People come up to me all the time and say things like, “when I walk or go jogging, or when I am sitting on the beach looking out over the ocean, that is my meditation”. Just yesterday I was in a shop where the owner hand paints pillows. She said to me, “painting on pillows is my meditation”. Naturally, people often say that praying is their form of meditation. Praying, walking, golfing, being in nature, sitting on the beach, etc., all provide a quiet time for reflection. After all, meditate means to think.
We all need time for quiet reflection, whether we are a businessman or woman or a housewife at home. Quiet reflection helps to give us perspective in dealing with any of life’s situations and in finding solutions to problems.
The Difference Between Meditating and Transcending
There is a big difference, however, between quiet reflection, enjoying the beauty of nature, and praying, compared to the experience of transcending. Transcending means to go beyond. When we practice the meditation technique of Transcendental Meditation, we are going beyond the surface level of our thinking process where all thinking, even quiet reflection, takes place. We transcend all thought and experience a state of no thought—the field pure consciousness, Being or transcendence.
Transcendence—A Major Fourth State of Consciousness
Scientists have documented the state of transcendence as a major fourth state of consciousness, completely different from sleeping, dreaming and the waking state— the state where quiet reflection takes place.
A comparison of 31 previously conducted studies showed that the experience of Transcendental Consciousness (as experienced during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique) produced a level of physical rest deeper than eyes-closed resting. One indication of this state of deep rest is reduced basal skin conductance, which shows a deep state of relaxation. Another is a decrease in respiratory and plasma lactate rate, a chemical that is a by-product of stress.
An important point to note is that these physiological changes occur spontaneously as the mind effortlessly settles to Transcendental Consciousness—a state of inner peace. In addition, this state of peace is not only a settled, quiet state, but it is a type of relaxation completely different from sleep.
During the sleep state, the mind loses awareness altogether. During the experience of transcendental consciousness, the body rests deeply and at the same time the mind is more alert. The brain wave patterns differ markedly from waking, dreaming, and sleep as indicated by alpha brain wave coherence. Thus, Transcendental Consciousness is sometimes termed by researchers a state of restful alertness.
Water the Root to Enjoy the Fruit.
People who practice Transcendental Meditation report that their experience of walking in nature, painting, playing music, being in church—their times for quiet reflection—are so much richer. They notice that they are much more alert to the beauty around them and are spontaneously enjoying the present moment.
Adding the experience of transcendence to one’s daily routine through a technique like Transcendental Meditation will enrich all aspects of life. It is like watering the root to enjoy the fruit!