The Transcendental Meditation technique and guided meditation

In guided meditation — also called guided visualization, guided imagery, or guided relaxation — a speaker offers instruction or suggestion aimed at guiding the listener into a meditative state (such practices can also be self-guided). Depending on the particular type of practice, these approaches can employ either controlled focus or open monitoring.

This approach to meditation can create pleasant moods, provide insight, allow degrees of relaxation and other valuable benefits. Such practices tend to keep attention in the realm of thinking, feeling and imagining. The Transcendental Meditation technique is not guided meditation, but a form of automatic self-transcending, a very different process. The TM technique is designed to take attention beyond thought and imagination to access deeper reserves of peace, energy and happiness at the basis of the mind.

The Transcendental Meditation technique does not require a meditation CD or any outside stimulus. It’s not an act of imagining, visualizing or responding to narrative. The TM technique is a quiet process of settling inward to experience finer and finer stages of the thinking process, until one transcends thinking and arrives at the silent source of thought—the mind’s inner reservoir of creativity and intelligence, known as pure consciousness.  Research studies have shown this to be a distinct state of restful alertness, characterized by decreased respiratory rate, reduced cortisol, decreased plasma lactate and other indicators of profound relaxation, accompanied by frontal alpha brain wave coherence.

Practices that tend to keep the mind’s thought processes engaged on the levels of thinking, imagination or suggestion certainly produce their benefits, but are not designed to consistently produce the extensive, holistic positive effects known to result from the process of effortless transcending (research on the TM technique).

The goals of guided meditation or visualization — such as relaxation, stress reduction, more positive thinking and inner growth — are spontaneously and more powerfully fulfilled by transcending thought and imagination and experiencing your deepest, inmost Self, as happens automatically through through twice-daily TM practice. This state of restful alertness is described as always positive, blissful, and fully awake to its limitless potentiality. 

During TM practice, one experiences that it is the mind's inherent nature to settle inward and experience the state of pure awareness. While it may be possible to transcend during any form of meditation, practices such as guided meditation, guided imagery or guided relaxation tend to engage the mind on the more active levels of thought, emotions or imagination—and do not create the conditions conducive to the deep, inward settling associated with transcending. The Transcendental Meditation technique allows the mind to spontaneously settle inward and experience finer, increasingly subtler stages of the thinking process, until one arrives at the source of thought—the state of pure awareness.

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