Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Lauren Sklaroff


Transcendental Meditation [TM], a form of silent mantra meditation pioneered by the Indian holy man Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1957, took the United States by storm as over two million Americans learned its meditative technique between 1968 and 1978. At once a spiritual movement and a lifestyle, TM was a countercultural movement that went mainstream. I argue that TM was appealing because of its ambiguity and consequent malleability, as its teachings and practice came to reflect the aspirations and anxieties of its followers. By tracing their varying interpretations of the practice across periodicals, movement literature, memoirs, and contemporary scholarship, I interrogate how Americans made sense of TM and, in turn, illustrate how they intellectually and culturally reckoned with the turbulence of their times.


© 2024, Grant William Wong

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