Meditation is thought to support both emotional and physical well-being. The highly effective practice, rooted in the ancient Vedic tradition of India, is often cited as a method for dealing with a variety of mental illnesses and is thought to bring a greater sense of peace and calm into daily life. Whether you're searching for a greater meaning, seeking relief from anxiety, or hoping to slow down rapid thoughts, meditation may help.
If you've never tried it before, Transcendental Meditation (TM) may seem intimidating, though Shel Pink, founder of SpaRitual and author of Slow Beauty, says it's surprisingly accessible. "Anyone can practice TM. … [it] is an effortless and evidence-based meditation practice," she tells MyDomaine. Pink has been practicing TM for 19 years as part of her holistic lifestyle and is one of the millions of people who turn to meditation as a source of relief from stress and anxiety. In fact, everyone from Oprah Winfrey to David Lynch has caught on to this wellness tradition. "TM is really a lifesaver in trying times, as well as a great equalizer for daily living," says Pink.
If you're wondering how to do Transcendental Meditation, keep reading to learn from a seasoned practitioner.
The main difference between Transcendental Meditation and other forms of meditation is the mantra. "In TM, the mantra, used as the vehicle to help the mind settle down, is a meaningless sound versus other types of meditation that use words, phrases, or visualizations during the meditation practice," says Pink.
While some meditation practices encourage emptying the mind of all thoughts, TM is more about letting thoughts come and go. According to Pink, this can be an incredible strategy for letting go of daily anxieties created by worrisome thinking. "It teaches you how to create a space between you and your thoughts and become an observer."
The journey of Transcendental Meditation begins by finding a certified TM teacher and taking courses to learn the practice. As an experienced practitioner, Pink meditates twice a day for 20 minutes. "It's so easy and relaxing, and it's something I look forward to doing," she says. Here's what a typical practice looks like, according to Pink:
1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the ground and hands in your lap. Leave your legs and arms uncrossed.
2. Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to relax the body.
3. Open your eyes, and then close them again. Your eyes will remain closed during the 20-minute practice.
4. Repeat a mantra in your mind. This is typically a Sanskrit sound learned from a TM teacher.
5. When you recognize that you're having a thought, simply return to the mantra.
6. After 20 minutes, begin to move your fingers and toes to ease yourself back to the world.
7. Open your eyes.
8. Sit for a few more minutes until you feel ready to continue with your day.
"When I practice TM, I feel the stress melting away from my body. I feel a sense of calm, and when I'm done, I have more energy and feel more focused and productive. I am more peaceful, proactive, and less reactive to situations beyond my control," says Pink. The practice is said to hold healing benefits for those struggling with stress, anxiety, PTSD, and other types of trauma.
According to Pink, learning how to do Transcendental Meditation can do everything from ease depression and pain to promote better sleep, boost the immune system, and slow the signs of aging. "It is a tool to help people achieve a positive state of mind and a deep sense of inner peace for optimal health."
Find Your Mantra
Do you practice meditation? Share how it works for you in the comments below.