What is "TM" How does it work? (short version)
In a single phrase, TM is just trance combined with suggestion. You are told that your mental activity will become reduced and that you will experience deep relaxation. Then the TM teacher induces a trance in you, in which you merely act out those suggestions.
The TM teacher also teaches you how to induce trance in yourself and thus attain trance-induced relaxation on your own. It's nothing that a nightclub hypnotist or a medical therapeutic hypnotist couldn't accomplish (don't fall for TM research claims to the contrary), although the TM trance induction scripts in fact prove to be very powerful at inducing trance in some people.
How does TM work?
The basic meditation course is a 6-session trance induction exercise combined with many implanted suggestions. TM "works" only if you are susceptible to the particular method of trance induction used by the TM teacher, and if you are also amenable to the suggestions that he will offer to you that are to be enacted in trance. Additionally, if you are one of the people who are also still susceptible to suggestion immediately after a trance, you may also fall vulnerable to TM spiritual indoctrination and to recruitment into advanced TM practices.
You are first required to attend two "introductory lectures." These lectures serve to implant two important suggestions in the mind of the student:
- The first suggestion that is implanted is: "my TM teacher is an authority figure." This is very important if the TM teacher is to plant further suggestions and induce trance in you.
- The second suggestion that is implanted is this: "TM will reduce my mental activity, resulting in deep relaxation." This is important because otherwise you wouldn't know what was expected of you upon entering trance.
Then a few days later you have your "personal instruction" in TM. This involves a trance inducing ceremony (called "the puja" by TM teachers), which is followed immediately by the trance inducing and suggestion rich "imparting of the mantra procedure." Together these constitute a powerful "trance induction script" called "The Steps of Initiation" which the teacher has carefully memorized over a period of months while being trained as a TM teacher.
The precise memorization of the various trance induction scripts used in "teaching TM" is in fact the major task involved in becoming a TM teacher. (The deliberately mysterious process of "learning how to select a mantra that is life-supporting for each individual" literally takes about 60 seconds.)
Once in trance, the student in fact acts out the suggestion that his mental activity should become reduced and that he should become relaxed. Again, this is nothing that a nightclub hypnotist or a medical therapeutic hypnotist could not accomplish if they found a trance induction method that proved effective on you.
Another effect of the "Steps of Initiation" trance induction script is to teach the student how to place himself in a trance at home, without the aid of the teacher, via the mantra. The same suggestions are still in effect, i.e. that mental activity should be reduced and that the student should become deeply relaxed when in trance.
At each of the three subsequent group meetings another trance induction script, called the "group checking procedure", is used to place the students again in trance. Indoctrination in TM religious dogma immediately follows. This indoctrination always occurs immediately after the students come out of trance, when some of the students in the group are still in a highly suggestible state with critical reasoning facilities seriously impaired.
At the last of these meetings, the teacher then plants a new suggestion. This suggestion is that the students can eliminate literally all personal suffering by merely practicing TM for "twenty minutes twice a day." This sets the student up for what I call the "fall down the TM rabbit hole", in which they are subsequently led to believe that they need ever more TM courses, products, and services.
Please note that I do not mean to imply that TM teachers know that they are using trance induction and suggestion on you. They have already fallen far down the rabbit hole themselves. They actually do believe that they are teaching you a newly revived but truly ancient Hindu spiritual technique. They believe Mahesh. They do everything the way they do it because they have been told by Mahesh exactly how to do it, and have been told never to deviate from their instructions. They almost certainly believe everything they have been telling you, with perhaps some mental reservations. Remember, these techniques were used on them before they learned how to use them on you.
Mahesh's instruction to the TM teachers to never deviate from procedure is rigid enough that the "Steps of Initiation" trance induction script is memorized and recited to you by rote. So is the "group checking procedure" trance induction script which was used on you at the three group meetings. So is the "individual checking procedure" trance induction script that is used if you come back any time after the three days of instruction to have your meditation "checked."
That was the "short version" of
how TM works. I will next give you a more detailed