David Lynch Foundation

Transcendental Meditation significantly reduces posttraumatic stress in African refugees

MedicalExpress.com. Psychology & Psychiatry: This graph shows the changes in posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms as reflected in scores on the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) in the two groups. Both groups indicated severe PTS symptoms at baseline. Visible improvements can be seen in the TM group. While a drop in 11 points on this measure is considered clinically significant, TM practice led to three times that drop in PTS symptoms after 30 days practice. The TM group went to a non-symptomatic level after 30-days and remained low at 135-days. Credit: Maharishi University of Management A significant percentage of veterans returning from wars exhibit symptoms of…

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David Lynch gives $1M to teach veterans meditation

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Academy Award-nominated director David Lynch – a longtime advocate of Transcendental Meditation – wants soldiers and veterans to experience the stress-reducing benefits of TM.

The David Lynch Foundation is giving $1 million in grants to teach the meditation technique to active-duty military personnel and veterans and their families suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The filmmaker said Friday that the grants are from the Operation Warrior Wellness division of his foundation, which funds meditation instruction for various populations, including inner-city students and jail inmates.

Recipients of Operation Warrior Wellness grants include Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project and UCLA’s Operation Mend.

Lynch’s credits include the films “Eraserhead,” “The Elephant Man,” “Blue Velvet,” “Wild at Heart,” “Lost Highway” and “Mulholland Drive,” and the TV series “Twin Peaks.”

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Veterans learn about meditation for treating post traumatic stress

Matt Hoffman: Studies show up to 35 percent of our veterans return home with post traumatic stress disorder. But an old world technique is being used in a new way to help veterans, and some say it’s having great success.

Veterans in Eau Claire heard from Jerry Yellin. He fought in World War Two as a fighter pilot, but when he returned home he couldn’t escape the horrors of war he experienced.

“I saw the remnants of 28,000 bodies on 8 square miles of land. 90, 000 soldiers were fighting. 28,000 were killed, and I flew with 16 guys that didn’t come back,” recalls Jerry.

But unlike during today’s…

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Meditation in US schools

Paige Henry: Hundreds of public, charter and private schools in the United States have implemented a practice that might seem strange, foreign or even ridiculous to some adults: the Quiet Time Program.

It isn’t a ploy to have kids lay their heads on desks while teachers gossip in the break room.

It’s not an extra session of math or reading exercises either, but it does help students’ academic achievements.

The Quiet Time Program aims to improve the “overall environment of the schools” while giving students an effective way to reduce stress and develop “the full brain.” In other words, it’s a practical, highly effective form of meditation.

The Quiet Time Program began in 2005 when David Lynch, film director and Transcendental Meditation practitioner, founded the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

The foundation’s name may sound like a mouthful of hippie-love, but its work has produced significant, tangible results.

Students participating in Quiet Time improve their test scores, have a higher graduation rate Read the rest of this article…

and do better on intelligence tests than students in control groups.

For years, independent researchers have noted the benefits of meditation.

A study by Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the country, found that teenagers practicing meditation techniques were less affected by “mood disorders, depression and self-harming behaviors like anorexia and bulimia.”

Brain waves shift in meditation. Neuroscientists have found that meditators are calmer and happier because brain activity in the stress-prone right frontal cortex moves to the calmer left frontal cortex.

Lynch’s foundation was established so children across America would be able to practice and profit from meditation.

By sending a specially trained teacher to a school for a 10-month stay, the foundation is able to provide 200 at-risk students with an individualized and intensive meditation program.

Using Transcendental Meditation techniques, the Quiet Time Program has students and teachers sit comfortably, with their eyes closed, for 20 minutes twice daily.

The instruction is entirely optional, of course, and only done with parental permission.

Since the program is so helpful for the students’ entire well-being and implemented with virtually no cost to the parents or school, it’s hard to imagine anyone would say, “No.”

Transcendental Meditation is appropriate for everyone. The technique does not involve any religious or philosophical beliefs, nor does it require a change in lifestyle.

The foundation has already brought the Quiet Time Program to schools in New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Tucson, Ariz., San Francisco and Los Angeles, but more cities should be aware of what the foundation can offer.

“Consciousness-based education is not a luxury,” David Lynch says on the foundation’s website. “For our children who are growing up in a stressful, often frightening, crisis-ridden world, it is a necessity.”

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David Lynch offers music for meditation

Acclaimed film director David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Mulholland Drive) released a 17-track charity compilation on March 8 to support his foundation, which encourages healing through meditation. The album features exclusive tracks by Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Peter Gabriel, Moby, Ben Folds, and others.

In exchange for a pledge of $18, the David Lynch Foundation, founded in 2005, will provide all of the tracks in digital format over the course of the next six weeks. Proceeds go to the organization’s global effort to teach meditation to 1 million at-risk youth and 10,000 veterans of war with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A supporter of transcendental meditation, dubbed TM for short, Lynch believes that it is the cheapest, most effective, and medication-free way of healing people who have suffered severe stress in war and any other extreme experience.

Waits’ track is a live recording of “Briar & the Rose,” composed…

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in 1993 for the play The Black Rider, cowritten by William S. Burroughs. On the website Pledge Music, you can hear a 90-second preview of the track alongside four more cuts from the compilation. Other artists included are Arrested Development, Au Revoir Simone, Mary Hopkin, Maroon 5, Neon Trees, Ozomatli, Heather Nova, and Slightly Stoopid.

Make a pledge and each week you will receive two or three of the comp’s featured tracks, along with videos, photos, and blog updates, “giving you an insider’s view into the artists’ lives and experiences,” states the website.

Last December, Lynch organized a Hollywood A-list fundraising event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for his foundation, which aims to train people in need the art of finding inner peace, said Lynch at the event.

In another one of Lynch’s musical endeavors, he recently released a pair of digital songs on iTunes: “Good Day Today,” with a melancholy electro-pop sound, and the more trance-like, rock-oriented “I Know.”

Inspired by working with his composer Angelo Badalamenti on Inland Empire, his last film in 2006, the director began experimenting with music, he told the Los Angeles Times. “One thing led to another, and I started making music even though I’m not a musician.”

In 2009, the director launched an artistic visual and musical project with Danger Mouse and the late Mark Linkous aka Sparklehorse called Dark Night of the Soul.

Listen to track samples, see a video of Lynch describing the project, or make a pledge: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/davidlynchfoundationmusic

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From time-out to quiet time: meditation comes to SF schools

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Natalie Jones, KALW News: Innovative ideas are often born in California. This is the home of Silicon Valley, after all. But, that spirit of innovation isn’t limited to finding more ways to plug in to the world of high tech. Innovation also means finding ways to disconnect from it all. This kind of innovation is taking place in three San Francisco public schools that have started school-wide meditation programs. The hope is that a little quiet time and mindfulness will help facilitate learning.

It’s all paid for with private money, and one school says it’s seeing results. Natalie Jones reports on how it works.

* * *

NATALIE JONES: Middle schools do not tend to be quiet places. For many people, middle school is hard enough in the best of circumstances. For students growing up in rough neighborhoods or dealing with difficult family issues, it can be especially stressful.

That’s why four years ago, James Dierke, principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, decided to implement a meditation program for the entire school to see if it would help students and teachers deal with stress and focus on schoolwork.

JAMES DIERKE: There’s individual stresses of just being a teenager, there’s family stress, there’s community stress, and all those things multiply within a person. So this is something that everyone can do and doesn’t require a tremendous amount of effort on their part but has great results.

The program is called Quiet Time, and it teachers students the practice of Transcendental Meditation.

PA SYSTEM ANNOUNCEMENT: Please excuse this interruption, teachers and students, please prepare for Quiet Time, please prepare for Quiet Time.

Mr. Tagaloa’s homeroom is getting ready for the morning meditation session – they do fifteen minutes at the beginning of their school day, and fifteen minutes at the end.

VAO TAGALOA: Going to start our Quiet Time, let’s start by sitting up straight…close the eyes….let’s enjoy.

The dozen or so 8th graders in the room turn to face front, shut their eyes, and stay that way for a full fifteen minutes, without breaking the silence or fidgeting.

Visitacion Valley is one of the more challenged schools in the district – about two thirds of its students were getting free or reduced lunch last year, and the percentage of students proficient in basic subjects is lower than both the district-wide and the state-wide percentage.

In the last three months alone, there have been two homicides and more than a hundred assaults within just a mile radius of the school. Principal Dierke compares growing up in the neighborhood to living a war zone.

DIERKE: A lot of our kids come down with post-traumatic stress, just like you would if you lived in Iraq. So it’s hard to turn that off when you come in the school building when you sit down and try to study.

Post-traumatic stress is a hard thing to combat, but there are signs that Quiet Time is effective. Since the program started, test scores have gone up a little bit, attendance rates have gone up a little bit, and suspension rates have gone down, although the changes are only by a few percentage points. Most of the evidence of the program is anecdotal. Students and teachers participate willingly and say it’s helpful for them, and surveys that school has done return positive feedback. Though not everyone was enthusiastic at the beginning.

TRISTAN: Well, when they first took me in to train, I wasn’t so sure about the program…

Tristan is an 8th-grader, and has been doing meditation at school since 6th grade.

TRISTAN: But when I started to get into it and started to do it every day I noticed that it really helped me because I was sort of a trouble child, and then when I started to meditate I started to become a leader, I got good grades, so it was really helpful.

Students do have the option of doing something else quiet, such as reading, but Principal Dierke says only a few have chosen to do that. He’s also had strong support from parents.

DIERKE: In the last four years that we’ve been involved in this, I haven’t had one negative parent complaint.

The program, which for this school year costs about $175,000, is funded almost exclusively by the David Lynch Foundation, an organization set up by the filmmaker David Lynch, who’s known for surreal films such as Mulholland Drive and the TV series Twin Peaks. The organization’s goal is to provide Transcendental Meditation in schools and communities that could benefit from stress reduction. The rest of the funds come from private donations, which pay for 3.5 full time staff members who are trained to teach meditation. They spend their time teaching new students, helping returning students remember how to use the method, and training the teachers.

Two other schools in San Francisco are also trying the program – Everett Middle School and John O’Connell High School. They haven’t been doing it as long as Visitacion Valley, but they’re all hoping that meditation can create a refuge for students who wouldn’t otherwise have one.

For Crosscurrents, I’m Natalie Jones.

Natalie Jones is a reporter with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

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Transcending stress

A simple repetitive mantra can have complex benefits for those who set aside 20 minutes a day for peaceful contemplation. People who practice transcendental meditation tick off a litany of medical advantages attributed to its practice, but doctors generally agree that most kinds of meditation can boost the practitioner’s health.

Transcendental meditation involves sitting in a quiet place for 15 to 20 minutes and gently repeating a personalized mantra, typically a phrase from Hindu scriptures. The repetition allows the mind to take a break from the many stimuli around us at any given time.

The Beatles took up transcendental meditation during the band’s 1960s heyday, perhaps to keep centered in the eye of the Beatlemania storm. Today, the meditative technique is practiced by 1.5 million Americans, including the anything-but-docile radio star Howard Stern…

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Tomorrow, director David Lynch (“Blue Velvet,” “Twin Peaks”) will be in Bethesda to help raise funds for a $1 billion endowment for world peace at the Maharishi Peace Palace. The nonviolence measure is part of transcendental meditation founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s worldview.The Hindu monk created transcendental meditation in the 1950s and remains a key figure in its existence.

The practice is but one form of meditation practiced worldwide. Some meditation practices like TM focus on breathing rates, while others involve a fixed image or thought. Transcendental meditation proponents say their methods offer the best results both for the immediate benefits and for the practitioner’s overall physical health.

“Nothing really compares to transcendental meditation,” says Sally Jackson, a teacher with the Maharishi Vedic School in Falls Church.

Ms. Jackson describes the technique as turning a person’s attentions inward to transcend thought altogether.

“Throughout the ages, there have been poets who have described this state,” she says. “Transcendental meditation is … a simple, reliable method for achieving that state.”

The process sounds deceptively simple, but Ms. Jackson insists it takes a properly trained teacher to help the uninitiated learn the techniques.

The lessons aren’t cheap.

The first two and last of the seven necessary steps Ms. Jackson’s group teaches are free of charge. The remaining four steps, which include one-on-one consultations that take place over four consecutive days, cost $2,500, she says.

“It’s a significant investment for a lot of people,” she says. “That’s why we give all the information beforehand. … We show people all the research on transcendental meditation in the realms of health.”

Doctors generally agree that most meditation can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rates and slow the body’s breathing.

Last month, a research study released during the American Heart Association’s Orlando, Fla., meeting, said a group of 150 black patients with high blood pressure experienced a more than five-point drop in their diastolic blood pressure after practicing transcendental meditation. Researchers from the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Fairfield, Iowa, credited meditation with reducing stress-related hormones in the patients.

Miriam Ratner, a clinical counselor for the Outpatient Oncology Program at the Washington Cancer Institute, says meditative techniques help many of her patients find a measure of peace.

“In my field, when they hear what they have, all sense of everything disappears,” says Ms. Ratner, whose group is part of the Washington Hospital Center.

“From experience with my patients, even in one session, one automatically gets positive results [from meditation],” she says, including feeling less afraid of their diagnosis.

Ms. Ratner leads her patients into a general meditative state by having them focus on one body part at a time. She asks them to focus on any sensations in that part of the body, be it pain, tightness or any other feeling.

After about 30 minutes of scanning the body in that way, “they become inner-focused, which is what you want,” she says. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a patient whose breathing isn’t deeper, who hasn’t said, ‘I feel peaceful,’” after a meditation session.

“It begins to give them a sense of mastery over how they feel,” she says.

Sterling, Va., resident Rose Rosetree taught transcendental meditation for 16 years before turning her attentions to aura readings. Meditation teachers must be instructed by someone associated with its founder’s group before they can claim to teach true transcendental meditation.

Ms. Rosetree says some meditation classes say they teach the Maharishi’s version of transcendental meditation but often practice a generic form of the discipline.

“Beware of people who claim to teach it to you ‘without the trappings,’” she says. “They don’t know what they’re talking about … you can’t learn it from a book.”

Some of the Maharishi’s proponents contend that gathering together people who practice transcendental meditation can create a peaceful ripple effect that can harmonize otherwise destructive behaviors in that region.

“The follow-up activities have a lot to do with the belief system of the founder,” says Ms. Rosetree, who eventually found some of the founder’s dictums to resemble activities that might be found in a cult.

Ms. Rosetree still meditates once or twice daily, though with a more flexible approach than that of transcendental meditation, but she doesn’t ignore its benefits or its impact.

“It has become part of the culture,” she says.

Another meditative form akin to the technique is awareness meditation.

Nancy Harazduk, director of the Mind Body Medicine Program at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, teaches this form of meditation, also know as Vipassana meditation — meaning to see things as they really are.

“You focus on your breathing, and thoughts will come as they always do,” Ms. Harazduk says. “The idea is not to push them away. It’s to become mindful of them and let it go and come back to your breathing.”

Transcendental meditation, she says, tells its practitioners not to focus on any such thoughts.

Aur Gal, director of the Maharishi Peace Palace in Bethesda, says meditations generally fall into two categories. Concentration techniques focus the mind on a particular object or thought. Contemplative techniques take that perspective, but let practitioners ruminate on the object or thought in question.

“In both, the mind is kept on the surface thinking level of the mind,” Mr. Gal says. “That is why concentration is so difficult. The nature of the mind is to move.”

Transcendental meditation allows the mind to go where it naturally wants to go, he says, “to the more subtle levels of awareness.”

Marcia Corey, a naturopath with the Washington Institute of Natural Medicine, says every method of meditation has value and reaches the same goal.

“You’re focusing on clearing your mind so you can become more attentive and aware,” says Ms. Corey, who as a naturopath is trained in such noninvasive techniques as herbology, acupressure, muscle relaxation and exercise therapy. “It eventually gets you beyond yourself. It opens up your mind to taking control of your life, of understanding your life.”

Some people are able to do that by paying attention to their breathing, while others pay attention to a spot or a sight beyond themselves, she says.

Our increasingly complex world makes meditation a much-needed respite in our lives, Ms. Corey says.

“This is an ability to keep the mind calm. It helps to react in a calmer fashion to everyday situations,” she says.

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“Twin Peaks” director urges mass meditation

Reuters, UK: As the director of such dark films as Blue Velvet, Eraserhead and Mulholland Drive, and the television series Twin Peaks, David Lynch seems an unlikely leader for a world peace campaign based on mass meditation.

He has, however, joined a Washington real estate developer, Jeffrey Abramson, and a publisher to raise $1 billion to bankroll a foundation supplying instructors in transcendental meditation to ease the planet’s stress. “There’s a ton of sceptics out there,” Lynch admitted, acknowledging a certain giggle factor attendant to his project.

“On the surface there’s the giggle. I would just encourage people to look more deeply into this, and the giggles go away, unless it’s just a giggle of pure happiness at the beauty of this – because this plan has been tested.

“Every time it’s been tested it’s reduced crime and violence. It’s a real thing and it could be in place this year and bring peace to Earth.”

Lynch, whose creations have featured twisted visions of small-town American life, said he has been meditating for 34 years, and that it has not dulled his artistic edge. “When I started meditating, I had an anger in me and some people might say, well, that would give you an edge, you’d have a cutting edge.

“But really, in truth, anger is a poison . . . Two weeks after I started meditating, that anger disappeared and it doesn’t mean you can’t get angry, it just means you can’t hold on to it, it doesn’t poison you.”

Lynch is promoting the establishment of a University of World Peace in the US. He and his partners have raised $88 million, but more will be needed to endow 8000 scholarships to teach the transcendental meditation techniques of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

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