Does Transcendental Meditation Differ From Zen?

Zen meditation and other concentration techniques

Classic examples of concentration or controlled focus techniques are found in the venerated traditions of Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Yoga and Vedanta, though many types of meditation involve attempts to control the mind or to keep attention focused in a particular way. By holding awareness on an object of meditation — such as one’s breathing, physical or mental sensations or any given point of focus — the meditator strives for insight, calmness, heightened awareness or other desired benefits. (Some Zen practices, such as Soto Zen, may fall under the category of "open monitoring.")

According to scientific research studies, the EEG signature of controlled focus or concentration is gamma waves (20-50 Hz), a frequency associated with tasks involving intensely focused attention.

The Transcendental Meditation technique involves no concentration or mind control. The TM technique is a practice of "automatic self-transcending" with an EEG signature of frontal alpha coherence, which indicates relaxation and settled awareness. The TM technique is an effortless “non-doing” practice that enables the mind to settle inward spontaneously, beyond all mental activity, to the state of restful alertness, also known as transcendental consciousness. As numerous scientific studies show, this unique state of silent, inner wakefulness provides profound relaxation, reduces anxiety and depression, helps normalize high blood pressure and leads to holistic benefits for mind, body and behavior.

Even though TM practice does not involve concentration, studies have shown that the technique improves one’s ability to concentrate and focus after meditation — during daily activity — at the same time developing abilities of comprehension.

The TM technique provides the experience of the Transcendent — the field of pure consciousness. This experience cultures the human brain to function more coherently in daily life, so that the brain can support the state of fully awakened consciousness known as Enlightenment. In this way the Transcendental Meditation technique fulfills the aspirations of the world’s great traditions of meditation.

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