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Difference Between Transcendental Meditation and Vipassana Meditation

Both transcendental meditation and Vipassana involve concentrated breathing and being more aware of the present moment. They have also been described to help improve psychological and physical wellbeing. Specifically, transcendental meditation utilizes mantras and goes beyond the ordinary thinking process and aims to accomplish stability, relaxation, and non-existence of mental boundaries. On the other hand, Vipassana is also termed as “insight meditation” and is described as being able to show how the mind was troubled which eventually leads to wisdom. The subsequent discussions further look into their distinctions. 

What is Transcendental Meditation (TM)? 

Transcendental Meditation aims to achieve a state of calm awareness, lessen disturbing thoughts, and encourage absolute consciousness. The practitioner goes beyond his usual consciousness and accomplishes stability, relaxation, and non-existence of mental boundaries (Ansorge, 2020). In TM, mantras, which are special Sanskrit phrases or words, are employed. The repeated words aim to help experience serenity (Melton, 2020). The reported benefits include being better able to deal with stressors, mood swings, inattention, and discontentment (Scott, 2020).

Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a Hindu monk who is also known as Guru Dev, taught TM. The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, one of Guru Dev’s disciples, promoted TM to other countries in the 1950s. He was also the one who coined “Transcendental Meditation” which became more popular when celebrities like the Beatles, Paul Horn, and Mike Love joined the Maharishi’s following (Melton, 2021).

The basic TM practice involves relaxed diaphragm breathing while in a comfortable position. The practitioner tries his best to be more aware of his thoughts without entertaining them. He also mentally repeats a mantra while being conscious of arising sensations. It is suggested for TM practitioners to meditate twice daily for 15-20 minutes (Scott, 2020). 

What is Vipassana? 

Vipassana, a Pali (Indo-Aryan) language word, which literally means “insight” or “clear-seeing”, is a non-sectarian meditation technique which intends to cleanse mental impurities (Levy, 2020).  It is also termed as “insight meditation” and is described as being able to show how the mind was troubled which eventually leads to wisdom (New World Encyclopedia).  Vipassana meditation nonjudgmentally focuses on the inner self and can benefit both mind and body (Nunez, 2021). 

Regarding its history, Vipassana dates back at least 2,500 years to ancient India. It is known as the oldest Buddhist meditation practice in existence, and it has been observed in the United States since the 1960s. Vipassana became more popular with help from renowned teachers such as S.N. Goenka and Sayadaw U Pandita (Levy, 2020).  

The goal of Vipassana is to help you become more aware of the present; accept sensations, emotions, and thoughts; worry less about what has not yet happened; and be better grounded on reality. The benefits include boosting concentration, being able to better manage stress, improvement of decision making, and lessening anxiety (Levy, 2020). In addition, several practitioners have also experienced chronic pain relief.  

Vipassana is a technique of watching each inhale and exhale. As the practitioner becomes more aware of his breathing, his mind gets settled into the present moment. The concentrated breathing may last for 10 to 15 minutes (Hattangadi, 2020). Moreover, it is important to have effort and precise aim; it is best for the mind to be attentive to the entire process (Pandita, 2020). 

Difference between Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation

Definition

Transcendental Meditation aims to achieve a state of calm awareness, lessen disturbing thoughts, and encourage absolute consciousness. The practitioner goes beyond his usual consciousness and accomplishes stability, relaxation, and non-existence of mental boundaries (Ansorge, 2020). In comparison, Vipassana, a Pali (Indo-Aryan) language word, which literally means “insight” or “clear-seeing”, is a non-sectarian meditation technique which intends to cleanse mental impurities (Levy, 2020).  It is also termed as “insight meditation” and is described as being able to show how the mind was troubled which eventually leads to wisdom (New World Encyclopedia).  Vipassana meditation nonjudgmentally focuses on the inner self and can benefit both mind and body (Nunez, 2021). 

History 

Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, a Hindu monk who is also known as Guru Dev, taught TM (Melton, 2021). He then entrusted Maharishi with the mission of creating a more peaceful world by advancing the practice of meditation. In 1955, Maharashi went on tour starting in India (Feloni, 2016). As for Vipassana, it dates back at least 2,500 years to ancient India. It is known as the oldest Buddhist meditation practice in existence (Levy, 2020).

International Popularity of the Meditation Practice

The Maharishi started his international tour to promote TM in 1958 (Feloni, 2016). TM became more popular when celebrities like the Beatles joined the Maharishi’s following (Melton, 2021). Regarding Vipassana, it has been observed in the United States since the 1960s. Vipassana became more popular with help from renowned teachers such as S.N. Goenka and Sayadaw U Pandita (Levy, 2020).

How the Practice is Done  

 The basic TM practice involves relaxed diaphragm breathing while in a comfortable position. The practitioner tries his best to be more aware of his thoughts without entertaining them. He also mentally repeats a mantra while being conscious of arising sensations. It is suggested for TM practitioners to meditate twice daily for 15-20 minutes (Scott, 2020). Vipassana is a technique of watching each inhale and exhale. As the practitioner becomes more aware of his breathing, his mind gets settled into the present moment. The concentrated breathing may last for 10 to 15 minutes (or more) (Hattangadi, 2020). Moreover, it is important to have effort and precise aim; it is best for the mind to be attentive to the entire process (Pandita, 2020).

Transcendental Meditation vs Vipassana  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Is Transcendental Meditation better than other meditation?

There is no definite answer. Some of the identified benefits of TM in comparison to other forms of meditations include greater physiological rest and a more pronounced positive influence the body and mind. Interestingly, one practitioner stated that any form of meditation is recommended as long as it improves the meditator’s health (Astorino, 2019).

How is Vipassana meditation different?

Vipassana “dictates a blanket command of non-reaction” (Ettenberg, 2016, para. 4). It does not merely focus on awareness and is not particularly keen on using mantras (Kowalski, 2017). 

What is the difference between mantra meditation and transcendental meditation?

According to Pattnaik (2020), transcendental meditation is a kind of mantra meditation. 

Is Transcendental Meditation a rip-off?

What makes TM more expensive as compared to others is that it cannot be merely learned from a video or a printed material. It is taught by a certified teacher in a standardized seven-step course (Runyon, 2021). 

Summary 

  • Transcendental Meditation aims to go beyond usual consciousness and to accomplish stability, relaxation, and non-existence of mental boundaries (Ansorge, 2020). 
  • Vipassana, which literally means “insight” or “clear-seeing”, is a non-sectarian meditation technique which intends to cleanse mental impurities (Levy, 2020).  
  • The Maharishi started his international tour to promote TM in 1958 (Feloni, 2016).
  • Vipassana has been observed in the United States since the 1960s and became more popular with help from renowned teachers such as S.N. Goenka and Sayadaw U Pandita. 
  • TM is a kind of mantra meditation while Vipassana is not so keen on using mantras.  


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[0]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MAEFmZrVcog-transcendental-meditation/

[1]Image credit: https://www.canva.com/photos/MADmtLkO66Y-buddhist-monk-vipassana-meditate-to-calm-the-mind-in-thailand-/

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[9]Levy, J. (2020). What is vipassana meditation? DrAxe. https://draxe.com/health/vipassana-meditation/

[10]Melton, G. (2021). Transcendental meditation. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Transcendental-Meditation

[11]Morin, A. (2021). How to know if zen meditation is right for you. Very well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-zen-meditation-4586721

[12]New World Encyclopedia. Vipassana. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Vipassana

[13]Nunez, K. (2021). The benefits of vipassana meditation and how to get started. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/vipassana-meditation

[14]Pattnaik, C. (2020). Here’s everything you have wanted to know about transcendental meditation. Healthshots. https://www.healthshots.com/mind/happiness-hacks/heres-everything-you-have-wanted-to-know-about-transcendental-meditation/

[15]Runyon, J. (2021). How to learn transcendental meditation. https://how.co/ht/how-to-learn-transcendental-meditation-76310/

[16]Scott, E. (2020). Transcendental meditation and its many benefits. Verywell mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/transcendental-meditation-and-its-many-benefits-4159899

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