Health

An introduction to Transcendental Meditation

October 30, 2017
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Meditation. It’s a buzz word that’s on the lips of populations worldwide. And that’s a great thing. Its been known to lower stress, improve mental clarity and promote overall health to great effect. But what’s not so talked about is transcendental meditation (TM)– and I admit that I’d never heard of it before now. But in the last couple of years especially, I’ve realised the powerful effect that practises like meditation, mindfulness and yoga (check out my Epic Sana Algarve and Quarter Life Health Project posts) can have and so I was fascinated to learn about TM and I hope you will be too!

Thrillist claims that practitioners from Hollywood to Wall Street, including the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, David Lynch, Katy Perry, Ellen DeGeneres, and Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch have benefited from regular TM. And this side of the pond here in the UK, one of the earliest adopters was none other than The Beatles, who apparently flew to the Indian Himalayas to meet Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who invented the practice. As for the general population here, reports suggest that approximately 200,000 people are putting time into TM and this number is on the up. medmain

So what exactly is transcendental meditation, and what can people gain from it? TM, requires people to sit quietly in one spot repeating a mantra for 20 minutes twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. The mantra is personalised based on the practitioner’s age, gender, and specific concerns. A guide will take first timers through the practice and will also choose a mantra for them. TM can particularly appeal to those who find traditional meditation too tough since it doesn’t require  extreme concentration, hence why it’s dubbed “effortless meditation.”

Similar to other types of meditation, TM can help people calm down and reduce stress. In an interview with Today Hollywood actress Heather Graham said that the practice helps keep her centred. A practitioner for over 20 years, she revealed how it’s helped her to manage stress. And that’s not all. Just take a look at the top health benefits Women’s Health published.

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It can improve your workout: TM increases energy, improves  focus, and helps you sleep sounder every night. It also increases your pain tolerance, says a study in the journal NeuroReport. Which means you’ll be able to run faster, jump higher, rep more and go that extra mile! Additionally, in a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, researchers compared the brain waves of elite athletes to those of TM meditators and found certain similarities in brain functioning. So TM can help you develop traits shared amongst Olympians and other top athletes. In fact, the Seattle Seahawks reportedly practiced meditation in the week leading up to their massive Super Bowl victory this year… Maybe there’s a gold medal in us all yet…?!

workoutIt can slash your risk for heart disease and stroke: A study published in the journal Circulation found that practicing Transcendental Meditation can lower blood pressure and your risk for heart attack and stroke. It could also cut your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease by strengthening the communication between different parts of your brain.

It can help you thrive at work: Research shows that regular TM practice improves productivity and creativity. So go show your boss what you’re made of and that promotion may be nearer than you thought!

hippyIt can help you lose weight: By decreasing your stress levels, you won’t be as tempted to stress eat—and your body wont produce as much cortisol, which makes it tougher to shed pounds. TM can  help mitigate your food cravings too, since it helps to balance your mental and physical state. In other words, you’ll be more in tune with your body and what it needs, so you won’t be as tempted to turn a cheat day into a cheat week! You’ll be better able to differentiate “I’m hungry” from “I’m anxious.”

It can improve your relationships: From your mom to your boss to your partner, TM can help you strengthen your relationships. In one study, those who practiced TM had a significantly higher appreciation for others than those who did not. “By strengthening synaptic connections in the brain, TM helps us to gain patience, be a better listener, and see more value in others and our relationships,” says Rachel Katz, a certified Transcendental Meditation teacher at the David Lynch Foundation in New York City.leafIt can boost vitality: It can help your body function on a level that’s several years younger than your chronological age. Research published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years who had been practicing TM for over 5 years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age. (Translation: a 55-year-old meditator had the physiology of a 43-year-old.) Pretty cool eh?

vitalTo learn how to practice this awesome sounding meditation, log on to TM.org which provides many glowing endorsements from A list celebs and corporates alike. You’ll need to get trained by a certified teacher to understand TM properly. Why the training? “It’s like so many things—from learning a musical instrument to learning to play tennis, it’s valuable to have a good teacher to help guide you so that you master the technique,” says Katz. If you want to learn in London, simply google TM and see what location suits you best. As for me, I’m definitely intrigued and will be on the search for a course myself! Stay tuned!

This post is written in collaboration with Lauren Davies. 

Photos via Pinterest

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