The more the mind can have the experience of coming “home”, the more we can be ourselves 24/7
Many wise teachers throughout history taught the same lesson about success in life: “Know your Self” or “Be yourself”. We will see that both actually mean the same thing. In practice, however, the application of this lesson is less easy: a considerable number of people can go through their entire lives without ever having the experience of knowing themselves.
What does it mean to know your Self, to be yourself?
In our daily life our attention is always focused on something other than ourselves, on something we see, hear, feel, or think. From the moment we wake up in the morning until the time we fall asleep at night, we are on a continuous train of thought and experience, without ever taking the time to just be with ourselves. So, as the diagram shows, the one who knows (I am), never knows himself.
Then how can the knower know himself? By bringing the attention inwards, instead of outwards.
The mind will go inward when there is nothing to draw the mind’s attention outward. This means no perception, nothing we do, no thoughts, just a state of pure “being”, being yourself. Knowing yourself is the same as being yourself.
But how can we get to this state? It’s easy to see or do nothing, you just sit down with your eyes closed. But to think nothing? Anyone who’s ever tried to think nothing knows it’s very difficult, because the more you try not to think, the more you are thinking!
This is where the concept of meditation got off track, when people started trying to get to this state.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is a rediscovery of an ancient technique that involved a completely natural process. With the proper technique and the proper guidance, people don’t have to try to get the experience; the mind will go there by itself, completely naturally, completely spontaneously, because it wants nothing more than to go there. For the mind this is the state of “coming home”. (See How did Maharishi discover the TM technique.) The fact that TM is easy and effortless isn’t just a pleasant side effect, it is the only efficient way to experience that state of pure being.
Maharishi’s whole teaching was in essence that true meditation is exactly the opposite of what people today understand “meditation” to be about—some form of concentrating or controlling the mind. If we make even the slightest effort, as most concentration techniques require, we are only keeping the mind active, and then it actually prevents the mind from transcending the finest level of thought and experiencing that pure silence.
A certified TM teacher, on the other hand, can guide any person to this state of transcending, and teach the person to let the mind return there by itself, completely naturally, effortlessly, and spontaneously.
What is the effect of frequent repetition of this experience?
If we frequently repeat the experience of being ourselves through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, then the mind will habituate itself to this experience, even when we engage in our daily activity. We will experience “restful alertness” even in dynamic activity. Then we will remain ourselves in all possible circumstances.
Being yourself is like a tree with deep roots and a big trunk. No matter how hard the wind blows, the tree is unmoved. It is not difficult to see how this will lead to success in all areas of life. People who are themselves remain calm, even in difficult situations, and experience much less stress, which greatly benefits their health. They are never overshadowed by circumstances and quickly find creative solutions to problems. (Stress blocks creativity; being yourself allows it to flourish). Being yourself naturally and spontaneously arises from practising TM. No mood is made. Then individuals have more self-confidence, fewer conflicts, and far better relationships. All areas of life improve. (See success.) Moreover, meditators radiate positivity, and other people feel that they can also be more themselves around them.
Being yourself, objectively measured.
Regular TM practice increases self-actualization to a unique degree
It’s fairly easy to objectively measure to what extent people can be themselves, through self-actualization tests.
So far the general knowledge in psychology has been that self-actualization stops developing around adolescence, along with other intellectual capacities. However when people start practising the TM technique, self-actualization dramatically increases, independent of age.
This study is a meta-analysis of all research ever carried out on self-actualization with different kinds of meditation techniques. (42 research studies in total) All other forms of meditation had a very small effect (= little increase of self-actualization). The average effect of 18 Transcendental Meditation research studies, however, showed an increase that was 3 to 4 times stronger. (For more information about this research, see self-actualization). This is the difference between mere relaxation, other forms of self-development, and true transcending.
Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who first developed the concept of self-actualization, estimated that only 1–2% of the general population could ever hope to be fully self-actualized. Yet he did descibe how some people sometimes had “peak experiences”, which could result in growth of self-actualisation. Now it seems there is a systematic way to develop these peak experiences. (The description of experiences of transcending matches the description of Maslow’s peak experiences closely.)
But being yourself is only a small part of the story. It’s only when we are really ourself that we can discover our deepest nature, our essential unity with our higher Self, the source of all life, something much bigger than our small individuality. (see transcending = Highest human experience)