Posts Tagged ‘focused attention’

Bob Roth @meditationbob explains why and how #TranscendentalMeditation @TMmeditation is different from other types of meditation

June 11, 2022

Over the past two years I’ve been joining the daily morning and evening group meditations on Zoom facilitated by Bob Roth, a longtime Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), and author. Before each group meditation, Bob likes to share interesting scientific information about how the body works, or something in nature, and ends the call with an inspirational poem, quotation, or word.

Bob also answers questions that have been sent in. One that comes up often is how is TM different from other types of meditation, in particular mindfulness. Bob’s answer was so clear, I wanted to share it with you. It was transcribed and approved for posting. I found two relevant images in an article on TM Basics in Enjoy TM News that will help highlight Bob’s explanation. He also addresses the notion of the active “monkey mind” and how it can be calmed without effort, a key point.

Bob Roth: I want to address a pretty basic question that many of you know the answer to, but many of you don’t. And since this is a community experience (these group meditations), I want to be sure that everybody feels comfortable and is up to speed. And one of the questions that frequently comes up, even among people who practice TM, is, “How is this different from other types of meditation, or mindfulness meditation?” Because we hear that term: mindfulness meditation.

And I like to use a very simple analogy; that you have a cross section of an ocean. (You ever hear me use that analogy in the past?) And you have choppy waves on the surface. And that can be analogous to the thinking mind. And people who are familiar with different types of meditation often talk about the nature of the mind being like a monkey mind. It bounces all over the place and, just in search of, just bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. It’s an active mind.

And if you want to control the mind, if you want to have a calm mind, then you have to stop the monkey mind from bouncing all over the place. And so, many types of either mindfulness meditation or other types of meditation involve some type of control of the mind.

So, in that cross-section of the ocean, it would be attempting to stop the waves on the surface of the ocean. That if you want to have a calm ocean, what disrupts a calm ocean? Waves. So, if you could stop the waves, then you’d have a calm ocean.

By analogy, if you want to have a calm mind, what disrupts a calm mind? Thoughts. So, if you want to have a calm mind, stop thoughts. You’ll have a calm mind.

That approach to meditation is called a cognitive approach. Cognitive means attending to your thoughts, your moods, your feelings, your actions. So, in that type of meditation, there’s some degree of control of the mind.

In Transcendental Meditation, we know there’s no control of the mind.

In Transcendental Meditation, we know there’s no control of the mind. We appreciate that the surface of the ocean may be turbulent, but we also recognize that there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, and that there’s a depth to the ocean. And the depth to the deeper levels of the ocean? More silence.

In the same way, we appreciate that the mind is an active mind. All of the thoughts that we have during the day—we’re busy people. And we’re upset about things, and we’re happy about things, and we’re depressed about things, and we’re anxious about things, and we’re in love, and then we’re hurt.

All this stuff that’s going on are like waves on the surface, thoughts on the surface of the mind. And we call that the “gotta-gotta-gotta” mind.

Transcendental Meditation recognizes that there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. Just as there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. And the deeper levels of the mind are increasingly quiet, more settled.

Just as there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. And the deeper levels of the mind are increasingly quiet, more settled.

We know that when we want to talk to a dear friend about something important to us, we don’t say, Let’s go to a noisy sports bar. We say, Let’s go someplace quiet. Because when it’s quiet, we can think more clearly. We feel more settled within ourselves.

So, deeper levels of the mind—quieter. In Transcendental Meditation, we don’t try to stop thoughts on their surface. We effortlessly access what’s called (go in the direction of what’s called) the source of thought, from where thoughts arise deep within the mind of everyone—from where thoughts arise.

And that level of the mind is naturally quiet, like the ocean depth is naturally quiet. It’s there. That’s the hypothesis. You don’t have to believe in that. That’s the hypothesis. Deep within every human being is a level where the mind is already quiet. All we do in Transcendental Meditation is set up the conditions for our mind to effortlessly access that.

Deep within every human being is a level where the mind is already quiet. All we do in Transcendental Meditation is set up the conditions for our mind to effortlessly access that.

We don’t try to stop thoughts. It’s a waste of time. It’s impossible. It doesn’t accomplish what we hope to accomplish. And what do we hope to accomplish? Just set up the conditions for the mind to settle down within. And why will the mind settle down within? Because your mind doesn’t wander aimlessly. The mind is in search of something more satisfying. When it goes out through the senses, we look for something—something more beautiful, something more delicious, something more fragrant, something more pleasurable.

When we close our eyes, wait a half a minute, and then begin to think the mantra in an effortless way, then the mind is drawn inward to these quieter levels. And as that happens, our body gains deep rest.

And then as we get deep rest, the body throws off stress, and that increases the activity in the body. And then we come up a little bit. And then we settle back down. And we come up and we settle back down. This is Transcendental Meditation.

So, it’s that vertical dimension—accessing a level of the mind that is already quiet. So, no control in this. Concentration and control, just is trying to manipulate the surface. And that is just difficult and uncomfortable and not Transcendental Meditation.

Easy, comfortable, let the attention turn within, and we settle down, we come up. And that is TM—transcendence. Going beyond ordinary human limitations.

More on that in times to come, but let’s do our meditation now.

* * *

This infographic on the TM website compares forms of meditation techniques and their impact on the brain by looking at amount of mental effort required, images of different EEG signatures, types of brainwave activity, and their descriptions identified by the Mayo Clinic.

In this related article, Parade Magazine asked Bob Roth to explain Transcendental Meditation and what makes it so special.

NEW: Nigel Barlow, host of the Change Begins Within podcast in the UK, spoke with Bob Roth on The Work of The David Lynch Foundation. It was a lively informative discussion. Available on platforms, like Spotify, I listened in their SoundCloud album with other related Talking TM tracks.

See this dynamic talk by Nigel Barlow about TM at Biohacking Congress.

See this video on the David Lynch Foundation: Change Begins Within.

You can follow Bob Roth on Twitter @meditationbob and Instagram @meditationbob. To learn Transcendental Meditation, visit tm.org.

Related posts: Meditation Basics by Doug Rexford is the best short video intro to Transcendental Meditation | New study highlights unique state of “restful alertness” during Transcendental Meditation | Research validates the defining hallmark of Transcendental Meditation—effortlessness


%d bloggers like this: