On every Guru Purnima Day, Maharishi always recalled the greatness of his teacher, Guru Dev. Read that beautiful, profound, inspiring description in Our Guiding Light, quoted in His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Thirty Years Around the World—Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment (Vol.1, 1986).
Archive for July, 2015
A documentary that aims to define the meaning of “peace” will premiere in Iowa this weekend and the filmmaker will attend the debut. Six years in the making, Greg Reitman says “Rooted in Peace” is the story of his personal quest which took him around the planet, with a few stops in southeast Iowa.
“I go on a journey asking the question, ‘Why are we so violent?’ and why we don’t connect with ourselves and with nature,” Reitman says. “Along the way, I’m guided by some incredible people.” The list includes: Archbishop Desmond Tutu, spiritualist Deepak Chopra, film director David Lynch, media mogul Ted Turner, and music legends Donovan, Pete Seeger and Mike Love.
Reitman first met Love, one of the founders of the Beach Boys, at a 2009 concert in Fairfield. Reitman is a New York native who now lives in southern California and the process of making this film took him to several continents.
The documentary had its beginnings more than two decades ago when he visited Japan and saw the ruins of first city that was wiped out by an atomic bomb. “When I was in Hiroshima and I saw the devastation, I didn’t cry and learned a little about PTSD,” Reitman says. “I came up with this idea when I was 19 in college at UMass-Amherst that I was going to save the world by planting trees. I created this tree-planting initiative called The Giving Tree-Rooted in Peace.”
Now in his 40s, he shows himself in the documentary carrying a tiny potted tree through places like Times Square in New York City. “Essentially, I come back 20 years later with the bonsai tree as a symbol of hope, looking at the tree as a symbol for all of us and our connection with humanity and how we want to connect with nature,” he says. “That really becomes the unfolding story.”
The documentary “Rooted in Peace” will be shown Sunday at 7 P.M. at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in Fairfield. Reitman will do a question-and-answer session afterwards. His 2008 film, “Fuel,” won the Sundance Audience Choice Award.
Audio: Matt Kelley interview with Greg Reitman. 5:06.
Another radio interview coming up is with James Moore on KRUU LP 100.1 FM today at 7:30pm Thursday, to replay on 3:00pm Friday, and 11am Saturday. You can listen if you’re in the Fairfield, Iowa area or online streaming live. James said he may replay Dennis Raimondi’s interview with Prudence Farrow at 2pm before Friday’s 3:00pm interview with Greg. She discusses a book she wrote, Dear Prudence: The Story Behind The Song, which I am enjoying reading. More on that in a future post. Both interviews involve Maharishi and Transcendental Meditation, appropriate to air together tomorrow on Guru Purnima Day!
I enjoyed watching Be You, an impressive little film documenting the life-transforming power of Transcendental Meditation in one of the schools of the APC, a UK educational alternative for socially-challenged students in need of individual support.
The West Sussex Alternative Provision College is one of four hundred pupil referral units in the United Kingdom, which caters specifically for pupils who are not currently in mainstream education for various reasons. This school offers young people with emotional and behavioral issues a new chance to succeed.
Be You is a start-up, grass-roots, not-for-profit organization founded by Ricky Reemer and Kitty de la Beche. It sets out to transform the lives and prospects of young people who struggle to fulfill their potential within the school system by teaching them valuable life skills and techniques.
The Be You project opened the way for the introduction of Transcendental Meditation to the teachers and pupils in this specialized Unit. With the support of the Be You, the pupils were encouraged to continue their daily practice of TM over a full school year.
A first book from Valerie Gangas, ENLIGHTENMENT IS SEXY: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life, is out today, and it’s not just for women!
Valerie is a great writer. She’s colorful, direct, and pulls no punches. Her effervescent personality shines through the amazing stories she shares with her readers, awakening them to their own inherent greatness.
The book is divided into short easy-to-read chapters packed with practical insightful wisdom. It’s also an inspirational testimony to the transformational power of TM, and I am enjoying reading every word of it!
Valerie sent us this intro to her story.
Awakening to Me
In 2011, I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong.
~ Valerie Gangas
For as long as I can remember, I have been running. Waking up in the morning and running to the gym. Running to the hospital to support my mother, who battled cancer for 13 years. Running to my job, managing an extremely busy Chicago restaurant/bar. Running from boyfriend to boyfriend. Running from one social event to another. Running to deal with the pressures modern women face to be perfect, to get the job done right, to be a caretaker, to look good—let’s face it: to be Wonder Woman.
Then one day, I was forced to stop running.
In late 2010, the restaurant I’d managed for 15 years was sold . . . but it turned out to be a weird sort of blessing, in that I got to spend day and night with my beautiful mother who, by Thanksgiving that year only had a couple of months left on the planet.
All of this time, I had been on a steady diet of double espressos, bottles of Cabernet and late nights eating steaks, cooked rare. (Did I mention I don’t eat meat?)
I was losing my mind as I watched her slowly slip away. I’d had a bad case of insomnia for years, my depression was deepening, and the distractions I’d held up like masks were no longer working well . . . make that, at all.
My mom passed away on January 25, 2011. And my world went black.
After she died, I felt like I’d died right along with her. I was out of a job, suicidal and completely unhealthy. My “diet”—mainly fueled by booze and caffeine—had caught up with me. I was the thinnest I’d been since high school, and my nerves were on fire. And it was like Groundhog’s Day—every night was the same scene. Go to bed, wake up at 3 a.m., stare at the ceiling, my thoughts reeling, feeling like complete crap, until I had to get up a couple hours later. Then my “day cycle” would start again. Down some caffeine, make myself workout (I had to fit in my cocktail dresses, duh!) and then never stop throughout the workday, ‘til I collapsed later that night.
Reflecting back, thoughts of suicide regularly arose in my mind. I didn’t feel like I could go on without my mom, who’d been my best friend. Clearly, I was a broken woman. Yes, I had been seeing a therapist and was trying to get my head above water. But nothing seemed to be working. My suicidal thoughts were getting stronger and stronger. I had gone so far as to ask my aunt and uncle to take my dog (I couldn’t bear messing up her little life), and I didn’t get a new car when my lease was up . . . because people who are going to kill themselves don’t need a car. I also wrote out my will.
Yep, I was gearing up to end my life.
One particularly horrible day I was on my knees in the shower, when I just collapsed and screamed out, “God, Mom, anyone, please help me kill myself or please save me!” In that moment, I completely surrendered. I was nothing. I was no one. And I completely gave myself and my fate over to God.
A week later, a friend suggested I learn Transcendental Meditation (TM). My only hope, at the time, was that I would be able to get some sleep. I hadn’t read anything about meditation, hadn’t thought about it or even wondered about it. But I was in such a dark place, one morning I made the call.
Within days, I borrowed that same friend’s car and drove to a Transcendental Meditation center in Chicago. The home which doubled as a TM center had a feeling of calm I couldn’t quite put my finger on—the air seemed lighter, somehow, and the view was all lake. Even upon entering the center’s lobby, I felt a bit calmer. Huh, I thought, these people who work here are super different. They were so chilled and completely filled with love . . . it was immediately clear to me they were there to help me. My next thought was, I’m here, so I might as well learn how to do this.
I sat down with my teacher and after a short, but beautiful ceremony, I was given my “mantra”—a sound she said my awareness would naturally follow, as it subsided into the depths of silence in my mind. When we both closed our eyes, I easily and effortlessly said the mantra to myself less than five times . . . and just like that, I was gone. I dove into a part of my body and mind I never knew existed—boundless, limitless and totally awesome. Yes-sir, something major had just happened . . . but soon I was discovering I’d only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg.
Driving home down Lake Shore Drive, I immediately began noticing how the world seemed so much different to me than it had on my way to the center. The colors all around me were more vivid, the sounds of the birds felt like sweet music to my ears, I seemed to be connected to all of the trees I saw . . . and above all, I felt happy. But, my mind called out to me, Is this really happening?! Do I really feel happy? How? Why? What the hell?
Fortunately, the essence of that experience stuck and stayed, and I came to find it was in fact “real”—that in twenty minutes, my whole life had changed. I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong. My life was no longer defined by outer circumstances. I was having a direct experience of what I have come to know as my true Self.
I cannot explain what followed . . . you know, the why of it. Within weeks of learning to meditate, I was standing in front of Oprah Winfrey, explaining how her newfound TM practice was going to make her limitless and boundless. Now, one would think standing in front of one of the most powerful women in the world would cause some serious butterflies in the stomach. But this wasn’t my experience. In that moment, when I stood at the front of the room and described my journey to her, I could only “see” her. The fame and the power didn’t exist. I was only concerned with helping the beautiful human in front of me the only way I knew how . . . with honesty, passion and a dash of humor.
I walked out of Harpo Studios that Friday morning and knew I was about to head down a very different life path. My soul and heart were breaking open and I was watching the right words leave my lips before my mind could even think them. I felt the power of the whole universe in my little body. That day, I decided to give everything I had to try to bring peace and goodness to the world. To do my part.
It has actually taken me the past few years to really understand this new way of living: that is, from the inside out. I felt compelled to write in my journal every night. I mean, the realizations I was having were just too profound not to write them down. I turned what I wrote about into a manuscript . . . and today I am proud to say I have just published my first book, Enlightenment Is Sexy: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life. I’ve also started a brand I love and have continued to speak about consciousness, happiness, freedom, and above all, Transcendental Meditation.
Learning to meditate saved my life . . . but it also gave me more than I could have ever dreamt of: awakening to the real me.
Related: Read an interview with Valerie Gangas at TM Home, and this poem I wrote for her: Scheherazade Incarnate. TM Home also posted this today: Valerie Gangas reveals her top 5 reasons to learn Transcendental Meditation. And Val posted and sent this out. Transcendental Meditation for Women also posted Awakening to Me.
Valerie Gangas Shows Why Enlightenment Is Sexy on Writers’ Voices.
Martha’s Vineyard Film Society
This month, Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will present ROOTED in PEACE on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, at 7:30pm. There will be a special post-screening Q&A with director Greg Reitman.
Iowa Premiere in Sondheim Center
In early August the film will premiere in Fairfield, Iowa. Read how this Hollywood filmmaker came to Fairfield for a Beach Boys concert, returned for a David Lynch Weekend at MUM, learned TM and more, in the July issue of the Iowa Source in their All About FAIRFIELD section: Getting Rooted In Peace: Green Producer Greg Reitman Brings New Documentary to Sondheim for Iowa Premiere. Here is a PDF of the print version.
Included in the film are interviews from those visits with filmmaker David Lynch; musicians Donovan and Mike Love; Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation; and Fred Travis, director of Maharishi University’s Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition; as well as historical footage of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and Maharishi University of Management.
Blue Water Entertainment and the David Lynch Foundation are presenting the Iowa premiere of this inspirational documentary feature film, Sunday, August 2nd at 7pm in the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. There will be a Q&A following the showing with Sundance award-winning Director Greg Reitman and Executive Producer Joanna Plafsky. Joanna is an established international film producer and distributor, and member of the DLF Board of Directors.
Visit the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center website to find out more about Greg and his film, including production stills and the movie trailer, and if you’ll be in town at that time, to purchase tickets. Here is a PDF of the ROOTED in PEACE poster for Fairfield with affordable ticket prices.
The Fairfield Weekly Reader will publish an article on the event July 23rd.
Previous posts about the film can be seen here.
Arrangements are being finalized for the first international premiere, to be announced in the next film post.