Aren’t all forms of meditation 'transcendental'?


If by transcendental one means a practice that systematically takes awareness beyond the gross, active levels of mental activity, to finer and deeper levels until the even faintest impulse of thought is left behind and all that remains is pure awareness—then no, all forms of meditation are not designed for transcending and are not necessarily conducive to the process.

The variety of meditation practices available engage the mind in many different ways: concentration, contemplation and visualization are different forms of mental activity with their own distinct brain waves or EEG patterns. Some methods urge you to control the mind, others to let it go. Some aim to help you focus, others aim toward “unfocusing.” There are practices that involve
continually repeating a mantra, watching your breath, or sitting without judgment and dispassionately observing your thoughts. Or you can just sit, do nothing and be aware of "what is." All of these various practices have their good effects. However, they are all forms of sustained mental activity and tend to keep the mind engaged and localized, usually on the gross, surface level of the individual’s thought processes. 


All of these procedures are very different from the Transcendental Meditation technique. 


Even to “sit without purpose,” as some forms of meditation urge, is a purpose in itself and can give the mind a generally active orientation intended to be sustained during meditation. 


All such practices achieve certain ends and benefits, but none of these methods are specifically designed for automatic, effortless transcending. 


The TM technique enables the mind to experience increasingly subtler, quieter states of thought—earlier, more refined stages of the thinking process—until even the faintest impulse of mental activity is transcended and the meditator experiences the silent, peaceful state of pure awareness. This experience is described as "unbounded awareness" or the source of thought, a silent, non-localized, limitless reservoir of creativity, happiness and intelligence that resides deep within everyone.



In the scientific literature on meditation, the TM technique is called "automatic self-transcending" because it effortlessly (or automatically) allows the mind to settle inward and go beyond even the activity of meditation itself, as opposed to practices such as open monitoring (mindfulness) or controlled focus (concentration) that sustain a particular cognitive or meditative process.

Of course, transcending is natural and universal—we’re all hardwired for it. So it’s possible for someone to transcend—to one degree or another—even while just relaxing. However, when transcending happens, it’s always due to the natural tendency of the mind and our innate ability to transcend. There’s nothing we can actively
do to make ourselves transcend or get to the transcendental state, said to be a state of pure Being or non-doing.

The Transcendental Meditation technique
harnesses the mind's natural, innate tendency to transcend, allowing the process to happen automatically. It is not a practice that takes a long time to master, because it’s based on a natural ability of the nervous system that everyone already possesses. Just as we all experience waking, dreaming and sleep, our nervous systems are also designed to experience this fourth state of consciousness.

The process of transcending is natural to every human being. During TM practice, one finds that it's the mind's 'nature' to settle inward and experience the state of pure awareness. While it's theoretically possible to transcend during any form of meditation, practices such as mindfulness, the Relaxation Response, "Christian centering prayer" or common "mantra" meditation — which have their own range of benefits — typically engage the mind on the more gross, surface levels of thinking and do not create the natural conditions for transcending. Such practices tend to keep the mind active in ordinary waking consciousness and do not effectively promote the deep, inward settling associated with transcending. The Transcendental Meditation technique allows the mind to spontaneously settle inward and experience finer, increasingly subtler stages in the development of the thinking process, until one arrives at the source of thought—the state of pure awareness.

• Why is transcending important?