Professional Meditation Advice
Thank you for your quick, open, and intelligent response.
Your coverage of Meditation is very good.
I've been meditating for over 40 years and I couldn't have maintained effortlessness, joy, and effectiveness all this time without having gotten lots of help from the experts, the teachers. Of course, after I took the teacher training course I had so much knowledge and experience that I could serve as my own teacher. It's a really good course.
I will never understand why some people who learn transcending won't contact us to have their mistakes corrected, so they can continue to get the full benefits. Of course, once they do begin to get off-track, I am glad they stop practicing rather than strain their minds with an incorrect practice.
Mindfulness is indeed effective for migraine headache, especially for someone practicing TM. TM dissolves the stresses that actually cause it. Mindfulness takes us only part of the way; TM takes us the entire way. I hope that researchers compare these two approaches to improving life to clarify the depth of stress relief that actually comes with transcending, which systematically eliminates internalized stresses, as opposed to merely learning to observe as one does in Mindfulness.
I'll finish up with some corrections, in my opinion, to your page on transcendental meditation which you can use to correct your understanding or which you can post, whichever you like.
1. "Special Initiations."
Only TM has the puja, the Vedic ceremony of the teacher's gratitude at the beginning of personal instruction. NSR (Natural Stress Relief) has no puja (NSR is self-taught from a written course). A puja, while interesting for the student, is not necessary to learn the technique of transcending. NSR is more acceptable to its clients than TM, because it contains no mysticism and because it is only about 4% of the price of TM.
2. "The technique of transcendental meditation sounds simple but takes a bit to master."
While I'm sure this was true for you, because you may not have sought help from those who could give it to you, it is not true for the vast majority of students.
For myself, for example, TM was simple and natural from the moment I attended the introductory lecture. I had absolutely no trouble learning it and having a deep and beautiful experience of transcending in my first meditation.
After a few days, when stress release started, I got my meditation checked frequently. This kept me from exerting effort, which is the only reason people can fail to learn.
Now, over 40 years later, I have lots of stress release experiences and enjoy them as part of the experiences of transcending. Since I welcome all experience and avoid none, and since I practice correctly (effortlessly), I have no problems in my meditation sessions. I always come out of meditation refreshed, having eliminated some stored stresses.
You know, it is not too late for you. You can go to a TM center and have your meditation checked. Or you can order the NSR course and learn from the beginning again. It is never too late. Don't give up.
3. "I have not found quieting my mind the easiest of tasks."
This is the worst of the mistakes, and is very unfair to associate with TM. The idea of "quieting the mind" is an old one, and is a natural desire for any of us who have lots of distracting thoughts. But TM teaches that these thoughts originate in internalized (stored) stresses.
Therefore, TM does not aim to quiet the mind directly, but rather to transcend the thinking process. Transcending is a mental activity that makes use of thoughts, even thoughts due to stress. It is completely natural and automatically balanced between stress release and inner bliss.
A quiet mind does indeed result from the regular practice of TM, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the technique used. If we try to quiet the mind during TM we will fail to transcend, fail to enjoy the process, and fail to get any benefits. That is why correct instruction is so important when learning transcending.
4. "The TM practice boasts an effortless method of sitting comfortably with the eyes closed."
Here you are correct. But the effortlessness comes from following all the instructions, which is something you yourself evidently did not do. If you try for some particular effect, such as quieting the mind, you will be doomed to failure. The TM practice works, but only if the student takes full advantage of the instructions offered. Blaming the method for the mistakes of one student is not fair.
5. "The Transcendental Meditation technique is simply sitting in a comfortable position with closed eyes, and mentally repeating an assigned mantra twice with a 15 second pause, for 20 minutes. So every 15 seconds you mentally recite your mantra twice."
This is perhaps the second-worse error in this article. There are two problems with it. First, it attempts to give actual instructions. This does the reader a disservice, because they may actually try to use these too-brief instructions. Without the full teaching, these instructions will fail. That will give readers the false impression that TM doesn't work for everyone, or that it is a scam.
The second problem with this statement is that it gives a very rigid procedure: one has to think something twice then pause for 15 seconds. This is not how TM is practiced. One cannot practice any rigid procedure effortlessly. It is not how TM has ever been taught since Maharishi brought transcending out of India in the 1950s. It is probably your own addition, your own modification.
In teaching TM, great pains are taken to maintain the purity of the teaching. No teacher would ever teach such a rigid and unnatural procedure as you have given.
6. "The TM movement enforces that only sacred and unique words for each individual can be used in order for their process to be effective. Please click here to find our list of TM mantras that oppose this rule."
This is my last comment. You state first that mantras as sacred and secret, but then you list in detail the purported TM mantras that have been posted on the Web. In other words, you are acting openly unethically. Have you no shame?
The reason for keeping mantras secret is to maintain their power to help the mind transcend during the subtle quietness of meditation practice. This is why we never speak them or write them. The goal is to keep people innocent so they can have the best and deepest experiences when they learn transcending. I'm very glad my mantra was new to me when I received it.
Another problem here is that you are claiming something wrong with mantras, but it isn't clear what is wrong ("that oppose this rule"). I think you may be objecting to the teacher selecting a mantra for a student. Why?
Clearly, there aren't very many mantras (in fact, in NSR we only use one mantra). So, what is wrong with selecting one for the student to use?
You are making some sort of vague complaint about mantras, and stirring up the reader to be concerned about it. Who knows how the reader might interpret that, and be alienated forever from the benefits of transcending?
A mantra is a meaningless sound, yes. But it is also suitable as a vehicle for transcending. Using one's own choice of words is putting an ignorant person in charge of the teaching. What kind of quality instruction can result from that? Please leave selecting a mantra up to those who have been trained to do it. Mantras can have a big effect on the nervous system when thought in a very subtle, quiet way. If a sound with negative effects is used, life may suffer.
P.S. I have to agree with him here, as I said I am open to migraine related comments. He has a very valid point.
Thank you for being open to these corrections. I know they are not pleasant to hear, for no one enjoys being corrected, and you have formed your opinions as a result of your research and your experience. But I ask you to consider the effects of your words on all the people who will read your site in the future. Do you really want to give them a negative image of transcending, and thus alienate them from giving it a chance in their lives?
Holly, I appreciate the compassion that motivated you to create a website to address those who suffer from migraine headaches. Please do not rule out transcending for them. TM and NSR research have both shown that transcending is effective and efficient for dissolving even deep-rooted internalized stresses. We are very lucky to have this knowledge in our generation today. Let's not poison this knowledge by attacks on it that are ultimately based on errors.
I am here to give reliable answers, should you or your readers have questions about transcending.
President of Natural Stress Relief/USA