What’s the difference between mindfulness and the TM® technique?

Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob Roth

Clinical psychologist and mindfulness teacher, Donna Rockwell, answers this common question eloquently in the New York Time’s bestseller “Strength in Stillness“. Here’s the excerpt:

For me, mindfulness has been a boot camp training of reining in the tendency of the mind to wander. You notice that tendency to wander and, albeit very tenderly, bring the mind back. There’s this notion that the mind is a wild horse that is constantly bucking in a very small corral. The goal of mindfulness is to make that corral larger and create a wide-open pasture in which to train the mind to come back to the present moment. After twenty years of practicing mindfulness, I am better trained to be in the here and now because of all my hours and hours and weekends and days of just sitting in one spot and looking at a dot on the floor. I am better able to activate my brain’s prefrontal cortex and have an awareness that I am having amygdala stimulation.

Now that I’ve added TM to my practice, it’s a completely different thing. While I think mindfulness is “mind training,” TM is more like taking the mind to an amazing spa. From the very first time, it felt like my brain was settling into a nice warm bath. My brain calms down and gets back to a state of homeostasis. And then after twenty minutes, I return to my life with greater peace and wellbeing.

I think the practices beautifully complement each other. Granted, mindfulness is not twenty minutes. When you go on a mindfulness retreat, you sit for forty minutes, then you walk for ten, more or less, you sit for another forty minutes, you walk for ten, you sit for forty minutes, you get up again—all the while becoming aware of wandering thoughts and coming back to the present moment. Like I said: boot camp.

TM says, “You’ve worked so hard all these years to be a more enlightened person. Now here’s a meditation practice where you can simply sit for twenty minutes and become naturally refreshed by allowing the mind to settle down.” …Then, after TM’s twenty-minute mental spa treatment, I return to my day revitalized and ready for what awaits.


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