"I lost 150 pounds in 4 weeks!" (RESULTS NOT TYPICAL.)
When I look at pro-Transcendental Meditation websites, I often find testimonials of people pleased with the results of TM. Some of these testimonials are deeply moving, even heart-wrenching.
Scientists call testimonials "anecdotal evidence," and it is poor science. That's because while a testimony is suggestive of what may be worth studying, it is far from proof. Testimonials do not take into account that for every one person with a positive experience, there may be many with a neutral or even negative experience. They do not take into account the long-term effects of the product. They do not take into account the subjectivity of the testifier. (Note, for example, the paper about TM commonly called the "German Study," which observes that some TMers extolled the efficacy of TM while ignoring their increased anxiety and depression.) There are many reasons why anecdotal evidence is a poor scientific tool.
But for those of us who were deeply involved in the TM movement, positive opinions about TM may have been the only opinions we heard. After living on a TM course for 1.5 years and hearing only positive testimonials, I came to believe that everyone who learned TM had positive results. And for non-TMers who are looking for ways to improve their lives, these testimonials may seem quite convincing.
"I was always afraid. Now I am peaceful inside - and
I am getting A's." - Student
"For years I was tortured by my memories. Now I have a way out of the darkness." - Former soldier
"I am winning my battle with demons of drugs. Thank
you for this, David Lynch." - Homeless person
(from the davidlynchfoundation.org website.)
I am sorry for these people's suffering, and I am glad they found some relief through TM. But are these results universal? Are they typical? Are they even frequent? Can other modalities accomplish the same or better results more effectively or less expensively?
So to help recovering TMers who may have been mind-controlled into believing that TM is the answer for everybody, and to help non-TMers who are trying to decide if they want to learn TM, here is my own compilation of TM testimonials. And I didn't even solicit or pick over testimonies to find critical ones. They are just quotes or paraphrases from random acquaintances whom I have met over the years:
"When I learned TM, it didn't seem like anything special. There were other types of meditations I had learned that, from the first time I did them, I knew they were a practice I wanted to continue for a long time. I didn't feel that way about TM." - Social worker, 2008.
"When I first learned TM, I thought it was great and wanted to become a TM teacher. Except I felt the organization was too cult-like. Years later I learned to relax using biofeedback, and I couldn't believe the experience. I had never had such deep profound relaxation in my life." - Psychotherapist, 2010
"I was one of those people TM didn't work for." - Lawyer, 2008
"The first three days of TM was fabulous. It got me higher than the recreational drugs I used. But after a few days the high wore off, so I stopped meditating." - College student, 1972
"What results have I gotten from TM? Well, I used to take a nap when I got home from work every day. Now after work I do TM instead of taking a nap. No, no other benefits." - Elementary school teacher, 1974
"When I first started TM, I stopped taking drugs and drinking. But after a few years, I went back to the drugs and alcohol. Years later, I learned a different type of meditation. That got me off substances permanently. Also, TM left me feeling spacey, but the new meditation left me feeling grounded." - Retired secretary, 2008
"I started TM because I was a compulsive gambler and was desperate to stop. I saw the research charts on TMers stopping alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, so I thought maybe it could help me. Four months in, and I'm sorry to report it has done me no good." - Engineer, 1974
Now it's your turn. Would you like to share your TM results, or the results of people you know? Or your experiences with being mislead by TM publicity? Or anything else?