From Mmmm to Ohmm and back again

Brad Roberts has gone from Mmmm To Ohmm and back again.

The Crash Test Dummies frontman has discovered the power of meditation and chanting as a way to get his creative juices flowing.

“I do meditation, but it’s not like most people when they do meditation. Most people want to retreat into one; I’m not interested in that, I’m interested in the mysteries of life and mystical experiences. I see what I do as a creative way of using my mind,” he says over the phone from his Manhattan apartment.

The 46-year-old chants in Sanskrit, Hebrew, Greek and English, discovering new ways of using his voice, that famous baritone that helped the band become global stars in the early 1990s. The Dummies sold more than seven million copies of their first four albums on the strength of hits like “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” “Superman’s Song,” “Afternoons & Coffeespoons” and “God Shuffled His Feet.”

While meditation and yoga are part of Roberts’s daily routine these days, he hasn’t abandoned music. On Tuesday, the new Crash Test Dummies album, Oooh La-La!, will be released on his own label, Deep Fried Records. It’s the first new material from Roberts – who essentially is the Crash Test Dummies these days – since 2004’s Songs of the Unforgiven.

Oooh La-La! was written with Roberts’s friend Stewart Lerman, a New York composer/producer, using an Optigan, an organ produced by Mattel in the 1970s. The keyboard, with single buttons for chords, uses 12-inch discs, which look like vinyl records, to recreate the sounds of various instruments in different musical styles.

“On guitar, you develop habits, but when I write on the Optigan, I just press buttons, develop melodies and put vocals on top. You press one chord, and another comes out instead, and it would work. It was the art of happy accidents. The other thing, too, it would be a chord I wouldn’t have thought of on the guitar. Instead of C-F-G then E-flat, it would be something I wouldn’t have done, chords I don’t usually play, like diminished and augmented chords. Those are at our disposal all the time. When I went to relearn the chords on the guitar, I was baffled, and that’s never happened,” he says, noting he now owns three of the instruments.

There is actually a small cult of musicians who are fans of the Optigan, and there are numerous sites online devoted to the instrument. Over the years, many artists have used it on their albums, including Devo, Tom Waits and PJ Harvey.

And while the instrument was a major inspiration during the recording of Oooh La-La!, it will not make it on tour because of its delicate nature.

The only instrumental backing Roberts will have on tour is an acoustic guitar and the harmonizing vocals of Ellen Reid, the only original Dummy to perform on the album.

The last album featuring the full band – Roberts, his brother Dan Roberts, Reid, Ben Darvill and Mitch Dorge – was 1999’s Give Yourself a Hand. Since then, Roberts has essentially written all the material and hired musicians as needed. He even wrote and recorded the bulk of 2001’s I Don’t Care That You Don’t Mind with a lobster fisherman in Nova Scotia, while recovering from a car accident.

Reid will join Roberts and guitarists Stuart Cameron and Murray Pulver (Doc Walker), who will alternate during different legs of the forthcoming month-long American tour kicking off May 11 in Philadelphia.

“It’s so stripped down, it’s unreal. It’s so intimate, you hear every fingernail on the guitar string and every nuance of the vocal. We’ve done, for me, some of the most stunning shows with just Stuart on guitar,” Roberts says.

There are no plans for a Canadian tour yet, but Roberts said he would like to play his hometown of Winnipeg with all the original members, but will probably not be joined by Darvill, who lives in London, England.

It would be the group’s first appearance in the city since a disastrous show at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 2001, when a drunken Roberts delivered an embarrassing expletive-ridden performance he has spent the past nine years apologizing for. “I’ve said this before; I’ve gone on the record: I had a bad day. I made a mistake. I’m sorry. What can I do after that? I have seen Winnipeggers that have given me the sense I’ve been forgiven, by at least part of the population in Winnipeg,” he says.

[via Montreal Gazette]
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Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch ‘smashing’ cancer with meditation

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has invited fans to join him in daily meditation sessions. In an e-mail blast sent Tuesday afternoon, Yauch said that he and a few friends were participating in the twice-daily meditations and were hoping kindred spirits might join them.

“We are picturing smashing apart all of the cancer cells in the world,” wrote Yauch, who is in recovery after being diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his parotid gland last year. The rapper, also known as MCA, is hoping friends and fans will join him at 9:30AM and 6:30PM ET, for about an hour and a half.

“We are visualizing taking the energy away from the cancer, and then sending it back at the cancer as lightning bolts that will break apart the DNA and RNA of the cells,” he added. “If you have the time, please join us in whipping up this lightening storm. Mind over matter …”

Yauch also offered his prayers for the earthquake victims in and explained that Yoko Ono “will be joining the meditation by visualizing all of us dancing with joy to celebrate the world without cancer.”

[via Spinner]
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Should we cut Tiger some slack?

“Tiger Woods, you suck. God damn it!”

Those might have been the harshest public comments to date about the man who was making his much-anticipated comeback to golf from a self-imposed four-month leave of absence triggered by the eruption of a tawdry sex scandal. The source? Woods himself — the born-again Buddhist — on the sixth hole Saturday at the Masters.

Only five days earlier, when Woods faced the media for the first question-and-answer session since his shocking and swift fall from grace, he had pledged to try to “not get as hot when I play” and to “be more respectful of the game and show appreciation for the fans.”

His jarring outburst seemed to suggest Woods had failed to change and had acted contrary to what’s believed to represent Buddhist teachings. But did he?

“Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security,” Woods said during his Feb. 19 statement, his first public utterances since the scandal came to light. “It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.”

In his comments, Woods made it abundantly clear that recommitting to the religion of his childhood would be a crucial part of becoming a better person on and off the golf course. With more scrutiny on Tiger than ever before, critics were quick to dismiss the idea that Woods had changed, forgetting that breaking long-established habits doesn’t happen overnight.

So how might the journey to correct the error of his ways occur?

“Buddhism is a religion of experience that takes time to learn,” said Jonathan Bradley, the president of the New York Diamond Way Buddhist Center and a student of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism for 13 years. “It’s the development of our fullest human potential.

“Practicing Buddhism starts from understanding that we are responsible for our reactions and the causes that create the circumstances we experience in the future,” he said. “There’s a teaching called ‘karma cause and effect,’ which says that from this moment forward, we have the ability to change through becoming more aware of our minds in the present. But it’s a process. So if Tiger Woods is applying the teachings sincerely, he’ll get the results over time.”

Just minutes into the CBS broadcast of Saturday’s action, Woods’ unsettling outburst blared into the microphones surrounding the sixth tee box and, consequently, the televisions of the millions of viewers.

While many watching at home scrambled to rewind their DVRs to ensure Woods hadn’t uttered a much stronger word, CBS’ Jim Nantz scolded Woods for that thing-he-vowed-he-wouldn’t-do. (To be clear, Woods actually hedged in his Monday statements by saying he would “try” to limit his on-course tantrums.)

Surrounded by the intoxicating dogwoods along the hallowed fairways of Augusta National, Nantz expressed his “disappointment” and presented a flurry of biting questions to analyst Nick Faldo about what he perceived to be Woods’ breaking his word. Simultaneously, the Twitter-sphere exploded with 140-character sound bytes, ranging from outrage to jokes to snarky criticism that Woods’ language was contradicting Buddhist values.

Before Woods could stomp up the seventh fairway, where another, less pronounced “Dammit!” slipped, the now-infamous “Tiger Woods, you suck!” video had been posted on YouTube and was making its way around the blogosphere — along with fiery comments both defending and chastising him.

Would a Buddhist consider Woods’ outburst to be against the religion’s teachings? Not necessarily.

“People shouldn’t be too harsh on [Woods],” said the Venerable Dhammadipa Fa Yao, the abbot — or spiritual leader — of Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, N.Y. “If he wants to yell, it’s his way of expressing his emotions. It doesn’t mean he’s not Buddhist. As a human, we can’t expect him to be perfect.

“From a monk’s perspective, there are two thoughts, the first being that he shouldn’t have done that because it spoils the image of Buddhism. Another would say everyone has their own karma. He should do as they like as long as it doesn’t intentionally hurt anyone else.”

Another interpretation? Live and learn.

“Everybody makes mistakes, but it’s how we react to them,” Bradley added. “Buddhism leaves you with ways to reflect on them. When the outcome of our actions isn’t ideal, we’ll try to act differently the next time. It’s not a good idea to have temper tantrums. But it’s not a moralistic thing; it’s just a piece of advice.”

Raised as a Buddhist from childhood by his Thai mother, Kultida, Woods confessed to straying from his spiritual practices in recent years. “I’d gotten away from my core values,” he told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi on March 21 in his first interview since the scandal broke. “I’d gotten away from my Buddhism. And I quit meditating.”

A 1996 Sports Illustrated profile of the then-20-year-old Woods implied he practiced his religion seriously. The story went on to say that every year around his birthday, he visited a temple with his mother and wore a gold Buddha around his neck.

Of the millions in America who watched the Masters on Sunday, only a small percentage are Buddhists. As a first-generation Chinese-American, I grew up with my family practicing some Buddhist traditions. So I knew there was more to it than the “core values” statements Woods reiterated over and over through his public comments over the last two months. And I wasn’t going to grasp it by reading about it at home or listening to El Tigre.

My mother, who considers herself a Buddhist and meditates every once in a while, kept chiding me, saying I was being too critical of Woods and should forgive him. I tried to explain that wasn’t the point. He had disappointed and deceived so many people. How could we believe anything he said?

A lesson in meditation, she said, would help remove these negative feelings. My interest was surprisingly piqued.

Could understanding the power of meditation explain why, when Woods abandoned it, he turned into such a cad that he sent crude text messages to women not called Mrs. Woods? And what makes someone a Buddhist? Coincidentally, a meditation retreat taught by Fa Yao started the upcoming weekend. Sign me up! Gulp.

For three days, a before-dawn wakeup call came from the banging of a gong. With very little human contact and no food after noon, we listened to lectures about Buddhism and practiced (or tried) meditation for most of the waking hours. It’s not easy. My legs and back ached from sitting in the proper posture just 15 minutes into a 3-hour session. (It’s karmic suffering, and we have to train our minds to will it away, Fa Yao said.)

The first technique taught actually was applicable to my attempt to feel compassion for Woods: I first had to visualize myself being happy, then go through the same exercise with close family and friends. Eventually, I worked my way all the way to someone like Tiger Woods.

So what could Buddhism, and meditation, do for him?

“[Woods] can study morality, establish focus and avoid distractions, which will help him see everything in a clearer manner,” Fa Yao said. “With a clear mind, he can understand what he did to hurt others and learn more about himself through the Buddhist teachings. Then he will have less anxiety and concerns and be able to see reality more clearly in the present and make better decisions.”

So is there a specific type of meditation that helps recovering sex addicts cope?

“There’s a technique called ’32 Body Parts,'” Fa Yao said. “He needs to understand the body is a component of 32 different parts — the eyes are one part, the heart is one part, the nose [is] one part. Then when he visualizes them that way, he won’t be aroused and won’t think about the beautiful form.”

On Monday of the Masters, when he was asked whether he might have played even more brilliantly during his career had he not drifted from his principles, Woods replied: “I would like to say yes. I would be more centered, more balanced, and that’s what I’m headed toward. I just lost that and unfortunately lost my life in the process.”

As a Buddhist would acknowledge, Woods has made progress just by identifying his mistake, which is the first step on the journey to regaining his center. Interestingly, the word “meditation” in Tibetan is “gom,” which literally means “becoming familiar with” or “getting used to,” Bradley said.

When Woods made his way to the first tee in the opening round at Augusta National, he looked different — perhaps it was the small army shadowing him to deflect the slim possibility of unseemly disturbances, or perhaps it was the nervous smile on his face.

Throngs of spectators flocked to watch with tense anticipation, politely applauding. No one knew what to expect from the “new Tiger.” He had endured rehab (but won’t say for what), and seemed calmer and friendlier.

Moments before his 1:42 tee time Thursday, a slight disruption came from the skies. A small plane hovered above, carrying a banner that asked, “Tiger: Did you mean Bootyism?”

Woods denied ever seeing the plane and instead striped a perfect drive down the middle. He sauntered down the fairway and didn’t forget to acknowledge the crowd, smile and utter thank-yous.

In the final round, other than a “Jesus!” and a “Come on, Tiger!” comment, he stifled his notorious tantrums despite playing the first five holes in 3-over par.

Near the end of a tumultuous Sunday, Woods flew the pin on the 17th green. He scolded himself with an indignant “Tiger!” and turned away before passing off the club to his caddie.

Five months ago, that club might have gone flying into the gallery followed by a series of expletives. But this Tiger stopped himself and looked down — maybe at the Buddhist bracelet (which he said is for strength and protection) that he started wearing on his left wrist.

As the week progressed, the mental fatigue caught up with Woods. He showed less poise and composure, but he refrained from dropping f-bombs and chucking clubs. At times he let the club hit the ground with disgust, but certainly more delicately than “old Tiger.”

Sure, Woods blurted out some choice words over the weekend, but even his reactions to good shots didn’t have the same gusto. Even in the final round when he holed out for eagle on the seventh hole, he seemed subdued. There were no crazy fist pumps as in the past. He simply threw both arms in the air and smiled. Overall, he stayed relatively even-keeled.

Woods wasn’t flawless, but contrary to what some critics believe, he didn’t necessarily flout the pledge to tone down his emotions on both extremes. He promised he would “try” to hold back his negative outbursts.

When he slipped, he was reacting naturally to hitting poor tee shots. Do we want Woods to turn into someone he’s not? (Which, mind you, would probably be more offensive than the foul language.) We just don’t want him to be a jerk.

Tiger isn’t going to wake up and miraculously be rid of all his bad habits — ones that have been 34 years in the making. Perhaps we should remember that and give Woods a bit of a break.

Oh, wow. Did I just write that? The meditation retreat must be working.

[Stephanie Wei: ESPN]
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Tiger Woods finds his mantra again: Meditate (and be nice to fans)

Evidently, we’re more like Tiger Woods than we realized. No, not profligate sexual tom cats or historically accomplished athletes or control freaks micromanaging our lives (well, maybe the latter…)

But lots of people, just like Woods, have drifted from the faith of their childhood. In his case, it’s Buddhist meditation. The Ommmm apparently lost its ooomph.

In his pre-Masters tourney press conference today, he reiterated that recent therapy has forced him to see “how far astray from the core morals my mom and dad taught me” he had traveled. Now he has resumed daily meditation, “the roots of Buddhism” as him mom taught him.

But how different is that, really, from what other 34-year-olds might say: They drifted away from their Catholic or Baptist or Methodist or whatever upbringing and now, gee, maybe they’re missing something.

A 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that among 16% of U.S. adults who now say they have no religious affiliation, most didn’t leave in a huff. Instead, about 70% say they “just gradually drifted away.”

I haven’t found (yet) statistics on people who quit meditation. But from perusing a few sites, it appears fairly common for people to drift in — and out — of spiritual practices.

A site for Tai Chi, a martial art that “encourages a calm mind and composed emotions” and nurtures “tranquility, harmony and balance,” points out that “many people quit. In fact most people quit.” It’s hard. It’s about losing control. And, of course, “A lot of people are just downright lazy…”

Meditation teacher Brenda Stephenson on her web site, acknowledges that a survey of past students found most quitters “simply lost their interest in meditating.”

And commentator John Pappas observed after the last time Woods said the same back-to-meditation line last month that it’s not magic.

It isn’t something that is outside of you that causes your actions and arbitrarily donning a magic bracelet or bemoaning that you didn’t sit facing a wall more will not help you look inward and is not going to solve your problem. It takes striving, faith and doubt. The realization is dawning on Tiger and I hope that he keeps working at it but approaching your practice (or any religion for that matter) as a crutch will never solve the problem.

It isn’t a magic elixir to be swallowed or special words to be chanted or super-mega prayers to be sent to big globular masses in the sky. It is work and it is humility. An extra hour of meditation a day is like a band-aid for a split jugular.

[via USA Today]
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Jessica Simpson gets the giggles during meditation

In this clip from Jessica Simpson’s VH1 show, The Price of Beauty, Simpson and two friends visit a Thai temple and learn about inner beauty, but 40 minutes into the meditation, Jess starts laughing uncontrollably.

“I felt like I was back in church and it’s like you’re not supposed to laugh and you do!” Jess said, adding that she didn’t want to offend the monk leading them in meditation.

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How sex addiction is treated

Golfer Tiger Woods is believed to be undergoing therapy for sex addiction at a Mississippi clinic called Gentle Path. But what, exactly, does treatment involve?

In today’s Science Times, Donald G. McNeil Jr. explores the world of sex addiction therapy and explains how some clinics operate. He writes:

Bart Mandell, a New York sex-addiction therapist and chairman emeritus of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, who trained at Gentle Path, said Woods’s daily schedule presumably included morning meditation, exercise — including obstacle courses to build trust with other patients and eye movement exercises to “get through his defenses.”

It would also have included interviews probing for childhood trauma or abandonment, several daily rounds of group therapy, art therapy — in which he would draw stories about himself, and “a tremendous amount of writing his sexual history,” including his first memories of sexual arousal and first encounter with pornography, all the way up through the present. Mavis Humes Baird, another therapist familiar with Gentle Path, said he would have been separated from family contact for weeks and forbidden masturbation, pornography, contact with female fans or anything else that might engage his sex drive.

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Dalai Lama agrees with Tiger (whoever he is)

The Independent: The world’s most famous golfer should not feel bad that the leader of the religion he promises to re-embrace had never heard of him until now. The good news is that Tiger Woods and the Dalai Lama share similar views on Buddhism and, perhaps more surprisingly, on infidelity.

That might not have been true until recently, but last week Tiger Woods renounced his adulterous ways, in a carefully crafted apology to his family, fans, and fellow golfers. In future, he promised, he would live a life befitting of the tradition in which he was brought up.

But all this was news to the Dalai Lama, on a US tour after his controversial meeting with President Barack Obama last week. He cheerily called his unfamiliarity with sports “my disgrace” when questioned on the subject by reporters at the weekend. When told of the golfer’s indiscretions and subsequent enlightenment, he made observations about restraint close to the line Mr Woods took.

“Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important … self-discipline with awareness of consequences,” he said. “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse.”

Tomorrow and the day after, the Dalai Lama’s American tour calls for him to be in Florida, Woods’s home state, to meet members of its Buddhist community. It might have been the perfect opportunity for the two men to have got more properly acquainted. But sadly Mr Wood’s has a busy schedule of his own: he is due back at his sex rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi this morning.

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In the belly of the beast

Boston Herald: Buddhist golfer has long journey to re-enlightenment

Tiger Woods’ outsized ego may be to blame for his numerous sexual transgressions, say Buddhists who nonetheless applaud the golfer’s avowed return to his religious roots.

Woods made his first public appearance Friday since news broke that he had cheated on his wife, Elin Nordegren. His roughly 14 mistresses include cocktail waitresses, nightclub hostesses and a porn star.

Woods said he strayed in recent years from the Buddhist principles he has practiced since childhood. In his mea culpa, he said he was returning to the Buddhist ways he learned from his mother.

“I need to regain my balance and be centered so I can save the things that are most important to me: my marriage and my children,” he said.

Bernard Ross, a nine-year member of the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center, said Buddhists believe that attachment causes suffering. He said addiction – a type of attachment – and “ego” could be at the root of Tiger’s tomcatting troubles.

“That’s where meditation comes in,” he explained. “You become more as one with the world when you leave your feelings of ego behind. An ego is not real, so we have an attachment to our ego, which he probably did being the great golfer that he is.”

During his press conference, Woods said he felt entitled to the temptations that came alongside the fame and fortune he worked so hard to achieve.

“Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security,” Woods said in his statement. “It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously I lost track of what I was taught.”

Toronto-based clinical counselor and spriritual coach Cheryl Hitchcock said the golf star will be forgiven by the Buddhist community, but he must work to get back to his “Buddhist self.”

“I’m sure he kind of temporarily disconnected from his spirit, and he got caught up in what we call the world of 10,000 things – sort of the human aspect of life, not the creative aspect, which is his Buddist self,” she said. “He sort of acted from a place of human ego and human consciousness.”

She said Buddhists seek to understand suffering in order to end it.

“I think he really needs to go inside himself and figure out how he got off track and why this happened,” she said, explaining that Woods can find those answers through meditation.

Ross said Woods needs to be more mindful of his family rather than focusing all his mindfulness on his work. He called the golfer’s break from the PGA a chance “to find out there was more to life than getting up every day and hitting that little white ball around.”

Ross said the issue of infidelity is not clearly addressed in Buddhism’s Five Precepts.

“You’re not supposed to engage in any inappropriate sexual relations, but they’re not really defined. That may well fall under that category,” he said. “That’s even something he has to judge for himself. That’s not something I’m judging him on.”

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Tiger Woods and Buddhism

CBS: Golfer Acknowledges He Had Strayed From Teachings, and Promised to Return to Tenets as Part of Path to Recovery

In his statement today about his recovery from the failings that have impacted his family and career, golfer Tiger Woods vowed a return to the teachings of Buddhism which had guided him since childhood.

Part of his therapeutic quest, Woods said, would be Buddhism, “which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don’t realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years.

“Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught.”

Woods said that while he will continue to pursue therapy, one thing he has learned is “the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping [it] in balance with my professional life. I need to regain my balance and be centered, so I can see the things that are most important to me: My marriage and my children.”

According to Reuters and Times of London interviews in March 2008, when asked if he were a practicing Buddhist, Woods said he practices meditation, and has attended temple with his mother, but stressed the tenets of Buddhism about internal growth: “In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life.”

He said his mother has preached to him that “you have to work for everything in life, and you get out of it what you put into it. So you’re going to have to work your butt off in every aspect of your life. That’s one of the things people see in what I do on the golf course, but that’s just one small facet of my life.”

“I believe in Buddhism. Not every aspect, but most of it,” Woods told Sports Illustrated in 1996. “So I take bits and pieces. I don’t believe that human beings can achieve ultimate enlightenment, because humans have flaws.”

The foundation of Buddhist philosophy is ethics, James Shaheen, editor and publisher of the Buddhist magazine Tricycle, told the Associated Press: “An ethical life leads to a life of less suffering.”

Buddhists are taught that redemption for unethical actions is sought not through an omnipotent figure but through oneself.

Fox News commentator Brit Hume raised a stir last month when he suggested that the only way for avowed Buddhist Woods to achieve forgiveness and redemption was to “turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

That stirred the ire of many Buddhists, including Robert Thurman, a professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University, who called Hume’s assertion that the Buddhist faith does not provide for forgiveness or redemption “ridiculous.”

“It is insulting to Buddhism to indicate that Buddhism doesn’t take care of its own believers and followers. But I think he will discover that Buddhists are very forgiving about his stupid statements,” Thurman told the Associated Press.

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Goldie Hawn in talks with Tories to set up British school which teaches children breathing exercises

Daily Mail (UK): The Tories are in talks with film star Goldie Hawn to set up a state school in Britain which would promote meditation as a way of boosting knowledge.

As part of Conservative plans to ‘shake up’ the education system, shadow schools secretary Michael Gove has met with the Hollywood actress to discuss her ‘MindUp’ teaching programme which she promotes through her charity the Hawn Foundation.

Mr Gove said Hawn was keen to set up a school in the UK. Her unorthodox teaching method is used in some U.S. schools to improve concentration and incorporates eastern meditation.

The technique promotes breathing exercises to help boost knowledge and concentration.

‘We are going to have another meeting to discuss how she might be able to help and influence education here,’ Mr Gove told the Sunday Times.

‘We need more new schools outside local authority control to challenge the bureaucratic monopoly.’

He said he could not see a barrier to her opening a school in the UK.

‘Some parents would want a rigorous traditional academic education for their children with desks neatly marshalled and traditional football,’ he told the Sunday Times.

‘Others will want something that is more flexible, more imaginative.’

Hawn, the 64-year-old star of films including Private Benjamin, Overboard and Bird on a Wire, describes herself as a ‘Jewish-Buddhist’ and says her foundation is dedicated to promoting children’s success in school through ‘social and emotional learning.’

The curriculum is designed for children from K to 7 and includes fifteen lessons across four units which include titles such as Quieting the Mind: Sharpening the Focus and Mindful of Ourselves in the World.

Michael Gove’s education reform bill includes plans to give charities and churches the power to set up state schools

Mr Gove also revealed he was in talks with the French government and a Swedish education chain to set up state schools in Britain.

The negotiations include plans for a school based on the private institution Lycee Fracais, in South Kensington, which provides French education for expatriates and British parents who want their children to grow up bilingual.

‘We hope that the French lycée in London will be able to expand,’ said Mr Gove.

‘I have been in talks with the French education minister and I know the lycée is exploring sites in London. Under our plans you could have UK citizens sending their children to the lycée at no cost because it would be fully integrated into the state sector.’

Mr Gove’s education reform bill also includes plans for charities, churches and parents’ groups to be given the freedom to set up schools in the state sector.

The new schools would be given £5,000 for each pupil they attract and would receive a premium for each student from an under privileged background.

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