What is transcending? Why is transcending important?

As you continue on with your daily practice of meditation, benefits increase. We naturally become more and more familiar with the natural, effortless process of going inward, beyond thought, tapping one’s inner reserves of creativity, intelligence and well-being. This experience is described by the ancients as “transcending” and is the primary cause of the holistic, positive effects of the TSM technique—that is, experiencing pure consciousness, the silent field of pure awareness at the source of thought.

A Meditation Student describes the experience of reaching pure consciousness:

I was meditating one late afternoon when I began to settle down much more deeply than usual. As I became more and more still, all thoughts and feelings settled and I was left in a deep quietness. All familiar boundaries that defined where I was and what time it was, and even who I was, began to fade from awareness and dissolve altogether. I was still awake and yet all that remained was my own wakefulness. . . . There was nothing else. No trace of thought or memory entered into my awareness; even the sense of my body and its position in space had vanished. It's not that I missed these things. It simply did not enter my awareness to miss them or not to miss them.

For an indefinitely long time I remained in that state of perfectly simple wakefulness. How long I could not have guessed, for there was no measure in my awareness by which to judge the passage of time. Then, slowly, the world began to be reconstituted around me. At first some faint sensation of my body and surroundings returned; then some sense of where I was and what time it was; then some sense of my person, my projects, engagements, relations, and all those forms of awareness that make up the sense of our everyday world. The world returned to me and was organized and constructed into all the layers of awareness that make up our sense of reality. I was left with a sense of refreshment, of having drunk deeply the blissful nectar of a timeless far away realm of Being. At that moment, my whole body and mind experienced a rush of blissful joy and well being.

During the practice of the Transcendental Stress Management technique, as the mind spontaneously settles inward and mental activity subsides, wakefulness increases. The mind comes to a state of perfect rest, but remains awake in its state of maximum comprehension: the silent state of pure, transcendental consciousness—a reservoir of unlimited energy, happiness and creative intelligence. This is transcending—the experience of the fourth state of consciousness.

Many scientists call what happens during mantra-based meditation practice the experience of a fourth state of consciousness, a state of restful alertness, unlike waking, sleeping or dreaming. This fourth state, sometimes called transcendental consciousness, has it’s own physiological style of functioning—slower breath rate, reduced stress hormones, more orderly brainwaves. We know that experiencing this fourth state of consciousness for twenty minutes twice a day through a mantra-based technique like TSM leads to a wide range of health benefits.

Everyone knows what happens when a person is deprived of sleep. Researchers have found that the regular experience of the dreaming state is vital and necessary for balance and mental health. Without it individuals suffer and display hallucinations and mental imbalances. Deep sleep is necessary to release fatigue and recover from wear and tear to the system. What is the result of omitting regular contact with the fourth state, transcendental consciousness? What results is the widespread conditions of anxiety, hypertension and general ill health that are seen every day by physicians, and which costs America billions every year in the treatment of stress-related diseases and behavioral disorders. Many doctors wholeheartedly endorse the Transcendental Stress Management program. There’s an epidemic of stress in the world. This is what happens when the restorative experience of the fourth state of consciousness is excluded from daily life.

The fourth state, physiology and the brain

The fourth state of consciousness experienced during practice of the Transcendental Stress Management technique is a much deeper state of relaxation than rest gained during other types of meditation practices. Most of them keep the mind actively attentive in common waking state, depriving the mind and body of deep, silent rest. However, the fourth state has a unique brainwave pattern, distinct from ordinary waking: high levels of EEG brainwave coherence are seen throughout the entire brain, indicating more holistic and balanced brain functioning. Such high EEG coherence in all areas of the brain can be commonly found during the meditation practice of Transcendental Stress Management.

Aren't all forms of meditation capable of providing transcendence?

Not necessarily: The majority of the meditation practices available today engage the mind in many different ways. Any mental activity—whether concentrating, contemplating or visualizing; trying to control the mind or let it go; aiming to focus or "unfocus;" trying to sit without judgment or dispassionately observe; silently chanting a mantra; watching the breath or one's thought processes, or even aiming to just sit and do nothing—all of this keeps the mind engaged, usually on the gross, surface level of the individual’s thought processes—and all of this is very different from TSM practice. Even to "sit without purpose", as some forms of meditation urge, is a purpose in itself and gives the mind a general, outward orientation. All such practices may achieve certain ends and benefits, but none of these methods are a direct means to transcend mental activity and experience the state of pure awareness.

Of course, because transcending is a natural, universal process and we’re all hardwired for it, it’s possible for someone to transcend—to one degree or another—even while just relaxing; however, when transcending happens, it’s due to the natural tendency of the mind and our innate ability to transcend—there’s nothing one can do to get to the transcendental state, which is universally described as a state of pure being or non-doing.

The Transcendental Stress Management technique allows one to spontaneously and automatically go beyond the gross, surface levels of thinking and transcend all mental activity. TSM practice is not a process that takes a long time to master, because it's based on a natural tendency of the nervous system that everyone already possesses: the ability to experience the fourth state of consciousness.

Meditation practices such as mindfulness, the Relaxation Response, "Christian centering prayer" or some common "mantra" meditation typically engage the mind on the more gross, surface levels of thinking. This tends to keep the mind active in ordinary waking consciousness and does not effectively promote transcending. The Transcendental Stress Management technique allows the mind to spontaneously settle inward and experience finer stages in the development of the thinking process, until one arrives at the source of thought—the state of pure awareness.

Those who meditate, they retire from the outside, they take their awareness from the outside and gradually go deep into the thinking process and eventually go beyond the thought. Transcend thought and then the thinking mind, the conscious mind becomes consciousness. When it goes beyond thought then it transcends thought and becomes consciousness. This consciousness is pure consciousness. The nature of this pure consciousness is bliss--the Absolute. This is called Being
- Meditation Teacher Training, Mallorca, Spain
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