I've never really gotten into Transcendental Meditation, for a variety of reasons, but certainly one of them is the money. In my mind, I can learn any Buddhist meditation for free, so why pay $1,500?
Here is a little on the pricing issue from Wikipedia:
As of 1967-1968, fees for instruction in TM in the UK, the US and Australia were variable and equal to either one-week's salary or a flat $35 for students. By 1975, fees in the US were fixed at $125 for adults, but with discounted rates for students or families. At the time, author John White wrote that fees were "becoming exorbitant", that TM instruction should be free, or at least much cheaper, and that a lot of people question paying $125 for six hours of instruction. Fees rose in steps over time, to $400 for adults and $135 for students in the US and Canada by 1993, and then were increased to $1,000 for adults and $600 for students in 1994. In Britain, TM cost £490 (£290 for students) in 1995. By 2003, fees in the US were $2,500. In Bermuda, where fees had been kept below the international average for many years, a 2003 directive from TM Movement headquarters to increase prices from $385 to $2,000 was partly responsible for the suspension of TM instruction there. A former instructor was critical of the fees for excluding ordinary people and making TM something exclusively for the wealthy. In January 2009, The Guardian reported that the expensive fees for TM instruction had "risked it being priced into oblivion" until David Lynch convinced the Maharishi to "radically reduce" fees so as to permit more young people to learn TM. In 2009 fees in the US were reduced for a one-hour-a-day, four-day course to $1,500 for the general public and $750 for college students. Fees in the UK were also reduced, and a tiered fee structure introduced, ranging from £290 to £590 for adults, and £190 to £290 for students, depending on income. The Maharishi was criticized by other Yogis and stricter Hindus for charging fees for instruction in TM, who contended that it was unethical, amounting to the selling of "commercial mantras".The commodification to me is questionable. Stuff like this makes me a little skeptical as well:
Prior meta-studies (2007) have suggested that TM's claims are poorly supported by bad research. This summary is found here:
In the mid-1970s, the Transcendental Meditation program was expanded to include an "advanced form", TM-Sidhi, that the movement said could give practitioners supernormal powers, including levitation, and could generate a peace-inducing field. Transcendental Meditation was held to be a religion by three different US courts in two separate cases: Malnak v Yogi (1977 and 1979) and Hendel v World Plan Executive Council (1996).
The Maharishi created a system for understanding the underlying theoretical principles of his meditation technique that he termed the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI). SCI has been called a pseudoscience by Carl Sagan and crackpot science by James Randi.
- Ospina MB, Bond TK, Karkhaneh M, Tjosvold L, Vandermeer B, Liang Y, Bialy L, Hooton N, Buscemi N, Dryden DM, Klassen TP. (June 2007.). Meditation Practices for Health: State of the Research. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/meditation/medit.pdf.
- Ospina MB, Bond K, Karkhaneh M, et al. (June 2007). "Meditation practices for health: state of the research". Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) (155): 1–263. PMID 17764203.
The Transcendental Meditation® technique may be an effective approach to reduce symptoms of depression, according to two new studies to be presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Seattle, Washington April 9th, 2010.
The studies, conducted at Charles Drew University in Los Angeles and University of Hawaii in Kohala included African Americans and Native Hawaiians, 55 years and older, who were at risk for cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomly allocated to the Transcendental Meditation program or health education control group, and assessed with a standard test for depression—the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D) inventory over 9-12 months.
"Clinically meaningful reductions in depressive symptoms were associated with practice of the Transcendental Meditation program," said Sanford Nidich, EdD, lead author and senior researcher at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management. "The findings of these studies have important implications for improving mental health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality," said Dr. Nidich.
Participants in both studies who practiced the Transcendental Meditation program showed significant reductions in depressive symptoms compared to health education controls. The largest decreases were found in those participants who had indications of clinically significant depression, with those practicing Transcendental Meditation showing an average reduction in depressive symptoms of 48%.
"These results are encouraging and provide support for testing the efficacy of Transcendental Meditation as a therapeutic adjunct in the treatment of clinical depression," said Hector Myers, PhD, study co-author and professor and director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at U.C.L.A.
The results of these studies are timely. For older Americans, depression is a particularly debilitating disease, with approximately 20% suffering from some form of depression. Overall, 18 million men and women suffer from depression in the United States. Depression is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, with even a moderate level of depressive symptoms associated with increased cardiac events.
"The clinically significant reductions in depression without drugs or psychotherapy in these studies suggest the Transcendental Meditation program may improve mental and associated physical health in older high risk subjects," said Robert Schneider MD FACC, director of MUM's Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention.
"The importance of reducing depression in the elderly at risk for heart disease cannot be overestimated," said Gary P. Kaplan MD PhD, Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology NYU School of Medicine. "Any technique not involving extra medication in this population is a welcome addition. I look forward to further research on the Transcendental Meditation technique and prevention of depression in other at-risk elderly populations, including those with stroke and other chronic diseases."###
The studies were funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health - National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Facts on Study Design
- The first study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Hector Myers at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. It included a subgroup of 59 African American men and women, 55 years and older, with a minimum carotid artery wall thickness of 0.65 for women and 0.72 for men.
- The second study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Grandinetti at the University of Hawaii. Data was collected on 53 Native Hawaiian men in Kohala, Hawaii, 55 years and older, who had at least one additional major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Measurements with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) Rating Scale were taken at baseline, 3-month posttest, and 9-12 month posttest, comparing Transcendental Meditation to health education controls.
- Both African Americans and Native Hawaiians suffer from higher rates of cardiovascular disease compared to whites. African Americans have approximately 1.5 times the rate of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality and Native Hawaiians have 2 to 4 times the rate of cardiovascular disease compared to the whites.
Facts on Depression
- 12.4 million women and 6.4 million men in the U.S. suffer from depression.
- Approximately 20% of the elderly suffers from some form of depression according the National Institutes of Health.
- Depression is an important risk factor for the development and progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Research has found that a dose-response effect exists whereby the level of depressive symptoms is linearly associated with the prevalence of cardiac events. Even a moderate level of depressive symptoms increases the risk for cardiac events.
- The Medical Outcomes Study determined that depression was more impairing in terms of patient functioning and well being than arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension, among others, and is more disruptive for social functioning than all of the chronic medical conditions.
- Research has shown that approximately 50% of patients suffering from major depression can be left undiagnosed by general practitioners.
- Depression accounts for $83.1 billion in medical care and workplace costs.