Transcendental Meditation (or TM) is a technique for gaining deep rest that brings balance to the body and mind. Benefits are gained through the natural self-healing processes that are enlivened by release of stress through transcending, or practicing the technique.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (MMY), born in India in 1917, brought Transcendental Meditation to the United States. As a young man he earned a degree in physics from Allahabad University, then studied under former Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, better known as Guru Dev, which means "divine teacher." After Guru Dev's death in 1953, Maharishi became a reclusive monk before returning to the cities to begin teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique in 1955. In 1957 he announced plans to spread it to the world. It quietly gained popularity throughout the 60s and 70s when personalities such as Mia Farrow, The Beatles and others visited India to meet Maharishi and learn Transcendental Meditation.
A non-profit organization was founded referred to as The Movement and practitioners of Transcendental Meditation were instructed by MMY in the Science of Creative Intelligence to become teachers of the technique. Transcendental Meditation has been thriving ever since with practitioners worldwide from every walk of life and religious background.
The most unique thing about Transcendental Meditation is that it is the only meditation technique that has over 500 independent scientific studies supporting its claims. These studies were carried out at over 200 independent universities and research institutes in 33 countries regarding various benefits of the technique, and results have been published in more than 100 respected scientific journals. Examples include Scientific American, the International Journal of Neuroscience, Science, the American Journal of Physiology, the American Journal of Cardiology, the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, and the British Journal of Educational Psychology.
One of the strengths of Transcendental Meditation is that it does not involve a belief system of any kind. In fact people who don't believe that Transcendental Meditation will work are encouraged to try it. The key to its success is in effortlessly creating a state of restful alertness where the mind and body are in a very deep state of rest but completely aware. Through scientific charting of brainwave activity it was found this state represents a fourth state of consciousness, different in quality from sleep, waking or dreaming states of consciousness. It is believed that through this state of consciousness, the body is replenished and a wide variety of health benefits are naturally derived.
Some people believe in what is dubbed "the Maharishi Effect" — when 1% of a localized population is practicing Transcendental Meditation, the quality of life improves in the entire community, indicated by reduced crime and sickness. This is something Maharishi himself predicted as far back as the 1970s.
In 1971 Maharishi founded the accredited university, Maharishi International University (MIU) of Fairfield Iowa, for "Consciousness-Based Education." He also founded Maharishi Open University among other institutions. He revitalized interest in Ayurvedic medicine and, until his death on 5 February 2008, remained focused on helping to create world peace by establishing large groups of people practicing Transcendental Meditation together in various parts of the world.