How To #Breathe #Meditatively for #Health and to fight #Stress for #Free


Irony / paradox / inanity: I recently got into a Twitter tiff with a meditator over my sharing an article about the exorbitant fees associated with learning Transcendental Meditation®. The article is here and I happen to agree with it heartily. She came right off the bat with a defense, natch, because she is a TM® trainer…

Ridiculous prices? 500,000 folks learned TM free in past 10 years. The article is fictitious. Facts:

to which I replied,

I’m not so sure it’s fictitious entirely. There is truth to it; it’s investigative. I was asked to pay large fee to learn.

and I added:

and fact is this: ANY meditation can work; copyrighting one is unethical; it’s like “Jesus®” — Bikram® yoga® is example.

to which she replied

unethical? Only if all meditations were exactly equal in their effect. Science says otherwise:

and she added:

part of every TM course fee funds someone to learn who can’t afford to pay. If you can’t afford, there are scholarships.

and then said:

seems you’ve already made up your mind, which is okay, but if you’re open to another perspective:

to which I replied and to which she did not:

no dsgrmt on bens of . Do u see hypcrsy of “grading” & celeb endrsmnts? “we are all one”?! Do fees pay celebs?

And that was a dig, an intentional one, at the end. Transcendental Meditation® is, in my book, a crock. First tip-off: it’s trademarked®®®®, like Bikram® yoga is (and we all know about that slime ball). Second: celebrities are endorsing it by the magic carpet load… uh, why do you think that is? There has to be a kickback — please, someone tell me Jerry Seinfeld does things for free and I’ll take all this back. Third: you have to pay to learn how to do it.

My point is this: anyone can meditate and if it works for you, then why rock the boat®? Americans, especially, have this ridiculous notion that if we don’t pay a lot for something then it’s no good®, and the more you pay the better the whatever®.

Well, I’m here to tell you … you don’t have to pay $2,500® to learn how to meditate®. Also, there is no perfect way to do it — the point is simple: get you out of your head, release some stress, focus on something that’s NOT what you’re obsessing over all with the noble intention of simply giving your brain a break.

We freak out: AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Well, did you forget where you were for a moment? Yes? Then yes. AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Well, do you feel physically and emotionally better after taking a few mindful breaths? Yes? Then yes®. AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? Well, did your life blow up while you took a break from it? No? Then yes.

You can focus on a candle, on a water fountain, on a clock, on a cloud, on a tree, on your breath, on your pulse, on a sunny spot, on music, on the rain, on the snow, on a leaf on a tree… while you’re cleaning (no knives or heat), while you’re walking (away from traffic), while you’re running, while you’re dancing, while you’re rowing (sweeps is best, sculling is a little harder), while you’re yoga-ing… JUST NOT WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING. In the middle of a conflict, in the middle of a wedding (not yours), in the middle of a movie, in the middle of sex®, in the middle of an airplane trip (not piloting), in the middle of a meeting… you can do it on a plane in the rain on a train (that ba-dump rhythm is cool) or in the sea. You can do it in private or go off with your bad Zen self and whip out your detached awareness in front of others.

I recommend you do them seated upright and relaxed, but honestly, if that gets you all twitchy, just do it how you are. Try to become aware with each breath of the quality of your breath, where it gets “stuck” or where you find yourself losing your awareness. Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream…

The point is to start where you are.

Here are four no! FIVE of my favorite, proven, wonderful and twilight-anesthesia-like breathing meditation tactics in no rank, but just how they come to me… Do these sessions when you know you won’t be disturbed for at least seven minutes.

1) Alternate nostril breathing: This is maybe something you’d wanna do in private just because people will look at you funny…

Place your right hand on your face with your thumb closest to the right nostril and the index & middle fingers at the space between the brows and the ring finger by the left nostril.

Close off the left nostril — GENTLY — with the ring finger and you inhale through the right. when you get to the top of the breath, you pause, and you close off the right with the thumb and then you release the breath through the left side.

Then you inhale through the left with the right closed off.

When you get to the top of that breath, you close off the left, you pause, then release the thumb and release the breath through the right. (Y’see? We’re alternating here…)

Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream… You go a few more rounds of this to get to 10 and then you just sit for a few moments and let your brain balance. It’s AWESOME. I would say that’s my favorite one. The benefit of ANB® can be found everywhere. Here’s a high level link:

2) Nose / Mouth in / out: Very simple and totally transformative…

Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose.
Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the mouth.
Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth.
Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the nose.

Loop back up at the nose/nose and repeat at least four more times. Taking it to 10 would be ideal and really great. Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream… I’d say that’s my favorite one.

I’m going to interrupt myself here® and say that the point of all of this breathing stuff is to get us to a relaxed state, to induce what’s known as the “parasympathetic nervous response” which is a fancy way of saying “out of fight or flight reflex,” which is a state many of us exist in on a daily basis. RAISE YOUR HAND!® if you know what I’m talking about. 

3) Counted breaths: Inhale filling the lungs and then exhale mindfully, feeling the texture, the place of the breath, where you have catches and hitches… release the space between the brows. That’s one. Repeat… nine more times until you get to 10. Just think about the breath, how it feels, watch your shoulders for creeping up, any tension in the chest or hips. Just breathe and release. The point is staying with the count… it will do the work for you and take you into a nice relaxed state. Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream… I would say this is my favorite.

4) Increase exhalation: Same concept as above, in terms of body and breath awareness, but with emphasis on the exhales as they deepen and increase in count.

Start on the inhale from 5 reversing to 1 (“1” being full lungs) and exhaling 5-1 (1 being empty lungs) and then increasing your exhales by 1 each time… each inhale, you’re probably increasing the volume of the air, but NOT the length of time it takes to get there, so there’s this conscious deepening and opening of the chest and shoulders rolling down and back as you choose to sit higher in the chest. Between each extended exhale, give yourself a your native breath in and native breath out — the goal is to remind you that you are in control of it, but that you’re noticing some changes.

WATCH YOUR JAW and EYEBROWS and SHOULDER! We can tense up here, and that’s what we want to avoid, so just do little check-ins with yourself (I prompt my students on these very body part awarenesses as we work in yoga with the breath) and as you learn to increase your exhales, you will feel yourself soften, I hope.

Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream… Over time, as you near the fifth or sixth round, you might see that the volume of your air does not change, just your release of it and your awareness of it.  I would say this is my favorite. Wanna get competitive? In for 10 our for 20. I heard on retreat that Tibetan monks do something like 30 / 60. But they don’t have carpool and deadlines to deal with.

5) 4-7-8: This might put you to sleep. It’s very simple: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. This one is sort of advanced, I’d say. Or I would definitely go to it for a high-intensity situation, or for insomnia. Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream… Still keeping your mind aware of the breath, your posture, your jaw, brow and shoulders… letting the air flow as calmly as possible.

There are all sorts of alterations you can come up with: increase inhale, steady in and out breath… you can think of an alphabet letter with each breath; or an animal or fruit or state beginning with the alphabet letter you’re on… Thoughts will come in. Let them. Don’t judge them. Just let them float by like a leaf on a stream…

Oh — and what is Transcendental Meditation®? It’s chanting a two- or three-syllable word, like “pa-per” or “mu-sic” or “let-it-go” or “kay-ak” or “gui-tar” or “O-hi-o” or “med-i-tate” or  “be-lieve” or “Je-sus” or “can-dle” or “foun-tain” or “A-bra-ham” or “A-men” or “shi-va” or “boom-er-ang” or “trade mark®” or “car wash” (honestly!) with the exhale. Just try to make the word something neutral or at least pleasant — not a food — that will take your mind off your mind. The TM® people like to say these are “sacred®” words® and that only they can give them to you and you can never share them… ” from the link below:


Why would anyone pay maharishi $1000 for a word. In his early writings he said “any word, even the word mike can be taken…we find that any sound can serve our purpose of training the mind to become sharp…we select only the suitable mantras of personal gods. Such mantras fetch to us the grace of personal gods.”

If you want the grace of Maharishi ‘s personal gods here is the technique.

1) Pick a mantra from the following list used by *some* TM teachers:

but if you want to see some of them, go here. I love exposing things that I think are just trying to exploit people.

There is another (bazillion) methods; this one I like too, and it’s a lot like what I think  TM® is. It’s called “Japa meditation” and it’s FREEEEEEEEE!®

So if you want to add a word or a chant to the five methods I gave above, go for it. Look, whatever works is what works. Or go with the super-popular “Om.” Really… anything.

You don’t need TM®; you just need two minutes at first, then three, then five, then ten then twenty… and who knows…

Oh! There’s a great app too, — commissioned by the DoD in cooperation with the National Center for something or other. Anyway, it’s free and is designed to help our returning veterans recover from PTSD and battle fatigue and stress of reintegrating into American life… it’s amazing. Check it out. (I’m sure the TM® people hate it.)

As I said above, the point is to start where you are. I would love to hear from you about this post — tell me if you start a conscious breathing program and let me know what you think! I love that ®®®® sign.

Plus, you can just go on YouTube and search for a ton of free guided meditations to listen to. There’s no reason anyone has to pay to feel relaxed.

Now get out there and SIT STILL!®

Thank you®.

25 responses »

  1. Great piece, Molly. A little disclosure here… I did the TM program in about 1977. As a kid, I believe that I paid 3 weeks allowance (about $6 if memory serves). It was a good tangible linear method of finding calm and relaxation. You put forth sone great alternativea that are probably everybit as effective. Now, I use music and execise to achiebe the same effect. I wonder what the equivalent rate would be today.

    • That you, my friend, looked into meditation when you were 10? 11? and that you paid your own money to do so and that you actually applied it to your lifestyle leaves me not only gushing with pride to know you, but also completely impressed and then, not the least bit surprised. You are an enigma, but only to those who don’t bother to get to know you, M.

      At 10? 11? I was not where you were. You remind me SO much of my eldest. An old soul, a teaching soul and a wise one too. What a great 2.0 of you life and social media has given me. It’s really quite refreshing to learn this as I always considered you different from the rest. You’re a good egg. Thanks for commenting and enlightening me.

      oh… i’m going to reflect on this. it’s so cool.

  2. Holy crap, I’m right there with you on the TM front. I must admit I was pretty well sold on the benefits/value, exceptionalism of TM and thought if I had the $2500 to throw away, or could get a scholarship, I would totally learn it. On the other hand, I always had the hang-up that you shouldn’t charge for something like this. So, I finally came to the perspective that, even if there was something so exceptional about TM’s specific way of meditating (which I can’t judge one way or the other because I’ve never learned it myself), the transfer of a spiritual truth via the mentor/student relationship is corrupt by the charging of money and therefore would probably also transfer some spiritual sickness along with the method of meditation. It’s just wrong to charge money for something like that and if you’d try and charge money and in the same breath say “this reduces stress and brings you closer to the ground of being, helps your true essence to transcend all materialistic thought in a way better than all forms of meditation”, then I think you have to be a little spiritually sick and, knowing that, I don’t want your dang meditation technique. But, that’s just me. Anyway, I totally love your article, and your blog, and who you are. God bless!

    • Thanks so much, Gus. And for what you wrote in your final sentences. Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone out there… 🙂 And then >poof!< there's YOU!

      Your comments about 'spiritual sickness' are so spot-on. (A commenter after you went to great lengths to convince me of TM®'s value — i just approved his comment and will respond, but I wanted to reach out to you first.)

      As usual, comments always enrich the initial experience. …

      A few years ago, I spent about $450 on a Christmas gift for my husband who was literally fraying from work stress. It was a set of CDs promising life-changing effects and improvement of mental, emotional, spiritual and all the rest health. It promised focus, it promised better sleep, better sex, better clarity, drive, digestion, achievements, everything. It implied that heads of state and kings and NBA champions and top-grossing entertainers, actors, musicians knew this secret and it was all a pivotal step in how they got to where they were… Because I love my husband, I figured $450 was nothing. I knew it was meditation related, I just didn't know HOW related… So I was in. I figured, why not? I could listen to the CDs too and my life would be amazing too. Our kids, our dogs… The requirement was that we listen to the CDs for an hour every day; on the weekends, 2 hours. I thought… "well, that's sort of good — mandatory "nap time" but not sleeping; like a yoga nidra — I was ok with that.

      It started a circus of never-ending cash requesting from something I can't totally recall … it was from the ClearPointe Lab or GreenPointe or something, but the thing is that they would contact me — every week or so, with BETTER WAYS to IMPROVE on our INVESTMENT — to make our lives even more amazing. I ended up calling their 800 number and asked, "why did you sell me the Datsun version if you knew you had a Cadillac for sale? what's wrong with the Datsun? are you ashamed of it?" they argued (kindly) that sometimes the datsun isn't enough; that when you ride in a car with power steering, that you would like one for yourself.

      I said, "I know Cadillacs exist! I know Bugatis exist… but I don't need a Bugati; I just need a Datsun. Sometimes the upkeep fees on a Bugati will wreck you… why do you do this? Now I feel as though I've not done enough; now the stress from knowing that I bought –according to your constant barrage of upselling– an inferior *car* is telling me that my Datsun could fall apart in the middle of the road and I could die and my kids would end up motherless… Do you see where this goes?" The person on the other end was exasperated; she didn't give up on me, but she agreed that she couldn't explain or defend her position. I continued, "Sometimes a Datsun is all you need — do you understand the harm of 'tiers' and 'branding' and 'separation'? Suddenly, through no fault of my own, and with only the best intentions at heart, you have separated from me — your content makes me feel as though I am less-than. I realize it's my choice to accept or disregard your content, but the implication is quite strong… " I said (something quite like this — I'm paraphrasing, natch, it's been a few years.) But I was truly flummoxed. "Your business, the intention of these products are to REDUCE stress and help people BE IN THE MOMENT and LIVE more FULLY … these constant pitches FOR MORE MORE MORE BETTER BETTER NOW! are counterintuitive. They are harmful…" I took a breath. I said I was finished with them and I wanted to be removed from their product line. That I was trashing the CDs.

      She took breath. She said she understood me, and that I was helping her to see things a little differently and that she was going to go back to her management team to talk about it. I never heard from them again.

      I don't need ANYONE to convince me to feel inferior or "less than" — I do that quite a lot on my own.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting and sharing your perspective. -M

      • “However, i disagree that “no organization…possibly hope to fulfill that kind of training demand”. Have u considered that its your own bias that makes you really believe that? Do you think its possible your justification for charging money is invalid? Just possible?”

        [Part 1]

        Well, the MBSR training from the University of Massachusetts is only a week long, and some people offer video/audio-based versions of the instructions, so yes, if MBSR was equally effective in doing what TM does, you wouldn’t need such a top-heavy organization as the international TM organization. MBSR, however, doesn’t have teh same “spiritual” effect as TM, so health-benefit issues aside, there’s a question about whether a “self enhancing” practice like TM is of value compared to a “ego-reducing” practice like mindfulness. TM instruction is “delicate” and easily becomes mindfulness or concentration depending on how it is taught. Mindfulness and concentrative practices CAN be learned from books or audio courses, so the overhead for distributing the practice is way less and so you may not need any international accreditation organization to oversee instructors.

        However, if you believe that a 5 month long, in-residence meditation teacher training program taught in a systematic way is important AND you believe that ongoing accreditation of said teachers is important AND you believe that having a followup program for students available around the world is important, than yeah, a centralized organization is required, and that costs money.

        And if it isn’t set up to be a religion, then asking for donations as the only source of revenue can only serve to make expansion of a national organization into an international one much slower.

        TM is now available in most countries of teh world, and the fastest part of the expansion happened within a decade or so of MMY’s decision to charge money up-front. Organizations that operate ONLY on donations take much, much longer to become world-wide. Maharishi was teaching TM teachers starting around 1961, and I believe he made his decision to charge money up-front shortly after that. Several of his earliest teachers broke away when that happened and founded their own schools, but either have not expanded (e.g. School of Meditation, London), or the expansion has taken several decades to break out of the country they were founded in (ACEM, Norway).

        Maharishi wanted to have full creative control over the international organization while he was still alive, and he was able to have the ability to experiment with such an organization for the last 40 years of his life, even though he didn’t even start creating the organization until he was almost 40.

        THAT is directly because he made the decision to ask for a fee up front, rather than to rely on donations. I don’t think he realized that that would happen when he first started asking for money up front, but that was the reality of the situation.

        And he modified his plans as the money came in.

      • “However, i disagree that “no organization…possibly hope to fulfill that kind of training demand”. Have u considered that its your own bias that makes you really believe that? Do you think its possible your justification for charging money is invalid? Just possible?”

        [Part 2]

        Most people see TM and think that is all the TM organization is about. However, when Maharishi saw how much money was becoming available in the early 1970’s, he started to expand his plans just a tad. He first started teaching the TM-SIdhis (Yogic Flying etc) around 1976, and by 1986, all active TM teachers were required to be practicing. When he decided to go public with Yogic Flying, he was able to hold an “international Yogic Flying competition” at the Indira Ghandi sports stadium with participants from all over the world.

        (note incredibly young Deepak Chopra 26 seconds into the video)

        This was followed by a world-wide demo of Yogic Flying on the same weekend a month later at about 1,000 TM centers where members of hte local press were invited to watch silly people hop around the room. But think about it: suddenly, thousands of newspaper and TV reports simultaneously appeared around the world reporting that some strange group of people practiced levitation every single day… As a non-TMer friend of mine commented, it was a paradigm shift for the world, even if no-one took what they were seeing seriously and believed that everyone involved was insane.

        You can’t cause paradigm shifts like that without money.

    • TM teachers don’t make fortunes from being TM teachers. The 2012 IRS form 990 is available online, and you can get certain useful information from reading them:

      In 2012, for example, the 171 active TM teachers in the USA were paid $4,856,983 for teaching 8,093 adults and 1.473 public school kids TM. That works out to $28,403.41 per year per TM teacher.

      Out of that, TM teachers had to pay mortgages. rent, food, etc, for both their living quarters and the local TM center (usually the same place).

      TM teachers get paid when they teach, but they are expected to provide help to anyone who ever learned TM at any time, in any country. In the USA, that followup help is free for the rest of the student’s life.

      The fee for learning TM is the maximum fee and is meant to entice wealthy people to learn. Scholarships and grants are available to reduce the fee to something more reasonable for less-wealthy people.

      The David Lynch Foundation charges no money to anyone to teach TM, but accepts donations from wealthy donors and pays TM teachers a flat fee to go teach XXX people in a public school TM, and to provide followup services for all their students–preferably at the school itself–for the rest of the school year. This same thing is done on Indian reservations, homeless shelters, prisons, battered women shelters, etc: the DLF works with existing organizations and provides a service–for free–to the clients of those organizations.

      Those taught by the DLF are then an official part of the TM program and can go to any TM center in the USA and get help for free (there’s a nominal fee after teh first 6 months in many/most other countries).

      The DLF has taught several thousand students for free in San Francisco alone, with about 1400 students at four schools currently involved in the DLF’s Quiet Time program (see this NBC report from 2 weeks ago for more info:

      Worldwide, they say they have taught about 500,000 TM for free over the last 9 years.

      In Peru, about 30,000 students have learned TM for free:

      In Africa, pilot studies on TM and PTSD in war refugees have shown remarkable results and the DLF wants to teach TM for free to 10,000 Africans with PTSD in the next year:

      National governments relief agencies are talking about having their own people trained as TM teachers, with Peru asking for 500-1,000 school teachers to be trained, Brazil asking for 48,000 TM teachers to be trained, etc.

      Various governments and disaster relief agencies are conducting their own research to see if TM really does work as advertised. If their own studies confirm the preliminary research, all bets are off as to how many people will learn TM through such agencies. There’s 100 million people with PTSD in Africa alone.

      The DLF projects that by the end of 2018, 10 million people will learn TM for free through existing government and disaster relief employees who trained as TM teachers and will teach TM as part of their regular jobs.

      That’s 500 TM teachers trained in Peru, 48,000 in Brazil, and perhaps 100,000 more world-wide, who will be trained as TM teachers over the next decade…

      No organization that operates just on donations from teaching meditation could possibly hope to fulfill that kind of training demand, so to complain that maybe the TM organization is corrupt because they charge fees is to ignore the requirements of fulfilling its goal of making TM available to everyone in the world.

      Teaching meditation and training meditation teachers on a global scale requires a reliable source of money, not just money collected by people who randomly decide to “try out” the latest fad.

      • Hmm, good points. I meant no offense. I was just reporting the feelings ive had from considering tm and its, for me, prohibitive costs. I shall consider the information given. Thanks for writing.

      • However, i disagree that “no organization…possibly hope to fulfill that kind of training demand”. Have u considered that its your own bias that makes you really believe that? Do you think its possible your justification for charging money is invalid? Just possible?

  3. I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with the first person about how good your article was.

    I’ve been doing TM for 41 years, and I know many/most of the current crop of people who run the TM organization, at least in the USA.

    The TM org is a not-for-profit org with an IRS form 990 available for many years. The same goes for the David Lynch Foundation.

    There’s no room in their budgets for paying for celebrity endorsements.

    In the USA, the fee is split evenly between the TM teacher and the national organization. The TM teacher not only teaches TM, but provides followup to help existing TMers with their meditation. This followup service is free at any TM center in the USA for the rest of your life. I paid $35 in 1973 and still go back to the local TM center for help.

    TM teachers train for 5 months, in-residence, in how to teach TM. It is a very carefully laid out course of training. In some ways, you can say that TM tacher training is rehearsing a special play, including words, hand-gestures, body-language and tone-of-voice in order to provide the TM student with an intuitive understating of the words “think a mantra without effort.”

    Claiming that you can get the same thing by going to some random meditation teacher from another tradition, or by reading a book describing what it was like to attend a TM class, is like claiming that a random person who watched teh play will be able to recreate that play and perform it just as well, or might write a book describing the play and give you the experience of the play. Even the most gifted actors and writers would have a hard time doing that, and you’re talking about a random person doing it.

    No thinking person would agree with that statement about plays, but through ignorance, many people believe that you CAN learn TM from a book, not just one time in a thousand or even one hundred, but 100% of the time.

    Talk is cheap, of course, and governments don’t want to pay for such training unless it can be shown that it is necessary. To that end, the government of Peru is planning on having about 500 or so existing school teachers trained as TM teachers, so that 250,000 students can learn TM for free, and so the government of Peru can conduct indpendent research on what happens when that many kids learn TM.

    The government of Brazil wants to have 48,000 people trained as TM teachers–one per public school–so that all 45 million public school kids can learn TM for free.

    On the basis of research being done by governments and international organizations who have nothing to do with TM, the David Lynch Foundation projects that, by the end of 2018, about ten million people will learn TM for free from government workers who have been trained as TM teachers and who will teach TM for free to citizens as part of their regular government job.

    Of course, we won’t know if that will really happen until it does, but by 2018, we should have a good idea if they made a good projection or not. Until then, you can continue to claim that TM works the same as everything else all you want and peole will agree with you just because.

    After that time, if governments really DO start teaching TM, you’ll have a much harder time writing this kind of blog entry and having anyone take you seriously.

    • saijanai – thank you for commenting. please, don’t be afraid to disagree with anyone. it’s counterproductive. especially on a blog.

      you had me intrigued and interested in more of what you had to say in your first six paragraphs, including your admission of fear.

      then you went on to your seventh paragraph, which in my mind and likely of those with whom you’ve trained (i hope) creates “separateness” and disconnects me from your energy.

      you and i are not separate; if you adhered to the wisdom of any meditative (nonexclusive, progressive and healthy) practice you would be able to appreciate what I’m saying here.

      I went to this website, and it allowed me to calculate the value of $35 in 1973 with 2014 dollars. It proposed that $35 then would be equivalent to $192 (rounding up) now (annual inflation of 4.24%).

      I would be willing to pay …. mmmmmmm … about $500 to learn TM. That’s almost three times the value of the amount you paid in ’73. I understand market appreciation, I understand overhead, i understand marketing and all the rest… i will even allow that TM’s mother organization is a non-profit. so is the Catholic Church; so is the Church of Scientology … i can go on with lists of tax-exempt organizations — dubious and otherwise. but i won’t, because i don’t care. to me, and you’ve opened the door on this, if it looks like a cult, and smells like a cult and protects itself vehemently like a cult… maybe it is a cult.

      my father has a saying, “when people get mad, you know you’ve gotten to them….” and you got mad. you got so mad you said you were afraid to disagree.

      so i ask, as i did in the reply to the comment just before yours — why the branding? why the “we’re better than ______” why the exclusivity? why the “secret recipe”? Is this the meditation equivalent of “a secret blend of eleven herbs and spices”? Is TM Heinz 57 with its proprietary recipe for ketchup? did Jesus keep secrets? (we’ll never know, will we?)


      this is about meditation. and it’s about soul health and soul sickness and to me, it’s about craven proprietary, “my dogma can beat up your dogma” wind pissing. i completely expected to hear from TMers. and i’m glad I did. it confirms a lot about my apprehensions: that TMers assert, proudly (separately from others) their superior grounded-ness. It’s ridiculous when you think about it.

      i am happy for Peru and its “plans.” and all the other claims you assert. I am happy for the children of Peru; maybe in the meantime, they could just learn to sit, think about nothing and free their minds.

      I am happy for Brazil and that it “wants” TM teachers.

      These are all fantastic gestures and they certainly will go a long way, if fulfilled, of bringing the concept of grounded-ness, connection, and peace to the people of Peru and Brazil. To me, per your comments, the (implied) fact that those governments each want their kids to learn TM for FREE says something about their philosophy / regard about value of the program, doesn’t it? I can infer from what you’ve proposed that those governments ALSO think it’s overpriced. BECAUSE IT IS.

      So why can’t it be like that for everyone else? Why so much money?

      And also, I’m repeating myself, but why do you TM devotees have to come down so hard on other methods? Good gravy, it seems rather defensive and protectionist.

      The air around us is free; the method to breathe it for inner peace should be as well.


      • I never said that TM was NOT over-priced (especially at the $2500 that was in place when the old monk died) but that was his point: the rich don’t shop at poor stores

        The official fee for learning TM is meant to entice the wealthy to learn as they set the trends and fashions of Society and “the rich don’t shop at poor stores” to quite the old monk.

        Scholarships and grants are available to reduce teh cost of TM to more reasonably levels–if you’re not a multi-gazillionaire–and of course, the DLF accepts donations from multi-gazillionaires and teaches TM for free to people who can’t afford to pay anything.

        If you want to make something attractive to society, you get wealthy people doing it and everyone else will want to be like them. As well, wealthy people need TM at least as much as non-wealthy people. While they don’t worry about food, clothing or shelter like the rest of us, the fact remains that wealthy people are incredibly unhappy and their lifestyles reflect this. TM is a strategy that takes advantage of the natural tendency of the mind to wander in the direction of whatever makes you most happy, so that, in the “practice” of TM, your mind will wander in the direction of what Maharishi liked to call “the source of thought”–a field of infinite happiness, infinite creativity–that lies deep within every one of us. The Sanskrit for this is sat-chit-ananada -absolute bliss-consciousness. Fortunately for us, this “field of infinite happiness” also happens to be the most restful state of the mind, which happens to be a physiological state where stresses are most efficiently repaired.

        Maharishi describes the principle of TM in this short video:

        During TM, the mind tends to wander in the direction of this greatest happiness, aka “deepest state of rest,” and so, more-efficienly than usual, the nervous system has a chance to repair itself. This deepest state of rest also happens to be where the regions of the brain responsible for “sense of self” become most active, but in a way that is not overshadowed by “things”… This sat-chat-ananda is sometimes called “pure consciousness” or samadhi or “pure sense-of-self”.

        It turns out that with any form of meditation, what becomes the most obvious state during meditation starts to become a trait outside of meditation. With TM, the longer you have been meditating, the more samadhi-like the EEG becomes outside of meditation and a pure, uninvolved, ever-watchful, never-judgemental sense-of-self starts to emerge in the meditator. When this pure, etc., sense-of-self becomes established as a permanent thing, present at all times, whether the person is awake, dreaming or even in deep sleep, one naturally starts to call That the “real self” while things like personality, beliefs, desires, thoughts, emotions, etc., are “not self” by comparison. This is the beginning stages of what we TMers call teh first state of enlightenment. Even before this pure, etc, sense-of-self becomes obvious, people start to describe their “self” differently.

        Research on people who report being in this first state of enlightenment continuously for at least a year has been published in peer-reviewed journals and this review paper discusses the theory of enlightenment and research on newly-enlightened people:

        Getting back to the wealthy, who are enticed to learn TM because it is an elitist fad… They are going to become more enlightened because they practice TM, even if it is only because it is a new fad. The longer and more regularly they practice, the more enlightened they will become. But if you make the sticker-price of TM too low, almost none of them will ever bother to learn.

        And you can always lower the cost to learn TM for everyone else, and that is what the TM organization has chosen to do: sticker price for the wealthy, grants and scholarships for the non-wealthy, and the DLF, accepting donations from the wealthy, teaches TM for free.

        Warren Buffet, of all people, recently learned TM to help with his blood pressure. He’s also becoming a tiny bit more enlightened every time he does TM.

        Thousands of average people learned TM for some fee. They’re also becomign a tiny bit more enlightened every time they do TM.

        500,000 of school kids, war refugees with PTSD, prison inmates, homeless people, former child prostitutes, victims of domestic violence, Indians on reservations suffering from diabetes, etc., all learned TM for free because some wealthy elite person learned TM at the max price, and decided to donate some money to help everyone else.

        Russel Simons, for instance, has donated enough money to the DLF to teach 100,000 kids to meditate, all by himself. Perhaps someday, Warren Buffet will be inspired to do the same, simply because TM was priced to attract him to learn, not priced to look sensible to you.

      • saijanai – thank you for your follow-up.

        i’ll look at the video when i get back — i’m about to teach yoga to children at my local school, then teach yoga and meditation to rowers at my local high school.

        you probably didn’t know (and i didnt’ mention this in the post) but i’m a yoga teacher, and i have practiced for 16 years — almost (barely) half of your time practicing TM. i know wha you’re talking about with samadhi and dhiana and some other really fantastic “mental” places. i appreciate very much your reply.

        i have a niece with Type 1 diabetes; i wish i could get her to meditate. she is about 16 and likely thinks down on yoga and meditation as “weird” and so she’s reluctant. yoga and meditation saved my life. one day, when i have the time and the endurance to write that whole big story i will. small steps…

        thank you.


      • Thank you! I wonder about Warren Buffet and Bill Gates and other people of means like them.

        There is no TM trainer in my area, that is another reason why I have chosen to promote other ways of meditating. The closest one is about an hour away, and that’s without much traffic. Living where I do (in the National Capital area), the traffic is always a consideration.

        Jerry Seinfeld says he is a 20+ 2/day TMer. I wonder how that is … you know of his scandalous marriage? How could a man who is supposedly seeking such enlightenment steal another man’s new wife? I don’t understand it. I heard an interview of him with Alec Baldwin on “Now Hear This” and Jerry espoused the virtues of TM and suggested Alec do it and while we all know Alec is a hot head, he didn’t dare fib about it; he entertained it, then declined the offer.

        Everyone is flawed. That’s my summary.

      • By the way, Ralph Nader [allegedly] once said that the TM organization is one of the few charities in teh world where such a substantial part of its revenue goes directly to the official purpose of the organization: 50% goes to compensate TM teachers for their time spent teaching and so they can stay alive to provide followup services for all the earlier TM students. That’s a HUGE percentage in the world of not-for-profits….

        …and, your figures and calculations, while correct, don’t tell the entire story.

        When TM cost $35-$125 to learn, back in the early/mid-70s, it was a major fad. At one point, Maharishi went on countless talk shows, and TM initiations went through the roof, with as many as 35,000 people learning it every month in the USA alone.

        Based on that, tens of thousands of people trained to become TM teachers. Expansion plans were laid up assuming that things would continue like that indefinitely….

        Of course, fads don’t last, and 40 years later, TM initiations are about 1/35th what they were back in the mid-70s. However, the basic plan laid out in the 70’s is still in effect: the international TM organization must be able to provide meditation instruction services at the level of national governments and they have managed to keep the infrastructure for that going for 40 years, despite the fact that the TM organization, even with the price increases, has gross revenues of only $12 million per year rather than $42 million ($100 x 35,000 x 12 = $42,000,000) per year. with 50% (then and now) of that gross revenue going to the TM teachers, so the figures are even less ($6 million/year into national coffers now vs $21 million/year 40 years ago). Once you take out expenses, the TM organization had $800,000 net revenue in 2012, so that is a further refinement of the real picture.

        And now, plans laid 40+ years ago might finally be coming to fruition and the TM organization is still ready to meet those demands (a bit strained, but they’re cheerful about the sudden increase in demand for trained TM teachers -everyone should be stressed out because their 40-year-plans seem to be finally working).

      • I have no doubt of the value / virtue of TM, I just really chafe at the cost aspect and the branding; I just do…. Is that judgmental of me? I suppose, but I counter with “who gets to own this?” and “owning meditation is crazy.”

        There is nothing I can do about it. So I rant about it and offer alternatives because I want to help people, it’s part of who I am. I impart my experiences in order to reach and help other people.

        Anyway… I wonder: is TM similar / based with Kundalini yoga? That’s another “proprietary” brand that irks me. I studied for my yoga training with “Kundalini Yoga As Taught By Yogi Bhajan” trainers — and they were required to ® and (c) everything they distributed.

        I chuckled at your line above, “everyone should be stressed out because their 40-year plans seem to be finally working.”

      • ” if you adhered to the wisdom of any meditative (nonexclusive, progressive and healthy) practice you would be able to appreciate what I’m saying here.”

        Are you familiar with the logical fallacy “No True Scotsman?”

        In this case it’s: “the wisdom of any True Scotsman would be able to appreciate what I’m saying here….”

        You have basically defined a True Scotsman as agreeing with you, or more specifically, that TM can’t be healthy because I, as a TMer, fail to appreciate what you are saying.

        Another thing that is interesting is your comment: ‘this is about meditation. and it’s about soul health and soul sickness and to me, it’s about craven proprietary, “my dogma can beat up your dogma” wind pissing.’

        My “dogma” is simply that TM is taught in a very specific way, and has very consistent results that often fail to appear when people attempt to copy TM, and that, in fact, it is all-too-easy to attempt to copy TM and get exactly the opposite results from what you intended.

        The long-term outcome of TM practice is activity in the parts of the brain having to do with sense-of-self. The first stage of enlightenment via TM is defined by having a strong, unassailable sense-of-self emerge spontaneously in someone due to decreased stress combined with increased resilience to new stress.

        Deliberate Mindfulness techniques, whatever positive benefits the practice give, have one important effect that makes them completely different than TM:

        they disrupt activity in the same brain regions responsible for sense-of-self that TM practice enhances.

        As to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, depends on your point of view.

        advaita vedanta refers to a situation where the “self” of the person is spontaneously seen as the basis of all perceptual reality, including thoughts, and other internal objects of attention. While many philosophical texts have been written to support the point of view, the essential basis of the point of view, according to the Shankaracharya tradition that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi trained in, is that it arises out of meditative practice.

        Practicing mindfulness, since it disrupts sense-of-self, will never lead to perception that “self” is the basis of reality, because mindfulness practices prevent a stable self from occurring in the first place. You can’t be have a “self” that is “one with” the universe if you don’t have a “self” in the first place.

        If you want to call all this dogmatic, feel free, but it is a pretty important bit of dogma as all the benefits of TM practice can be easily explained in terms of resting during TM, with the “Deepest” level of rest being samadhi where pure self emerges as the only quality inherit in the state. You can argue that “pure consciousness” isn’t really consciousness because there is no awareness of anything, but I would argue that the existence of activity in the regions of the brain associated with “self” means that “self” exists even if you can’t be aware of it during the samadhi state. And it is the change in physiology in the direction of “pure self” that is the basis of all the benefits that TM is supposed to bring: Self by Itself is pure restful alertness -the deepest state of rest, where the most deep-rooted and destructive aspects of stressful experience can be repaired and/or normalized..

        Concentrative and mindfulness practices, by their physiological nature, disrupt the emergence of this pure sense-of-self.

        And so, TM, from an advaita vedanta perspective at least, is superior to such practices for obvious (“self evident”) reasons.

        From a certain interpretation of the Buddhist perspective, on the other hand, TM is anathema to True Buddhism.

  4. why the branding? why the “we’re better than ______” why the exclusivity? why the “secret recipe”? Is this the meditation equivalent of “a secret blend of eleven herbs and spices”? Is TM Heinz 57 with its proprietary recipe for ketchup? did Jesus keep secrets? (we’ll never know, will we?)

    Some meditation traditions say that only an “enlightened” guru can properly teach meditation. That is, they would spontaneously know just the right thing to say at just the right time to have the best effect on the student’s ability to learn to meditate.e

    Maharishi explicitly said that he set out to prove them wrong.

    TM teachers train for 5 months, in-residence, to teach TM based on the meditation teaching experience of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. They learn to use specific words, specific hand-gestures, specific body language, and specific tone-of-voice when answering questions. They learn when and how to answer questions based on the context of how much meditation experience the student has.

    They rehearse all this for 5 months. You can think of TM as an elaborate 4-day long ritual or play that is designed to give an intuitive sense of what it means to “effortlessly think a mantra.” Here’s the old monk explaining things a bit in his own way:

    TM training is meant to be learned innocently -that is, without expectations.

    While you can make a case that some of the TM “secrets” are just a marketing thing, the main thrust of TM is that you learn TM in a specific way by people who are not likely to be fully enlightened, but are trained to make assumptions about their students:

    assumptions like they didn’t read the “spoilers” for the meditation training before they came on the course.

    And so, TM teachers are trained to teach assuming that their students have a specific kind of experience, both as far as meditation-experience goes, and as far as how much pre-existing intellectual knowledge they have, because the more knowledge they have up-front, about how the meditation teaching is going to proceed, the less innocent they are about learning, and by extension, about practicing and the less innocent their students, the more difficult it is to teach them. Maharishi had to simplify things so that non-enlightened people could serve as his proxy (he called TM teacher training “multiplying myself”). The most important simplification was that TM teachers would be teaching to people who were without expectations, or with as few as could be expected.

    More specifically, consider the TM mantras and how you’re “supposed to keep them secret.” That’s not really what TM teachers say. They just say to keep in private what you learn in private, and about mantras specifically, don’t say them out loud, or write them down… Why? because the nature of TM is “fading of the experiences” as Maharishi says in that video. Making the mantra more concrete by writing it down, or saying it out loud, or signaling it to your friend using a phonetic representation using morse code or semaphore flags, runs counter to the process of TM, just as assigning it a meaning does.

    As far as learning from a book goes, Maharishi says that the learning and practice of TM is “innocence” –that is, to be without expectations. It is very difficult to learn to be innocent by reading a book when the first sentence in teh book is “Let us close our eyes.”

    There are reasons for why TM is taught the way it is. You may disagree, and perhaps you have more insight than Maharishi did.


    Consider the experience of an old friend of mine, Anoop Chandola (

    Professor Chandola is a nephew of one of the priests who helped to select Maharishi’s teacher (1) to be the first Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath (2) in 165 years (said selection took place about 1940) and about 45 years ago, as nephew of his uncle, he was given an audience with the successor to Maharishi’s teacher, the new[ish] Shankaracharya. During their conversation, he happened to ask the old monk “What about this ‘maharishi’ who is with the Beatles? Is he legitimate?”

    The Shankaracharya laughed and said “Let me put it to you this way: he would be my first choice as my successor but they won’t allow it due to the caste laws.”

    It turns out that the entire TM organization was set up to honor their mutual teacher, and in fact, if you actually learn TM, the “puja” performed at the beginning of instruction is to their guru, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, and not to honor Maharishi. Maharishi actually set himself up to be a conduit for his teacher’s teachings, as he carefully shows in this painting he commissioned:

    So, you can complain all you want about Maharishi’s choices as far as meditation teaching goes, and perhaps your complaints are valid. But I just recall what the head of the Swami Order in the Himalayas said: Maharishi was suitable (caste aside) to be the head of the Swami Order in the Himalayas.


    • I respect the Himilayas. So long as no one tries to copyright them. 🙂

      I appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your knowledge with me. It’s affirming to have someone be as conscientious as you are being with me.

      as an aside: that’s an interesting painting Maharishi commissioned. i can’t help but point out that Maharishi gets the parasol and the (largest) throne levitating over the Earth… I have to say it’s amusing; no ego at all on him!

      be well!

      • >as an aside: that’s an interesting painting Maharishi commissioned. i can’t help but point out that Maharishi gets the parasol and the (largest) throne levitating over the Earth… I have to say it’s amusing; no ego at all on him!

        You have misunderstood:

        the guy under the parasol is Maharishi’s teacher, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. The parasol is traditional for Shankaracharyas and it is taken from Maharishi’s favorite painting of his teacher.

        Maharishi is the little guy in the white standing off to the side. He is the offering flowers to his guru, and is the only guy in white and the only non-Brahmin in the picture. He’s also the only guy standing respectfully. All the rest are sitting.

        There’s probably other bits of Hindu symbolism I missed in how he is put into the painting.

      • One of my favorite words / phrases from the training retreat i attended is “wahe guru” — I love that sentiment (the one I learned anyway, I hope it’s correct) that life is the best teacher, that life is like God in that all of it: the up and down moments are what make it worth living and worth learning.

        Sat nam.

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