Why do we meditate?
Every meditator knows that it’s not just for the experience we have during our 20-minute practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, as enjoyable as this can be. The real reason we meditate is because our TM® practice brings us substantial rewards—after our meditation. TM is a preparation for more successful activity, for the development of consciousness, and for greater fulfillment in life.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Founder of the TM technique, explained this clearly in his book Science of Being and Art of Living: “We have seen that while transcending, the conscious capacity of the mind increases; therefore, when one comes out of meditation and engages in experience and activity, the experience of objects becomes deeper, fuller, and more substantial. One engages in activity with greater energy, more intelligence, and improved efficiency.”
One of Maharishi’s favorite metaphors was “Water the root to enjoy the fruit.” It’s the root that draws nourishment up from the soil to sustain all the leaves, flowers, and fruit. Like the roots of a tree, the transcendental field of life is hidden from view, at the quietest level of the mind.
When we allow our mind to transcend and experience that subtler state of awareness, the source of thought, all aspects of our outer life are nourished. We experience greater energy, more intelligence, and improved efficiency in life.
The TM technique is basically the “art of allowing.” For 20 minutes twice a day we allow our mind and body to automatically, naturally, and spontaneously take what they need.
The Art of Allowing
Again from Science of Being and Art of Living: “The art of living enables the transcendental aspect of life to strengthen and bring luster to the subjective and objective aspects of existence, so that the entire range of subjectivity and objectivity enjoys the absolute strength, intelligence, bliss, and creativity of eternal Being. This is the art of allowing the life-stream to flow in such a manner that every aspect of living is enriched with the magnificence of life in all its fullness.”
The TM® technique is basically the “art of allowing.” For 20 minutes twice a day, we allow our mind and body to automatically, naturally, and spontaneously take what they need. The mind wants to experience quieter levels of the thinking process and even transcend thought completely. The body wants to take deep rest, release stress, and heal.
Our effortless practice of TM® allows both our mind and body to return to a state of balance. Those 20 minutes of TM practice, twice a day, are a gift that we give to our mind and body. Afterwards, they return that gift to us many times over.
Those 20 minutes of TM practice, twice a day, are a gift that we give to our mind and body. Afterwards, they return that gift to us many times over.
Do Less and Accomplish More
Another analogy from Maharishi is that the practice of TM is like drawing the arrow back on a bow. Suppose that you’re told to shoot an arrow at the target. The first thing you do is draw the arrow back on the bow away from the target.
Someone who is unfamiliar with archery might say, “Hey, you’re going in the wrong direction. You’re supposed to send the arrow toward the target, not away from it.”
But you know the technique of shooting an arrow. So you tell them: “First you draw the arrow back on the bow, away from the target, to the point of maximum potential dynamism. Then the arrow is prepared to fly and hit the target with greater speed, accuracy, and power. That way you can do less and accomplish more.”
The principle is the same with transcending during practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique. The easiest, most efficient way to prepare to solve a problem is to practice the art of transcending. First allow the mind to go within to the point of maximum potential creativity. Then the mind is much better prepared to come out and discover the solution.
23 Hours and 20 Minutes
I tell people that we don’t meditate just for the sake of the 20 minutes we spend twice a day in meditation. The real reason we practice TM is for the other 23 hours and 20 minutes in the day.
One day I began to wonder whether I should really say 23 hours and 20 minutes. After all, aren’t most people asleep for eight hours every night?
Shortly after that, one of our TM students came early to her first day of checking. The first thing she said was, “I slept last night.” I was busy setting up chairs for the meeting, so I just said, “Good.” Then she said, “You didn’t hear me. I slept last night. I haven’t slept through the night for three years.”
Here was someone who had learned the TM technique on a Saturday, had done one meditation on her own at home, and then slept through the night for the first time in years. After that, I never doubted that the benefits of the TM technique actually are enjoyed for 23 hours and 20 minutes a day.
Enjoy the Fruit
At the end of every four-day TM course, we share the “water the root” analogy with our students to remind them that their twice-a-day TM practice is the key to living a more successful and fulfilled life. I tell them that if they ever think they’re too busy to meditate, they should just stop and remember: “Water the root to enjoy the fruit.”
In Maharishi’s words, “Meditation first, and everything else after.” After meditation, everything we experience and do will be easier and more enjoyable. That’s why we practice the Transcendental Meditation technique.