What is unique about transcendental meditation

Discussion in 'Mind, Body & Spirit' started by DanielKotzer, Aug 9, 2014.

  1. DanielKotzer

    DanielKotzer Guest

    Hi,

    I would like to understand what is unique about transcendental meditation. Some say that TM is just mantra meditation, but they still agree that it's unique, in what way? I'm not asking you to teach me this technique, just to tell me what is unique about it. All meditations work the same way, you put your attention/awareness on a focal point, while rejecting all distractions until your mind stops thinking and you enter a state of awareness without thinking. At this quiet state, your attention/awareness is naturally drifting inwards. The only difference between all types of meditations is in which way you keep your attention fixed on one thing - concentration, contemplation or repetition, and the type of focal point you use - breath, candle gaze, mantra, life flow. So what is unique about TM? Don't teach it, but at least define it.

    I would like to hear from someone who did courses on TM, and does think TM is unique, or at least from someone who thinks that even though TM is just mantra meditation, but mantra meditation is unique. Not from someone who doesn't think it is unique - in what way is it unique?
     
  2. DanielKotzer

    DanielKotzer Guest

    I finally found someone that gave me some understanding

    I finally found someone that gave me some understanding. I'm still learning the subject so I can only say one aspect I clearly see a difference in TM from many other forms of meditation. In all meditation forms I came across so far, the main idea was to quiet your mind, by distracting you attention from thought, to a focal point. You keep your attention study, on one thing, and when ever a thought or any other distraction tries to steal your attention, you distract it back to your focal point. There is a bit of paradox in this kind of meditation, because in the focal point is also a distraction - a distraction from thoughts so your mind is still on the run. In meditation you want to reach a state of pure awareness, which is the opposite of distraction. TM is using a mantra, but not as a distraction from thought. You don't give your attention any direction at all, you just repeat the mantra in your mind, and somehow the mantra is putting the mind into a state, where it seeks its way naturally to the field of pure awareness.
     
  3. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    It's the same as most other mantra meditation teachings... if they have been taught correctly. Obviously if the teacher doesn't know their stuff, then they may teach to try and 'quiet the mind' but those who know wouldn't teach such a thing as they would know the mind cannot be quietened. In that respect I don't see TM as being unique from those other techniques, just the method of teaching contains some additional or different things that (I consider) are not relevant to meditation.
     
  4. DanielKotzer

    DanielKotzer Guest

    What I meant was, all meditations are about stilling the mind.
    What happens when the mind is still, when the ego is dissolved?
    Meher Baba said: a mind that is fast, is angry, a mind that is slow, is patient. A mind that is still, is loving.
    Stilling the mind is the main point in TM as well (or NSR which is actually what I'm learning now, works the same as TM, but without the secrecy).

    But in other meditation forms also involve controlling your attention, and fighting distractions.

    In TM you don't control your attention. In TM you just deal with one thing - stilling the mind gently, without controlling it, just by repeating a syllable in your mind, you are not even fighting interfering thoughts, you just let them go by, while you keep repeating the syllable. All the benefits that come as a result of stilling the mind, are the natural characteristics of a still mind. The mind itself, when it is still, is pulling the attention inwards, and becomes loving and empathic.

    What is unique in TM is that you don't control your attention. The still mind takes car of everything, just sit and enjoy the jurny inwards. Controlling your attention is hard work, which you don't do in TM.
     
  5. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    I guess it depends on language and understanding of what is meant by "stilling the mind". Typically people think that they have to make the mind cease all thoughts, however the mind is an autonomous thing that have 'activity' all the time, so you cannot really still it.

    What you can do is still the attachment of our awareness to the thoughts that arise, preventing outselves from becoming attached and focusing on the thoughts.

    As you say, a common issue is that people focus their attention on the mantra or "object" of meditation to the point that they become attached to that object and use their mind to maintain the focus, thus they keep themselves attached to the processes of mind. I completely agree that the principle of the repeated mantra without fighting thoughts and letting them go by is what is required. Even if the mantra disappears, there is no need to bring it back unless our awareness becomes attached to thoughts or mind activity again.

    Not all other forms involve controlling your attention as you suggest, and as I indicated above, it depends on the teacher and how well they understand the true prinicples of meditation. In that respect TM is not unique. The form of meditation I learnt does the same, though it was not TM.
     
  6. DanielKotzer

    DanielKotzer Guest

    Could be that this is what you were referring to, when you made the distinction between focused and unfocused meditation, though I'm not saying TM or NSR meditation, doesn't effect you attention, I'm just saying you don't have to deal with it, it is a natural behavior of the mind once it is still, but anyway, maybe you are referring to the same thing from a slightly different angle.
     
  7. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Indeed, terminology can differ depending on the angle we come at things. ;)

    When I refer to unfocused meditation, I'm talking about techniques such as TM and other mantra meditation (indeed any other technique) that, when taught correctly, isn't getting you to place your focus on something such that you become attached to it. Typically mantra meditations make this easier to do, rather than ones that tell you to "observe the breath" or "observe a candle flame" or other such physically obvious things. However all techniques can work if the meditator understands (has been taught) the importance of detachment.

    This can sometimes be better understood by the Buddhist principle of 'emptiness' and is often where a misunderstanding comes from when people are taught to try and "empty your mind" for meditation. As described in one of my books (I've just dug it out from the bookshelf)...

    Book: The Heart of Understanding : Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra by Thich Nhat Hanh
    (Only a very small book but so full of concise description it's lovely to read)

    In this he comments that:

    I won't quote the whole chapter, but the key part to me is the following...

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  8. DanielKotzer

    DanielKotzer Guest

    Giles,

    You made a distinction between focused and unfocused meditation.

    Can any type of meditation be practiced in a focused or unfocused manner, or does it depend on the type of Object you are meditating on? Let's say breathing meditation, can you practice it in an unfocused manner, or is this meditation type by nature a focused type of meditation, and if so, then why?
     
  9. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Well... I can't say I've practiced every type of meditation, so couldn't categorically say that any type could be practiced focused or unfocused. Sure, many could be practiced unfocussed if that is how they are taught, though typical teachings will get people to focus on things rather than understand the need to be unfocussed. Mantra meditation, because it's not a physical object or sense, makes it easier to meditate without focus.

    So yeah, let's take breathing meditation as an example. Most teachers will teach to focus on the breath, even to the point (and I've been in some meditation workshops like this) where they say "follow the breath going IN.... and... OUT.... and.... IN.... and... OUT ..." etc. which in itself is making the meditator focus on the breath and even control it to be in step with the teacher's spoken words. Whilst the meditator may relax (and perhaps get lightheaded from not breathing naturally), they're not going to get into a deep state of meditation while they maintain their focus on the breath in that way.
    Now, if the teacher instructs them to relax and become aware of the breath, just following it naturally as it breaths in and out, aware of the breathing changing; becoming slower or faster, more shallow or more deep as it happens naturally, this provides the initial place for awareness to settle on, but allows the meditator to let go of any control over the breath or any hard focus placed on it. In this case there is more ability for the discursive mind to settle (awareness has been drawn away from being attached to thoughts) and the person to enter a deeper state of meditation where the awareness will not be attached to anything; even the breath.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  10. DanielKotzer

    DanielKotzer Guest

    That was a very nice answer. Thank you.
    It is the attachment of our awareness which makes us miserable, no matter what it is attached to - the attachment is sucking our prana energy, which is our life force which makes us happy. Freeing yourself is freeing your awareness from attachment of any kind. Some say "free your mind - the rest will follow" but the truth is you need to free your awareness which is something higher from the mind, I think. Or maybe, awareness and thought are 2 aspects of the mind? what do you think.

    Another question:
    What is the relationship between attention and awareness? is attention the thing that directs your awareness energy? are they the same thing? I see your awareness as your Prana energy source, if you put your attention on something you are directing this energy to that object, end you energize it. if it's a thought, you manifest it if you keep you attention on it long enough without distraction. What is your opinion on that?
     
  11. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    The "another question" I think also relates to the question before it...

    So perhaps if I lay down my understanding/definitions of things it will help you see where I come from...

    1. Mind - My current understanding is that the mind is the physical/cognitive processes of the brain, and is the source of thoughts, hence why we have a discursive mind as we do not consciously control it, and it cannot be silenced. Mind can be left to it's own devices and can discursively do this or that as it pleases, drawing attention wherever it chooses, or it can be used as a tool when we recognise that the mind is not the True Self that is pure awareness.

    2. Awareness - Awareness relates to our True Self... the "observer". Awareness is able to observe the activity of the mind and other senses. If awareness were part of the mind then it would fail to observe itself there as you can only know you are aware, but cannot observe awareness itself. (Have you ever looked at the experiments of "The Headless Way"? (Experiments - and if you ever get a chance to do one of Richard Lang's workshops, they're really enlightening)

    3. Attention - Attention is when we consciously use the mind to focus on some 'thing', but this 'thing' is dualistic by virtue of being separate from 'other' things, and hence the mind is creating attachment to it though using attention. Hence "focused" meditation is maintaining dualism though attention. Likewise attention can be instigated by the mind if we identify ourselves as just being the mind and just let it do it's own thing.

    4. Attachment (and Ego) - Attachment is entwined with ego (you'll see I've mentioned this many times on this forum if you search it for "Ahankara"). When the True Self/Awareness (Aham) perceives any 'thing' (Kara - anything in 'creation'; physical or otherwise) then attachment is created to that thing as the attention makes it dualistic, separating it from 'other'. When Awareness becomes attached to a 'thing' it creates Ahankara (Aham becomes Ahan when combined in Sanskrit) and the word Ahankara is the Sanskrit name for Ego. So Ego is the attachment between awareness and some 'thing'; it is the creator of dualism; it is the source of "My Attention" (when something becomes "mine" then we are talking dualism).

    I think you'll see from those descriptions (though I've tried to keep them brief) that they all relate to each other in various ways. You will hopefully also see that they should answer your latter questions e.g. If you put your attention on something you are energizing it by virtue of creating attachment and seeing it as something separate... it becomes a separate 'thing' in the dualism you create. This is different to simply being aware.

    Hugs

    Giles
     
  12. HemantM

    HemantM Member

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    Meditation is wonderful in that it's free, always available, and amazingly effective in short-term stress reduction and long-term health.
     
  13. GilesC

    GilesC Member

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    Yes Hemant, though I'm not sure what that has to do with Daniel's question.
     

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