Transcendental Meditation — The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Transcendental Meditation — The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal


December, 2012. Five strangers meet in one of the old brick houses on Superior Street of Duluth, Minnesota. It’s awkward and energizing at once. We make introductions, then, we dive right in to instruction. We’re learning how to meditate in the Transcendental Meditation style, born in India and popularized by the Beatles in the 1960s. Apparently, Transcendental Meditation, or TM, was once a quite popular form of meditation but went out of style—replaced by yoga or other forms of quieting the mind. Anyway, we, the students, have heard about TM from various sources and are willing to dedicate money and five nights of our week to learn how to do it. At first it’s impossible to calm the mind. Too many thoughts encroach on what is supposed to be a deeply peaceful experience. But, after days of guided practice, we begin to understand the role thoughts play in meditation and how to shift them to the side in order to give the mind a much-needed break. At the end of our training, we understand the technique and can manage to reach a meditative state after twenty minutes— though it is hard. Our minds have been running a rat race for the past twenty, thirty, fifty years and we find it difficult to allow quiet to enter. Once reached, however, it is refreshing and calming.

I still practice TM today, although I do not carve out enough time to practice every day. Two of my fellow students are still dedicated to the practice as well. For a while we met once a week to practice together. But, life got in the way and meditation group was replaced with school, work, family…Life. The irony is that we sought out meditation because we all felt that life had taken a toll on our wellbeing. We are over-worked, over-stimulated, over-caffeinated, and our minds feel it—they don’t shut off, not for a minute. Meditation is a sweet release from the barrage of thoughts that plague our minds.

The TM movement was started by Maharishi Manish Yogi, an Indian physicist and spiritual teacher, and has found its way into lives all over the globe. In our globalized world, it is not absurd that five people should meet in Duluth to practice a meditative art began in India. We collectively search for cures to the ailments caused by our too-busy lives, and eastern practices—think yoga and acupuncture—often fit the bill. Cultures around the world are shifting from owning distinct identities to becoming multi-cultures. The United States, especially, is a melting pot of various cultures. One way we experience this—and one way I see it in my own life—is the adoption of eastern healing practices.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at)

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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Norway, northeastern China, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at)



Filed under Ellie Swanson, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

8 responses to “Transcendental Meditation — The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

  1. David Spector

    I have been practicing Transcendental Meditation for many years, and it still never fails to bring peace to my soul, from inside, where awareness lives. I know that it can alienate people because of its high price and other policies, but to me it would be well worth jumping through hoops. In looking back, I am appreciative of the diseases I did not get and the mental health that I did get. In looking forward, I am excited about the peace and freedom that are yet to come, thanks to TM.

  2. I agree with your statement that life can be very busy and extremely stressful, thus causing our brains to continually be working without a break. The pressures of everyday life can have very negative affects on the human body both physically and mentally. Although it sounds as if practicing Transcendental Meditation is a difficult process to learn as well as maintain in habit, it also sounds completely worth the effort. This article makes me eager to learn more about Transcendental Meditation so that I may attempt it someday!

  3. Kyle Hellmann

    I have never been exposed to TM before, as I prefer dynamic meditation through being active outdoors. I have several friends that are really into mediation, and will share this article with them! One of the hardest things to do is taking the first step and to get into a rhythm of mediation, but you had help along the way as you had others make that first step with you. Thanks for sharing!

  4. James Fuerniss

    It’s funny reading an article like this having never done anything like TM. I also lead a very fast-paced schedule filled with a variety of responsibilities including school and athletics. This has definitely given me an idea of how to clear my mind! I often get overwhelmed by life, and I think it might be a good idea to try something along these lines to see what difference it could make on my everyday lifestyle! Thanks for the help!

  5. Matt Breeze

    Globalization has brought all kinds of ideas into the mainstream of everyones lives. Meditation seems like a wonderful calming exercise to undertake and I wish I would take the time and effort to learn how to do it properly and commit to doing it often. The high tech world of the 21st century, and being a “highly caffeinated” college student is very stressful. You get right to the point and make me want to try meditation both to personally experience a part of globalization I often do not think about, and to be able to calm my mind for a little while.

  6. Connor Lehto

    Having never heard of transcendental meditation by name before reading this article, I did some quick googling. I was surprised at the cost. It can be quite expensive! I think the human mind is a powerful thing, however, and there is definitely something to be said for the effectiveness of TM. In addition, I wonder if the price tag makes people get more out of TM because of how much they’re paying for it. There’s some scientific evidence that people rate meals better the more they pay for it, and I personally believe it’s true. I wonder if some similar effect can happen when paying for TM.

  7. Megan Bingham

    This article is so important! Our minds are constantly working extremely hard and we need to take time to rest our minds. we often use technology as a way to “rest”, but the reality is that we are still using our minds at a high level when we are using technology. I would love to take the time to do yoga to see what differences I do or do not notice. My problem is much like your though, I feel way to busy with school and such to make time for yoga.

  8. Maria Nowak

    This is a very fascinating practice to me. I have participated in a number of different yoga classes, but this practice is new to me. A lot of the yoga practices I have gone to have been more strength building, or stretching, rather than practicing meditation. I think with the busy lives people lead today, it is almost necessary to partake in these kinds of practices in order to maintain well-being. It is important to stay up to date with work and our day to day activities, but it can be more important to take care of our mental health. I think we live in a world marked by consumerism, economic stressors, political pressure, education struggles, and so much more. If we take time to participate in practices like this, maybe it wouldn’t seem so overwhelming? How would you say this practiced has changed your life as a whole, as well as your day to day functioning? Thanks for sharing!

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