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Transcendental Meditation: Cult, Quackery, or Science?

Ben Greenfield Fitness

Release Date: 08/29/2019

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In 2016, I published an interview with the person who taught me Transcendental Meditation (TM)

And since meditation has been on my mind as of late, I wanted to share the interview with you again.

Meditation is a powerful tool for improving your mental, emotional, and even physical health.

Its widely studied benefits include stress reduction, better sleep, enhanced focus, elevated mood, improved regulation of emotions, and so much more.

When practiced consistently and with intention, meditation has the unique ability to positively transform the way you think, behave, and interact with the world around you.

It can literally rewire your brain!

But unfortunately, in the words of Tim Ferris, “meditation has a branding problem.”

Many of us view meditation as some woo-woo practice that’s exclusively used by ultra-spiritual gurus and self-important business executives.

We tend to imagine it as sitting cross-legged on a pristine mountain top, eyes closed, thinking about nothing, totally blissed out: A mental image that’s equal parts alienating and unrealistic.

What’s worse, the standard advice for beginners to “sit still and stop thinking” simply does not work.

It’s vague, it’s confusing, and it leaves people feeling frustrated and ready to quit before their practice starts paying off.

So what exactly is transcendental meditation?

More than 380 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique have been published in over 160 scientific journals. These studies were conducted at many US and international universities and research centers, including Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, Yale Medical School, and UCLA Medical School...and they have shown irrefutable evidence that TM reduces insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, blood pressure, cholesterol, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis/stroke, free radicals, blood sugar, diabetes, pain, along with higher levels of brain functioning, longevity, sleep quality and much more.

The guy who taught me everything I know about TM is named Philip Land.

Philip has been practicing TM for the past 40 years.

But he's no woo-woo, robe-clad, Eastern mysticist. 

He's an unassuming, straight-talking, God-fearing, gun-totin' redneck living in northern Idaho. (When he's not teaching TM, you can find him walking his dog or taking selfies with Colonel Sanders.)

Philip has taught TM all over the globe, working with celebrities and high profile politicians. He's also worked in medicine, computed tomography, radiation technology, craniosacral therapy, hunting instruction, shooting, wilderness survival, and much more.

In this fascinating interview, you'll learn..

-How "bad ass, redneck, hunting, hippy, family man" Philip initially got involved with TM..8:50

  • Was born and raised in Memphis, TN
  • Heard of TM while attending Memphis State Univ.
    • In retrospect, Philip believes he was "searching for something"
    • Internal happiness was missing

- Celebrity TM practitioners.. 11:25

-How Philip describes TM...15:30

  • "A simple, effortless mental technique that can be done anywhere"
  • Creating white noise inside your head
  • TM does not have a monopoly on the ability to "transcend" where the mind settles to a quieter and quieter level of awareness
  • You transcend where you are physically, and take yourself to another place mentally

-Religious elements of TM and why a guarded secrecy exists among its teachers..19:45

  • No religious belief is required; it's a mental technique
  • You don't need to believe it will even work
  • TM was argued before German Supreme Court; they ruled it is not a religion
  • Teachers are sworn to secrecy to protect the integrity of TM; you can't learn certain parts of it in a weekend then teach it to others
  • These techniques are 5000-6000 years old
  • Traditional way of teaching:
    • Teacher performs a brief ceremony which reminds him or her to maintain the integrity of the knowledge
    • Performed in Sanskrit

-The "place" where a person transcends that produces a biological effect..28:45

  • The field of pure consciousness is our core, our essence
  • Many mantras that are used for each individual
  • 3 things that make TM work:
    • Mantra
    • Sound (life supporting, no meaning assigned)
    • The nature of the mind and life is to go to greater fields of happiness, joy and intelligence
  • Within each of us is a field of perfect order, joy, intelligence, etc.
  • Color fasting cloth analogy
    • Conscious mind becomes saturated in the perfect field of order
    • Mind settles, body settles and vice versa
  • The vagus nerve plays an integral role in the mind/body relationship

-Formal studies on the effects of TM on the brain..38:30

  • Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition (Dr. Fred Travis)
  • Practitioners of TM with minimal sleep (4-5 hrs) performed similarly to non-practicers with 8-9 hrs.
    • (TM is not a suitable replacement for sleep)
  • TM has been shown to stimulate dreams

-Why TM is still necessary, even with all the biohacks available today..45:30

  • TM is natural, whereas some biohacks are "forced" on us
  • TM is portable; you don't need to carry any devices anywhere
  • A large number of prisoners practice TM

-The importance of a proper mantra when performing TM..50:20

  • A proper mantra puts up no boundaries on the mind, thus enabling it to transcend its normal environment
  • They are time-tested for thousands of years
  • There is no "one size fits all"
  • The importance of one's individual mantra cannot be overstated
  • The mantra is just a small part of the totality of TM

-The connection between TM and longevity..59:10

  • Biological age can be younger than the chronological age
  • Decreases the rate by which telomeres shorten
  • "Breath suspension" is a state of deep rest for the body

-The financial cost of learning TM and why it costs money in the first place..1:03:45

  • $960, one time, lifetime fee for the course (discounts for college and high school students)
  • Financial assistance is available if necessary
  • No one will be turned away, although you'll need to pay something
  • What is "free" anyways?

-And much more..

Resources from this episode:

-TM.org 

-Book: Principles by Ray Dalio

-Book: Money by Tony Robbins

-Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition (Dr. Fred Travis)

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Got a question about anything that Philip and I talked about in this episode? Leave a comment below and we'll reply!