Since starting my youtube channel, the question I have received the most is whether I recommend doing the TM course.
It is the only possible way to learn Transcendental Meditation because this is not just a meditation technique but a heavily trademarked practice.
Although it is an ancient Vedic meditation technique that is simple to learn and simple to practice, it can only be taught by that organization, with "official teachers".
There are many meditation techniques. I don't think that one is better than another; they are just different, for different people. The one you should choose depends on your goals and your sensitivity. I do a mix of many different ones, including the one I teach on youtube and the podcast, vibrational meditation for transcendence. I find it fascinating that TM is the only one that is trademarked and that we are not allowed to even talk about, or so they say...
I did the course in 2018.
Although I don't regret doing it, I would not do it again, recommend anyone from doing it. If I had more information about the course and the organization back then, I would not have done it in the first place. They make it as hard as possible for people to share their thoughts and opinions about the course.
The only reason I don't regret spending all that money on the course (depending on where you do it, it cost approximately 1000 to 2000 dollars) is that I was going through rough waters in my personal life. It forced me to sit down twice for 20 minutes a day, which allowed me to clear my head and take some extra mini nap like rests.
Before I give you all the reasons, I think you should avoid the Transcendental Meditation course at all costs. Even if money is not an issue, it is irrelevant to the price. They are a business (although they are a non-profit, with the mission to spread meditation worldwide (hmm hmm... we'll talk about that fantastic piece of hypocrisy)).
As a business, they are allowed to price their courses in the way that they desire. It is like this for any business or service, and this is no different. However, as we will see in this article, there is more to just pricing in the equation...
1 - The trademark problem.
The first issue that I have with the TM organization is how they have trademarked an ancient practice so that they get the monopoly of every practice, even different techniques that use the words "transcendental, transcendence", which is ridiculous. I know this first hand, as the organization has been harassing me for years for teaching my techniques in vibrational meditation, as I use the words transcendence and meditation.
Having done some research, I realized that I was not the first to get harassed by their organization for trademark infringement when it comes to meditation practices related to what TM is doing.
Being a company that creates revenues in the tens of millions of dollars a year, it is easy for them to eliminate all competition. But, the craziest part here is that they claim to be a non-profit organization that wants to change the world by spreading meditation accords the world.
What they really want to do, and they have proved it with their actions, is more like making sure they are the only ones able to teach mantra-based meditation, putting forward the picture of their guru (that is a bit cult-ish, I'll talk about that later).
The trademark issue poses a real ethical problem. So for that only, I would not want to be associated with the TM organization, and I would avoid the course.
2 - The secret mantra is generic and impersonal.
When I first heard about transcendental meditation, it was on the Tim Ferriss show. I remember a discussion precisely on the secret mantra, and how you get it from the teacher, and how it is personal, and you should never speak of it, ever. I also remember being sold because the secret mantra that is personal to you is a big reason for the price of the course being so high.
I don't care about getting a tailored mantra, and I don't believe that a word can be a magic pill, something magic, or anything like that. But when you pay such a sum of money for a meditation course, and you are made to believe that you get a word for you to meditate and for you only, it's kind of a perk you take seriously.
When you take the course, you have to fill in many forms every day of the course. They gather an enormous amount of private information on you; we will talk about that later. When I went there on my first day, as I brought the flowers, fruits and white handkerchief that you have to bring, we sat in the kitchen of the rented place for the course (without giving up the location, it was in one of the most expensive neighbourhoods, not only in the city or country, but on the continent, but I digress.)
The teacher was asking me a lot of personal questions. I believed that this was to learn more about me, customize the lesson to my character, personality, and give me the appropriate mantra.
That was all fake, though. As I later found out, the mantras given are the same for everyone in a fork of birth years. It has nothing to do with you, and it is anything BUT personal. If you are born between the year of x and y, you get that mantra. When I was told about this, I didn't believe it.
So I looked at the list (you can easily google it and find it) and searched for my year of birth. There was the exact mantra the teacher gave me during the initiation ceremony.
When I think about this, I don't care so much, but I do feel cheated. I don't know what is done with my personal information. Still, I know it was not to enhance the quality of my experience.
There is much more that I would like to write about to express my sentiments on the transcendental organization and why I don't recommend you doing the course. Still, this article is getting long already. So I will have to write many more articles on that subject, which I promise I will.
Before I press enter and publish, though, there are two last things I need to talk about
The first thing, of course, is the four days course itself, and the second is the alternative for you to learn to meditate and other practices that are just as efficient, if not more.
3 - The four days course
The course starts... before the course starts.
Before you sign up, they recommend that you take the introduction session, which is just like those introductions you get at the army for you to join.
A colossal marketing package explains that you have to do this course if this is the last thing you do. Furthermore, they explain that this is the only effective meditation technique (it's not) and that you can only learn it with them (well, that's true because of the trademarks, but you can learn mantra-based or Vedic meditation in many other ways.)
If you sign up, and yes, I signed up and paid (I was pretty vulnerable at the time, going through a rough time), then you get to do the four days course (although it is more 1 initiation hour, 2 x 3 hours of talk and 1 extra marketing day) The whole course process will have to be in a later article (make sure you sign up to the newsletter or subscribe on my medium page!)
Like every course you take, you are bound to be with different people; sometimes you are lucky, and sometimes... less fortunate. Unfortunately, I was not so lucky. Two girls accompanied me. One of them was doing the course because her parents did it and sent her to it. She didn't pay for it, not care much, so she was late at every session, which disrupted the flow of the lessons a lot. She also came in in the middle of one of our meditations, which was annoying. As I said, this is not the fault of the course, but this does happen.
The last day of the course is mainly about how you can pay more, in retreats, or learning to levitate —another half-day of marketing material.
4 - Alternatives
There are many alternatives for learning meditation without having to partake in the organization. Truthfully, there are no meditation techniques that are better or worst. It all depends on your situation, your character and your personality. If you want to learn meditation that is specific for entering a transcendental state of consciousness, there are alternatives. You can search for mantra-based mediation, or you can also look for (non-TM org related) Vedic meditation.
Simply sitting down for a few minutes and observing your breath for a few minutes a day is hugely beneficial, too.