Leave it to Oprah to revive an old trend!
her fondness for transcendental meditation. This practice, which for many people is strongly associated with the 1970s, seems to be undergoing a resurgence in recent years.
A lot of ridiculous claims have been made about TM over the years. For example, that any town with a certain percentage of TM enthusiasts becomes a "haven from crime," with a zero unemployment rate, and crops that grow like gangbusters. Or that if you practice long enough (and pay enough money to your yogi), you can learn to literally levitate when you meditate, hovering several inches above the ground.
These claims are patently bogus. Meditation in and of itself is fine. It's great, actually. It can help lower your blood pressure and decrease your stress. (If you do it right, that is. I myself have never failed to fall sound asleep, no matter how hard I try to stay awake and focus. But I guess taking a nice nap is a stress reliever itself, if you think about it.)
There is nothing particularly special about transcendental meditation which sets it off from other forms of meditation. You assume a specific pose, and close your eyes while reciting a specific mantra. Except that it can cost you a lot of money to learn how to do it! Each mantra can cost several hundred dollars, and learning the basics of TM can set you back several thousand dollars. And after that, many people report getting hit with a hard sell to spend even more money on the next level, whatever the course master determines that to be.
Unfortunately, this peaceful practice of self-enlightenment is often hawked by unscrupulous cult leaders and self-proclaimed yogis. It is somewhat unusual in this respect, in that it is an actual thing that works, unlike most other forms of pseudo-religious or semi-religious snake oil.
Imagine if you joined a church, and they tried to charge you hundreds of dollars to learn each prayer. Or if you joined a gym, and they wanted to soak you for thousands of dollars to learn an exercise routine (which you would then be expected to practice on your own). This business of charging money for mantras and instructional classes is downright silly, if not actually disrespectful to the practice of meditation as a whole.