Ayurveda is a consciousness-based healing system. It’s rooted in the knowledge of a unified reality, also known as pure consciousness, which is the foundation of mind and matter. When the self, or “atma”, is connected to this reality on the physical levels of mind, body and the senses, true health exists. Both yoga and Ayurveda view consciousness as primary and matter as secondary, and both recommend meditation as a way to foster this coordination and invite health and bliss. Transcendental meditation ™ is the type of meditation that’s backed up with the most scientific research into its ability to deepen the state of your consciousness.
Transcendental meditation was introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and became particularly popular in the West when the Beatles travelled to the Indian Himalayas in 1968 to meet Mahesh Yogi and learn to practice TM. It consists of effortlessly repeating a mantra – given to you by an established practitioner to meet your individual needs – for 20 minutes, twice every day. The mantras originate from the Vedic traditions of India and are different for everyone.
To date, there have been more 600 published studies outlining the numerous health benefits of TM. They include reduced blood pressure, heart failure rate, risk of obesity, diabetes and hypertension, increased brain activity and longevity, and regulated hormone levels. But the main benefit is the possibility of achieving transcendence.
Modern science identifies three main states of consciousness: waking, sleeping and dreaming. Research begun in the 1970s by Robert Wallace, a pioneer researcher on TM, and his colleagues suggests there’s one more state: transcendental consciousness or “samadhi”. This fourth state of consciousness is described as the settling of the mind, whereby “the mind transcends the activity of thought and sense-perception and identifies with the silent, non-changing, unified level of atma – universal self”. In order to reach the higher states of consciousness, such as cosmic consciousness, it’s necessary to practice transcendental consciousness and alternate it regularly with the other three states (waking, sleeping and dreaming).
People often describe the experience of transcendental consciousness as like the exhilarating feeling of falling in love or rising into the sky. It fills you with compassion and joy at being alive. The fact that TM – which alters your consciousness – has so many health benefits confirms the theory, at the heart of yoga and Ayurveda, that consciousness is primary and matter is secondary. Any treatment of disease and restoration of health and balance should first be addressed by settling the mind and finding peace in the notion that we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves.