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Some History and Thoughts on Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental meditation (TM) is a specific type of meditation that involves the repetition of a “mantra” in order to reach a state of relaxation and inner peace.

It was first developed in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and has gained popularity as a way to reduce stress, improve mental clarity, and increase overall well-being.

It gained widespread popularity in the West in the 1960s thanks to the influence of the Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was an Indian spiritual leader who introduced the practice of TM to the Western world in the 1950s. He traveled extensively, teaching the technique and establishing TM centers around the world. In the 1960s, he caught the attention of the Beatles, who were looking for a way to deal with the stresses of fame and success.

The Beatles were introduced to Maharishi in 1967 and were immediately drawn to his teachings. They also traveled to India to study with him and were so impressed by the benefits of TM that they publicly endorsed it and introduced it to their fans.

This helped greatly to bring TM into the mainstream and sparked a wave of interest in the practice.

The influence of the Beatles and Maharishi on the popularity of TM cannot be overstated. Their endorsement of TM helped to bring it into the mainstream. Maharishi’s charisma and teachings also played a role in the popularity of TM. He was seen as a wise and enlightened figure, and his teachings on inner peace and self-improvement resonated with many people.

The popularity of TM in the West in the 1960s was also influenced by the intense cultural and social changes of the time. The 1960s was a time of great change and upheaval, and many people were searching for ways to cope with the stresses of the world. TM offered a simple and natural way to find inner peace and improve overall well-being, which appealed to many people during that fast changing time.

It was also endorsed by celebrities such as the Beach Boys, Mia Farrow, and David Lynch, and was often featured in popular media such as magazines and television shows.

TM was not just popular with celebrities and the general public, but also had a far reaching cultural impact. It was referenced in movies and music of the time, such as the 1971 film “Walkabout,” in which the character played by Jenny Agutter practices TM, and the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations,” which includes a reference in the line “I’m picking up good vibrations, she’s giving me excitations.”

TM was also referenced in popular culture through quotes and statements by individuals who practiced it. For example, in a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Paul McCartney stated, “I think we’re all searching for something to believe in, something to make life make sense, and I think the Maharishi gives us that.”

TM has been a theme in many movies and TV shows, in some cases as a punchline or plot point. Here are a few examples:

In the 1977 film “Annie Hall,” directed by Woody Allen, the character Alvy Singer (played by Allen) becomes obsessed with TM and incorporates it into his daily routine.

In one scene, he is shown meditating on a park bench while wearing headphones and repeating a mantra.

In the 1976 film “The Bad News Bears,” directed by Michael Ritchie, the character Amanda Whurlitzer (played by Tatum O’Neal) becomes interested in TM and tries to teach it to her teammates.

In the TV show “The Simpsons,” the character Homer Simpson becomes interested in TM and begins practicing it in order to deal with the stresses of his job. In one episode, he is shown meditating on a couch while repeating a mantra, only to be interrupted by his son Bart who asks, “Dad, what are you doing?” Homer replies, “I’m meditating. It’s a way to calm the mind and find inner peace.”

In the TV show “Arrested Development,” the character Gob Bluth (played by Will Arnett) becomes interested in TM and begins practicing it in order to deal with the stresses of his job. In one episode, he is shown meditating on a couch while repeating a mantra, only to be interrupted by his brother Michael who asks, “Gob, what are you doing?” Gob replies, “I’m meditating. It’s a way to calm the mind and find inner peace.”

The practice of TM involves finding a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down, and repeating a mantra provided by a certified TM teacher. The mantra is a specific word or phrase that is selected for the individual based on various factors such as age and gender. The practitioner then focuses on the mantra, allowing the mind to gently release any thoughts or distractions. The goal is not to clear the mind, but rather to reach a state of deep relaxation and inner calm.

TM is different from other forms of meditation in that it is believed to allow the mind to reach a state of “pure consciousness.” This state is thought to be a state of restful alertness, where the mind is able to access its own innermost nature and experience a sense of inner peace and clarity.

There are numerous documented benefits associated with TM. Research has shown that it can reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and concentration, and increase feelings of well-being (Nidich et al., 2009). It has also been found to have positive effects on physical health, such as reducing blood pressure and chronic pain (Jain et al., 2010).

TM can be practiced by anyone, regardless of age or background. It can, in some cases, be a helpful tool for individuals dealing with stress, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, as well as those looking to improve overall well-being and focus. It’s important to note that TM should not be used as a replacement for seeking professional help if necessary.


Jain, S., Mills, P. J., & Bell, I. R. (2010). Transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: An experimental study with rural African Americans. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 17(2), 303-324.

Nidich, S., Nidich, R. J., Rainforth, M. V., Haaga, D. A., Hagelin, J., & Lehmann, D. (2009). A randomized controlled trial on effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on blood pressure, psychological distress, and coping in young adults. American Journal of Hypertension, 22(12), 1326-1331.

Dillbeck, M. C., & Orme-Johnson, D. W. (1987). The Transcendental Meditation Program and Rehabilitation at Folsom State Prison: A Cross-validation Study. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 14(3), 211-230.

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