What Is Transcendental Meditation?


Transcendental meditation (TM) is a practised form of meditation that focuses on achieving a state of deep inner peace and transcendence. It is characterised by the use of a silent, personally assigned mantra, which serves as a focal point for the meditator's attention. This technique distinguishes itself from other forms of meditation by its simplicity and emphasis on effortlessness.1

It stands out as a unique form of meditation that has gained prominence for its simplicity and also for its profound impact on the mental and emotional well-being of individuals. TM goes beyond being just a relaxation exercise by delving into the realms of consciousness, promising a transformative experience to those who practise it.

In the area of mental health and well-being, TM offers hope for individuals seeking inner peace, resilience, and its effectiveness in reducing stress, improving focus, and fostering emotional stability.2,3

The origins of transcendental meditation can be traced back to ancient Vedic traditions in India. However, in the mid-20th century, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi popularised TM in the Western world by adapting and refining the practice to make it accessible to people from various cultural and religious backgrounds.2,4

In the practice of TM, there is the belief that each individual possesses a deep reservoir of inner potential and consciousness. TM aims to tap into this inner resource through a simple yet highly effective meditation technique. The practice emphasises effortlessness, non-concentration, and transcending thought, allowing the meditator to access a state of pure awareness, free from the usual mental chatter.2,4

Techniques involved in TM

There is a concept called "transcending" in TM, which refers to the experience of going beyond the surface level of thought and experiencing a state of pure consciousness, distinguishing TM from other meditation practices that may focus on concentration or mindfulness. TM is a structured meditation practice that involves several key techniques and methods.1,3,5                                                      

TM is typically practised in a quiet, comfortable environment, preferably seated with eyes closed. Also, the cornerstone of TM is the effortless repetition of a mantra. Practitioners gently and silently repeat the mantra, allowing thoughts to come and go naturally.6 Consciousness is achieved by letting go of active, analytical thought and allowing the mantra to guide the mind toward inner silence.3,5                                                                                             

TM sessions usually last for about 20 minutes twice a day, in the morning and evening. The regularity of TM practice ensures that one continues to deepen their experience of transcending and maintain a sense of inner peace and calm in their daily life.2,4,6

The mantra in TM practice

The mantra in TM serves as a vehicle for transcending thought and reaching a state of deep inner silence.1,4 Each practitioner is given a personally-assigned mantra based on their specific needs, and is considered a personal tool for the meditation journey.6 

The mantra is a specific word or sound that holds no particular meaning and is used silently during meditation. It is not necessarily a meaningful word as its only purpose is to provide a gentle focal point for the mind. This repetition of the mantra acts as a calming and centring process, helping the practitioner to go beyond surface-level thoughts and access the deeper levels of consciousness.3,5,6

Impacts of TM

Mental health

TM has been the subject of numerous research studies that have consistently demonstrated its positive effects on mental health. 

These studies have shown that regular TM practice can lead to: 

  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression 
  • Improved emotional well-being and overall mental health 
  • Enhanced resilience to stress.                                
  • Lower levels of cortisol(stress hormone) 
  • Improved relaxation 
  • Enhances overall well-being by reducing perceived stress and increasing life satisfaction.1,3,5,6                                                  

TM has consistently been associated with reduced stress levels. The practice helps individuals manage daily stressors and cope with challenging situations. TM enhances cognitive functions and concentration, contributing to better focus in daily tasks and activities. TM has shown promise in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression, providing a non-pharmacological approach to these mental health issues.3,4,7

Physical health benefits

Research has indicated that regular TM practice can lead to a reduction in blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues. TM helps individuals achieve a state of relaxation that can lead to improved sleep quality, aiding in overall health and well-being. 

TM has been associated with improvements in immune system function, making individuals more resilient to illnesses. TM has also been linked to increased creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. 

Practitioners often report an improved ability to understand and manage their emotions, which can enhance interpersonal relationships. TM promotes self-awareness, leading to a deeper understanding of one's thoughts and behaviours.3,6

The economic implications of TM on healthcare costs and productivity

Considering the economic benefits of TM adoption can be crucial in discussions about healthcare policy and mental health management. 

For example, in the context of healthcare costs and productivity TM may; 

  • Reduce the economic burden of treating stress-related illnesses 
  • Increase workplace productivity and reduce absenteeism 
  • Contribute to a more efficient healthcare system by reducing the demand for mental health treatments 8

Incorporating into daily life

TM is designed to be seamlessly integrated into one's daily life. Here's a detailed look at how it can be practically incorporated:

  1. TM is most commonly practised twice a day, typically for 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. These sessions serve as “bookends” to the day, creating a sense of calm and mental clarity at the beginning and end of each day.3
  2. By establishing a routine of morning and evening TM sessions, individuals can create a ritual that helps signal the transition from a state of wakefulness to rest and vice versa. This daily ritual fosters a sense of balance and promotes a consistent practice.6,8
  3. Some practitioners choose to incorporate a shorter TM session during their lunch break. This serves as a midday reset, helping to alleviate stress and re-energise for the remainder of the day.1,3
  4. Even in the busiest schedules, short TM sessions can serve as quick mental resets. A few minutes of meditation during breaks can help individuals regain focus and composure, making it a valuable tool in high-stress environments. This adaptability makes TM a flexible and practical tool for managing stress, improving focus, and enhancing overall mental health.6,7,8


Access to TM programs and instructors is a crucial consideration for those interested in learning and maintaining the practice. TM is typically taught by certified instructors who have undergone extensive training. These instructors provide personalised guidance and support for each individual's meditation journey.5,9

Transcendental meditation centres can be found in many cities and regions worldwide. These centres offer in-person instruction and provide a supportive community for practitioners.

With the growing demand for virtual learning, online resources and courses have become increasingly accessible. Individuals can learn TM from the comfort of their homes through virtual instruction. This expansion of online resources has made TM more accessible to a global audience.

The transcendental meditation organisation has an international presence, with affiliated centres and instructors available in various countries. This international network ensures that individuals around the world can access TM instruction and support.6 Learning TM from a certified instructor typically involves a course fee. This fee covers the cost of personalised instruction, ongoing support, and access to TM materials and resources. The fee can vary by region and centre. 

TM's accessibility has expanded over the years. With the introduction of online courses and resources, individuals from diverse geographical locations can access TM instruction, even if they are unable to attend in-person sessions.

Challenges, controversies and criticisms

TM has not been immune to criticism and controversies. Some of the common criticisms include concerns about the cost of TM courses, the perceived secrecy surrounding the practice, and scepticism about the scientific evidence supporting its benefits.9 These concerns have led to various controversies over the years. It's essential to address these criticisms openly and transparently, providing information on the cost structure, the reasons for personalised instruction, and the scientific basis of TM's benefits.4

Like any approach, TM has its limitations and potential drawbacks. Some individuals may find the practice challenging to maintain consistently due to time constraints or difficulties with regular meditation. Additionally, TM may not be suitable for individuals seeking ‘quick fixes’ or those who prefer more structured forms of meditation. It's important to acknowledge these limitations while highlighting that TM is not a one-size-fits-all solution but can be highly beneficial for many.2,4,5,9


In conclusion, this article has delved into the concept of transcendental meditation (TM), its historical background, the scientific evidence supporting its mental and physical health benefits, its practical applications in daily life, as well as the challenges, criticisms, and potential economic implications associated with the practice. Transcendental meditation's potential to promote mental well-being and reduce the economic burden of mental health treatment is a promising avenue for future research and application. While challenges and criticisms exist, TM's accessibility, effectiveness, and adaptability in daily life make it a valuable tool for those seeking improved mental health and well-being.  


  1. Is transcendental meditation a religious practice?

No, transcendental meditation is a secular meditation technique with no religious affiliations.

  1. Is TM suitable for people of all ages?

Yes, TM can be practised by individuals of all ages, from children to older adults.

  1. Can I learn TM on my own from a book or online resources?

The official practice of transcendental meditation is typically taught by certified instructors to ensure correct practice and maximum benefits. Online resources can be supportive but are not a substitute for personalised instruction.

  1. How does TM differ from other meditation techniques like mindfulness or yoga meditation?

TM differs in its emphasis on effortlessness and transcending thought, while many other meditation practices focus on concentration or awareness.

  1. Can TM be used as a complementary therapy for mental health conditions?

TM can complement traditional mental health treatments, but it should not replace professional medical advice or treatment when needed.

  1. Is there any evidence of long-term benefits from TM?

Research has shown that long-term TM practitioners continue to experience mental health benefits, such as reduced stress and improved well-being.

  1. What's the ideal duration for TM sessions?

TM sessions typically last about 20 minutes, practised twice a day for optimal benefits.

  1. Can TM be practised in a group setting?

While TM is often practised individually, group meditation sessions or courses are also available and can be beneficial.

  1. Is TM affordable for students or individuals with limited financial resources?

Some TM centres offer scholarships or reduced fees to make TM more accessible to students and individuals with financial constraints.

  1. Is TM a solitary practice, or can it be shared with family members?

TM can be an individual practice, but families can also learn TM together and practice collectively for mutual well-being and support.


  1. Russell PJ. Transcendental meditation. The Lancet [Internet]. 1972 May [cited 2024 Feb 26];299(7760):1125. Available from: https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0140673672914705 
  2. Lowe S. Transcendental meditation, vedic science and science. Nova Religio [Internet]. 2011 May 1 [cited 2024 Feb 26];14(4):54–76. Available from: https://online.ucpress.edu/nr/article/14/4/54/70529/Transcendental-Meditation-Vedic-Science-and 
  3. Wallace RK. Physiological effects of transcendental meditation. Science [Internet]. 1970 Mar 27 [cited 2024 Feb 26];167(3926):1751–4. Available from: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.167.3926.1751 
  4. Trotter RJ. Transcendental meditation. Science News [Internet]. 1973 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Feb 26];104(24):376. Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3958535?origin=crossref 
  5. Spyrou N. Marmalade and transcendental meditation. Phys Bull [Internet]. 1975 Sep [cited 2024 Feb 26];26(9):397–397. Available from: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0031-9112/26/9/028 
  6. Travis F. Transcendental experiences during meditation practice. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences [Internet]. 2014 Jan [cited 2024 Feb 26];1307(1):1–8. Available from: https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nyas.12316 
  7. Holt WR, Caruso JL, Riley JB. Transcendental meditation vs pseudo-meditation on visual choice reaction time. Percept Mot Skills [Internet]. 1978 Jun [cited 2024 Feb 26];46(3):726–726. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.2466/pms.1978.46.3.726 
  8. Phelan M. Transcendental meditation. A revitalization of the american civil religion / la méditation transcendantale, une revivification de la religion civile américaine. assr [Internet]. 1979 [cited 2024 Feb 26];48(1):5–20. Available from: https://www.persee.fr/doc/assr_0335-5985_1979_num_48_1_2186
  9. Thomas DK. Points: Transcendental meditation. BMJ [Internet]. 1979 Mar 10 [cited 2024 Mar 2];1(6164):690–0. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1598259/?page=1 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Victoria Adubia Twum

BA Linguistics, MA social Policy Studies, MSc Mental Health Economics

Victoria’s articles shed light on the profound impact of economic factors on mental health, revealing the transformative potential of small-scale changes in individuals' lives within the broader context of public policy. With her academic background in social policy and mental health economics, she considers highly the interconnectedness of economics and mental well-being, while advocating for compassionate policies, interventions and approaches that consider the profound influence of economic factors on individuals' mental health and prompting thoughtful reflection on the far-reaching implications of socioeconomic structures on mental wellness.

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818