for public worship, but simply recite the mantra, as they have been taught it, not as religious obligation, but simply as a technique to benefit themselves, their surroundings and the wider world."
- Partridge, Christopher (200). New Religions: A Guide To New Religious Movements, Sects and Alternative Spiritualities. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 184.
It is understood in terms of the reduction of stress and the charging of one's mental and physical batteries.
- Rosenthal, Norman E. (2011). Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation. Tarcher Penguin. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-58542-873-1.
- Shear, Jonathan, ed. (2006). Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions. St Paul, MN: Paragon House. ISBN 978-1-55778-857-3.
- Stark, Rodney; Bainbridge, William, Sims (1986). The Future Of Religion. University of California Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0520057319. "Time magazine in 1975 estimated that the U.S. total had risen to 600,000 augmented by half that number elsewhere" =[900,000 world wide] "Annual Growth in TM Initiations in the U.S. [chart] Cumulative total at the End of Each Year: 1977, 919,300"
- Peterson, William (1982). Those Curious New Cults in the 80s. New Canaan, Connecticut: Keats Publishing. pp. 123. ISBN 9780879833176. claims "more than a million" in the USA and Europe.
- Occhiogrosso, Peter. The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World's Religious Traditions. New York: Doubleday (1996); p 66, citing "close to a million" in the USA.
- Bainbridge, William Sims (1997) Routledge, The Sociology of Religious Movements, page 189 "the million people [Americans] who had been initiated"
- Analysis: Practice of requiring probationers to take lessons in transcendental meditation sparks religious controversy, NPR All Things Considered, 1 February 2002 | ROBERT SIEGEL "TM's five million adherents claim that it eliminates chronic health problems and reduces stress."
- Martin Hodgson, The Guardian (5 February 2008) "He [Maharishi] transformed his interpretations of ancient scripture into a multimillion-dollar global empire with more than 5m followers worldwide"
- Stephanie van den Berg, Sydney Morning Herald, Beatles guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi dies, (7 February 2008) "the TM movement, which has some five million followers worldwide"
- Meditation a magic bullet for high blood pressure – study, Sunday Tribune (South Africa), (27 January 2008) "More than five million people have learned the technique worldwide, including 60,000 in South Africa."
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - Transcendental Meditation founder's grand plan for peace, The Columbian (Vancouver, WA), 19 February 2006 | ARTHUR MAX Associated Press writer "transcendental meditation, a movement that claims 6 million practitioners since it was introduced."
- Bickerton, Ian (8 February 2003). "Bank makes an issue of mystic's mint". Financial Times. London (UK). p. 09. the movement claims to have five million followers,
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Spiritual Leader Dies, New York Times, By LILY KOPPEL, Published: 6 February 2008 "Since the technique’s inception in 1955, the organization says, it has been used to train more than 40,000 teachers, taught more than five million people"
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Beckford, James A. (1985). Cult controversies: the societal response to new religious movements. Tavistock Publications. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-422-79630-9.
Parsons, Gerald (1994). The Growth of Religious Diversity: Traditions. The Open University/Methuen. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-415-08326-3.
For neo-Hindu, see:
Alper, Harvey P. (December 1991). Understanding mantras. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 442. ISBN 978-81-208-0746-4.
Raj, Selva J.; William P. Harman (2007). Dealing With Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia. SUNY Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-7914-6708-4.
- Persinger, Michael A.; Carrey, Normand J.; Suess, Lynn A. (1980). TM and cult mania. North Quincy, Mass.: Christopher Pub. House. ISBN 0-8158-0392-3.
- Dawson, Lorne L. (2003) Blackwell Publishing, Cults and New Religious Movements, Chapter 3: Three Types of New Religious Movement by Roy Wallis (1984), page 44-48
- Christian Blatter, Donald McCown, Diane Reibel, Marc S. Micozzi, (2010) Springer Science+Business Media, Teaching Mindfulness, Page 47
- Olson, Carl (2007) Rutgers University Press, The Many Colors of Hinduism, page 345
- Shakespeare, Tom. "A Point of View". BBC. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
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- Sagan, Carl (1997). The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 16. ISBN 0-345-40946-9.
- Szimhart, Joseph (2019). "A look into the Transcendental Deception". Skeptical Inquirer. 43 (2): 61–63.
- Harrison, Shirley (1990). Cults: The Battle for God. Kent: Christopher Helm. pp. 93–103 "none of the other 'cultic qualities' defined by cult watchers can be fairly attributed to TM."
- Rowson, Jonathan (23 April 2007) Meditation: for old hippies or a better way of life? Sunday Herald (Scotland) " the TM movement is not a cult", accessed 2 Feb 2013
- Hannaford, Alex (27 December 2010). "Mantra with a mission; Feature Om or ominous? The maverick film director David Lynch wants to bring Transcendental Meditation to our classrooms, and believes in 'yogic flying'. Can he get it off the ground?". The Sunday Times (London).
- Lyster, Samantha (21 October 2000) Samantha Lyster finds herself in holistic heaven with new-found happiness and tranquillity after learning the art of transcendental meditation, The Birmingham Post (England), "TM is not a religion, a cult or a philosophy"
- Liebler, Nancy and Moss, Nancy (2009) Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way: Creating Happiness with Meditation ["the TM technique does not require adherence to any belief system—there is no dogma or philosophy attached to it, and it does not demand any lifestyle changes other than the practice of it."]  accessed 25 May 2013
- "Its proponents say it is not a religion or a philosophy."The Guardian 28 March 2009 
- "It's used in prisons, large corporations and schools, and it is not considered a religion."  Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Concord Monitor
- Chryssides George D. Defining the New Spirituality http://www.cesnur.org/conferences/riga2000/chryssides.htm One possible suggestion is that religion demands exclusive allegiance: this would ipso facto exclude Scientology, TM and the Soka Gakkai simply on the grounds that they claim compatibility with whatever other religion the practitioner has been following. For example, TM is simply – as they state – a technique. Although it enables one to cope with life, it offers no goal beyond human existence (such as moksha), nor does it offer rites or passage or an ethic. Unlike certain other Hindu-derived movements, TM does not prescribe a dharma to its followers – that is to say a set of spiritual obligations deriving from one’s essential nature.
- Canter PH, Ernst E (November 2004). "Insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not Transcendental Meditation decreases blood pressure: results of a systematic review of randomized clinical trials". Journal of Hypertension. 22 (11): 2049–54. doi:10.1097/00004872-200411000-00002. PMID 15480084.
All the randomized clinical trials of TM for the control of blood pressure published to date have important methodological weaknesses and are potentially biased by the affiliation of authors to the TM organization.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Krisanaprakornkit T, Ngamjarus C, Witoonchart C, Piyavhatkul N (2010). Krisanaprakornkit, Thawatchai (ed.). "Meditation therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 6 (6): CD006507. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006507.pub2. PMC 6823216. PMID 20556767.
As a result of the limited number of included studies, the small sample sizes and the high risk of biasCS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Canter PH, Ernst E (November 2003). "The cumulative effects of Transcendental Meditation on cognitive function--a systematic review of randomised controlled trials". Wien. Klin. Wochenschr. 115 (21–22): 758–66. doi:10.1007/BF03040500. PMID 14743579.
All 4 positive trials recruited subjects from among people favourably predisposed towards TM, and used passive control procedures … The association observed between positive outcome, subject selection procedure and control procedure suggests that the large positive effects reported in 4 trials result from an expectation effect. The claim that TM has a specific and cumulative effect on cognitive function is not supported by the evidence from randomized controlled trials.
- Ospina, MB; Bond, K; Karkhaneh, M; Tjosvold, L; Vandermeer, B; Liang, Y; Bialy, L; Hooton, N; et al. (June 2007). "Meditation practices for health: state of the research" (PDF). Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) (155): 1–263 . PMC 4780968. PMID 17764203. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2009.
A few studies of overall poor methodological quality were available for each comparison in the meta-analyses, most of which reported nonsignificant results. TM had no advantage over health education to improve measures of systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, body weight, heart rate, stress, anger, self-efficacy, cholesterol, dietary intake, and level of physical activity in hypertensive patients
- Krisanaprakornkit, T; Ngamjarus, C; Witoonchart, C; Piyavhatkul, N (2010). Krisanaprakornkit, Thawatchai (ed.). "Meditation therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)". Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 6 (6): CD006507. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006507.pub2. PMC 6823216. PMID 20556767.
As a result of the limited number of included studies, the small sample sizes and the high risk of bias, we are unable to draw any conclusions regarding the effectiveness of meditation therapy for ADHD.
- Brook RD, Appel LJ, Rubenfire M, Ogedegbe G, Bisognano JD, Elliott WJ, Fuchs FD, Hughes JW, Lackland DT, Staffileno BA, Townsend RR, Rajagopalan S (2013). "Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association". Hypertension. 61 (6): 1360–83. doi:10.1161/HYP.0b013e318293645f. PMID 23608661.
- Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, Gould NF, Rowland-Seymour A, Sharma R, Berger Z, Sleicher D, Maron DD, Shihab HM, Ranasinghe PD, Linn S, Saha S, Bass EB, Haythornthwaite JA (2014). "Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis". JAMA Intern Med. 174 (3): 357–68. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018. PMC 4142584. PMID 24395196.
... we found low evidence of no effect or insufficient evidence that mantra meditation programs had an effect on any of the psychological stress and well-being outcomes we examined.
- Goyal M, Singh S, Sibinga EM, Gould NF, Rowland-Seymour A, Sharma R, Berger Z, Sleicher D, Maron DD, Shihab HM, Ranasinghe PD, Linn S, Saha S, Bass EB, Haythornthwaite JA (2014). "Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being". Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Our review finds that the mantra meditation programs do not appear to improve any of the psychological stress and well-being outcomes we examined, but the strength of this evidence varies from low to insufficient.
- Bai, Z; Chang, J; Chen, C; Li, P; Yang, K; Chi, I (12 February 2015). "Investigating the effect of transcendental meditation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Journal of Human Hypertension. 29 (11): 653–62. doi:10.1038/jhh.2015.6. PMID 25673114.
- Hartley, L; Mavrodaris, A; Flowers, N; Ernst, E; Rees, K (1 December 2014). "Transcendental meditation for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 12 (12): CD010359. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010359.pub2. PMID 25436436.
- Lyn Freeman, Mosby's Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, Mosby Elsevier, 2009, p. 163
- QUICK, SUSANNE (17 October 2004). "Delving into alternative care: Non-traditional treatments draw increased interest, research funding". Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.
Maharishi University ... has received more than $20 million in government support to date to explore the health benefits of meditation.
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