My Mind by YEBBA at Sofar will blow your mind!

January 16, 2022

January 16, 2022: Today is YEBBA’s 27th birthday. We wish her peace of mind, a joy-filled heart, and a successful fulfilling career.

Born Abigail Elizabeth Smith, she went by Abbey Smith until she changed her name professionally to Yebba—Abbey spelled backwards—in honor of her mother who had given her that nickname. More on that later.

I recently discovered this amazing artist on YouTube. She is an American singer-songwriter from West Memphis, Arkansas. Over 5 years ago, when she was 21, she gave a powerful, emotive performance of her song “My Mind” at Sofar (Songs From A Room) in New York City. Sofar NYC had recorded it and later posted it on their YouTube channel. It went viral.

I can’t get it out of my mind. I never heard a singer express such raw emotion, yet within a precise musical structure. She does this with her very versatile voice and just her guitarist softly backing her up. That’s it.

The song opens with her discovering that her partner has been cheating on her, then shows her reaction. Her voice slowly builds to a powerful expression of rage, hurt, and grief, to the point where she is about to lose her mind. The audience is spellbound. The camera shows some women sitting motionless in rapt attention.

I would rank YEBBA up there with other exceptional authentic female vocalists like Eva Cassidy, Lissie, and Angelina Jordan. Be prepared to have your mind blown listening to YEBBA sing My Mind at Sofar NYC.

YEBBA performing “My Mind” at Sofar NYC on September 30th, 2016. Sofar Sounds connects artists and music-lovers around the world through intimate shows in unique venues.

Losing love can be a painful thing. I normally wouldn’t post something like this, however. This is such a profoundly visceral experience executed with the utmost skill and talent I just had to share it.

Having written and performed My Mind at Sofar in front of a live audience must’ve been part of her healing process, and a cathartic experience for those listening who may have also suffered a betrayal and loss of love. After it was over, I like how she matter-a-factly stated, “That’s that one.”

Reactions

Hundreds have reacted to this video over the years, some technically, others emotionally, recalling their own memories of betrayal. It is a powerful performance that triggers anger, compassion, tears. It reminded me of that famous line: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.

Three reactions worth watching are by these music professionals: Lolli Wren aka The Fairy Voice Mother in England, Julia Nilon in Australia, and John Henny in California.

Lolli Wren goes into technique, but also acknowledges her emotional response.

I think the main thing that I felt when I heard that was this overwhelming sense of wanting to protect her and make the pain go away because it was just watching a woman in distress crying out for help in such a harrowingly poetic and beautiful way. It shows you what beauty can come out of such intense pain. And we need that, we need a pioneer of expression.

Julia Nilon picks up how well Yebba delivers the R&B-soul-gospel runs to serve the song.

All of her vocal effects—from the runs, to the aspirations, to the yodels, to the calling or crying that she’s putting into the sound, to the distortion—all of it sounds suitable, if the emotional content of the song that she’s putting in, like, you can’t help but feel something when you’re watching her sing this because it’s like her heart is in her hands. This is an incredible emotional performance and the vocal delivery is stunning. I mean I don’t think she overdid anything that wasn’t warranted by the lyrics that she was delivering.

Voice teacher John Henny said Yebba uses a minor pentatonic scale, a five-note scaffolding on which her voice ascends and descends. Her riffs sound like Middle Eastern runs or from a gospel choir. Yebba’s father is a pastor and she used to create choral arrangements and sing in his church. At times, it sounds like she’s wailing. John provides us with this insight into her talent and technique.

I gotta tell you, it is so hard to take your voice and your emotions to the edge of tears but you don’t lose the ability to sing. That’s really difficult, because as you begin to touch that emotion you lose control in the voice, and she’s right on the razor’s edge of that. That’s really fantastic! I’ve seen Barbra Streisand do that effectively well. It’s incredibly hard to do.

He concludes by saying “She’s just amazing” and then provides us with this final analysis:

The song itself—there’s not a lot there. I mean very simple chords. It’s not like it’s this hook-driven ditty. It really is just a vehicle for her to express herself emotionally. And what I love, is her riffs, her choices. None of them are done to be showy. It’s not, ‘Hey, look-at-me,’ vocals. It’s, ‘Let me express myself to you.’ ‘Let me communicate to you.’ So, this is absolutely fantastic!

Collaborations and Grammys

To date, this video has almost 20 million views. Ed Sheeran saw Yebba sing and it brought him to tears. He immediately signed her to his record label and later invited her to London at the famous Abbey Road Studios (same name!) to record one of his songs as part of his No. 6 Collaborations Project released in 2019. It included many top artists and produced several hits mentioned in the notes. It’s posted on his YouTube channel: Ed Sheeran – Best Part Of Me (feat. YEBBA) (Live At Abbey Road).

An earlier collaboration also worth listening to is Yebba singing John Mayer’s Gravity with Clark Beckham.

Besides the viral video of My Mind, Yebba first became known for her backing vocal performance on Chance the Rapper’s SNL performance of “Same Drugs” in 2016. In 2017, she released her debut single, Evergreen—a tribute to her late mother that was recorded in their family church.

Yebba has collaborated with a number of artists, including PJ Morton (How Deep Is Your Love), which won a Grammy in 2018 for Best Traditional R&B Performance; Sam Smith (No Peace); Mark Ronson (Don’t Leave Me Lonely); Stormzy (Don’t Forget to Breathe); Ed Sheeran (Best Part of Me); and Drake (Yebba’s Heartbreak). Her own song, Distance, was nominated for a Grammy in 2020 in the same category as before.

Yebba received 2 Nominations for 2022 Grammys Awards: #18. Best Traditional R&B Performance: For new vocal or instrumental traditional R&B recordings, How much can a heart take – Lucky Daye ft. Yebba – (Live, which premiered Jul 31, 2021 on Jimmy Kimmel Live; and her album, Dawn, for #71. Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

Dawn

Yebba’s mother, Dawn, a high school science teacher, encouraged her singing. Sadly, she committed suicide in October, shortly after Yebba’s performance at Sofar went viral. Yebba returned home traumatized, putting her career on hold, and tried to deal with her PTSD and OCD.

Yebba mentions a feeling of constant panic and grief in this 5-minute synopsis of an NPR interview that Sam Sanders did with her when her debut album, Dawn, came out last September: With The New Album ‘Dawn,’ Yebba Sheds Old Beliefs.

Listen to the complete intimate 24-minute interview where they discover they have a lot in common growing up around music in the church: Yebba Sheds Old Beliefs With A New Album. Both include the transcripts.

NPR also posted Yebba: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert of her performing songs from the album with her amazing band and vocal backup group.

Trying to come to terms with her mother’s death, Yebba processed a lot of emotions and memories. She titled and dedicated her first album in her name. Symbolically, it became the official dawn of her career.

September 8, 2021: This Tiny Desk Concert has been in the works since the spring of 2020, when the album was completed but shelved until Yebba (and the rest of the world) was in a better place. It was worth the wait.

Reviews

Billboard published: Yebba’s ‘Dawn’: The Long, Difficult Road to the Stunning Singer’s Debut. Yebba’s highly-anticipated, Mark Ronson-produced debut album was delayed by loss and lockdown — but now the soul singer is even more eager to begin in earnest. 

In the YouTube documentary, “How To Be: Mark Ronson,” when Mark and Yebba are in the studio, he says, “she is one of the top five greatest vocalists I’ve ever recorded, just the kind of person that when they’re singing in a room, everybody just suddenly engages more.” And Mark has collaborated with and produced the best, like Amy Winehouse, Adele, Bruno Mars, Q-Tip, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, to name a few.

The Whit Online published this review: YEBBA’s Debut Album, “Dawn” is a Masterclass in Musicianship.

“This is a voice that moves, it doesn’t merely entertain,” says Kyle Dennis in his Album Review: Yebba’s ‘Dawn’ Is Divine.

Natalie Maher interviewed Yebba for Harpers Bazaar: Yebba Isn’t Afraid to Feel It All. The singer-songwriter’s debut album, Dawn, is a hauntingly beautiful ode to the art of healing.

Song versions

Yebba doesn’t usually sing her songs the same way twice. Her song, Boomerang, is on the album, but this live version posted on her YouTube channel sounds better.

Same with this live version of October Sky. The song is based on a memory of her mother firing off bottle rockets she had brought home from science class for Yebba and her brother. Gerard Hern explained it in his comment quoting Yebba on how she wrote the song.

“I wrote this whole story about remembering her sliding down the hall and telling us ‘Come outside we’re shooting off bottle rockets,’” Yebba explains. “That memory came to me and the words just spilled out: this story of her and the promise that she broke, in a way, because she killed herself in October. I genuinely feel like she was standing there in the room with me as I was writing it, in my studio apartment in Brooklyn.”

Check out more videos on her YouTube channel. For her debut album, Dawn, you can Listen on Spotify or Listen on Apple Music.

Healing Trauma with Transcendental Meditation

Nick Cave and Lady Gaga are two of many musicians who have spoken about the benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM) for their grief and pain, respectively, and to boost their creativity. Katy Perry and Sting have participated with other artists in fundraising concerts for the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), which offers TM for free to traumatized communities.

DLF’s latest projects include veterans and their families suffering from PTSD and frontline healthcare workers exhausted from dealing with the pandemic. Many published studies show TM to be effective in removing stress, healing trauma, and reenergizing people. It could help Yebba.

New music

Jan 24, 2022: Yebba – The Age of Worry (Live at Electric Lady), a song originally performed by John Mayer. johnmayer posted this comment on Yebba’s Instagram post about it:

My screen is getting blurry. ❤️ So moved. Thank you for showing what’s been hiding in my own work through your profoundly powerful and soulful take. You are so special I can’t stand/understand it sometimes. ♥️♥️♥️

For writer May Sarton, solitude was necessary to create and bring forth the richness within herself

January 9, 2022

May Sarton (Belgian-American, 1912-1995) was a highly respected American poet, novelist, and memoirist. Her literature encompasses themes of aging, solitude, family and romantic relationships. Self-identified as a lesbian and regarded as a feminist, she preferred that her work found a place in a broad humanitarian connection rather than within the identities she embodied.

Her memoir, Journal of a Solitude (1973) was her most popular work, and “Now I Become Myself” (Collected Poems 1930 – 1993) is one of her most beloved poems. She was also the author of numerous novels.

Literary Ladies Guide compiled a selection of Introspective quotes by May Sarton, a most thoughtful writer. They also published a review of Journal of a Solitude. The Famous People website published 64 Inspiring Quotes By May Sarton That Will Give You Lessons For Life—her reflections on life, authenticity, solitude, contentment, nature, strength, survival, education, school, life, loneliness, optimism, experience and relationships.

I remember reading these wise quotes from Journal of a Solitude:

Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.

Without darkness, nothing comes to birth, As without light, nothing flowers.

I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose—to find out what I think, to know where I stand.

That last quote reminds me of Donald Hall’s description of a good writer, included in an earlier post: Writers on Writing—What Writing Means To Writers.

A good writer uses words to discover, and to bring that discovery to other people. He rewrites so that his prose is a pleasure that carries knowledge with it. That pleasure-carrying knowledge comes from self-understanding, and creates understanding in the minds of other people.

I must have time alone

The implication from these quotes is that we need a time and place to be alone to create in the dark of the unknown, shut off from distractions that divide the mind, to experience the richness of our inner world, and blossom with the light of our newly discovered self-knowledge. We write to know—to discover and understand.

Yet, like every true artist it is always a challenge to balance the personal with the social, our own needs with those of another in a relationship. In her Journal of Solitude May Sarton wrote:

There is no doubt that solitude is a challenge and to maintain balance within it a precarious business. But I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. I feel dispersed, scattered, in pieces. I must have time alone in which to mull over my encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it.

This is so true. And if we don’t express our need for solitude in a healthy manner, resentment builds up, and we find ourselves passively-aggressively taking our frustration out on those closest to us, causing pain for both parties involved. We blame others for our inability to properly balance our priorities. We lash out or fall into inertia and suffer.

However, when free to fully engage in the creative process, writing can become an ecstatic experience. This quote stood out for me, showing May Sarton’s passion for writing and how significant it was for her.

…I feel more alive when I’m writing than I do at any other time—except when I’m making love. Two things when you forget time, when nothing exists except the moment—the moment of writing, the moment of love. That perfect concentration is bliss.

AZ Quotes: May Sarton Quotes About Writing

a way of life

I’ll leave you with this final quote from May Sarton that reminds me of the bus-driving poet in Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful little film, Paterson: “poetry is first of all a way of life and only secondarily a way of writing.”

Leonard Cohen said a similar thing: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.

We write to better understand our experiences, and in the process metabolize them into poems. Poetry, then, is the epiphenomenon, the ash from that creative fire burning within. See this related inspiring post: What is Poetry, where does it come from, and how does it enter into us?

a final note

And finally, enjoy this post: Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say, with links to more entires on writing. There is a beautiful excerpt on the back cover of her book, A Walk Between Heaven and Earth: A Personal Journal on Writing and the Creative Process, edited down from the original, which I also include.

Talking to paper is talking to the divine. Paper is infinitely patient. Each time you scratch on it, you trace part of yourself, and thus part of the world, and thus part of the grammar of the universe. It is a huge language, but each of us tracks his or her particular understanding of it.

David Frawley Remembers the Global Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India Today Insight

December 30, 2021

India Today Insight: From the Archives / Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Global Guru

Mahesh Yogi was the ultimate mystic yogi, mantra guru and meditation master

David Frawley December 28, 2021

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was probably the best known and most influential yoga guru from India over the last 50 years, with millions of followers in every part of the world. His meditation-based teachings have had an enormous impact, including on some of the best educated, most affluent and articulate minds and personalities from the East and West. Maharishi’s influence was extensive in India, in which he redefined the image of the guru, and the corpus of knowledge that the guru was expected to represent. He revived, reshaped and modernised the vast yogic and healing traditions of India and brought them on to the world stage with respect and sophistication, as relevant to everyone. Maharishi became a cult figure in the West—the media face of the yogi, mantra guru, and meditation master.

Yet, in spite of the adulation showered upon him, he did not encourage any personality cult around himself. Instead, he emphasised the higher “knowledge” that was impersonal in nature. He was able to articulate the ancient tradition of Vedic and yogic knowledge in all of its branches for the modern mind to appreciate and revere.

Maharshi was perhaps the first important guru to successfully use modern media and marketing methods, including television and video. He remarkably took the teachings of the old pandits of India—who were looked down in their own country as museum pieces from another era—and through his skillful repackaging gained them global respect in providing the inner keys to universal consciousness, the cutting edge of science and medicine, and the future evolution of humanity.

Maharshi had a deep concern for the state of the world and humanity. He created visionary schemes for new educational institutions, new communities and new cities. He researched how to bring Vedic values and dharmic principles into world governance, including how to protect nature, the Earth and its ecology. True to his universal nature, he was able to draw into his organisation people from all countries, age groups, religions, and cultures.

Maharishi developed a massive worldwide organisation with enormous funds and detailed projects. Naturally, there was much controversy about such a guru figure on the world-stage—particularly from a backward and non-Christian country like India. His notoriety and mass following challenged existing views of religion and of science relative to the nature of consciousness. Not surprisingly, some political and religious authorities felt threatened by his influence, particularly upon the youth. Probably no guru from India has had such an effect upon the world, or faced such relentless scrutiny.

Maharishi’s life story provides few details. He was born in Jabalpur, now in Madhya Pradesh, then in the Central Provinces of British India, under the name Mahesh. He was from the learned Kayastha caste. He studied physics at Allahabad University and graduated in 1942.

Maharishi followed the inspiration of his guru, the venerable Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Joshi Math in the Himalayas, who was one of the greatest enlightened masters of modern India. He met his guru during his university years. He soon became his guru’s close disciple and trusted secretary, an extraordinary honour and responsibility that provided him access to the guru’s unfathomable wisdom, a relationship that continued until Brahmananda’s passing in 1953.

Maharishi began teaching meditation in 1955 as he had learned from his guru, which he refined into simple practical techniques accessible to everyone. His disciples soon honoured him as “Maharishi” or “great seer”. Not content to teach in India, he decided to reach out to the entire world, when few Indian teachers travelled abroad. From his first world tour in 1958 to meeting with the Beatles in 1967, his teachings exploded upon the world stage. His fame quickly spread to the UK, to the US and then to all corners of the globe. He soon developed a world organisation to represent his teachings. From 1991 to his passing in 2008, he lived in the Netherlands, and communicated to his disciples through satellite TV, and his main impact shifted to Europe.

One can go on for pages with the names of the famous people that followed him, starting with the Beatles and the Beach Boys in the 1960s, whose counterculture generation he introduced to meditation and mantra. He inspired great teachers and writers, notably Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who has a world stature of his own and carries on similar work, and Deepak Chopra, who has long remained the most popular writer in the field of spirituality and healing in the West. His impact was strong on Hollywood, including on innovative filmmaker David Lynch and actor Goldie Hawn. Yet to be true to Maharishi’s vision, let us examine the ways of knowledge that formed his main dedication.

Yoga, Meditation and Mantra

While yoga today is mainly known as an asana tradition, particularly in the West, it first emerged in the modern world as a spiritual practice, starting with Swami Vivekananda in the late 19thcentury, who coupled yoga with the great philosophy of Vedanta, aiming at self-realisation. Maharishi, as a yogi in the higher sense of the term, like Vivekananda, emphasised the yoga of meditation, including Mantra Yoga and the Raja Yoga of Patanjali. He did not keep yoga confined in physical limitations but opened it up to the highest realms of consciousness, restoring it as a science of meditation. On this basis, he expanded the Vedic and yogic teachings to show their relevance for all aspects of life and all branches of learning. Maharishi’s fame began with his worldwide teaching of meditation. He promoted his Transcendental Meditation (TM) in the West at a time in which the term meditation was not well known and many religious groups were opposed to it.

Today, decades later, meditation in many names, forms and traditions is highlighted throughout the world. Maharishi was the main pioneer who set this process in motion. As his TM meditation approach rests upon the use of special mantras, Maharishi made the term mantra a common word in world discourse. He simplified and streamlined mantra meditation with special bija mantras that have changed the lives of millions.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda was almost unknown in the West when Maharshi introduced it in the 1980s. It was languishing in India, with little support, as a backward if not primitive system of medicine. Today Ayurveda has spread globally as a futuristic mind-body-consciousness system of health and well-being, such as Maharishi revealed it to be. Many Indian yoga gurus today have their own ayurvedic centres and products. This would not have been possible without Maharishi’s global promotion.

Jyotish, Vedic Astrology, Vastu and Vedic Architecture

If one takes up the cause of astrology in intellectual circles one will likely be denigrated as superstitious. Maharshi returned recognition and dignity to the practice of Vedic astrology. He gave the impetus for making jyotish into a global movement, as he did with ayurveda. Jyotish is now practised along with yoga and ayurveda throughout the world. Vastu is the Vedic science of architecture and directional influences that was also largely forgotten. Maharishi brought it back into the limelight, particularly for his numerous building projects.

Vedic Teachings

Maharshi took his teachings back to the Rigveda, the oldest Vedic text, explaining its cryptic mantras as keys to cosmic knowledge, which few modern gurus have done. His support for India and the world reclaiming its Vedic heritage was crucial and changed the image of the Vedas from nature worship to the revelation of cosmic intelligence.

Expanding the Vedic Vision into the Future, Vedic Science and Modern Physics, Vedic Management Maharshi was a proponent of Advaita or non-dualist Vedanta, which his guru taught, and showed how it is integrally linked with all the Vedic sciences. Both Vedic thought and modern physics postulate a unitary field of consciousness to explain the laws of nature. Maharishi showed the concordance between the two. In the study of the brain, Maharishi revealed how Vedic mantras interface with brain functions and can aid in the unfolding higher brain potentials. Maharshi brought in Vedic principles into business management, detailing how higher dharma can uplift the corporate realm and create a new system of dharmic economics. He showed the relevance of Vedic knowledge to all walks of life and all levels of social and intellectual discourse.

Vedic Schools and Pandits, Legacy of Education Maharshi established a number of schools and universities, notably Maharishi International University (MIU) in the US, renamed as Maharishi University of Management(MUM), and Maharishi European Research Institute (MERU) in the Netherlands, as well as several universities in India with state government support. He developed special trainings to empower Vedic pandits in India. His schools have conducted scientific research on the benefits of meditation that are widely studied and quoted.

Expanding Vedic World Some may criticise Maharishi for using the media and marketing to promote yogic teachings. He was certainly an impressive showman when needed. Some of his projects were dramatic, like his yogic flying programme aiming to eventually teach people how to levitate. But these did bring attention to the teachings that he hoped for.

The vast amount of wealth and property his organisation acquired has come under questioning, and not all his projects or centres flourished. But if we look at how he used the immense resources at his disposal, his focus was always on the knowledge. Others criticised his brand naming Vedic teachings with “Maharishi Ayurveda”, “Maharishi Jyotish” and so on, as if his group owned these older traditions. But we should remember that without his modern endorsement many people might not have been willing to study these esoteric teachings from ancient India. Some of his followers found his organisation to be rigid and eventually went their own ways, sometimes with his blessings. Yet his ability to sustain such a global organisation must be admired.

The spiritual renaissance in India and in the world today was to a large extent made possible by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s untiring efforts in many fields of higher knowledge. He created an audience for Indian teachers and doctors to travel to the West that many have benefited by. He gave us an expanded Vedic, mantra and meditation vision of yoga that remains comprehensive, compelling and transformational.

Maharishi made Vedic knowledge into a globally respected teaching of futuristic vision and cosmic insight. His name, picture and mission is widely recognised and will likely be prominent for decades to come. Maharishi marked a new era in how India’s deeper wisdom is presented, the Yoga of consciousness, and how it can guide humanity into a new age of enlightenment.

David Frawley is a Vedic teacher, author and founder of American Institute of Vedic Studies in Santa Fe, New Mexico, US

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Other posts about Maharishi

A Remembrance of Maharishi by James Powell and Remembrances of Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi International University founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with links to more articles and videos, like Les Crane interviews Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise.

What if you could give yourself a mental health break every day? @WTHRcom 13News Anchor @JuliaMoffitt13 reports on the benefits of #TranscendentalMeditation

December 21, 2021

Dec 21, 2021: Enjoy this holiday news report from Channel 13 WTHR: Hoosiers find holiday peace with Transcendental Meditation.

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people, so 13News anchor Julia Moffitt met with an Indianapolis Transcendental Meditation instructor to learn about the technique. One of Julia’s friends had told her about it and suggested she meet with her TM teacher, Paul Wilson.

I was impressed with Moffitt’s report. It turned out to be an excellent presentation on Transcendental Meditation. You can tell a lot of work had gone into the pre- and post-production phases. Paul later told me he “spent weeks planning for the interview, and she (Julia) spent weeks getting it edited down to a little gem.”

They incorporated relevant visuals and video footage to best illustrate and augment the main points of Julia’s interview with Paul. The report also included the testimonials of two local meditators, Wally and Beverly, who described the benefits they received from their twice-daily TM practice.

Paul Wilson explained that “TM, as we call it, is a simple natural effortless mental technique that we do twice a day just seated comfortably in a chair with eyes closed. Takes about 15-20 minutes to do each time, and it provides a state of deep rest on demand.”

Julia Moffit remarked: “So TM is different than other forms of meditation because you don’t have to empty your mind, there’s no mindfulness or concentrating or mind control. As Paul said, anyone can do this, even children.” (She got that right! I never heard anyone explain it so clearly.)

Julia then described to her associates the cross-section of the ocean analogy to show how TM allows us to dive below the surface choppy waves and experience the calm at the bottom deep within the mind. It made sense to them. Along with the importance of people taking time out for self-care on a daily basis.

Julia came away with a clear understanding of what the TM technique is and the health benefits it could offer her viewers.

Enjoy watching this short (3:15) but comprehensive news report on Transcendental Meditation.

Paul Wilson is helping Indianapolis residents take advantage of the various benefits of the “effortless mental technique.”

WTHR.com is the news leader for Indianapolis and Central Indiana. See other cable TV news stations that reported on the health benefits of TM: WTNH New Haven 8, WXYZ Detroit 7, and Spectrum News 1 Rochester.

Visit www.tm.org to find a TM Center near you.

Interestingly, David Letterman is from Indianapolis and always considers himself a Hoosier. He also practices Transcendental Meditation. Enjoy this blog post, which includes Dave’s interviews with Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey talking about TM. Included are links to other celebrities talking about TM, like this one: Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern share stories about their Transcendental Meditation practice.

Here is a surprising one. When Oprah interviewed Lady Gaga last year, they discovered they had both learned Transcendental Meditation from Bob Roth, aka @meditationbob. Lady Gaga described the tremendous health benefits TM brings her, especially her fibromyalgia pain: “Sometimes I can be in a ton of pain, and meditate and it goes away! It’s amazing!” Bob posted the clip on his Instagram.

Updated December 22, 2021.

Also see Transcendental Meditation benefits those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties, even PTSD.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

‘How Long Will I Love You’ sung by Ellie Goulding highlights 4 Romantic Comedies by Richard Curtis

October 7, 2021

Many of us have been isolated during the pandemic lockdown and ended up watching a lot of movies. I particularly enjoyed revisiting a few popular romantic comedies. Having seen them when they first came out in theaters years ago, I was pleasantly reminded that these four award-winning box-office hits were all made by Richard Curtis.

Universal Pictures UK had posted a video on YouTube of memorable moments from four wonderful romcoms: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, and About Time.

The video was used to launch his latest film at that time, About Time, promoting it with the beautiful theme song, How Long Will I Love You?, movingly sung by Ellie Goulding from her new album, Halcyon Days.

I’d seen these films again, most recently About Time. It’s a sweet story about using time travel to improve romantic outcomes, with an edifying conclusion. The theme song was relevant and touching. While searching for it online I discovered this video using it to highlight all four films.

Ellie Goulding’s cover of a Waterboys song used in the About Time official soundtrack reminded me of Dan Fogelberg‘s beautiful song, Longer. Both songs profess loving someone forever. Watch her music video of the song intermixed with visuals from the film.

Another cover of the song in the film’s OST is by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Coleman. The Waterboys original 1990 song on their Room to Roam album was remastered in 2008.

Richard Curtis also wrote the screenplay to the musical romantic comedy, Yesterday. I loved it and created this post: Can you imagine a world without the Beatles? Watch the new film “Yesterday” to find out.

See this earlier post on some of my favorite romantic films. I later added: Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film, A Good Rain Knows, inspired by the poetry of Du Fu.

If you like, please leave a comment with your favorite films.

Jimmy Kimmel pranks his cousin Micki at the ABC offices for his show. Keep watching to the end.

September 24, 2021

This has got to be one of the funniest pranks ever pulled on anyone! We are privy to the behind-the-scenes preparations as many of Jimmy’s staff are surprised in various locations throughout the ABC offices of Jimmy Kimmel Live. But Cousin Micki is the main target. It’s her 50th birthday.

They obviously went to great lengths to produce this hilarious scenario. A video of it is posted on Jimmy Kimmel’s Instagram account. It won’t embed here so you’ll have to see it there. Expand it and keep watching to the end. It is absolutely brilliant! I still laugh out loud every time.

Oh, and how many times did you hear, “Oh, My God!”? I counted around 18, with Micki yelling out 15 of them. A few people reacted with more profane expressions—understandably so—and they were bleeped out.

Jimmy invited his baby cousin Micki on the show to receive a loving tribute on her 50th birthday. She’s all dressed up and holding 22 balloons. To honor the occasion Jimmy played a funny video of clips from family members, friends and co-workers quoting her saying the silliest things. It’s also posted on the Jimmy Kimmel Live Instagram account.

Transcendental Meditation benefits those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties, even PTSD

September 22, 2021

Enjoy this excellent article on how Transcendental Meditation is benefitting Canadians, especially those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties and even PTSD. Click here to see photos of the people journalist Kate Wilson interviewed for an Edmonton News story published in the Edmonton and Calgary issues of the Alberta Prime Times.

TM a natural for emotional and physical wellbeing

Transcendental meditation (TM) provides benefits to those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties and even PTSD. 

By: Kate Wilson for AlbertaPrimeTimes.com (Edmonton and Calgary)

At the Edmonton TM Centre, Ami Stadnick helps clients from all walks of life to better manage a range of issues. Photo Kate Wilson.

Wade McKinley recalls the day he first stepped into a class on Transcendental Meditation (TM). As a young man in Vancouver, he’d been experiencing anxiety and depression, and a friend had recommended enrolling.

“I strolled in not knowing anything and said, Hi, I’d like to learn,” said the Calgary resident.

Now 54, McKinley has been practicing TM for 33 years. He says he values the rest it brings to his nervous system and body.

“There are times when distractions interrupt my peace of mind,” he said, but the stability that twice-daily meditation brings stays with him. “I still do TM exactly the way I was taught, but there’s growth in my experience. The quality of silence and settled-ness, it’s expanded into more aspects of my day.”

Setting the mind to rest

TM is a simple technique based on ancient yogic practices from India and renewed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the middle of the 20th century. It aims to bring the body and mind into a settled state of rest, without any concentrated effort.

A 1978 study in Hormones and Behaviour showed TM reduced cortisol–the ‘stress hormone’–by 30 per cent. A 1987 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed TM reduced hospitalizations and doctor visits among seniors, with the biggest reduction–about 70% –in people over 40.

In his 2018 book Strength in Stillness, longtime TM practitioner Bob Roth said the surge in interest in TM is partly due to an epidemic of chronic stress and related illness, and medication’s inability to prevent or cure it. He points to four decades of science showing TM’s capacity for improving brain and cognitive functioning, cardiovascular health and emotional well-being.

Help with medical issues

For Ruth Yanor, TM provides a priceless “reset button”. Seven years ago, she was weathering the debilitating effects of sleep apnea, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. 

“I was wrung out from poor quality sleep, and pretty close to not being able to function. Nothing was helping,” said the Edmonton resident.

An incident at a cross-walk–where she was hit and dragged by a truck–sent her to the hospital with rib fractures and lung punctures. An allergy to opioids meant Yanor was only given extra strength Tylenol to deal with her pain, so her physician suggested enrolling in a TM program.

“Meditating would clear things. I could keep the pain out of my mind, until someone would ask ‘how’s your pain’,” she said.

Now 63, Yanor concedes that while TM hasn’t corrected her sleep apnea it has been invaluable in allowing her to function over the day. 

“I calm my mind down with TM. It’s so wonderful to have this practice.”

Yanor’s instructor, Ami Stadnick, says the simplicity of TM relies on the mind’s natural capacity to settle, despite its tendency to be distracted.

“It may be a favourite piece of music or a conversation. Our attention, at least momentarily, is (wired) to jump to that,” said Stadnick, a registered psychologist. “We know that if given the opportunity, the mind would rather be in a restful state. TM sets the conditions so the mind will move to finer levels of activity. It is nature at work.”

At the Edmonton TM centre (there are centres across Canada, including in Edmonton and Calgary), Stadnick handles requests ranging from people who need to focus in a stressful workplace, to medical referrals to military veterans wanting a medication-free way to deal with anxiety. As a licensed TM practitioner, Stadnick has continuing access to seminars and follow-up training as needed.

For more information about Calgary and Edmonton TM centres, go to https://ca.tm.org/en/transcendental-meditation-calgary or https://ca.tm.org/en/transcendental-meditation-edmonton.

Veterans benefitting from TM

TM is now being offered to Canadian veterans and their families thanks to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Institute and a grant from Veterans Affairs Canada. As part of an overall initiative to bring benefits to people in at-risk situations or who are suffering from PTSD, a TM pilot program has been offering veterans and their family members TM instruction and a twice-daily home practice, along with follow-up meetings.

“We know veterans are not prone to sharing their experiences,” said Stadnick, a TM instructor in the pilot program. “Their peer group is always looking for a way to treat PTSD in a more natural way.”

A 2021 report on the program showed participating veterans, who averaged 51 years of age, went from higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety and anger to significantly lower ones after only 3 months of TM practice. Family members also experienced significant decreases in stress and anxiety levels.

Out of the 36 participants, half reported improvements in general health, depression and fatigue. About 60% indicated a better relationship with their spouse and family members, while 86% reported a considerable reduction in stress.

The program is now extended into 2023 in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Montreal and Fredericton. If you know any veterans who might like to enrol in the TM program, contact Ami Stadnick at astadnick@tm.org.

. . . . .

Update from Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative on their extended grant from Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada announced their renewed grant for another two years to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Institute on their website: Recipients of the 2021 Veteran Family Well-Being Fund and published a Veteran story: Bruno Guevremont: Changing mind, changing self. In the article, Bruno describes the benefits he receives from his TM practice.

In 2019, he also trained in Transcendental Meditation, a simple mental technique that teaches practitioners how to settle their minds and their bodies, and reinforce the mind-body connection. “I did lots of research into different ways to care for your mental health, and I read that meditation can be good for you,” he recalls. “After meditation, I feel so chill, so incredibly peaceful. It helps you achieve a position of wellness, so that you can make the right decisions in life for yourself,” says Bruno.

See What if you could give yourself a mental health break every day? @WTHRcom 13News Anchor @JuliaMoffitt13 reports on the benefits of #TranscendentalMeditation.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Mary Oliver reads a lovely poem about her dog

September 14, 2021

Renowned poet Mary Oliver reads “Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night” from her collection of new and favorite poems, Dog Songs, celebrating the dogs that have enriched her world.

Little Dog’s Rhapsody in the Night

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

Here are two other dog poems by Mary Oliver posted on Words for the Year: The Sweetness of Dogs and I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life.

Read about Mary Oliver (1935-2019) and her astonishing poetry in this memorial acknowledgment to her poetic legacy. It contains links to articles, interviews, and poetry readings, as well as many of her favorite poems I’ve loved and posted over the years.

Penelope Cruz decompresses on film sets, eases stress in her life with Transcendental Meditation

September 8, 2021

Female First published an article about Penelope Cruz and how meditation (TM) has been helping her forget the stresses and struggles in her life. I checked and received verification that she was recently taught Transcendental Meditation in Spain. The article has been picked up by many media outlets.

Meditation is Penelope Cruz’s escape

Penelope Cruz uses transcendental meditation to ease any stress in her life.

5 September 2021

Penelope Cruz

The Oscar-winning actress – who has two children, 10-year-old son Leo and eight-year-old daughter Luna, with her actor husband Javier Bardem – first experimented with meditation when she was a teenager but she started taking the practice seriously to decompress from her film sets and to ease any worries she may have.

She said: “I practiced meditation as a teenager, I stopped for a while, then I took the transcendental meditation courses and I chose to dedicate myself to it.”

I practiced meditation as a teenager, I stopped for a while, then I took the Transcendental Meditation courses and I chose to dedicate myself to it.

Penelope Cruz

Penelope is always busy with her career and her family and wants to devote herself as much as she can to her children, although her own mother Encarna keeps telling her to take more time for herself, despite never taking that advice herself when she was raising the ‘Nine’ star and her siblings.

Speaking to Italian publication IO Donna, she said: “I have a trait that I inherited from my mother, who was equally demanding with herself: she was very busy and yet – very generous – she managed to give everything to her three children. Now she says to me: you have to relax, you have to rest, you have to find time for yourself…”

Penelope – who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 2008 for her performance in Woody Allen’s ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ – will have spent 30 years working as an actress and she has to pinch herself each day that her childhood dream came true.

She said: “Acting was my dream since I was – maybe – two years old. A dream that does not bore: with each role you start from scratch.

“So I think: thank you!”

# # #

It is interesting that Penelope Cruz had dreamed of becoming an actor from such an early age. She’s had an amazing career winning many awards. According to Wikipedia she is the first and only Spanish actress to both be nominated for and win an Academy Award as well as receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Another talented young artist who had a similar dream at a very young age is Angelina Jordan. From around 3 years old she knew she wanted to sing for the world and become a superstar. She has been inspiring millions with her voice. Discover and enjoy the amazing soulful voice of young Angelina Jordan. It is jaw-dropping great!

To find a Transcendental Meditation center in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Alan J. Steinberg’s debut novel reminds me of the age-old quest ‘To Be Enlightened’ I first read about in Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Razor’s Edge’

July 30, 2021

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” — Katha-Upanishad.

If you are a seeker, To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg, MD may inform and inspire you. The theme is reminiscent of Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge*, which was made into a movie, twice.

In that story, Larry Darrel, traumatized from the war, postpones his marriage to travel, study, and find himself. He goes to Europe, and eventually India, where he meets a guru who prepares him for a profound experience of transcendence. Transformed, he returns to the world he left behind. The post-war economic recession had impacted his friend who is psychologically distraught. His former fiancee is now married to him. Larry later gets involved with an old friend who has suffered much and tries to save her. His ex is not content to have let him go and stirs up trouble. Complications lead to tragedy. In the end, Larry is free to live his life on his own terms; in the world, but not of it.

In this story, the main character, Abe Levy, a philosophy professor, already meditates. Unlike a greater part of the previous century, meditation and yoga have become ubiquitous in the west. But Professor Levy is not content with his twice-daily meditations. He is in a rush ‘To Be Enlightened’ and may risk his marriage and job to try and achieve it. The story has some surprising twists and turns along the way, enough to have kept this reader turning pages.

From the book description:

To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.

Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life—a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.

I found it interesting that the theme of each chapter was prefaced with a relevant profound quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, reputed author of the Tao Te Ching and founder of Taoism.

This is Dr. Alan Steinberg’s debut novel, and it is a worthy one. I recommend it for anyone who doesn’t know much about meditation, as well as those with a meditative practice.

The classroom discussions reveal interesting perspectives between western philosophy and the Vedic knowledge brought out by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. And Abe’s and his wife Sarah’s experiences in and out of their TM practice are very relevant to the story’s unfolding.

The book is an enlightening read. I enjoyed how other readers responded to it and appreciated Susan Miller‘s insights in her San Francisco Book Review. Here is a link to an excellent interview with the author.

You can download the first chapter at his website Alan J. Steinberg, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Dr. Steinberg publishes articles on meditation in Psychology Today. Visit his linktr.ee for links to articles, book reviews, and more.

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*Scroll down in this blog post about my favorite romantic movies to the subheading LEAVING ROMANCE BEHIND TO FIND ONESELF to read more about Maugham’s novel and the two films based upon it.

Another novel about a meditating philosophy professor worth reading is, “The Best Of All Possible Worlds” by B. Steven Verney.


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