[Paleopsych] CHE: Filmmaker Starts Foundation to Help Students Chill Out -- With Transcendental Meditation

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Filmmaker Starts Foundation to Help Students Chill Out -- With
Transcendental Meditation
News bulletin from the Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.7.21


    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:
      * [68]The Spokesman Who Kept Calling (4/22/2005)

      * [69]A Neo-Noir Filmmaker Echoes a Philosopher's Quest for Truth


   68. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v51/i33/33a05601.htm
   69. http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i12/12b01401.htm

E-mail me if you have problems getting the referenced articles.

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