Transcendental vs. Zazen Zen Meditation | What is the Difference?


Last Updated on April 5, 2023 by IncenseJunction

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There is a lot of information about different types of meditation online. One mistake that people make is assuming that all forms of meditation are the same. As shown by different studies, different varieties of meditation differ in several ways. That includes the process used, as well as the effects of the meditation.

Now, have you heard about Zen and transcendental forms of meditation? If you have, you might be wondering about the difference between zen and transcendental meditation.

The information in this post aims to explain – in detail – the zen vs. transcendental meditation difference. Let’s get started.

Zen vs. Transcendental Meditation Overview

Let’s start by understanding each one individually.

Zen meditation can also be referred to as Zazen. It is a technique that is based on Buddhist psychology. Its main aim is to help a person regulate his or her attention. You will hear people refer to it as the process of concentrating on not thinking.

In Zen meditation, people will normally sit with their legs crossed, then focus on their inner selves. For some practitioners, concentration is achieved by counting breaths. For others, no counting is required.

Transcendental meditation, however, is different. It is a process whose technique involves repeating a certain phrase mentally over and over again till you get to a state of inner peace. Once you learn the technique, you are advised to repeat it two times daily.

TM – transcendental meditation – requires that you repeat the mantra mentally. It aims to help your body settle into a state of rest and alertness. Even though you are wide awake, your mind will be quiet, and you will be relaxed. Your active mind will settle inward until you get to the point of complete consciousness.

All you need to do is sit, close your eyes, and do it for around 20 minutes two times daily.


There are different benefits associated with each of the forms of meditation.

For zen meditation, you will get most of the benefits you get from other forms of meditation. For instance, zen meditation will increase your focus capacity. It also helps you get rid of distractions and pay attention better.

Additionally, zen meditation will give you a better insight into what you feel, why you feel it, why you make certain choices, as well as how your environment influences you.

Transcendental meditation also has certain benefits. For instance, you have lower blood pressure, better sleep, and can manage pain better or distract yourself from it. Additionally, it helps relieve stress, depression, and anxiety.

How do I choose between Zen (Zazen) and Transcendental Meditation?

Choosing between Zen (Zazen) and Transcendental Meditation (TM) can be a tough decision for those interested in mindfulness, stress relief, and enlightenment. Both practices have their unique characteristics and benefits. TM seems easier to practice, while Zen seems more authentic and serious.

Zen meditation involves sitting with crossed legs and focusing on one’s inner self, while some practitioners count their breaths, while others do not. In contrast, TM involves the use of a mantra and is typically practiced for 20 minutes twice a day. A 2017 review noted that non-transcendental meditation may be a promising technique for stress reduction.

The choice between Zen and TM may come down to personal preference and what resonates with the individual. Those looking for a more traditional and disciplined approach may lean towards Zen, while those looking for a simpler and more structured approach may prefer TM. It may be helpful to try out both practices and see which one feels more comfortable and effective for achieving your personal goals.

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Final Words

After checking out these two types of meditation, we have figured out that even though they are different, they have unique benefits. If zen meditation seems hard for you, you can give transcendental meditation a try. Let us know which of the two you have tried, or prefer.

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