We know David Lynch for his award-winning films -- "Mulholland Drive" was recently voted movie of the decade by the LA Film Critics Association. Seems like every night there's a "Twin Peaks" party going on somewhere. Lynch is also known as an artist, musician, philanthropist and proponent of meditation. He has been meditating twice a day for 37 years. His interests in meditation have led him to India and the Far East, as well as university EEG labs where brain researchers are exploring meditation's effects on the brain.
I caught up with him amid his preparations for the David Lynch Foundation's "Change Begins Within" benefit, which took place Dec. 13 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and aims to provide meditation training to 10,000 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What got you interested in meditation?
I heard a phrase, "True happiness is not out there, true happiness lies within." This phrase had a ring of truth to it for me, but the phrase didn't tell me where the within was, nor did it tell me how to get there. So it was a very frustrating phrase. I wasn't interested in meditation for a long time because I thought it was a fad and a waste of time. But then one day it suddenly occurred to me that maybe meditation was a way to go within and find that happiness.
I found there are many forms of meditation in the world. I started reading and asking questions. Nothing I came across felt right to me. My sister called one day, out of the blue, and told me she had started Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. I liked what she told me in relation to what I had found out about other forms of meditation. But more importantly, I heard a change in her voice. I heard more happiness and more self-assuredness. Putting it all together, I said, "This seems like the real thing," and I started on Jul. 1, 1973 and have been meditating twice a day ever since.
Do you use meditation mainly as a stress-buster or for creative purposes?
I use it for both. Transcendental Meditation is like a key that opens the door to the big treasury within every human being. The treasury is unbounded, fullness of consciousness found at the base of all matter and mind. This consciousness has qualities. It is unbounded intelligence, creativity, happiness, love, energy and peace. When a person truly transcends and experiences this deepest level of life, this ocean of consciousness, this treasury, some gets infused, enlivened, and a person's consciousness begins to expand. Every human being has consciousness, but not every human being has the same amount. The potential for the individual is infinite consciousness -- enlightenment.
So when you begin to expand your consciousness, you're expanding all those positive qualities. And the side effect is that negativity starts to lift away. Things like stress, tension, anxieties, sorrow, depression, hate, anger, rage, need for revenge, fears, all start to lift away. This gives a great feeling of freedom when the heavy weight of negativity begins to fade. Growing in energy, happiness and creativity feeds the work. Ideas flow more freely. You get a happiness in the doing and you get more and more energy to do the work. And the heavy weight of negativity lifting doesn't cramp the conduit of the flow of ideas or the enjoyment of the doing. All the things that stress us are still in the world, but because of this positive growing, it's like a very happy flack jacket, making all the negative things less and less powerful and not able to hurt us as badly.
When a person transcends, they call it a holistic experience, so really all avenues of life improve. With brain research now, they can see on the EEG machine that when a person transcends -- meaning, experiences the big treasury, that ocean of consciousness within -- it is the only experience that lights the full brain on the EEG machine. They call it total brain coherence. Any other things we do only utilize a small part of the brain. Singing, one small part, physics another small part, painting another small part. But transcending utilizes the full brain, which tells us something about this beautiful field within. That coherence gets more and more permanent as you continue meditating and leads to higher states of consciousness and ultimately to the full potential of the human being -- enlightenment. It's every human being's birthright to enjoy enlightenment.
Why have you, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and George Lucas teamed up to help veterans learn this meditation?
I can't speak for the others, but I know that Transcendental Meditation is a super stress-buster. Stress is hitting people now at a younger and younger age, and traumatic stress is certainly hitting the soldiers. Eighteen soldiers commit suicide every day, and they say over 30 percent of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Legal drugs, illegal drugs and alcohol can mask the problems to a degree, but Transcendental Meditation will dissolve that traumatic stress from the ground floor up, and the soldiers will have their lives back again. All they have to do is learn this technique and stay regular in the practice. I really believe it will save them, their families and their friendships.
Why this meditation?
Some people say that their meditation is jogging; some people say it's lying in the sun at the beach; some people say their meditation is being aware of their breathing. These things are not meditation. It's just like the bank vault door. If you want to get into the treasury, you need a key. Transcendental Meditation is a mental technique, an ancient form of meditation brought back by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for this time. It will truly open the door to that deepest level of life, and you will be able to experience that. It is a sublime experience. It is blissful. That deepest level of life is what does everything for the human being.
This is the experience that is missing from life today. We can't wish ourselves there, we can't imagine ourselves there, take advantage of this technique and have that experience every day and watch your life get better and better and better. You don't even have to believe it will work, and it will still work.
WATCH David Lynch speak about consciousness and creativity:
"Change Begins Within," a benefit event featuring David Lynch, Clint Eastwood, Russell Brand, Katy Perry, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Candy Crowley, took place yesterday, Dec. 13 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. You can watch a video of the event here.