[Paleopsych] CHE: Filmmaker Starts Foundation to Help Students Chill Out -- With Transcendental Meditation
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Fri Jul 22 19:07:35 UTC 2005
Filmmaker Starts Foundation to Help Students Chill Out -- With
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.7.21
By ERIC HOOVER
In the late 1960s, college students closed their eyes, expanded their
minds, and made meditation popular on campuses. Now David Lynch wants
them to do it again.
Mr. Lynch, director of the films Blue Velvet, Eraserhead, and
Mulholland Drive, is scheduled to announce today the establishment of
the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World
Peace, an organization that will promote the mental and physical
benefits of Transcendental Meditation.
Mr. Lynch, who says he has shut his eyes and entered the "field of
oneness" twice each day for 32 years, plans to begin a speaking tour
of 50 colleges and universities this fall to tout meditation as a tool
for overcoming anxiety and stress. "It's an ingredient that's missing
from education," says Mr. Lynch.
The Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental
Meditation, known as "diving within," a half-century ago. The mental
technique is practiced silently for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day.
Researchers have found that it can reduce high blood pressure and
improve brain function, among other health benefits.
Proponents of the practice say that meditating also can improve
students' academic performances and foster their creativity. Students
who meditate achieve a state of "relaxed alertness" that helps them
complete assignments more easily, according to William R. Stixrud, a
clinical neuropsychologist based in Silver Spring, Md., and a member
of the foundation's Board of Advisers.
Mr. Lynch's own descriptions of Transcendental Meditation are no less
imaginative than his films, in which time does strange things and
symbols leap out of the unconscious. Meditating, the director says, is
a "dive into pure creativity" that has helped him realize his artistic
potential, a portal to the source of "love, consciousness, creativity,
and power" that, in a mere two weeks, transformed him from an angry
man to a happy fellow.
"It is this light you turn on," he says, "that gets rid of
Mr. Lynch believes that frazzled high-school and college students are
in need of such a light because of academic pressures, fatigue, and
stress. He imagines a world in which each student has a class period a
day to experience silence and bliss.
His foundation, which he is establishing with his own money, intends
to finance meditation classes for students, as well as institutional
research on the physiological effects of the technique.
Bob Roth, the foundation's program director and a meditation
instructor, says the group will seek to raise additional funds from
the entertainment industry and philanthropic groups to help fulfill
its mission: to ensure that every child and young adult who wants to
learn Transcendental Meditation can do so. The foundation will provide
funds for some students to learn the technique and receive follow-up
training, Mr. Roth says.
Even more ambitious is the foundation's plan to raise $7-billion to
help establish seven affiliated Universities of World Peace that would
train students to become "professional peacemakers." But that is a
long-term goal, Mr. Lynch concedes.
Closer to the present, he predicts that college campuses are primed
for a Transcendental Meditation revival.
"Some students will say, That's baloney, but others will say, I've got
to have that," Mr. Lynch says. "But first they have to hear about it."
College students, who already possess an array of pharmacological
treatments for depression and anxiety disorders, may need convincing
that taking a timeout twice a day could help them overcome such
problems -- or that sitting quietly might do more to soothe them than
their favorite alcoholic beverage could.
Then again, a generation that grew up to believe in "the force" from
Star Wars may just warm to the message that they can influence their
own destiny by looking inward.
Background articles from The Chronicle:
* The Spokesman Who Kept Calling (4/22/2005)
* A Neo-Noir Filmmaker Echoes a Philosopher's Quest for Truth
E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced articles.
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