Transcendental Meditation

The Art of Not Doing Anything for 20 minutes.

Jason Chatfield
6 min readFeb 28, 2014


Originally published 2014 on


It’s hard enough for anyone in my wonderful huddling mass of simpering derpamine-fiends to sit still and not do anything for more than a few minutes without grabbing for a smartphone, a TV remote or a book. For the longest time, I was the worst guy at that. So, it comes as a surprise to friends when they discover my wife and I both do Transcendental Meditation, 20 minutes a day, every day.

So what the heck is Transcendental Meditation?

Very simply, it’s a specific form of silent mantra meditation which was introduced in India in the mid-1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918–2008). It’s the most widely researched meditation in history, and after a brief purge period at the start, it’s like defragging your brain, reorganising your thoughts and lowering your stress levels by enormous levels.

Jerry Seinfeld described it really well when in an interview with Alec Baldwin. (Seinfeld started doing it in college in 1972 and has been doing it every day since.) He said:

“I found it in ’72. It has this great energy and focus, and I’ve been doing it for the rest of my life. This is a nice energy. Here’s how I describe it; You know how three times a year you wake up and go ‘Boy that was a really good sleep’? Imagine feeling like that every day. That’s what it is.”
— Jerry Seinfeld

How is Transcendental Meditation different than regular meditation where people sit around after Yoga and breathe, or the one where people make that “Ohmmm” sound?

TM isn’t easy to learn. You can’t learn it from a book, or YouTube a ‘how to do TM’ and just get it. It requires one-on-one training from a trained TM instructor who prescribes your own personal mantra, a meaningless sound which is to be kept secret and never spoken aloud. (Except… obviously when they tell it to you.) You repeat the mantra to yourself quietly in your mind until you dive into a deep meditative state without the necessity to labour or struggle.

It takes a few sessions to learn the technique, which is followed by a few check-ins to assess whether you’re doing it correctly. And yes…



Jason Chatfield

New York-based Australian Comedian & Cartoonist for the New Yorker. Obsessed with productivity hacks, the creative process, and the Oxford comma.