Difference Between Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation

Meditation is a practice in which an individual uses mindfulness, or the skill of concentrating on specific thoughts, things, or activities to cultivate attention and focus and reach a state of mental calm, emotional peace, and stability.

Two of the meditations are mindfulness and transcendental meditation. Both of these meditations come from different backgrounds, are conducted in different ways, and have different effects.

Mindfulness and transcendental meditation both need increased awareness, breathing, and focus. They have also been examined for their ability to boost both cognitive and emotional well-being.

Mindfulness vs Transcendental Meditation

The main difference between Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation is that mindfulness is a state of being aware of your experience in the present moment without judgment, but transcendental meditation goes beyond the usual thinking process to achieve steadiness, rest, and the complete lack of mental borders. Both come from different traditions but more importantly, both have different goals.

Mindfulness vs Transcendental Meditation

The goal behind practicing mindfulness is training the mind to stay in the present moment, and this is done by paying close attention to one’s thoughts and emotions without passing judgment.

So, the ultimate objective of mindfulness is to be in the current moment at all times and to achieve greater focus and clarity.

Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is a technique that uses no focus or concentration and shifts your attention within, beyond one’s thoughts.

Long-term practice can lead to a state of cosmic consciousness, in which the sense of transcendence is consistently there in one’s awareness, even while doing something.

One gradually starts to perceive oneself as universal and omnipresent. The individual’s identity is replaced by the cosmic.

Comparison Table between Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation

Parameters of ComparisonMindfulness MeditationTranscendental Meditation
MeaningMeditation to train the mind to be in the present momentMeditation that uses mantra to let the mind settle down naturally and, ultimately, to transcend thought

OriginBuddhist traditionVedic tradition
How to learnBy reading a book or attending a meditation classBy extensively trained teachers
GoalTo have one’s thoughts be on the present momentto transcend thought itself and experience a state of “pure awareness”
Brain wave patternTheta brain waves, associated with readiness to process incoming signals  Alpha brain waves, associated with relaxation
Neurophysiologic state affectedActivates  the brain’s default mode networkDeactivates default mode network

What is Mindfulness?

Buddhism, from where mindfulness originated, says that we continue to suffer until we don’t learn to see things as they are. Mindfulness meditation offers a possibility to deliver this message successfully.

We get so much caught up in our thoughts and feelings that we start judging them, and based on that judgment, we create a false self-image. Needless to say, but most of these thoughts and feelings are negative, at least for most of us.

The principles of mindfulness and meditation are combined in mindfulness meditation. When you are mindful, you stay in the present moment.

You are aware of your surroundings while being connected to your internal ideas and feelings. In difficult times, mindfulness prevents you from panicking or becoming overwhelmed.

Meditation enables you to examine your mind’s inner workings. Exploring diverse feelings created by acts such as breathing or inhaling scents is also a part of the exercise.

Mindfulness meditation involves mental discipline, alertness, and intent. It enables you to examine your thoughts and feelings objectively, without being influenced by your subconscious reactions.

It’s about observing what’s going on without attempting to alter it. This can be beneficial for persons who are dealing with tough emotions.

One doesn’t require expensive equipment or a particular religious or spiritual discipline to begin practicing mindfulness meditation.

All one has to do is adhere to the practice. Some people prefer to have others accompany them or assist them through the experience.

Benefits that a person may gain through mindfulness meditation are- Reducing depression symptoms, Reducing binge eating, Improving cognitive abilities, and Coping with chronic pain.

What is Transcendental meditation?

Transcendental meditation has its origin in the Vedic traditions, but it was introduced around the world by the Indian Yogi Maharishi Mahesh.

It is a simple meditation technique in which you sit peacefully with your eyes closed and softly recite a mantra. This mantra can be a word or a sound that helps the mind settle naturally in a calm and restful state.

TM does not focus on building concentration or contemplation, as is generally believed.

Repeated practice of TM allows you to transcend the normal thinking process and take your awareness to subtler regions of the mind, where it rests in perfect stillness, stability, peace, and silence.

It is commonly considered the second phase of meditation and relates to psychological fulfillment. TM is used to relax our active minds by allowing them to simmer down to the deepest quietest level possible.

The goal is to transcend any urge of thought and entirely disconnect from the conscious stream of thought that rushes through one’s mind.

The lower amount of oxygen consumption in your body and the drop in heart rate during meditation demonstrate the influence of TM on calming your brain while remaining awake.

Furthermore, because of the relaxing impact that TM has on your body, it is a very beneficial technique for combating high blood pressure, increasing insulin resistance (important for diabetes people), reducing anxiety, and preventing negativity.

Main Differences Between Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation

  1. Mindfulness meditation is the training of the mind to be in the present moment. While, Transcendental Meditation is an easy meditation practice that does not require concentration, instead, mantras are used to make the mind naturally settle down and, eventually, transcend thoughts.
  2. Mindfulness originated in the Buddhist tradition while TM originated from the Vedic tradition and was introduced to the world by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
  3. Reading books or joining a casual meditation class can help you learn mindfulness. TM, on the other hand, is taught exclusively by extensively trained certified teachers who teach in a very accurate way.
  4. The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to focus one’s attention on the existing moment, but the goal of Transcendental Meditation is to surpass thought itself and experience a stage of “pure awareness,” wherein one is aware but without thinking about anything.
  5. The brain wave patterns linked with each practice differ as well. Theta brain waves, which are linked with a readiness to interpret incoming signals, characterize mindfulness meditation. Transcendental Meditation is associated with alpha brain waves, which are related to relaxation.
  6. Both have contrasting neurophysiologic states associated with them. Mindfulness meditation deactivates the default mode network. While Transcendental Meditation activates the same. Default mode network is the natural resting state of the brain.
Difference Between Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation

Conclusion

As we have seen, mindfulness and transcendence are two important meditation processes. They involve different techniques and are working on two different but complementary and mutually enhancing levels.

Hence, although these two can be practiced separately, they are most useful when practiced together. One is to prepare for the other, and each can well enhance the effect of the other.

Both TM and mindfulness meditation may be very suitable for therapy because they are simple to use in a group setting and are popular with many participants.

Although both types of meditation can help you reduce stress and anxiety, those who experience meditation for the first time should start with mindfulness meditation.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jclp.20544
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/jhh20156
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