Tuesday, February 19, 2019

OOPS! New York Times promotes cultic Transcendental Meditation

On February 12, 2019, Marisa Meltzer, NYT's Wellness Columnist's article describing Transcendental Meditation could have been a purchased advertisement by the organization. She describes the meditation as a 20-minute exercise that could be performed anywhere (click here to read the article), but does not question anything about the method or organization, accepting all as promoted.

While the writer seems to enjoy the twice daily rest, she fails to review the cultic aspects of the larger organization. She does not mention upselling to further courses, TM-Sidhis' mystical so-called powers, Ayurvedic therapies, gemstones, architecture, nor an elaborate global network of businesses, people, and finances.

The article unintentionally describes the early stages of succumbing to cultic influence. After listing a host of celebrity promoters of TM, she wonders "Could TM give me the artistic vision of George Harrison?"

Describing TM's private instruction, she describes the small room with a puja ritual, an altar with fruit and flowers, kneeling to a Sanskrit chant, as if none of this would be in conflict with a so-called "scientific technique". She was sworn not to divulge her secret two-syllable mantra. She does not. 

She mentions follow-up sessions, checking of meditation, an old video of Maharishi, then continues to meditate on her own at home. The TM office is described as simple, "lacks the decor of some of today's buzzy wellness clinics. Instead there's a staff that seems genuinely devoted to teaching and will hold your hand through the learning process." The current cost of learning TM, "based on a sliding scale of income, from $500 to $960 for the course. There are discounts and scholarships for students, veterans, domestic abuse survivors and other populations."

Sounds harmless enough.

This piece promoting Transcendental Meditation exposes the author already beginning to ignore her critical thinking. The piece normalizes secretiveness of TM's mantra, kneeling before an altar during a Sanskrit chant to learn a supposedly scientific practice. There is no information about the organization or its many controversies. 

The concluding description of her meditation experience is no different from merely day dreaming or taking a walk twice daily, "but letting them (thoughts) just happen and not act on them for 20 minutes has given me some perspective for the rest of my day. What if I let more of my thoughts just sort of travel in and out without taking the time to obsess over them?"

So, why not just daydream twice daily or take a walk without the expense and cultic allure of Transcendental Meditation?

Perhaps Maharishi was correct that charging people to learn Transcendental Meditation would assure their continued practice and involvement, and willingness to promote.

I'll take a walk.

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