So recently, I was surfing YouTube as is my usual routine and past-time and in my feed, I see this:
The first few minutes of the video is particularly mesmerising. I don’t know if it’s his stance, his wrinkled pants, the gorgeous wild hair, the ciggie packet in his shirt pocket, or him holding out a donut and describing it as “pure bliss consciousness”.
I don’t know why it seemed to hold my attention and I think the soundtrack – very Twin Peaksesque – made me stop and watch in awe. I had to watch it a few times as I had no idea why it was so riveting.
It was just the right amount of quirk to think, “hello?”
But what on earth was he talking about?
I continued to watch and imagine my delight when the interviewer prepped him with a few words of French. Obviously he understands the language.
So there was Lynchy, (a term of endearment as I’ve watched this video a few times already) explaining transcendental meditation by using a large piece of paper bulldog clipped to a backing board. He used those cigar shaped black texta markers that fit in your hand and which I remember as a kid that we used to smell and get high on. I sat mesmerised as the sound of those markers scratched on paper and it brought back memories of my childhood.
I could just feel those sponge tips as they pressed on the paper to get more ink out. When ink ran dry, you would stab them hard into the paper, pressing the sponge back into the pen rendering it entirely useless. Yes, I had a pack of those useless alcohol fuelled markers that I loved and here was Lynch bringing it all back up for me.
I hadn’t heard of transcendental meditation and in all honesty, my spidey senses were tingling (I’m a scientist at heart) and I thought, here we go, a maharishi, a practice espoused by Hollywood celebs and a secret mantra only told to you by a certified TM practitioner.
It’s a cult or some really smart marketing.
Yet, I sat there and watched David Lynch explain transcendence – going deep to a place of stillness while the surface is all chaotic – to reach a place where you are your ‘unified self’. I get that. We are run amok by the crazy thoughts we have at the surface that create so much stress and anxiety for us but when you take some time in your day to relax the thoughts, it gives you some respite.
But why was this film maker espousing meditation?
I explored further and came across this presentation of his. Turns out that he has been meditating like this for many years and even has a school for it – and a huge following too.
Although I can’t speak for what this meditation is about and the cynic in me wants to understand why is the mantra secret, why do you have to pay thousands of dollars to “learn the practice” and well, alarm bells ring for me when you have big celebrities all in on it too.
What’s the catch?
I don’t know but it’s ringing a lot of alarm bells for me – I’m a skeptic with all this stuff – but at the same time, I know the value of meditation and taking time to rest our fretful thoughts.
I’m not going to run away and to a TM course, join a cult, or anything like that but I accept that people are trying to find ways to calm their monkey brains in a crazy shit world that we live in at the moment. If it helps them do this, then hey, who am I to quash that?
For me, meditation, deep breathing and now, I have started with qigong are really helping me. Having some kind of mindful practice where you can step outside your racing thoughts and calm right down is something that we all need.
(Yesterday, our state government announced a new tax for businesses that make over $10mill which will go towards mental health. A recent inquiry has reported that our state needs far more support into mental health initiatives especially post-lockdowns with COVID, the loss of employment and closure of businesses which are impacting families. They see mental health as the biggest factor to overcome and help in the community – and I support this wholeheartedly).
However, if it’s not “transcendental” meditation, there are other options and they can be free and readily available.
A simple walk through a park, a hike through a forest, some quiet solitude time on the sofa with your eyes closed and breathing techniques [I use the box breathing technique which I first learned from Professor Andrew Huberman as well as some Qigong morning and evening exercises], knitting a few rows of my knitting projects, I find, is enough for me to get to a calmer state. Dare I say it that the pursuit of arts, crafts and music is another.
I believe that in coming years, this is going to be a big focus in our work and lives – the focus of mental health and well being as we come out of a ‘global shock’ and stress of the unknown future. If it means taking some time out to look after ourselves to deal with the constant and complex change where we simply don’t know what the future holds for us then this is a simple thing to do for ourselves.
Have you tried this TM? What is it? Why all the secrecy? 🤣 How is it different to any other meditation that is done?
Right. I’m going to watch Lynchy hold out the donut again and be mesemerised by the first part of this video.
What an incredibly alluring man. Should I say that? There I’ve said it.