Maum Meditation Technique: A Brutally Honest Guide

Maum is a syncrenic religion that was founded in 1996 by Woo Myung in South Korea, and involces a rather…. interesting meditation technique.

The word Maum means “Memory” and the basic concept of the meditation is to overcome “false mind” by imagining dying or falling down a black hole.

We’ve covered many different meditations on THE DAILY MEDITATION, and Maum is one of the most controversial. [READ: Top Spiritual Meditation Techniques]

Indeed, it’s entirely about making someone believe they are living in a false world. That they are trapped in a “false mind”.

People who practise Maum believe that it helps them to move out of the false world and into the real one. You might notice that this is similar to Huna Healing Techniques. 

Many people have accused Maum of being a cult. They say it tricks people into believing their world is fake. And there definitely is some merit to this argument. Indeed, Maum is one of the least known meditation techniques because it has been so heavily criticised ever since it was created.

What is Maum Meditation?

Maum overview

  • Created by Wo MyYung in 1996
  • A Korean meditation
  • Subtraction technique (removes things from the mind)
  • Uses the idea of “False Mind”
  • Some research shows it is good for self-esteem
  • In its own marketing it is said to be good for stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Possibly a cult

Is Maum A Cult?

Maum is the most widely known form of Korean meditation and has organisations around the world. But is it a cult?

I truly believe in creating a safe space for my readers. So let me say upfront that there are lots of risks of Maum and they are far worse than the common side effects of meditating.

Firstly, many people have stated that Maum is a cult and is dangerous.

Personally, I take that with a big pinch of salt. Because fifty years ago, people thought that Buddhist meditation was dangerous, a cult, evil, going to kill you.

In the West, we very quickly label things as cults and then decades later change our minds.

Back in the fifties if you told someone that you practised meditation, they would presume that you were cutting the heads off chickens and putting curses on everyone and their mum.  I exaggerate, of course, but it is well documented that people used to consider meditation “voodoo-hoodooo”.

Quora user Mack More says:

“All cults share the same set of control tactics because there is only one method of non-chemical mind control that works. So, if you learn that set, you are protecting yourself, not only against one cult but all cults.

Psychological and social pressure

Maum applies a lot of psychological and societal pressure. 

All of the pressures are applied simultaneously, such that the recruit is overwhelmed, and in response to that overwhelm, the cult hopes the recruit will “voluntarily” give up their critical thinking faculties and subordinate their free will to the will of the group.” CONTINUE READING.

Doesn’t sound good. And there are more reasons to think it could be cultist. 

Major issues: 

  • You have to pay to learn
  • The final stage requires that you pay several thousand dollars to complete your training
  • Each meditation lasts 3 hours (this is much longer than the ideal meditation time recommended by most researchers)
  • There is pressure put on individuals to sign up
  • Zero information is given about the technique before individuals sign up. 
  • Most people who have discussed their experience online are extremely negative about it
  • It’s marketed in an overly aggressive way, with videos showing hundreds of people smiling
  • It is a little bit too much like Scientology!

Is it legit?

Whether Maum is a cult or not is not for me to judge. If you want a website that judges you’re on the wrong one. THE DAILY MEDITATION believes in an open mind.  Whether or not Maum is a genuine and helpful technique is not under our authority to argue. 

It is worth noting, however, there that is a study published on the National Institute of Health that says that Maum is good for self-esteem. The study was conducted by the Korean University and Kunsan National University.

Let me show you how to do it, and then you can decide for yourself.

How To Do Maum Meditation

The best way to learn is through Woo Myung’s books.

I am presuming you have read the warning about this potentially being a cult, so I will share what I know of this technique for educational purposes only.

As with all techniques on this website, we strongly advise that you read the instructions slowly and carefully, so you fully understand the procedure first. We also recommend contacting a healthcare professional before beginning and perhaps hiring a meditation teacher.

Maum is a form of subtraction meditation that uses eight stages. The first seven stages prepare the practitioner to leave the false world and enter the real world.  


  1. The first stage of Maum aims to create oneness between the practitioner and the universe. To do this stage, sit comfortably on a meditation cushion or yoga mat. Now visualise the death of your physical body and imagine your soul floating off into space.
  2. The second stage gets the practitioner to recognise “False Mind.” This stage moves you past feelings, emotions and thoughts. To do this, imagine that you are in space and there is a black hole next to you. Now visualise yourself throwing your emotions and thoughts into this black hole. Now throw your spiritual self into the black hole.
  3. This stage destroys your emotions and memories. To do it, imagine that you are putting everything that defines you (your possessions and such) onto a conveyor belt. Visualise your possessions moving along the conveyor belt into a fire. They are destroyed.
  4. The fourth stage of Maum meditation requires that you do a simple chore like cleaning the dishes. Associate this task with the destruction of your physical form.
  5. 5, 6 and 7: Stages five six and seven are repeats of stage 4 with different chores. With each chore you do, imagine your physical form being destroyed increasingly.
Practicing the art of Maum meditation


So, you’ve learnt how to do Maum meditation, the controversial subtraction meditation from Korea. But there’s an important question to ask: Is Maum a cult?

What do you think? 

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.


  1. Maum is a Cult and what they pratice has nothing to do with meditation. I went to their main center in South Korea for what i hought was a meditation retreat. They have you sit and stare into a Black dot while imagining your own death. Then they test if you have learned their lessons in an almost interregating way. They sleepdeprivate you and make sure you have no time on your own. I stayed on a few days to se what it was but i get how easily people get sucked in and how hard it is to just get up and leave. When i did they got very angry with me.

  2. The group is a clear cult.

    My visit to a center was bizarre. The pamphlet read like those Christian burn in hell types (where they try to make your life sound awful and they’re the cure). I’d also like to add that the method on here is not the real method they teach, in fact they won’t tell you the real method unless you pay them. All questions I had were immediately pulled to me signing up for a consultation (that I had to pay for) and a $200 a month membership fee. When I tried to question the stuff I saw on the walls they would say nothing unless I signed up and even suggested I leave if I wasn’t going to sign up. I’ve been to Buddhist centers and the monk will answer questions I have about meditation and teachings and the like, so I found it odd.

    The person who helped me felt like they were reading a script in response to my questions. Nothing felt genuine and when I tried to relate it to Buddhist teachings I heard of she just repeated the same words I said back to me.

    Plus there are multiple accounts on the internet about people being scammed or brainwashed. I say don’t trust them. When I walked in something inside told me to get out and now I knew why. There are plenty of other practices that are more transparent.

  3. I am currently a student of this meditation and just started level 3. I just wanted to point out that the description of the first 3 levels in this article is incorrect. Here is a better description:
    Level 1: Throwing away the remembered thoughts
    This is the level of knowing universe is my true self.
    In this level the student works with a Guide on a one and one level for 1-2 hours by which he/she throws away images of their past.
    Level 2: Throwing away the images of myself, my human relationships and myself
    This is the level of knowing there is no mind.
    This level is similar to level one except in level 2 you see yourself in the image that you are throwing away(another wards you are watching yourself from up above) but in level one you were in your body in the mental image.

    Level 3: Throwing away my body
    This is the level of knowing universe is my true body as it is within me all the time.
    Confirmation question:

    I have not completed the higher levels so I can’t make a comment as to how correct the bloggers description is.

    I have also done other meditations . This technique is been very effective for me so far.

    1. I’ve been practicing this meditation for 5 years. I’ve quit because I got bored of the method and because I started Vipassana Meditation.
      But I would like to say that Maum Meditation, for me, is not a cult. Nobody ever asked me for money. The fee here in Addis Ababa is 30 usd per month only. You can come and go as you please; you can quit for some time and come back; you can quit for ever and never come back… It is an activity based on free will. Those who give their money or houses they do it voluntarely and they end up enjoying the hippy life in a very peaceful and respectful community. Also helpers can quit whenever they want.
      Those who leave their families to become a helper… there was a problem with their families and becoming a helper was their scape route.
      I’m a mother and my relationship with my husband and kids has improved significantly because I’ve removed a lot of rubbish from my mind.
      It is a highly demanding mental process what you have to do but it really pays off.

  4. As a former practitioner and former instructor all I can say is that there is no just one perfect distinguished method to make you a complete person. I once lived in the comfort of having found such method and found a special person that was enlightened. I don’t want to attack or devalue this practice despite having had to go through long process of reintegration to the world and to myself. I found this meditation practice when I was in a vulnerable state in my life, and in some way it had protected me from facing the truth. The truth was that I was immature and I wanted a clear answer about life and I wanted to feel special but felt too discouraged throughout my life. Only after feeling more and more discouraged for being my own self by the members in the organization and seeing how insecure we were after countless ‘completion’ which is having complete soul and body, I decided to do a service to myself and pave my own path towards my own soul. I don’t blame the founder(s) of this meditation because they truly believe they are helping or saving people, and in a way they are incapable to feel the way that I do. But I will always have remorse about this organization for thieving a significant time of my life.

  5. I believe is a great meditation technique, I practice this meditation for many years and helps you to become one with yourself and learn to embrace and love the present time. As well as to reach the light from within to maxizime your potential as a person, professional. Sets you free. I encourage you to practice it before you can talk about it. Much love and wish you enlighment ?

  6. I left Maum meditation a few months ago after over 2 years religiously practicing it. I didn’t have a job when I started and I just went all day. The idea of subtraction really appealed to me, too much mental clutter. I found level 1 to be great, subtracting thoughts, although the method often involved horrific death scenes, being beaten in a stadium by your friends and family, being stomped to death by “universe giants” etc. I looked past these things and continued for the carrot on the stick of getting to the end and reaching enlightenment. Finally I finished the meditation. I felt less and less clear as I went along, but I was constantly reassured that I was enlightened and it’s normal to be confused and not feel enlightened. People around me claimed to be enlightened, so I felt alone. I stayed mostly for the community and the sense of purpose it gave me. I traveled to many “educations” where we watched the same 3 videos of the founder on loop all day for a week, from sun up to sun down. Every entry into the room we had to go through a metal detector. They were constantly paranoid about journalists coming in the night and we couldn’t even walk outside the center. In level 4 I went to the main center and picked sesame leaves for 8 hours a day. I did that for over 3 months. I cleaned toilets by hand by myself for the whole day. Strangely I did often feel happy during most of the time I was in it. Finally though, I had a mental break and just couldn’t handle the cognitive dissonance I was living in, pretending to believe that the founder of the universe was 2 korean people, and only they could make me be reborn. It was all just too much. I could say so much more, but overall, now that I’m out it all feels like a strange dream I can hardly remember, and must still be dissociation from, and I feel scared to write this, and scared to tell friends and family about it, and feel cut off from the members now that I’m out. It’s total brainwashing, and some of the people seem happy, but others look like they are totally unraveling. My “helper” was a total narcissist, and the way I was emotionally manipulated and bullied by him was the final straw for me leaving, because no one who’s enlightened could act that way. Anyways, still trying to get my mind back and my life back now, hope my story helps.

  7. I just started level 1. I was instantly worried about it being a cult but have been meditating on my own for over 4 years now so a lot of the ‘philosophy’ makes sense. Everything costs money. All the Osho books, you have to pay to see an Abraham Hicks event- Being present and not attached to the past and memories is a good thing, not worrying about the future constantly is peaceful. Cults are cults because people are taken advantage of and abused (like most adults at work by their companies/bosses), and there is no actual spiritual gain.

    1. I did some real soul-searching and reflection after my ‘session’ and because I have been meditating I know how to listen to guidance. They aren’t an evil cult but it is dangerous to let strangers into your mind. The feeling that they aren’t telling me the whole truth and the way it felt when I was talking with the ‘helpers’ I won’t be going back.

  8. I have been a student of Maum meditation for more just over a year now. I actually started the meditation 3 years ago and left it because of pressure from people that it is a cult. But as I’m seriously driven by a deep desire to know what the purpose of human life in this world experience is, I kept on searching every religion, meditation and other means. After two years of reading and talking a lot to different people I came to realize that Maum meditation is back to basics, its the simple truth of our existence and why we exist, without the dogma and mind conditioning of other religions. Therefore it is a subtraction method. They dont teach or tell you anything, they only ask you to subtract (a detoxification) of all the conditionings we have stored during our life time. Churches also ask for money, churches also ask you to pray, churches also ask you to repent, forgive and forget. Why do we accept that? Having finished all the levels, I can only be grateful for having found this method, and for trusting in it. It brought me to a deeper understanding of the purpose of life, of what is truth, and with this, came a deep gratitude towards life, a deep inner peace, true happiness and a calm sense of knowing the Truth. If only all people could overcome their judgements, this meditation method can truly make the world the place we are all looking for, a place of peace, no greed, no judgement, a world where all people can live together in harmony and no pressure to be anything other than a person of all that is truth.

  9. I believe meditation is the key to mastering the mind and life in general. But why do they pressure you for money? Red flags, friends. Despite this I’m going to go to a free consultation tomorrow. We’ll see how “loving” they remain once they realize I’ve not a penny to my name. I believe that the secret to higher consciousness is to simply BE. Why should that have a price tag?

  10. I’ve been practicing Maum meditation for a few years. I never once felt pressured, tricked or anything negative. I’ve become more aware of who I am and the bad habits holding me back. Meditation has helped with my career. I’m getting more work then ever and things come easier to me. There are times I rebel and don’t go. Making up excuses (happens less now) . I pay monthly and they have my money but if I’m away too long,I get a friendly message from one of the guides encouraging me. I am able to do the method on my own but I love to go to the center. I have a group of others that are like minded and positive. It’s a nice contrast from my other friends that are stuck in their negative mind worlds. Please don’t get discouraged by the negative reviews. I think the mind creates blocks and would rather have you call it a cult then do the real work. It’s not easy to face yourself but it’s so rewarding. My heart is open and I love this method. FYI, the meathod is fairly simple, but like a diet, they don’t work unless you really do it and have couches help you. Knowing it is one thing but doing it over and over until you get the break throughs is another.

  11. The basic premise, it seems to be, is to realize (as Buddhism points out, that your personality; physical, thoughts, emotions, associations, etc is temporary. To understand this and let go of your attachment brings relief from the stress and control needed to maintain the illusion of permanency. It can be a difficult thing to do because the ego (temporary personality) resists this annihilation. Annihilation or extinction of ego is actually the literal translation of “Nirvana”. All this is based on the Eastern mindset and experience and is mostly impossible for the western mind to fathom. As far as Maum. they are chopping off their noses to spite their faces. If there is a lot of $ involved then, as the writer of this article suggests (about a thousand times), it might be a cult. But, these days what isn’t?

  12. I was deceived by fake smiles of Maum cult. They pretended to be nice until they control your mind and pocket. They used deceptive marketing tricks. They maybe look like nice people, but in fact they want to brainwash your mind to leave your family and true friends.

  13. Woo Myung cult cheated me to join maum. Maum brainwashed me and my family sistematically. My life is ruined by maum.

    Maum has 8 levels to brainwash people. Level 1-3 is ‘honeymoon’ period because helpers/senior members (cham-dong) were pretending to be nice to you and they show fake smiles. But after level 3, they start brainwashing you to be submissive to cult leaders (sbssn) and justify their lies & propaganda.

    The worst is after completion class, because maum starts demanding you to support a cult center financially and get more new students. The helpers/instructors make you feel guilty if you do not give enough money to them. One instructor blamed me because I only donated $500 (too little?) and called me with a derogatory remark (insulting words).

    During completion class, you can see true color of woo myung. He was supervising students in a concentration camp in Mendoza, Argentina. He screamed a lot and blaming students if we can not finish his farm.

    Recently, helpers and senior students get letters from him. In a letter, woo myung encouraged helpers and senior students to brainwash new students.

    In summary, the maum method does not work and it makes people get more stress. I feel pity to helpers because they are always sad & stress if do not get new students. Many centers do not run well and many centers are closing down.

    The cult center is hell, hell, hell. The older the center, the situation is usually getting worse. Maum cult is more like business. It focus on how much money you can give and it keeps pressuring senior members to bring money and get new students.

  14. It is most definitely a cult. In level 4 you have to accept Woo Myung as the creator of the universe and believe that he and only he will take away your false mind and take you to the new world. Yup

  15. Thank you so much to The Daily Meditation, the guest blogger, and to the commenters. I really appreciate that this blog post was written with such an open mind.

    I’ve been practicing this meditation for over 8 years now and I find it really unfortunate that there isn’t much positive about maum meditation written online. To be honest, there were definitely times that I was afraid that it might be a cult because I didn’t always agree with what the helpers said or how they were doing things. But in the end, it all depends on how I take the experience.

    Surely, I did not feel peaceful or happy holding onto those worries about being in a cult. When I focused on throwing away my thoughts, as the method guides me to do, I found the peace that I was looking for.

    Maum meditation’s purpose is not to teach anyone anything different. As Derek mentioned, there are many similarities with scientology. Not only scientology, but there are similarities also with Christianity, Buddhism, and other religions, philosophies, and practices. The principles as to why human mind is false and why it must be discarded in order to find truth are actually not all that different when you study other religions.

    What maum meditation strives to do is enable people to actually remove their false minds so that they can live and be the truth that they understand already. There are many positives that I want to share as well as some cultural differences that I think makes maum meditation look like a cult. But my comment is long enough. You can read more about my experience with this meditation on my blog. Thank you.

  16. Great write up man, and i totally agree with you and the other commenter that this is not a cult whatsoever. It’s kind of unfortunate but the really good spiritual stuff in the world just gets absolutely mocked and shamed by the masses, and the way maum meditation has a fearmongering circle around it almost lets you know right away it’s legit lol.

    And to add to that point further, i’ll share some info you might find interesting – this maum meditation following honestly mirrors scientology a tonnn. I was brought up in a family where my father was/is a Scientologist so i was able to grow up with it around me (occasionally, as I was never forced to go), so i feel lucky that I’ve been able to learn about it from the inside and see the good side of it, which is in direct contrast to the batshit crazy stories that everyone knows about from the news (i’ve only been around one church, and it is full of good people).

    from the spiritual makeup of maum meditation and its ideas with it’s 7 (or more?) layers, to the cult label and massive fearmongering outside it, to the idea of ridding yourself of the false mind that rules over you in order to know the true you, it is honestly eery personally to have come across maum meditation because of how much it mirrors scientology. The importance of mental image pictures and the storing of each and every one of them is a huge part of scientology, and maum meditation likens your body to a camera where you store all sights and perceptions etc and you live under this. I mean these ideas (and many more) mirror each other to a tee it’s scary! Even how the followings are accused of using manipulative marketing schemes, and how the upper levels are restricted from the outsiders until you go deeper and deeper.

    It’s a long comment lol but i hope it serves well. I really appreciate your open minded write up on it, as it was one of the first google searches i hit when i was discovering this just in the past day or two (maum meditation), and so it was a great resource to just learn about what the basics of the practice are without any of that extra outside noise accusing it of being culty. If you type in “maum meditation” the majority is filled with naysayers, even google ads is running on that search query and it advertises itself as “Avoid Maum Cult” lol. Pretty crazy…

  17. This is absolutely not a cult. It is just another method of trying to find peace of mind. Take with it what you will. I have been trying maum meditation for almost a month now and I can say I already feel more joy and peace than I did before. If I want to stop, I will. But I want to continue on each level! It is not a cult. Very nice video and well explained^!!

    1. Hi Ian. Thanks so much for your valuable insights. Good to hear Maum meditation is working. Actually I would love to hear more about your experience if you have any more insight to offer. Thanks so much.

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