After having seen the Transcendental Meditation (TM) documentary "School of Thought" (2008) directed by Tony Perri, I decided I wanted to learn how to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique myself. Since learning mantra meditation from the TM organization wasn't my preferred way of learning, I found some similar free and low cost alternatives that enabled me to learn the technique in the comfort of my own home via online courses.
Note: If you're suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), severe depression or anxiety and similar, it might be best to sign up for a live class and get guidance and support from a teacher. However, this decision is highly individual and only my personal opinion. We're all different, and with that comes different needs. In these cases, I would encourage you to first take a look at the wonderful work done by the David Lynch Foundation, and see if they can offer you the much needed meditation training.
1. The How-to and Do-it-yourself Guide 'Natural Stress Relief' (NSR)
I ended up ordering the course material from an organization called Natural Stress Relief, which is led by independent TM teacher David Spector. Their online and home study course is a very good and similar alternative to Transcendental Meditation, but much cheaper. The course material is presented in a clear way, and is delivered as an instant download or by mail. Also, you can buy consultations for a very modest fee if problems occur, and you get free access to a forum with a wealth of useful information.
I have now practiced mantra meditation for close to 2 years with some occasional breaks and have only good to say about the NSR technique.
Update: You find my longer NSR review here.
Tip: Read the excellent interview between author and meditation teacher Wayne Purdin and David Spector, which will give you a good understanding of what you can expect from learning NSR.
Cost: 25 – 47 USD
2. 'Learn to Meditate Kit' and 'CSM Supervisor’s Kit' by Dr. Patricia Carrington
Another product I highly recommend is leading psychologist Dr. Patricia Carrington's online and home study course "Learn to Meditate Kit" that teaches her Clinical Standardized Meditation. Like NSR, Dr. Carrington's CSM is based on Transcendental Meditation:
You may have heard of Transcendental Meditation (TM), a standardized form of “mantra” meditation (meditation where the meditator concentrates upon a special powerful sound known as a mantra). This method was adapted for Western use from ancient Indian techniques. A large body of experimental evidence supports the value of TM and a few other forms of modern meditation in an impressive manner.
Another standardized form of modern meditation widely used in clinical practice to support psychotherapy or to create profound personality change on one's own is my Clinically Standardized Meditation (CSM) method. CSM does not involve any special ceremony but merely the use of a quiet room, some plants pleasantly arranged and repetition of a short standardized soothing sound, a "mantra," which the meditator has personally selected. It is remarkably effective in bringing about profound positive changes in the person using it. It is also very safe and simple to use and its beneficial effects have been widely supported by research.
I ordered this out of curiosity and was very impressed by how the extensive course material was presented. It includes very good audio instructions and a well written workbook and manual. I find this to be a great course of its own, but also find it to be a good compliment to the NSR course.
Carrington also offers "CSM Supervisor’s Kit" (49.95 USD) or the bundle "CSM Professional Pak" (110.00 USD) for professionals who wish to teach meditation or who wish to carry out research using meditation.
There are some meditation audio lessons excerpted from the course that you can listen to for free. A good resource that can help you decide whether or not this course is for you.
Cost: 39.95 USD
3. Effortless Mantra Meditation Lecture by Dr. Michael Olpin
In my search for alternative ways to learn effortless mantra meditation, I stumbled upon the lecture of Dr. Michael Olpin, who is a professor of Health Promotion at Weber State University. Olpin is a longtime TM practitioner and in this lecture he teaches the exact same process that he was taught learning Transcendental Meditation.
4. The Spark of Karma's Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course
I've had the pleasure of reviewing a Primordial Sound Meditation online course run by Chopra Center certified teacher Dmitry Denisenko. This class is of high quality and consists of video sessions and other material, and comes with a very moderate price tag.
Cost: 150 USD
If you found this post helpful, you might want to consider following our RSS feed or sign up for the free daily email that contains all the posts published during that particular day, or for our free weekly newsletter that includes some of the best posts during the week and exclusives.
5. Russell Simmons Teaches Mantra Meditation
Entrepreneur and music mogul Russell Simmons is an avid practitioner of Transcendental Meditation. At Google joined by author Chris Morrow, Simmons gives a workshop on how to meditate using a mantra and a mini-workshop at Business Brilliant with Lewis Schiff.
Update: Simmons did recently release a free mantra meditation app.
6. The Chopra Center's Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course
The Chopra Center now offers Deepak Chopra's Primordial Sound Meditation course as an online program. Unlike other alternatives on this list, I haven't studied the material, but I assume the course is of high quality.
Cost: 397 USD
7. Online Video Course in Vedic and Mindfulness Meditation by Charlie Knoles
Vedic Meditation teacher Thom Knoles worked as a Transcendental Meditation teacher for many years before founding his own brand Vedic Meditation.
In collaboration with lifestyle media brand Mindbodygreen, Thom Knoles' son, Vedic Meditation teacher Charlie Knoles, offers an online course in Vedic and mindfulness meditation. With six hours of training, you'll learn how to meditate in an effortless way with an effective group and mass mantra that you'll receive during the course.
Cost: 99.99 USD
8. Acem Meditation Beginner's Course
The Acem School of Meditation was founded by Dr. Are Holen and is influenced by the work of the Transcendental Meditation movement. The Acem School of Meditation's precursor, the Academic Meditation Society (AMS), represented the Transcendental Meditation organization in Norway from '66 and onwards until continuing on their own and changing name in '72. Today, Acem Meditation is an international organization that offers many different meditation courses and retreats along with education materials such as books and audio.
I have written a review about my experience of the Acem Meditation beginner's course, which you can read here.
Cost: 95 USD
9. Get Your Personal Primordial Sound Meditation Mantra for Free
Visit my guide on how you easily can calculate and receive a personalized Primordial Sound Meditation mantra for free.
Image credit: Top image from the Swedish documentary "Jakten på den ändlösa sommaren" (The Pursuit of the Endless Summer). Image from the British Columbia Coast taken from the French five-part nature documentary "Morning Glory".