Should You Pay for Transcendental Meditation?
For the last half century or so, Transcendental Meditation (TM) has grown in popularity as a method for mindfulness, relaxation and, for some, spiritual enrichment. Developed by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during the 1950's, the technique became popular thanks, in part, to the enigmatic leader who passed his teachings on to such cultural luminaries as the Beatles, David Lynch and Mia Farrow. Now there are Trancendental Meditation courses all over the world where you can meet with a teacher or guru who will pass on the technique; for a fee. This oneHOWTO article answers the question should you pay for Transcendental Meditation? and in doing so will help you understand how you can best approach this practice.
What is Transcendental Meditation?
We have already given you the overview of how Transcendental Meditation works if you decide to pay for the course where a teacher helps inform you of the practice. You will need to start by enrolling in the course and paying the fees, something which could set you back around $1,000 if you find a discounted class. The payment can sometimes be more than double this amount depending on the exclusivity of the class or experience of the teacher.
After you have registered and paid (sometimes there is an offer of a free introductory class, but this is to introduce the idea rather than teach technique), there is an initiation ceremony called the puja where the basic technique is taught and reverence is given to previous masters. After initiation come the teaching sessions which take place over 3 consecutive days. Each day represents a different aspect of the teachings with the last preparing you for the follow up classes which take place once a week for a month, then once a month for a couple of months.
When the course is completed, you are given your mantra. This is a very important word which is given to the individual. Repetition of your mantra is supposed to induce a meditative state whereby thoughts come to you, but are allowed to be just as they are and do not require a physical reaction. This can help you to de-stress, the repetitive sound causing you to vibrate as an individual in response to the vibrations going on around you. Transcendental Meditation is not so much about concentrating as it is allowing your consciousness to reveal itself to you, in a similar way to modern mindfulness techniques.
How does the Transcendental Meditation mantra work?
This vibration when repeating the mantra is thought by some to be a spiritual one. You don't even have to say it aloud, but just the feeling of the word is enough to elicit a meditative response in the individual. The mantra is an important part of the course and is bestowed upon the follower at its conclusion. How this mantra is chosen, some claim, is that the individual relates to the guru during the training course and the mantra makes itself known to the guru as something unique to said individual. However, it has been revealed by some that the mantra is actually chosen according to age and gender, essentially using a standardized key where these criteria correspond to a particular word. We must only know this because someone has broken the rules as you are not supposed to tell anybody your mantra, otherwise it loses its power. One of the main reasons to pay for Transcendental Meditation is this bestowing of the name, yet, like almost anything now, this too has entered the realm of opensource technology. Online mantra generators can find you a "personalized" mantra after selecting a few key adjectives without having to pay for Transcendental Meditation classes.
Is Transcendental Meditation religious or secular?
Whether or not the bestowing of the mantra is something you should pay for, may depend on your beliefs. If you are ridiculously wealthy, perhaps you are happy to pay for Transcendental Meditation and not be concerned that your money is essentially paying for one word ($2,500 per word is just about the best freelance writing rate we've seen). For those who are seeking out meditation due to anxiety, paying such large sums might add to this stress as money concerns often have an impact on mental wellbeing.
If you believe that a mantra is something which can only be passed on by an enlightened guru who has the certificate to prove it, then it might be worth the money. Part of this belief could be faith in a higher consciousness, maybe even levels of higher consciousness, which these gurus have achieved or have at least moved closer towards. You may believe that due to your busy schedule and many commitments, the same things which may have led to you seeking meditation in the first place, the only way to get closer is to pay for Transcendental Meditation.
There has been argument over whether or not the practice of Transcendental Meditation is a religion. It is a particularly difficult argument when it comes to deciding whether or not it can be practised in US schools as there is a clear division of church and state. If you pay for Transcendental Meditation and go to the class, then it is likely you believe that there is a spiritual element which transcends the physical and can solve your existential crisis. If you pay for Transcendental Meditation yet don't believe this, you may have paid out the ear for something which is the equivalent to having a glass of wine in a warm bath.
There is good reason to be suspicious of paying for spiritual enlightenment. Not only is there the risk of monetary exploitation, but you are paying into a culture which essentially teaches elitism and can have a negative effect on your own self-worth.
Positives if you pay for Trascendental Meditation course
Although it may be impossible to know the legitimacy of the Maharishi's teachings, especially since he has now passed, if we look at what he tried to put out into the world, you will see that he preached a positive message and appeared, at least, to promote peace and wellbeing. This is the reason why it is still, in many people's minds, associated with the peace, love and understanding tenets of the hippie movement. So, if you do decide to pay for Transcendental Meditation, then there might be some perceivable rewards from attending the classes. They can help you consolidate your feelings, engage in your own wellbeing in a conducive environment and help you to meet like minded people who share your quest for meditative peace.
If you pay for Transcendental Meditation classes, just as you might for zumba or spin cycle, there is a physical advantage which has some studied grounding. De-stressing like this can potentially help fight against cardiovascular disease and asthma, as well as improve concentration and cognitive ability. Before you start classes, there is a 15 day drying out period when you don't consume any non-prescription drugs although, perhaps strangely, alcohol is not counted. Many people go through the process and have found that they can replace drug use with meditation, so it could be a consideration if you want to pay for Transcendental Meditation to help you with substance issues (although please seek advice if you are affected by this). You don't have to believe in a higher power either to get these advantages, so even if you don't necessarily believe in a specific spiritual power structure, the practice might still prove beneficial, perhaps taking away some of the financial sting if you do pay for Transcendental Meditation.
Faith is faith because it cannot be proven. If all it takes is for you to believe, then the reassurance, practical knowledge and communal encouragement which is provided by these courses might make the world of difference to you. As you pay for Transcendental Meditation, the price could be worth it if you get what you are trying to achieve. There is a reason why the practice has had so much popularity, it obviously works for some people. Even on a practical level, spending time with like-minded individuals in a peaceful environment, TM might be worth the price as it takes you out of your busyness and helps you to focus on positivity.
Negatives if you pay for Transcendental Mediation course
However, along with its popularity, there is the wealth and international prominence the Transcendental Meditation movement has garnered over the years. The Maharishi himself has at times been accused of exploitation thanks to his lavish lifestyle, typified by his being driven in a Roll's Royce and hobnobbing with celebrities. When you pay for Transcendental Meditation classes you contribute to the TM movement which has millions of followers, centers spread throughout the world and resources which match conglomerate businesses. It earns this money thanks to the high fees its courses cost and you might need to ask yourself if this makes logistical, nevermind spiritual, sense.
The teachings which the course claim are worth the amount you pay for Transcendental Meditation are not overly dissimilar to many other meditation and mindfulness techniques. Often these are techniques which do not come with such a price tag and do not have the specific requirements which Transcendental Meditation has. This is where the mantra comes back into play. If you are cynical, you may ask if the course would be as justifiable if this were not part of the payment. There are some elements of Transcendental meditation which might make it even more spurious, such as the much maligned TM-Sidhi program, also known as "Yogic flying" where followers are apparently so attuned to their spiritual selves that they can levitate. TV stations, architectural programs and various products also take away some credibility, but the same could be said for almost any organized religion.
If you decide to pay for Transcendental Meditation it might be a leap of faith. The payment itself is a bond which you enter into to show dedication to self-improvement as many of us believe that putting money where our mouth is has greater significance than it might do in actuality. You may have been conditioned to believe that if you pay for Transcendental Meditation or any other philosophical teaching, you give it legitimacy. This is something which contradicts many fundamental teachings of faith, yet, ironically, is reinforced by many dogmatic religious teachings. Of course you can give support to something you believe in, whether it be moral, practical or even financial. But when you have to pay a specific fee for spiritual enlightenment, you bring money into something which should transcend (the transcendental element) such a tawdry physical and often damaging thing.
How can I do TM for free?
If you decide not to pay for Transcendental Meditation, but you still want to follow the practice, for whatever reason, there is good news. Most of what can be taught during the course is found online available through people who have previously paid for it. There are Youtube videos with people showing instruction and there are even apps which can help you with your meditation. Some of these might not be Transcendental Meditation specific, but the similarities in their meditation techniques are so close, it may be worth it.
Like many philosophical schools of thought which have been criticized for potential exploitation, yet the key teachings can prove useful, there are some ex-teachers and gurus who have made the decision to offer these classes for free or, at least, on a discretionary donation basis rather than having to pay for Transcendental Meditation directly. Search these people out and have a conversation, it might help you decide whether or not Transcendental Meditation is for you whether or not you pay for it.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Should You Pay for Transcendental Meditation?, we recommend you visit our Healthy living category.