Why Celebrities Love Transcendental Meditation
How a meaningless mantra can transform into transcendental consciousness.
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It may be the one thing Ellen DeGeneres, Clint Eastwood, and Howard Stern have in common. Practicing TM, a celebrity favorite, is like joining a club: You pay a fee (the basic cost is $960) and an instructor chooses a mantra for you, then teaches you the technique over the course of four days (plus follow-up sessions). TM mantras are derived from the Vedic tradition, and they're meaningless—which is the point, according to psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal, MD, author of Transcendence: "Since they don't have meaning, they're not going to trigger specific associations," he says. The repetition becomes automatic and the sounds are soothing: "'Tofu burger' wouldn't really trip off the tongue, would it?" Say your mantra for 20 minutes twice a day, and eventually your brain may produce the slow, synchronized waves of what TM practitioners call transcendental consciousness. Katy Perry says TM is "the cure for the common stress"—and who doesn't want that?