Natural Stress Relief (NSR)

By Tom Mckinley Ball

Advertisements and marketing articles about a form of meditation called "Natural Stress Relief" (NSR) have been posted by it's promoters throughout the Internet. The pitch typically begins with a few facts about the Transcendental Meditation program, which, as a certified instructor of the TM technique, I'm glad to see—it's wonderful that people wish to teach meditation and spread its benefits. But unfortunately the NSR articles quickly veer off into inaccuracy and make several misleading statements about the Transcendental Meditation technique and TM organization.

What is the Transcendental Meditation technique?

The Transcendental Meditation technique is a specific form of meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The benefits of Transcendental Meditation technique for mind, body and relationships have been enjoyed by millions of people over the past 50 years, and verified by over 350 peer-reviewed scientific research studies conducted at independent research institutions—such as Yale Medical School, UCLA Medical School, Harvard Medical School and Stanford—and published in leading peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals. The National Institutes of Health has awarded over $24 million for scientists to further research the TM technique's benefits for cardiovascular health and brain functioning. The Transcendental Meditation program is a non-profit, tax-exempt educational organization [501(c)(3)], devoted solely to bringing the benefits of the meditation to people everywhere.

The first step in learning the Transcendental Meditation technique is an Introductory Lecture, given by a certified TM instructor or viewed online at one of the official TM Websites. To learn more about the TM technique, research and benefits, please visit or

A technique for 'transcending':

The operative word in describing the Transcendental Meditation technique is 'transcendental.' During TM practice, one
transcends—the mind naturally and effortlessly settles inward—away from the surface, active levels of thinking, to progressively more settled and refined levels of the mind, until you experience the silent field of restful alertness at the source of thought, known as pure awareness. Neuroscientists have found that this particular meditative state gained during TM practice is the only experience known to create “global alpha EEG coherence”—a state of highly efficient and orderly functioning throughout the entire brain. Twice daily practice of the TM technique is said to stimulate growth of creativity, intelligence and heightened awareness in daily life.

What is NSR?

The NSR method is a form of meditation very loosely modeled after the Transcendental Meditation technique. The NSR internet marketing strategy is, first, draw attention to the scientifically proven benefits and track record of the TM program, then try and persuade the reader that the TM technique, while highly beneficial, is too expensive and that one doesn't need the one-on-one, personalized instruction and followup offered by the TM program. Next step: criticize the organization that teaches the TM technique for being "mystical," "elitist," "too inward," etc. (someone's personal opinion, perhaps, but irrelevant to the scientifically established facts about the TM program and counter to the benign nature of the non-profit educational organization). Finally, NSR strives to close the deal by arguing that the NSR method is basically the same practice as the TM technique and will produce the same results, but because NSR is taught much differently—by CD or online, as opposed to personal instruction—this home-study "alternative to Transcendental Meditation" can be delivered for much less money than the TM technique—only $47!

Personal instruction: is it important?

Maharishi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, spent over 50 years elucidating the principles behind the Transcendental Meditation technique, always emphasizing the need for personal, one-on-one instruction:

"By necessity, the practice of Transcendental Meditation is imparted by personal instruction. It cannot be done through a book [or CD or online training] because it not only involves telling an aspirant how to experience the subtle states of thinking, but an even greater responsibility lies in finding out what the aspirant experiences when he proceeds on that path… The experiences on the path of Transcendental Meditation are very subtle… It takes a while for the beginner to be able to pinpoint his experiences of the subtle state of thought. The practice of Transcendental Meditation must always be given by the expert teachers of Transcendental Meditation who have been properly trained to give it and who have been trained to check the experiences.

"The checking of experiences is a vital point in the practice of Transcendental Meditation. Again, it cannot be done through books…by nature it is delicate and therefore highly technical. But under personal instruction and guidance the way is smooth and easy.“ [Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living (New York: Plume/Penguine Group, 1963/2001), p. 35-36]

This principle applies to any medium of learning the Transcendental Meditation technique other than learning it through personalized instruction—CDs, videos, online—and to any form of meditation self-training. When a person learns the TM technique, every instruction is given out on the basis of the previous instruction being understood and acknowledged. The certified TM teacher guides the student step by step, adjusting the teaching process according to the pace of the student.

The process of systematic "effortless transcending" is simple and easy, but also very, very delicate; so delicate that it was lost to society, East and West, for thousands of years simply because of misunderstanding and inadequate teaching methods. Maharishi revived correct practice of this technique and structured a systematic, standardized course of personal instruction to ensure that everyone everywhere can gain maximum benefit from meditation.

If the TM technique could be learned from a book, CD or online, it would be taught that way. Selling CDs or offering this practice online could reduce educational expenses, but we would not see the benefits that people enjoy from TM practice. The TM organization's purpose is not to make money or sell a product at the most marketable price point to maximize sales. The purpose of the non-profit, educational organization is to create a better world by bringing the full benefits of this meditation to as many people as possible. This can be done only by preserving the effectiveness and quality (or 'purity') of the TM technique through proper teaching methods and providing ongoing meditator support.

Different practice/different results:

NSR is an autodidactic method of learning. This means the learner takes on the role of both student and teacher. A fundamental requirement for transcending is innocence—being natural and simple without complicating the process. A student is challenged to be completely simple and innocent when trying to teach themselves how to be simple and innocent.

The TM technique differs from NSR practice in many other ways—besides in how it is taught and practiced:

Scientific research: There are no peer-reviewed, controlled research studies verifying benefits from NSR meditation. It is claimed in NSR marketing materials that NSR practice produces the same results as the TM technique, but such strong claims are unsupported by research.

Followup: NSR does not provide continuing followup as needed with a trained and experienced instructor.

• The TM program offers personal "checking" of meditation: a systematic, one-on-one process that stabilizes correct practice and ensures effortless transcending, offered freely in all TM centers to everyone who has learned the TM technique.

• Knowledge program: The TM program provides ongoing advanced lectures, providing further knowledge and meditation instruction—offered at no charge in every TM Center.

Source: The Transcendental Meditation technique is authentic—a gift from the most ancient and revered tradition of meditation on earth, the Vedic tradition of India.

The TM course—one-time fee for a lifetime program:

To learn the Transcendental Mediation technique, or if you have questions, I suggest you contact your local TM center (or call 888-LEARN-TM) and speak to a certified meditation instructor. Learn about the 15 hours (or more) of training you get during the TM course and the careful personalized instruction you receive. Learn about the one-on-one followup—a lifetime of personal guidance, as needed—and the optional, ongoing advanced classes and group meditations at TM centers.

Maharishi created a wealth of knowledge and clarification to ensure that your understanding can grow as your experience deepens. All of this followup is available to you for the rest of your life when you learn the TM technique—at no further charge after you've completed the initial seven-step TM course. And learn about the gift of scholarships and grants for people in financial need, to help pay for such comprehensive training.

The Transcendental Meditation program comes from the oldest, possibly most venerated tradition of self-development on earth, the Vedic Tradition of India. Personalized meditation instruction has has been upheld by the master teachers of this great tradition of tradition of Enlightenment for thousands of years. I invite you to enjoy the gift of meditation from this ancient tradition and experience the many benefits of twice daily TM practice.

*Vedic: The Vedic (VAY-dik) tradition of knowledge is the oldest continuous tradition of knowledge on Earth. The Vedic tradition includes detailed information on a wide range of topics—from health care to architecture, from agriculture to music. But it focuses especially on knowledge about consciousness, technologies of consciousness, and evolution to enlightenment—the highest state of human functioning. People sometimes assume that the Vedic wisdom is a cultural tradition, relevant only in India. But Newton’s laws of motion are not English or Christian, nor Einstein’s theory of relativity German or Jewish. Scientific discoveries are true for all people, all cultures.

® Transcendental Meditation, TM and Maharishi are registered or common law trademarks licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation and are used under sublicense.

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