ENLIGHTENMENT

 

Development of Our Full Potential

How often do you have a great day? How do you feel? Maybe you notice more peacefulness and inner silence that brings balance to the activity of your day. Or a feeling of more connectedness to the people and things around you. Or a greater appreciation of the beauty and wonder of your world. Or maybe a stressful situation just doesn’t affect you as much. What would life be like if we could have more and more great days?

Most of us are looking for some specific benefit from the TM technique when we learn the practice. Maybe we are seeking to gain relief from stress and anxiety, lower our blood pressure, or sleep better at night. Or perhaps we want to improve our ability to solve problems and increase our creativity, or have more energy during the day and more success in our work, or improve our relationships.

Even from the first day of learning the TM technique, people commonly report such experiences as: “It left me with a deep sense of ease, inner renewal, and happiness” and “I felt a quality of contentment and peace that I had never known before.”

People all around the world find that life begins to change and improve and that the results of the TM practice are cumulative. The following excerpt of an interview with Maharishi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, indicates the value of practicing TM and reducing stress on a daily basis to bring about a growing inner silence and peacefulness for greater balance and improvement in our lives.

Maharishi Speaks About Enlightenment—the Goal of Meditation

(excerpts from an interview)

maharishiMaharishi: “The goal of the Transcendental Meditation technique is the state of enlightenment. This means we experience that inner calmness, that quiet state of least excitation, even when we are dynamically busy.”

Is it necessary to dissolve stress to experience the state of enlightenment?

Maharishi: “Yes. And it brings very practical value to life. Even if we forget about ‘enlightenment’ for a moment—maybe that state seems to be inconceivable—still it is our daily experience that the whole value of life is very little if we are tired, if we are stressed.

“If we think of a morning when we have not rested well in the night, then we feel so groggy and everything just collapses into dullness and inertia. The world is the same as on the other days, but our appreciation of the world is so much less.”

“And with the Transcendental Meditation technique we have a natural and effective means to dissolve even deeply rooted fatigue and stress. This is the way to unfold full value of life.

“Even in the first days of meditation we find that our eyes seem to be a little more open, our mind seems a bit more clear. Our feeling towards our friends seems to be more harmonious.

“And then, as the practice continues every day, a time will come when we will start living life free from all stresses. We cleanse the awareness of all stresses and strains, leaving the conscious mind completely free in its pure value.”

“Enlightenment is the normal, natural state of health for the body and mind. It results from the full development of consciousness and depends upon the perfect and harmonious functioning of every part of the body and nervous system. When one is using the full potential of the mind and body in this way, every thought and action is spontaneously correct and life-supporting. This is life free from suffering, life lived in its full stature and significance.” —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Transcendental Consciousness—the Basis for Development of Higher States of Consciousness

There are three states of consciousness that we all know about: waking, dreaming and sleeping. Every 24 hours we travel among these three distinctly different states of consciousness, which are like three different worlds. That is because our physiology and experience changes so significantly as we move from one state to the other.

    • In deep sleep, the least awakened state of consciousness, we have no experience, no self, no world. Deep sleep brings complete mental inertia.
    • The dream state brings some degree of wakefulness—but the dream world is illusory. Anything can happen. Knowledge in this state is unpredictable, unreliable.
    • In the waking state, the most wakeful of these three, we perceive our familiar world of people and things.

A scientist who studies human physiology could be in one room and study a person in another room and determine which state of consciousness this person was experiencing simply by reading output data from experiment instruments. They could determine when the person woke up, fell asleep and began to dream.

Scientists who study the benefits of TM have found that the physiological changes that occur during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, when the mind is allowed to effortlessly settle down to a state of deep inner quiet, are uniquely different from waking, dreaming, and sleep states of consciousness. These unique changes include:

      • Reductions in breath rate > indicating very deep rest
      • Reduced blood lactate > indicating less anxiety and tension
      • Significant increases in basal skin resistance > indicating increased muscle relaxation
      • Changes in EEG (electroencephalogram), which detects electrical activity in the brain > indicating improved brain functioning
      • Decreased plasma cortisol > indicating decreased stress hormone
      • Increased muscle respiration > indicating muscle relaxation
      • Increased blood flow to the brain > indicating more orderly brain functioning
      • Increased EEG coherence > indicating holistic brain functioning

*References

Because these changes in the physiology are distinctly unique as compared to waking, dreaming, and sleep states of consciousness, this state that is experienced during the TM practice is considered to be a 4th state of consciousness called ‘Transcendental Consciousness’.

When our mind ‘transcends’ the thinking process during TM it goes beyond thinking to experience the source of thought or ‘pure consciousness’—a state of deep inner silence, unlimited energy, creativity, and intelligence. In this state one is not conscious of this or that thing as in waking state of consciousness, one is not asleep with no conscious awareness of anything, and one is not experiencing the illusory dream state of consciousness.

Transcendental Consciousness is characterized as a state of ‘restful alertness’ where the mind and body are deeply rested, yet at the same time the mind remains profoundly alert.

Maharishi described it this way:

“In the quiet state the mind and the nervous system are alertly poised like the arrow drawn fully back upon the bow; they are without activity, but the entire system is alert in stillness. At the same time, all the mechanisms of the body are acutely balanced and steady. It is this restful alertness of the nervous system that is its most healthy state and is the basis of all energy and action.” (Science of Being and Art of Living, p. 190, 2001.)

Research shows that in Transcendental Consciousness, our brain becomes highly orderly or coherent in the wavelength Alpha 1 region, which indicates deep rest together with alertness. Plus, the deep level of rest allows our body to release accumulated stress. This is why, after meditation, we return to activity with a more settled mind, increased energy and vitality, and a feeling of inner peace.

Development of Our Full Potential: Higher States of Consciousness

The value of experiencing Transcendental Consciousness during the TM practice is that we begin to bring this restful state and more coherent functioning of the brain out into our action. In fact, it is our activity during the day that stabilizes and brings out the inner silence we experience during our TM practice. We close our eyes and meditate, and then bring the freshness and revitalization of this experience to our daily activity.

Many new TM students notice that they do begin to feel calmer, more settled, and less reactive, even during the beginning four days of their TM course. This is the first taste of the development of higher states of consciousness.

With regular practice of the TM technique we begin to develop a cushion of inner silence that we carry with us throughout the day.The unique experience of Transcendental Consciousness—inner wakefulness, calm and peace, supported by the unique physiological functioning during TM practice—starts to illuminate and enrich all experience in life, whether we are experiencing waking, dreaming or sleep states of consciousness.

Enlightenment is an enriched yet most natural state of consciousness, and the key to growth of higher states of consciousness is regularity of TM practice alternated with activity. Just like cultivating and mastering a musical instrument, or the development of any skill in life—cultivation of higher states of consciousness comes naturally and gradually through practice of the TM technique. Benefits of the TM practice start from the beginning of the practice and continue to grow more and more each day.

We all have the ability to transcend, and
we all have the ability to develop our consciousness.

No matter what benefit we were seeking when we learned TM, we also set out on the path of developing our consciousness. And every benefit we gain from our daily TM practice moves us one step closer to higher states of consciousness.

How do we live our full potential? Learn the TM technique, practice it regularly, and then go out and live life to the fullest.

As Maharishi said: “Meditate and enjoy.”

*References:
Scientific American 1972; 226-90; Science 1970, 167:1751-1754
American Journal of Physiology 235: R89–R92, 1978
International Journal of Neuroscience 14: 147–151, 1981
Hormones and Behavior 10: 54–60, 1978
Journal of Applied Physiology 56: 607–612, 1984
Physiology & Behavior 35: 591–595, 1985
American Journal of Physiology 235: R89–R92, 1978
International Journal of Neuroscience 14: 147–151, 1981
Hormones and Behavior 10: 54–60, 1978
Journal of Applied Physiology 56: 607–612, 1984
Physiology & Behavior 35: 591–595, 1985