Meditation is an ardent practice that stems from the East. It has been around for thousands of years and only recently been popular all over the world. The term ‘meditation’ holds a diverse set of practices and techniques. Meditation is practiced to achieve mental relaxation, physical relaxation, psychological balance, to cope with illness, and to improve overall health as well as well-being. Research shows that different meditation techniques engage the mind in different ways to produce various effects on the mind, body and behavior.
Several techniques involve watching your thoughts or focusing on breathing or body sensations. Other tecniques are concentration, visualization or trying to clear your mind of thoughts. It also includes guided meditations, contemplation or meditating for insight or inspiration. Mindfulness meditation and Transcendental meditation appear to be very similar, but they are quite different. These two practices are popular across the globe. Hence, people are getting confused as to which meditation practice they should start with. Let’s go deep into the subject to understand the difference between these two techniques.
- Mindfulness meditation
- Mindfulness comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it is being taught in a secularized context in the West. Mindfulness meditation is around 2,600 years old practice. Mindfulness was popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the West.
- The mindfulness meditation technique helps to train the mind in such a way that it remains in the present moment. This can be done with the help of passive attention to breathing, sensations, and thoughts during meditation.
- Mindfulness focuses on bringing awareness without judgment. It is observing something without categorizing it or thinking about the implications. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to have one’s thoughts on the present moment. It allows you to observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions without any judgment.
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- Mindfulness meditation involves noticing thoughts, breathing or body sensations while sitting quietly. During mindfulness meditation do not judge or hold thoughts or perceptions, but just observe. Mindfulness is often described as the process of being attentive to those experiences. This practice of being attentive can be extended into daily activity, as one adheres to the dispassionate observation of thoughts and actions to be present at the moment and not overshadowed by the passing of concerns. The practice of attention occurs in what psychologists and neuroscientists call the waking consciousness state, unlike sleep or dream states.
- Many contemporary approaches to mindfulness try to attain enlightenment by recapitulating the qualities of the enlightened state as a practice in meditation and daily life. Equanimity of mind, being present in the moment, and impartial observing thoughts are some of the attributes often associated with the state of enlightenment. Many spiritual aspirants believe that consciously striving to keep these qualities “enlightened” in daily life will lead to mindfulness, wholeness or enlightenment.
- The mindfulness meditation technique deactivates the default mode network.
- The mindfulness meditation process is characterized by theta brain waves which are linked with a readiness to process incoming signals.
- With mindfulness, one can learn the technique in various ways. There are somewhat varied interpretations regarding the practicing methods of mindfulness meditation. A good way to learn is by taking the 8-week course. You can learn mindfulness from various websites or books or magazine articles.
- With mindfulness, the aim is to remain in the present moment, with much clarity and focus.
- Mindfulness focuses your attention on breathing or body sensations. It can be practiced as seated meditation or amid other activities.
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- Transcendental Meditation
- TM comes from the Hindu tradition (the mantras as names of Hindu gods). TM was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 20th century. There are claims that it is an ancient Vedic practice. One can learn it with the help of a book about Mantra meditation.
- Transcendental Meditation is a gift to mankind from Vedic tradition It was brought to the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
- Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural and easy process that doesn’t involve contemplation or focusing. It involves a mantra as a medium to let the mind calm down and to transcend thoughts. It allows you to go beyond those thoughts, feelings and emotions and reach a stage where the mind sits in complete silence.
- During the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, the mind transcends spontaneously. It goes beyond the mental activity of the waking state to a single state of alertness at rest, called Transcendental Consciousness & a fourth state of consciousness as opposed to wakefulness, dream, or proposed sleep. It involves the mantra or sound, which has a harmonizing effect on the mind and body. It produces a deeper relaxation and quieter mental activity. As the deep levels of the mind are concentrated with energy, creativity and intelligence, consciousness becomes infused with these qualities. The practitioner experiences the inner depths of consciousness.
- TM practice offers another approach to enlightenment which involves simultaneously cultivating mind and body through transcending twice a day. Practicing TM on alternate morning and evening with the daily routine, helps the inner, silent state of “pure consciousness” to stabilize. It also lives amid one’s outer activity. With this approach, there is an absence of a conscious attempt to maintain equanimity or detachment during or after meditation. The brain becomes spontaneously accustomed to maintaining an orderly and coherent style of functioning, giving rise to inner calm, broader understanding, increased creativity and self-awareness.
- Transcendental Meditation process involves transcending thoughts and experiencing a state of “pure awareness,” in which one is aware but without an object of thought. Transcendental Meditation process activates the default mode network of the brain which is a normal calming state of the brain.
- Transcendental Meditation is typified by alpha brain waves which are linked with relaxation.
- TM can only be learned from a certified teacher, who has been extensively trained and who teaches the technique in a precise way. The teaching and practice of the process are standardized.
- TM is a long-term practice that can result in a state of cosmic consciousness, where the experience of transcendence is always to be present in one’s awareness, even during activity. It helps to experience one’s self as universal and omnipresent. Their identity shifts from the individual to the cosmic.
TM involves the repetition of a unique mantra. It is practiced with closed-eyes in seated position for 20min, twice a day. The mantra is initially actively repeated, and then allowed to kind of “repeat itself”, and the practitioner most