After a year filled with political turmoil and a deadly pandemic, what would you pay to achieve inner peace? With anxiety and depression rising to an all-time high, many Americans would probably answer “a lot.” Fortunately there’s Transcendental Meditation, an ancient practice that helps to clear the mind and calm the spirit. And it’s completely free and accessible to everyone. CELEB explores why this form of meditation has become so popular with celebrities and how you can benefit from this simple technique.
What is Transcendental Meditation?
The word transcend means to go beyond or rise above. Transcendental Meditation originated thousands of years ago during the Vedic period in ancient India. The practice was introduced to the Western world in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru who wished to spread enlightenment and peace by teaching others about this simple form of meditation. TM.org describes the practice as “a simple, natural, effortless technique practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. The TM technique allows your active mind to easily settle inward, through quieter levels of thought, until you experience the most silent and peaceful level of your own awareness — pure consciousness.” During the meditation session, the meditator sits still with eyes closed, breathes, and repeats a mantra silently. A mantra is a sound that has no real meaning. It can be a positive word, like love or peace, but many traditional TM teachers believe it is far more effective to use a sound that has no associations whatsoever. Per Lifehack.org, “This goes back to the fact that our mind is always making mental connections. If we try to chant a word that sounds too much like a word that we know the meaning of, we will automatically connect that word to images, sounds, smells, and memories. If we’re chanting a totally meaningless word, it’s easier to lean on the tendency of our mind to get into a tranquil state.”
Which Celebrities Practice TM?
Countless celebrities practice Transcendental Meditation, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Brady, Jerry Seinfield, Miranda Kerr, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez, and Meghan Markle. Here’s what some other celebrities have said about TM.
In the late 1960’s, The Beatles traveled to India and studied with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. They became so enamored with TM that they allegedly renounced all drugs, instead focusing on clean, healthy living and a newfound spirituality. When they returned from their trip, many in the Western world wanted to start practicing the technique that had captivated the famous rockers. John Lennon described how TM gave him a new kind of energy: “The energy that I’ve found doing meditation, you know, has been there before – only that I could access it only during good days when everything was going well. With meditation I find that it could well be pouring down rain; it is still the same amount.”
While her marriage to comedian Russell Brand may have ended badly, Katy Perry credits her ex-husband for introducing her to Transcendental Meditation. And the pop star is a firm believer that the technique is life changing. She opened up to the The Guardian about her love for meditation: “TM changed my life. I studied it five years ago in India during my wedding [to Brand], and it was an incredible thing that I received from that time. Some people get very nervous about the spiritual connotations of things, but TM is very medical and scientific. This [she prods at her mobile] is the new form of sugar. It’s the new dopamine, the new stimulant, and everybody has 20 minutes once a day to turn it off and meditate. When I do it, I can feel the cobwebs lifting and can feel this halo. I think that TM is a beautiful way to find real stillness.”
Model and famous member of the Kardashian clan Kendall Jenner told Vogue in 2018 that a hectic work schedule left her with severe anxiety and neck pain. The model made an effort to slow down and relax by horseback riding and beginning meditation. She told Vogue, “I had a lot of people in the industry say to me, ‘I know you have a busy schedule—what do you do to stay calm, cool, and collected?’ I was like, ‘Um, nothing?’ And then one day, when I was having a freak-out—I was having multiple freak-outs—I was like, OK, I’m going to try this. So I found this lady, she’s awesome, she taught me TM, and I love it.”
How Can I Get TM to Work for Me?
While there are courses you can take or programs you can buy, you don’t really need these to learn TM. There are many free online resources and videos available to guide you and answer common questions you may have. Skeptical about trying meditation? There is research that shows it really can help relax, and maybe even heal, your mind. Per Glam.com, “TM is actually one of the most scientifically studied, evidence-backed forms of meditation out there. Studies have reported that it can increase and improve actual grey matter (brain cells), along with supporting all manner of issues, including PTSD, depression, ADHD, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and more.” American life today can be crushingly hectic and stressful. If you try Transcendental Meditation, you have nothing to lose if it doesn’t work for you – and if it does, some much-needed inner peace to gain.