Introduction in Mindfulness vs Transcendental Meditation

Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years and has evolved into various forms, with mindfulness and transcendental meditation being two of the most popular methods. Mindfulness meditation stems from Buddhist tradition and involves a focus on the present moment and awareness of physical sensations and thoughts. Transcendental meditation, on the other hand, was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and involves the use of a mantra phrase for a set period of time to transcend the active mind and reach a state of restful awareness. Both practices have gained popularity in recent years for their potential benefits to mental and psychological health, but what sets these two apart and how can one choose which practice to incorporate into their daily life? In this article, we will explore the power of mindfulness versus transcendental meditation and provide insight into their similarities, differences, and the benefits of each.

Must read: The Ultimate Guide to Mindfulness For Introverts: How to Stay Present in a Busy World

What is Transcendental Meditation?

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a form of meditation that focuses on achieving a state of inner peace and transcendence through the use of a mantra. While other forms of meditation may involve focusing on breath or bodily sensations, Transcendental Meditation uses mantras to quiet the mind and reach a state of deep relaxation.

The basic principle of Transcendental Meditation involves using a mantra, which is a word or sound that is repeated silently in the mind. By focusing on the mantra, the mind is able to quiet down and become less active, leading to deep relaxation and a sense of inner peace.

The ultimate goal of Transcendental Meditation is to reach a state of transcendence, which is characterized by a sense of oneness with the universe and a feeling of inner enlightenment. This sense of mindfulness is believed to improve mental clarity and reduce stress, making it a popular technique for improving overall well-being.

The use of mantras in Transcendental Meditation is believed to have a powerful effect on both the mind and the body. The repetitive nature of the mantra helps to create a sense of rhythm and harmony, which can help to enhance overall relaxation and improve one’s focus.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is the founder of Transcendental Meditation and is credited with popularizing the technique in the Western world. His teachings emphasize the importance of achieving inner peace and enlightenment in order to improve overall well-being and happiness.

Must read: Mindfulness and Aging: A Journey of Acceptance

What is Mindfulness meditation ?

Mindfulness meditation is a mental practice that involves focusing the mind’s attention on the present moment, without judgement. It is based on the Buddhist tradition of Vipassana, which means “insight” or “seeing clearly”. Mindfulness meditation helps individuals to observe their thoughts and physical sensations, without allowing them to be overwhelmed by them. The primary objective of this technique is to develop awareness of one’s thoughts and surroundings and to cultivate a sense of calmness and presence.

What distinguishes mindfulness meditation from other forms of meditation is its emphasis on bringing attention to the here and now, rather than emptying the mind or visualizing specific images or objects. It’s a secular practice that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the West. The benefits of mindfulness meditation in promoting mental and physical wellness are well-documented. It can help individuals decrease stress and anxiety, improve mood and memory, and enhance overall well-being.

Some common techniques used in mindfulness meditation include focused breathing, body scanning, and mindful movement such as yoga or walking meditation. Consistency in practice is essential to develop the ability to sustain attention and integrate mindfulness into one’s everyday life. It’s recommended to start with brief meditation sessions, a few minutes a day, and gradually increase the duration and frequency.

What Are Their Origins?

Transcendental Meditation (TM) and Mindfulness meditation are two popular forms of meditation that have gained widespread recognition in recent years. Both share similarities in their approach to meditation practice, but differ in their origins and methods.

TM originated in India in the 1950s and was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who built upon the ancient Vedic traditions of India. TM is a mantra-based meditation technique where the practitioner is given a mantra, a sound or phrase in Sanskrit, to repeat silently to themselves during meditation. The mantra is chosen by the TM teacher based on the individual’s age and gender, and its purpose is to help the practitioner reach a state of transcendence – a higher level of consciousness beyond thought.

The roots of mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, can be traced back to Buddhist teachings over 2,500 years ago. However, it was Jon Kabat-Zinn who brought mindfulness to the Western world in the 1970s when he developed the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. This form of meditation involves being fully present and aware of one’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in the present moment, without judgment.

In TM, the mantra chosen for each practitioner is unique and is only revealed during the TM initiation process. The mantras are said to be selected based on their resonance with the individual’s mind-body system, allowing the mantra to act as a vehicle for transcending thought and entering a state of pure awareness. Mantras used in TM are often given Sanskrit names such as “Om,” “Shanti,” or “Aham,” and are said to vibrate a specific sound frequency that resonates with the practitioner.

Mindfulness meditation includes various techniques such as breathing meditation, body scan, and loving-kindness meditation. Loving-kindness meditation, also known as Metta meditation, is an important aspect of mindfulness meditation that involves cultivating feelings of compassion, love, and kindness towards oneself and others. It is a practice that comes from the Buddhist tradition and has been shown to have positive effects on psychological health and overall well-being.

Are Mantra and Zen Meditation Different From Mindfulness?

Mantra and Zen meditation are two popular forms of meditation that are often compared to mindfulness meditation. While all three practices have an emphasis on self-awareness, they differ in their approach and primary goal.

Mantra meditation involves the repetition of a specific word, phrase, or sound to achieve a relaxed state of mind. The goal of this type of meditation is to calm the active mind and focus on the present moment. The repetition of the mantra helps to clear the mind of distractions and bring a sense of calmness and peacefulness.

Zen meditation, also known as Zazen, is a form of meditation that is rooted in Zen Buddhism. The primary goal of Zen meditation is to achieve enlightenment by focusing on breath and bodily sensations. Practitioners of Zen meditation sit in a specific posture and focus on their breath while observing their thoughts without judgment. The ultimate result is a state of mental clarity and insight.

In contrast, mindfulness meditation places emphasis on being present in the moment, focusing on physical sensations, and observing thoughts and emotions without judgment. The goal of mindfulness is to achieve a greater sense of awareness and acceptance of the present moment. This practice helps individuals to let go of negative thoughts and emotions, promoting a sense of well-being and stress reduction.

While Mantra and Zen meditations involve the use of mantras or other specific techniques, mindfulness meditation allows for a more flexible approach. In fact, in mindfulness meditation, there is no need to use a specific technique or focus on any particular thing. This practice encourages individuality and allows for personalization of the meditative practice.

When it comes to physical sensations and active thoughts, Mantra and Zen meditations have a more structured approach that directs attention away from them. Meanwhile, mindfulness meditation encourages you to acknowledge physical sensations and thoughts, but without passing judgment or becoming too attached to them.

Research shows that the benefits of meditation vary depending on the type of practice. Studies demonstrate that mindfulness meditation can be effective in reducing stress, improving attention, and promoting positive mental health outcomes. On the other hand, mantra and Zen meditations have shown to be effective in producing deep relaxation and improving focus.

What is the difference between Vedic and Transcendental Meditation?

Vedic meditation and Transcendental Meditation are both popular techniques of meditation, but there are key differences between the two practices. Vedic meditation is an ancient practice rooted in the Indian Vedic traditions, while Transcendental Meditation (TM) was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s.

One of the main differences between the two practices lies in their approach to the use of mantras. Vedic meditation uses personalized mantras that are chosen specifically for each individual based on their unique energy. The sound vibrations produced by the personalized mantras are believed to resonate with the individual’s consciousness, leading to a state of restful alertness.

In contrast, TM uses a fixed set of mantras that are standardized across all practitioners. The same set of mantras are used regardless of an individual’s background or the reason for their practice. While both practices use mantras as a tool for focus, the personalized approach of Vedic meditation is thought to be more effective in achieving the desired state of consciousness.

Another difference between Vedic and Transcendental Meditation lies in their origins. Vedic meditation is rooted in ancient Indian Vedic traditions and is based on a deep understanding of the mechanics of consciousness. The goal of Vedic meditation is to achieve a state of restful alertness through the use of personalized mantras.

Meanwhile, the TM technique was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as a form of mantra meditation that is meant to be practiced twice a day, for 20 minutes each session. TM is designed to be a secular practice that can be integrated into one’s daily life to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

The science behind mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that aims to help individuals develop tranquility, focus, and a better understanding of their thoughts and emotions. It is based on being present in the moment and observing one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment. Over the years, scientific research has been conducted to understand the scientific basis of mindfulness meditation and how it affects the brain and body.

Several research studies have shown that regular practice of mindfulness meditation can lead to positive changes in the brain. For instance, a study conducted by Sara W. Lazar at Harvard University found that regular mindfulness meditation increases the thickness of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for attention and decision-making. Another study found that meditation can lead to a decrease in activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear.

Furthermore, research studies have also shown that mindfulness meditation can lead to decreased levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in the body. A study conducted by the University of California found that mindfulness meditation leads to a decrease in cortisol levels and, as a result, reduces stress and anxiety levels.

One key benefit of mindfulness meditation is that it can be used to help individuals with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a type of mindfulness meditation that has been used with great success in helping individuals with stress, anxiety, and depression. MBSR involves teaching individuals techniques to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment and to focus on the present moment.

Mindfulness vs Transcendental meditation 10 Differences

Mindfulness meditation is rooted in Buddhist traditions and focuses on increasing awareness of bodily sensations and the present moment. Transcendental meditation, on the other hand, involves the use of a repeated mantra to achieve a deep state of consciousness. While both forms of meditation share some similarities, there are fundamental differences that distinguish them from each other.

Here are 10 key differences between Mindfulness and Transcendental meditation techniques:

1. Goal of Meditation:

The primary difference between Mindfulness and Transcendental meditation is the goal they aim to achieve. Mindfulness meditation seeks to increase your awareness of the present moment, while Transcendental meditation seeks to transcend or go beyond the present moment.

2. Technique:

The technique used in Mindfulness meditation involves paying attention to physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions, without judgment. In contrast, Transcendental meditation involves the use of a repeated mantra to clear the mind and achieve a state of deep relaxation.

3. Origins:

Mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhist traditions, while Transcendental meditation was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who drew from Vedic traditions.

4. Level of Effort and Training Required:

Mindfulness meditation requires a certain level of effort and training, as it involves paying attention to physical sensations and thoughts as they arise without judgment. In contrast, Transcendental meditation requires less effort and training, as the use of a mantra can help clear your mind.

5. Physical Sensations:

In Mindfulness meditation, bodily sensations are emphasized and are an integral part of the practice. In Transcendental meditation, physical sensations are not as emphasized, as the focus is on the mantra.

6. Scientific Research:

Both forms of meditation have been studied by researchers, and both have been found to have positive effects on mental health and physical wellbeing. However, more scientific research has been done on Mindfulness meditation and its benefits on psychological health and well-being.

7. Secular Practice:

Mindfulness meditation can be a secular practice that is not tied to any religious traditions, while Transcendental meditation has its roots in Vedic and Hindu traditions.

8. Ancient Practice:

Mindfulness meditation has been practiced for centuries, dating back to Buddhist traditions, while Transcendental meditation is a more recent development, created in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

9. Form of Meditation:

Mindfulness meditation falls under the category of insight or vipassana meditation, while Transcendental meditation is a form of concentration or mantra-based meditation.

10. Loving-Kindness Meditation:

Mindfulness meditation includes loving-kindness meditation, which involves cultivating feelings of love and compassion towards oneself and others. Transcendental meditation does not have a specific practice focusing on loving-kindness.

Critiques of Transcendental Meditation

One of the critiques of TM lies in its claim of reaching a state of effortless meditation. While TM claims to require no effort or concentration, it has been shown to require significant effort and monetary investment. Participants must learn the technique from a certified instructor, which can be expensive, and they must practice regularly to achieve the desired state of meditation.

Another criticism of TM is its use of misleading marketing tactics to attract followers. TM claims to cure or alleviate various mental and physical health issues, such as anxiety or high blood pressure, without scientific evidence. This kind of deceitful marketing can lead to false promises and may encourage individuals to replace scientifically backed treatments with TM, which can be dangerous.

Some former practitioners of TM have come forward with negative experiences. These experiences have ranged from financial exploitation to mental and emotional distress. Furthermore, it can be difficult for participants to discern whether they are receiving real benefits from TM versus the placebo effect.

Another issue that has been raised surrounding the marketing of TM is the downplaying of its connections to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru and controversial figure. This has been perceived by some detractors as an attempt to whitewash the practice’s origins and reputation.

Which Type Of Meditation Is Right For Me?

When it comes to meditation, there are a variety of types to choose from. Each type has its unique meditation process, methods, and goals, which can influence the outcomes you can expect.

1. Mindfulness Meditation: This meditation technique involves focusing on the present moment, paying attention to bodily sensations, and taking note of the active mind. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to heighten self-awareness, improve concentration, and reduce stress levels. While it’s based on the Buddhist tradition, it’s a secular practice that can benefit everyone, including those with psychological health problems.

2. Transcendental Meditation: This type of meditation is a mantra-based meditation that involves repeating a sound or phrase to calm the mind. It’s a spiritual meditation that was popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s. Its goal is to achieve a deep state of relaxation, improve overall health, and promote mental clarity.

3. Loving-Kindness Meditation: This meditation technique involves cultivating feelings of love, kindness, and empathy towards others. It’s a compassionate practice that improves emotional intelligence, and it’s based on the Vedic tradition.

4. Breathing Meditation: This type of meditation involves deep breathing exercises to relax the body and quiet the mind. The goal is to enhance awareness and reduce stress levels, among others. It’s a fundamental practice, and it’s a great way to explore meditation’s benefits.

5. Mantra Meditation: This type of meditation practice involves using a phrase, word, or sound-specific to you and repeated in meditation that creates a sense of focus and connection to your innermost self.

Each type of meditation has its unique set of benefits and potential drawbacks. For example, mindfulness meditation enhances self-awareness, but it may be challenging for beginners to concentrate on the present moment, while Loving-Kindness Meditation promotes compassion but may be challenging if you are struggling with negative feelings such as anger or fear.

Frequently Asked Questions

about mindfulness vs Transcendental Meditation.


1. What is the key difference between mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation?

Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation are two different techniques that have varying philosophies and practices. Mindfulness aims to bring one’s attention to the current moment, while Transcendental Meditation centers around the use of mantra to reach a state of inner calmness.

2. Which meditation technique is better suited for beginners?

Both mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation can be practiced by anyone, regardless of their level of experience. However, mindfulness may be more accessible to beginners as it focuses on breathing and sensory experiences, making it easier to stay present.

3. What are the practical benefits of practicing Transcendental Meditation?

Transcendental Meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, improve cognitive function, and lower blood pressure. It is also known for promoting relaxation and stress reduction.

4. How does mindfulness benefit mental health?

Mindfulness has been found to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, increase focus and concentration, and improve emotional regulation. It can be helpful in managing stress and promoting overall well-being.

5. What are some methods of mindfulness meditation?

There are several methods of mindfulness meditation, including mindful breathing, body scan meditation, and loving-kindness meditation. Mindful breathing is the simplest technique and involves focusing on your breath.

6. How does Transcendental Meditation differ from other forms of mantra-based meditation?

Transcendental Meditation has its roots in Vedic traditions and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s teachings. While there are other mantra-based meditation practices, Transcendental Meditation has its own specific mantra and is often taught through a certified teacher.

7. Can secular individuals practice Transcendental Meditation?

Yes, anyone can practice Transcendental Meditation regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. It is a secular practice that focuses on inner peace and calmness.

8. What does the science say about mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation?

Recent studies have found that both mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation can have significant benefits for physical and mental health. These include boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and lowering stress and anxiety.

Practical Tips:

– Find a quiet place where you can practice meditation without interruptions.

– Consistency is key in practicing mindfulness or Transcendental Meditation, aim to practice once or twice a day.

– Utilize available resources such as guided meditation apps to aid your practice.

– Remember to approach meditation with an open mind and do not expect immediate results.

Conclusion of Mindfulness vs Transcendental Meditation

It is essential to understand the key differences between Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness when selecting a meditation practice. The practices have different origins, techniques, and goals that make them uniquely suited to different individuals’ needs and preferences.

Transcendental Meditation originated from the Vedic traditions and was popularized by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It involves the repeated recitation of a mantra to quiet the mind and achieve a state of transcendence. In contrast, Mindfulness is rooted in the Buddhist tradition and aims to cultivate an awareness of the present moment, including physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions, without judgment.

Both practices offer various benefits, such as reducing anxiety and improving overall mental health and wellbeing. However, they also have downsides and criticisms that individuals should consider. Transcendental Meditation has been criticized for its high cost and association with celebrity endorsements, while Mindfulness has been criticized for its potential to reduce complex social issues to surface-level self-improvement techniques.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here