The main difference between meditation and transcendental meditation is that meditation (referred to as Bhavana) introduced by Lord Buddha focuses on several levels beyond just calming the mind. On the other hand, transcendental meditation is a technique introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a very recent time, for the purpose of relaxing and calming the mind.
In this article, we will be considering the meditation (Bhavana) introduced by Lord Buddha, which then became popular in the whole world for its significant ability to elevate the mental health and spirituality of humans, in addition to its other psychological benefits. Among the meditation types introduced by Indian yogi sages, transcendental meditation stands distinct in the present world.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Meditation
– Definition, Focus
2. What is Transcendental Meditation
– Definition, Focus
3. What are the Similarities Between Meditation and Transcendental Meditation
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Meditation and Transcendental Meditation
– Comparison of Key Differences
Meditation, Meditation Types, Transcendental Meditation, Spirituality
What is Meditation (Bhavana)
Meditation (also known as Bhavana), a practice recommended by Lord Buddha, improves one’s mental health and well-being and eventually helps to understand the condition of the human mind. Moreover, the effects of meditation not only limits to elevating one’s mental health but also to one’s physical, spiritual as well as social wellbeing.
Meditation is, therefore, a major technique one can use to develop mindfulness and awareness, also known as sati–sampajañña. Many research studies have proven the effect of meditation on the brain activity of a person, resulting in positive effects on his overall biology.
In Buddhism, meditation is considered a foremost path, as it develops seela and sati–sampajañña, which are essential prerequisites towards the eightfold path and to Nirvana of a Buddhist.
In Buddhism, there are several meditation types or techniques that focus on varied aspects. Some of these techniques include
- Meditation techniques focusing on developing concentration (Samatha Bhavana, Ana-Pana-Sathi Bhavana)
- Meditation techniques focusing on developing insight and wisdom (Vipassana Bhavana, Marananussathi Bhavana )
- Meditation techniques focusing on developing good wishes (Maithree Bhavana) and many more
These different types of meditation have different techniques accordingly. For instance, in Ana-Pana Sathi Bhavana, which is one of the very popular meditation types, a person has to pay his full concentration on the breathing process; the focus should be on the inhalation as well as exhalation. By this, the individual develops his mindfulness and thus improves concentration, which again accompanies other psychological benefits such as stress release, good blood circulation, etc.
To practice meditation properly, the posture is also an important fact; the recommended posture for meditation is the sitting posture in addition to other postures such as walking posture and reclining posture (Siha Seyyasana).
Likewise, even though the term meditation is used for Bhavana as well, several Theravedic Bhikku scholars such as Ven. Walpola Rahula recommends using the term ‘Bhavana’ instead of meditation since the aim and the desired effects of Bhavana practice surpasses meditation techniques in many levels.
What is Transcendental Meditation
Transcendental meditation (also known as TM) is a specific form of silent mantra meditation technique introduced by the spiritual leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, during the mid-1950s. This meditation technique involves thinking of a mantra which has to be practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day.
Moreover, transcendental meditation movement considers TM as a non-religious method that focuses mainly on relaxing the mind and relieving stress. Experts suggest that “Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting, like other forms of meditation. Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking.”
The mantras used in Transcendental Meditation come from the ancient Vedic tradition of India, which are Sanskrit sounds. Further, these mantras vary according to the teacher and the person practicing TM (such as age range). Hence, it is important to receive a suitable mantra from a fully trained Transcendental Meditation teacher from the 50 different mantras practiced by these Indian sage leaders over thousands of years.
Thus, unlike mindfulness meditation, the aim in TM is to settle the mind (and its thoughts) and put it into a relaxed state without concentration on anything. Therefore, TM is effective in relieving stress and anxiety, increasing physical and mental health, etc.
Thus, for TM practitioners, the distinction of transcendental meditation from other meditations (Bhavana) is that it;
- Does not aim to “empty the mind”
- Does not aim to gain mindfulness (monitoring of thoughts)
- No concentrating
- No control of the mind
Similarities Between Meditation and Transcendental Meditation
- Both meditation (Bhavana) and transcendental meditation have shown to help people deal with anxiety, stress, and other physical ailments as well. However, with their aims differentiating, their effects also vary.
Difference Between Meditation and Transcendental Meditation
From meditation (Bhavana), a practice taught by Lord Buddha, you can practice mindfulness. On the other hand, from transcendental meditation, a specific form of meditation accompanied by a silent mantra introduced by the Indian sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, you can settle the mind (and its thoughts) and put it into a relaxed state without concentration on anything. This is the main difference between meditation and transcendental meditation.
Mindfulness or sati–sampajañña becomes the main concern in meditation and meditation helps to elevate mindfulness in a person whereas it not the main concern in transcendental meditation. This is another difference between meditation and transcendental meditation.
Meditation, referred to as Bhavana, is a Buddhist meditation type whereas transcendental meditation is a yoga technique.
The focus of meditation varies according to its different types such as improving mindfulness and concentration, improving insight and wisdom to life, improving good wishes, etc. while the main focus in transcendental meditation is to bring the mind to a calm state. TM is effective in relieving stress and anxiety, increasing physical and mental health, etc. This is another important difference between meditation and transcendental meditation.
The meditation (or Bhavana) introduced by Lord Buddha develops mindfulness, insight, and other psychological aspects that lead to the understanding of the condition of the human mind. On the other hand, transcendental meditation is a specific form of silent mantra meditation technique introduced by the spiritual leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for the purpose of relaxing the mind. This is the difference between meditation and transcendental meditation.
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4. Petter, Olivia. “Everything You Need to Know about Transcendental Meditation.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 15 Nov. 2018, Available here.
1. “Buddha Statue in Sri Lanka” (CC0) via GoodFreePhotos
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3. “Om symbol” By The Unicode Consortium – Unknown (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
4. “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with NandkishoreC” By Centre Védique Maharishi – By Centre Védique Maharishi (Own work) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia