Curious to know the difference between transcendental meditation vs mindfulness?
We often see these terms used interchangeably with little explanation.
In terms of practice and benefits, how does one differ from the other?
Mark Epstein talks about how these two practices relate to psychoanalysis and Buddhist teachings in his book Thoughts Without a Thinker.
You can find a comprehensive review of this book, as well as similar publications on related topics, on Blinkist.
Before we talk about them, allow us to list the different types of meditation first.
- Different Types of Meditation
- Transcendental Meditation vs Mindfulness
- How To Practice Transcendental Meditation
- Thoughts Without a Thinker Book Summary
- Learn More About Meditation Techniques on Blinkist
- Difference Between Meditation and Mindfulness
Different Types of Meditation
There are various meditation styles to suit every individual’s needs.
After all, what works for you may not apply to another person.
Looking at each one closely, you will learn that each style demands a different skillset and mindset.
Let us check some of these styles and see which one is appropriate for you.
1. Spiritual Meditation
Eastern religions, like Taoism, Hinduism, and even the Christian faith, observe spiritual meditation.
It will strip you of all your concepts about yourself and take you to the deepest part of your personality for you to experience peace and joy.
Just like a prayer, you contemplate in silence as you try to connect with God or the universe.
Those who practice spiritual meditation commonly use essential oils, which help enhance the spiritual experience.
You can practice this technique in worship places or even at home.
It is the perfect meditation technique for people seeking spiritual growth.
2. Focused Meditation
Focused meditation is the perfect technique for relieving stress.
Basically, you do it by focusing your attention on a sound, object, or sensation.
Also, as stated in its name, it’s for people who need to enhance their focus in life.
The practice involves using any of your five senses as you try to concentrate on one thing.
In theory, it seems simple and easy, but it can be challenging for beginners.
You need to go back to the task and refocus your attention in case your mind wanders.
3. Movement Meditation
Movement meditation is perfect if you feel energetic.
It includes any gentle forms of motions like yoga, gardening, walking, and the like.
Your movement will guide you through this active form of meditation.
It is suitable for people who like to let their minds wander as they move.
4. Mantra Meditation
A popular technique in Buddhist and Hindu teachings, mantra meditation uses a repetitive sound to help clear your mind.
Some use a phrase, a word, or just the popular “Om” sound. You can make a loud or quiet sound of the mantra.
You will feel more in tune with and alert in your environment as you chant the mantra for several minutes.
Doing this exercise allows you to experience awareness on a deeper level.
Some people enjoy mantra meditation claiming that it’s easier to concentrate on a word than focus their attention on their breathing.
Those who don’t like silence but love repeating sounds would enjoy mantra meditation.
5. Progressive Relaxation
Another method designed to minimize body tension and promote relaxation is progressive relaxation or body scan meditation.
Most of the time, it requires gradual tightening and relaxing of different muscle groups.
Another way of releasing tension is by imagining a gentle wave flowing gently through your body to make you feel calm.
Those who practice this meditation type do so to unwind before bedtime.
6. Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving-kindness or metta meditation strengthens your feelings of acceptance, compassion, and kindness for yourself and others.
This practice requires you to prepare your mind to receive and send love to friends, family, and even acquaintances using mantras.
It is a suitable meditation type for those who have anger and resentment in their hearts.
7. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation from Buddhist teachings is a popular technique in the West.
In this practice, you keep your focus on all the thoughts that are passing through your mind.
You don’t need to do anything or make any judgment as you observe their pattern.
In return, this exercise will enhance your concentration and awareness.
Focusing on your breathing or an object as you observe your feelings, thoughts, or sensation may also help.
This technique is perfect for people who don’t want to participate in a guided meditation setup.
You can use self-help guides to learn the skill of calming your mind and body.
Mindfulness meditation does not require props or special preparation as long as you have a comfortable space and a few minutes of free time.
8. Transcendental Meditation
Another popular meditation technique is transcendental meditation.
Currently, medical researchers are studying the effectiveness of the practice for clinical use.
This technique uses a mantra as specified by the instructor, making it the perfect choice for people who enjoy a structured meditation practice.
It is a technique used for avoiding confusing thoughts while promoting an attitude of relaxed awareness.
Transcendental Meditation vs Mindfulness
These two concepts differ in several aspects, especially their backgrounds. Here are some of their differences.
1. Origin and Practice
Mindfulness came from Buddhist traditions and was introduced to the Western world by author Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Pema Chodron.
You can learn mindfulness meditation by reading self-help books, attending informal meditation classes, or participating in clinical programs.
Basically, it requires active awareness and refocusing of the mind to the present moment.
On the other hand, transcendental meditation came from Vedic tradition, an old Indian religious practice, and is exclusively taught by certified teachers.
It is a well-known form of meditation among celebrities who claim that it provides them with clarity and relaxation.
It is associated with Hinduism and was introduced to the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
This passive and relaxing process requires using a mantra to help the mind go beyond the thought process.
2. Meditation Is Practice; Mindfulness Is Quality
Meditation comes in various types, each one offering a different characteristic and specific practice.
Because of these differences, each type targets a particular area to develop.
First, know what you want to achieve through meditation and then understand what each practice offers.
Mindfulness is a person’s awareness that comes from consciously focusing on the present moment without judgment.
In comparison, meditation is a practice observed by individuals following a specific technique, like focusing on something to develop attention and awareness.
Mindfulness is a method related to yourself and your environment.
Conversely, meditation is a practice to change or improve your state of mind and develop various qualities, including mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation is a meditative practice that helps you live and act with awareness.
3. Meditation Leads to Mindfulness
Meditation is one of many methods or tools for learning mindfulness so that you can live with awareness.
It is one highly effective technique for you to be more aware of your everyday experiences.
4. Mindfulness as an Aspect of Meditation
Mindfulness is a crucial aspect of meditation practice.
The same is true for concentration; after all, the mind tends to wander, making it hard to focus on meditating.
You need to train your mind to focus and concentrate better during meditation to achieve ultimate mindfulness.
How To Practice Transcendental Meditation
If you want to try this technique, the first thing you need to do is look for a certified teacher and enroll in his transcendental meditation classes.
Here’s how they practice transcendental meditation:
Step 1: Pick a comfortable chair to sit on. Put your feet flat on the ground as you rest your hands on your lap. Do not cross your hands and feet.
Step 2: Close your eyes and take several deep breaths to feel relaxed.
Step 3: After those deep breaths, open your eyes again.
You would need to close your eyes for 20 minutes during the meditation.
Step 4: More often than not, the certified teacher would provide you with a Sanskrit mantra sound that you need to repeat.
If you get distracted by a thought, go and repeat the mantra.
Step 5: Do not open your eyes straight away after the 20-minute practice.
Rather, try moving your toes and fingers as you try to go back to the present.
Step 6: Open your eyes and take a few more minutes to rest as you remain seated until you feel fully recovered.
Thoughts Without a Thinker Book Summary
Mark Epstein, the author of Thoughts Without a Thinker, suggests that psychoanalysis and Buddhist teachings and traditions are complementary.
In his book, he states that a person’s viewpoint of what is happening to his life causes emotional suffering.
It is a good thing that people have the option to choose how to respond to their feelings.
Anyone can be happy as long as they know how to accept all their experiences.
He also says that your inflated or deflated sense of self can trigger psychological disorders.
Fortunately, Buddhism teaches you to accept what you are feeling without judgment to minimize suffering.
Learn More About Meditation Techniques on Blinkist
You will find many books on transcendental meditation vs mindfulness in Blinkist, an online platform that offers 15- to 20-minute summaries of non-fiction books.
It also offers a seven-day free trial for those who want to explore the platform for their favorite subjects.
Blinkist has more than 4,500 titles in varying book categories for you to check for your next reading.
Difference Between Meditation and Mindfulness
Even though transcendental meditation and mindfulness are different, their benefits complement each other.
These are two popular meditation techniques you can try to practice.
Additionally, you can also explore other methods that will suit your needs.
You just need to be consistent with your practice until it becomes a habit.