Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Mental health tips from London’s leading art figures includes #TranscendentalMeditation

October 10, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018: The Evening Standard GO London wrote a piece for , on how London arts figures look after their minds. They featured 9 individuals. Here is the introduction, and the 7th, Bea Colley, who benefits from her regular practice of Transcendental Meditation, and finds comfort in poetry.

Tips for a healthy mind from London’s leading art figures

Only in the last few years have mental health and physical health begun to be regarded on an equal par. Open conversations about mental health help to break the stigma, but they also remind us that it’s an issue that affects us all.

Self-care is too often relegated to the last priority in the midst of life in a high pressure city, long days at work and digital devices that don’t allow us to ever truly switch off. Opening up about how you’re really feeling is hard enough, and finding and taking practical steps to look after your body and mind isn’t straightforward either.

To mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, we asked leading London arts figures for their tips on self-care and keeping a healthy mind.

Bea Colley

A few years ago, during a particularly difficult time, I learnt Transcendental Meditation. It’s a practice that my parents swear got them through their teaching years and that celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and David Lynch live their lives by. I know that if I can keep up the 20 minutes each morning and evening, the day will be brighter and calmer. Also, being a lover of poetry, I have a theory that a poem will always find you in times of need. Sometimes I head to Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library, pick up an anthology and wait for a poem to bring me comfort.

Bea Colley is Literature Programmer at Southbank Centre‘s London Literature Festival which runs October 18-28.

Dr. Fred Travis at GIBS: Mind-Brain Development for Excellence and TM Develops Brain Coherence

October 3, 2018

Dr Fred Travis presenting at GIBS

On May 7, 2018, Dr. Travis gave a presentation at the Gordon Institute of Business Science at Pretoria University in Johannesburg, South Africa: Achieving Career Excellence through Mind/Brain Development. This forum explores the essential role that mind/brain development plays in enhanced performance.

Research indicates that the level of mind-brain development underlies excellence in all fields of life. Higher brain integration is associated with higher emotional stability, more openness to experience, greater creativity, and greater problem-solving ability. Research shows that world-class professional athletes, top-level managers, and professional musicians have higher levels of brain integration.* This forum explores the different factors that influence brain integration and performance.​

Dr. Fred Travis earned his Ph.D. in 1988 from Maharishi University of Management and after a 2-year postdoctoral position returned to Maharishi University of Management to direct research in the Center from Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition. He has authored over 80 papers that investigate the relation between natural human development and lifestyle choices on brain functioning and personal and professional success. He has lectured extensively in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

The GIBS Business School published two videos of his talk on their YouTube channel May 14, 2018: Dr Fred Travis – Mind-Brain Development for Excellence (4:15). Dr. Fred Travis, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at the Maharishi University of Management, says studies have found that that a certain level of mind-brain development underlies excellence in all fields of life.

Seated up front is a subject with EEG leads taped to his head and EEG signatures projected onto the screen behind him. A meditation demonstration must have been done, but that footage is not included in these videos, just a screensaver of it for the second video.

Towards the end of the first video Dr. Travis mentions the Transcendental Meditation technique as a practical tool to help you develop excellence in whatever field you’re in. That theme is more developed in this second video: Dr Fred Travis – Meditation Develops Brain Coherence (5:35). MUM/CBCC Director Dr. Travis believes that meditation develops greater coherence across the brain and aligns the flow of information.

*Here are some of those cited references, from June 18, 2012, Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances. World-class performers in management, sports and music often have uniquely high mind-brain development. On June 4, 2014, another study finds brain integration correlates with greater creativity in product-development engineers. See Does practice make perfect? Or are some people more creative than others? If so, why?

For an explanation of how and why the TM technique is effortless, and can be easily learned and practiced by anyone, with immediate results, read this report: Research validates the defining hallmark of Transcendental Meditation—effortlessness.

Also see this recently published paper using fMRI:  New study highlights unique state of “restful alertness” during Transcendental Meditation.

Check out this infographic comparing different meditation techniques.

Ideal Energy’s solar-plus storage system for MUM is first large-scale installation of its kind in Iowa

October 3, 2018

A detailed creative article on this innovative project written by Bob Saar for The Hawk Eye was published September 9, 2018. Click on the title to see more photos at their website. A recent synopsis published in MUM’s The Review, Vol. 34, #2, October 3, 2018 is added at the bottom. Also added info on the upcoming December 14 inauguration in The Review, Vol 34, #6, November 28, 2018, page 3.

Ideal Energy CEO Troy Van Beek with account manager Michael HalleyThe Hawk Eye caption for Ideal Energy

Here comes the Sun

Fairfield company Ideal Energy brings Iowa to national attention with new solar array installation at Maharishi University of Management.

First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.

That Buddhist concept fits the solar energy business: The first mountain was long-term storage, but that has been alleviated with modern battery technology, paving the way for local, independent companies like Ideal Energy, Inc. in Fairfield, Iowa to enter the energy-supply business.

But that in turn led to another mountain: How will those smaller companies interconnect with utility giants like Alliant and MidAmerican Energy when they’re in competition with them for energy dollars?

Depending on who you ask, Iowa ranks somewhere in the top 20 states in solar energy development and production, based on a multitude of factors from metering to rebates to tax credits and electricity prices, but Ideal Energy is rising like the morning sun to heat things up for the Hawkeye State.

Founded in 2009 by CEO Troy Van Beek and chief marketing officer Amy Van Beek, Ideal Energy is pioneering modern solar storage technology in Iowa. One of their hottest projects is installing a large solar field for the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield.

MUM’s array, Iowa’s newest and largest privately owned solar array, will track the sun as it moves across the sky, charging a battery system designed by Ideal Energy, providing the college affordable electricity when prices are highest. Called a solar-plus storage system, it’s the first large-scale installation of its kind in Iowa. The Iowa Economic Development Authority is sponsoring a study to encourage the spread of this new renewable technology throughout the state.

Ideal Energy is constructing the 1.1-megawatt solar tracking array on five acres of land. The panels in the array will move 120 degrees each day to track the sun’s journey. Each row of panels can move independently to maintain its own optimal angle to the sun.

Key to the dream of living entirely off the sun in the form of solar and wind energy is the need to store the sun’s output during peak times — noon on a cloudless day, for example — for use during low times — with solar, that’s all night long. Exacerbating the problem is the tendency for demand to increase at periods during low-light times.

The answer is batteries.

The array will provide electricity to the university and charge a vanadium flow battery system. When electricity is in highest demand and prices peak — hot summer days, for example — the university can draw from its own battery supply. Over time, reducing these “demand charges” will help MUM reduce its electricity bill. The battery power can also be used during emergency outages.

Renewable energy is obtained by collecting naturally replenished resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat, all of which support sustainability.

Sustainability avoids the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. In 1987, the UN said “sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the well-being of future generations.”

Fossil fuels are nonrenewable — the earth has a finite supply of decomposed dinosaurs — thus a world economy based on coal and oil is not sustainable.

If the major industrialized nations worked toward sustainability by developing renewable energy sources, we wouldn’t be talking these days about global warming, melting polar icecaps or the threat of year-round hurricanes.

Back in the early 1970s, when America was bleeding out in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia, the Baby Boomers stumbled across several fresh concepts including sustainability, Buckydomes and — thanks to people like the Beatles, Donovan Leitch and the Beach Boys — a technique called Transcendental Meditation, via the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian guru who first met those musicians in 1967.

Those so-called counter-culture concepts were not considered cutting edge; rather, they were ignored by the mainstream as being on the fringes of American societal thinking.

But mountains crumble with time and rivers flow relentlessly to the sea, thus today America embraces such previously alien concepts as solar energy, non-dependence on fossil fuels, electric cars, and Dick Tracy two-way wrist radios.

Back then, the problem was how to get off the grid; today, the problem is how to get on the grid with your solar energy system. Solar energy is big business growing larger each year, and big business means government regulation, utility giants and infrastructure.

The symbiosis of small outfits like Ideal with the big utilities — Alliant and MidAmerican in Iowa — is a topic beyond the scope of this story, but look at it this way: Companies like Ideal are the Davids standing tall for the common man, and Alliant is Goliath, only this time, the two are not combatants but are, instead, reluctant dance partners carefully avoiding stepping on each others’ toes.

One of the early solar energy problems was storage: Efficient use of solar requires storage for dark hours and peaks. Used railroad engine batteries were used by some off-gridders, but they had too short a cycle to keep a factory running all night, and thus battery technology had to grow up before solar could become truly viable.

At the heart of the solar problem was the duck curve — that’s the graph of usage versus time of day, which, when plotted out, looks like a duck’s silhouette. The fact the peak demand does not occur when the sun is high means peak usage is somewhat the inverse of peak solar input. In other words, while everyone leaves the office or factory to drive to McDonald’s for lunch, they aren’t using electricity, even though the sun is at it’s zenith. Conversely, when those same workers go home in the evening to fire up the stove, the TV, the hot tub, the Xbox to play Minecraft — that’s when the sun is crashing on the western horizon.

That’s why America needs companies like Ideal Energy.

Ideal wisely focused on battery storage. Today’s battery technology far surpasses those bulky D-cells you used to slide into your dad’s big flashlight, and two technologies are leading the way: vanadium flow and the batteries used in Tesla automobiles.

The vanadium flow battery is a non-toxic, pH-balanced battery whose performance does not degrade over time. Ideal was considering lithium-ion batteries, but those degrade: after 15 years, the top of the line lithium-ion batteries will only hold 50 percent of their initial charge. NEXTracker, owned by Fluxtronics, Ideal’s source for vanadium flow batteries, warranties their batteries for the life of the solar power system as long as Ideal follows a recommended annual maintenance schedule. That means after 25-plus years, the vanadium flow batteries will still hold 98 percent of charge.

A 2-by-4-by-6-foot vanadium battery sits at the end of each row on the MUM array, which consists of 3,150 panels rated at 350 watts each.

The Tesla Powerwall is the same battery utilized in Tesla’s cars; it can be integrated into a modular system and built out for commercial applications. Tesla also does this for residential homes, but the level Ideal is dealing with is large commercial installations.

Troy Van Beek earned his bachelor’s degree in sustainability from MUM and brought his Navy SEAL experience to the company.

“A part of the mission that has created Ideal is that we look at resource security as part of what we’re doing,” Troy said. “We’re in the process of creating abundance for our clients, and that’s really important because of the effect that it has on opportunity. The more opportunity there is, the less need for conflict.”

Amy Van Beek said the MUM project is the first solar and storage, large-scale battery project in the Midwest.

“It’s pretty significant because the National Renewable Energy Labs put out a study about a year ago indicating Iowa is one of the top ten states in the country to benefit from battery energy storage for peak demand mitigation,” she said.

Demand mitigation can reduce energy prices for hours with high price spikes by reducing the marginal generating cost of the system.

“The University is one of these peak demand customers,” Amy said. “We in Iowa have some of the lowest utility rates in the country, but for peak demand users, they’re in the top ten highest utility rates in the country. That can be a big problem for universities, manufacturers, even non-profit organizations — anybody that’s a large electric user.”

Troy Van Beek said that together, the vanadium flow battery technology and the tracking system makes the MUM project unique.

“It gives the U a good energy profile for its particular type of energy curve,” he said. “So that gives nice shoulders on the energy that’s being produced throughout the day. It really gives them a good payback on the project itself.”

That’s enough battery talk for today. Here’s something you can meditate upon tonight: The Sun is free and you can harvest whatever heat, light and wind by-products you want, all day, for free.

The technology to do so is not free. The delivery infrastructure is not free. The maintenance, legislation and continuing R&D are not free.

In the end, there will be no more solar mountains as more energy companies shine as brightly as Ideal Energy.

Read more about Ideal Energy’s projects at www.idealenergysolar.com.

The lyrics to Donovan’s song “There is a Mountain” refer to a Buddhist concept often attributed to Qingyuan Weixin, later translated by D.T. Suzuki in his “Essays in Zen Buddhism.

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Update: Iowa press cover launch of new MEG’Array Solar Power Plant for Maharishi University Fri, Dec 14. https://goo.gl/4uypUX

Also see Iowa Entrepreneur profiles Ideal Energy, Fairfield. IPTV first aired this 13-minute story, on July 28, 2017.

On Oct 10, 2018, Ideal Energy posted Women Empowered: a short film about the leaders driving Iowa’s energy future.

See The Review story below:

Construction Begins on Five-Acre Solar Array West of Campus

Construction began last month on a 5-acre, 1.1-megawatt solar array west of the recreational trail that borders the west side of campus. It will be capable of supplying approximately a third of the energy needs on campus.

The array will have a number of advanced features, including panels that track the movement of the sun and a battery system that will store power for use when the sun isn’t available and during times when there is “peak demand” (such as a hot summer day).

During times of peak demand, not only is electricity from the power company more expensive, it also raises the basic rate the customer pays throughout the year. The utility company offers lower rates to customers who are able to reduce their consumption during peak demand – which will also save the university money.

The array is being installed by Ideal Energy, a highly successful company founded by alumni Troy and Amy (Greenfield) Van Beek. It will be the first solar and storage, large-scale battery project in the Midwest.

The project, which will cost over $2 million and will be owned by an independent company, is being funded by private investment and by a loan from MUM that was made possible by donations, including a $100,000 grant from the Wege Foundation.

The panels in the array will move 120 degrees each day to track the sun’s movement across the sky. Each row of panels can move independently to maintain an optimal angle to the sun.

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MUM to Inaugurate Solar Array Dec. 14

MUM’s new solar array will be inaugurated at an event Friday, December 14, beginning at 2:45 p.m. in Dalby Hall.

The 1.1-megawatt, five-acre solar array west of campus will provide one-third of all the electricity used by MUM.

The MEG’Array Solar Power Plant is the first system in the Midwest to combine two leading-edge technologies on a large scale: active tracking and vanadium-flow batteries. In active tracking systems, the solar panels follow the sun as it moves across the sky, yielding 20–25% more energy than a fixed tilt array.

Each row of panels in the MEG’Array includes its own motor controlled by software that allows rows to move independently of each other and remember the best angles for maximum energy production throughout the seasons.

The vanadium-flow batteries will store energy for use at night, on cloudy days, and during peak energy usage times. These batteries are capable of operating for decades without any loss of efficiency.

The solar array is being installed by Ideal Energy, a Fairfield company founded in 2009 by MUM alumni Troy and Amy (Greenfield) Van Beek. As the CEO of Ideal Energy, Mr. Van Beek has brought the company to a leadership position for the solar industry in Iowa and the U.S. He has spoken to national, and international leaders in Washington, D.C. and at the United Nations about the fundamental relationship between sustainable energy and national security.

The MEG’Array Solar Power Plant is owned by an Iowa LLC that will sell electricity to MUM at considerable savings to its current energy costs. The solar facility operates “behind the meter,” meaning that all the electricity produced by the solar panels and batteries directly powers the campus.

MUM Trustee Tom Factor is the managing partner of the LLC that owns and operates the MEG’Array. He began his involvement in renewable energy at MUM in 1992 and has since pioneered the development of 60 Midwest wind farms generating over 8,000 megawatts of wind power. He now serves as a trustee with a focus on helping the university achieve its goal of carbon neutrality.

The inauguration on Friday, December 14, will begin at 2:45 p.m. in Dalby Hall and will feature President John Hagelin and Mr. Factor, along with video presentations by Ideal Energy. At 3:30 p.m. the event will move to the site of the solar array west of campus to “flip the switch” on the array. (Bus transportation provided).

The MEG’Array Solar Power Plant will serve as an energy research facility, with studies being conducted by Ideal Energy, MUM’s Sustainable Living Department, and the Iowa Economic Development Association. This project represents a unique leadership role for the university and community, and the research it generates will help validate solar energy as a solution for colleges, factories, and government policy makers.

Bobby Hutcherson plays Bouquet with Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock at One Night with Blue Note

September 26, 2018

Bobby Hutcherson Bouquet with Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter

The first time I heard jazz vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson play was with pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Ron Carter performing Bouquet. It was on a Netflix DVD, One Night With Blue Note: The Historic All-Star Reunion Concert, recorded live for Blue Note’s 50th anniversary at New York’s Town Hall on February 22, 1985. When the historic Blue Note record label was revived in 1985, this all-star concert was held bringing together their legendary roster of musicians, a who’s who of jazz.

The concert was great! It opens with Herbie Hancock performing his popular tune Canteloupe Island featuring Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Joe Henderson on sax,  Ron Carter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. But I bought the DVD primarily for Bobby’s beautiful ballad Bouquet.

Now, years later, I searched the internet and found the concert, as well as just the performance of Bobby Hutcherson’s Bouquet with Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock. The YouTube video includes the short introduction from the DVD. This excerpt on Dailymotion doesn’t, but the quality is better. The audience was so moved they applauded before the piece was actually finished, but the musicians quietly played on to the end.

You can hear Bouquet on Hutcherson’s album Happenings in the Remastered 2006/Rudy Van Gelder Edition. This slightly mellower version includes Herbie Hancock on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass, and the smooth brush work of Joe Chambers on drums. It’s about a minute longer than the concert version and has a rich clear tone.

The three hours of brilliant performances were distilled down to the two-hour DVD, One Night With Blue Note All-Star Reunion Concert. You can see it here, or in this larger format. It’s also available in better quality on Dailymotion divided into two one-hour sections: Part 1 and Part 2.

I’ve posted other favorite beautiful musical selections across genres on my blog, like this harp music performed in nature; Canadian harpist Kristan Toczko performing Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune; a kind of musical onomatopoeia in Bill Evans’s Peace Piece; the hauntingly beautiful Celtic music of Davy Spillane on uilleann pipes and low whistle; and the angelic voice of Eva Cassidy, who interpreted and delivered popular songs in her own inimitable way, with purity, passion and power.

The Hawk Eye interviewed Fairfield native Cameron Mullenneaux on her Emmy nomination, competing against news giants ABC and CBS

September 18, 2018

The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best and brightest in the world of television, was held Monday night at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles. The 39th Annual News and Documentary Emmy® Awards will be held Monday, October 1, in a ceremony at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Complex at Columbus Circle in New York City. The event will be attended by more than 1,000 television and news media industry executives, news and documentary producers and journalists. It will be webcast live at 7:30pm ET on emmyonline.tv.

A short film directed and produced by Fairfield native Cameron Mullenneaux will be in the running. Condé Nast Inc. funded “Angelique” for Glamour Magazine, posted it online last November, and submitted it to The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for an Outstanding Feature Story in a Newsmagazine. Angelique’s story, the adversities she had to overcome, and the way Cameron captured it is truly inspirational. The film will be competing against ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s 60 Minutes!!

Bob Saar interviewed Cameron on her nomination and filed this report for The Hawk Eye’s Sunday edition: Fairfield native pitted against CBS, ABC.

The entertainment business is rarely looked upon by Americans as “business” because they’re attracted to the Hollywood glamour and gossip.

You might hear some guy say, “Those guys are artists, not businessmen.”

Two problems here: They aren’t all guys, guys. And those who succeed are, indeed, business-men or -women.

Southeast Iowa filmmaker Cameron Mullenneaux is an artist and businesswoman, and this week, she’s in New York at the Emmy awards. Director-producer Mullenneaux is up for an Emmy against giants ABC and CBS — and their big guns Diane Sawyer and Leslie Stahl.

Cameron Mulleanneaux

Cameron Mullenneaux, producer/director of “Angelique”, is competing against news giants ABC’s 20/20 and CBS’s 60 Minutes for an Emmy for Outstanding Feature Story in a Newsmagazine.

Mullenneaux, formerly Bargerstock — she married in June — is a Fairfield native, the daughter of Betty and Andy Bargerstock, a professor at Maharishi University of Management. Mullenneaux, who now lives in California, wrote, produced and directed “Angelique,” a film about a straight-A homeless high school student in Asheville, North Carolina.

“I was looking for a bright, creative, and resilient young person who didn’t let their difficult life circumstances hold them back from pursuing their dreams,” Mullenneaux said. “I met her through Asheville High School social worker Pam Pauly.”

Mullenneaux attended Maharishi School and graduated Warren Wilson College before earning an MFA in Documentary Filmmaking at Wake Forest University.

Here’s a brief synopsis distilled from a description submitted by Condé Nast to the Television Academy: ‘Angelique’ is a short documentary following the life of a homeless high school girl who battles the odds to stay in school, get good grades, and go to college despite the challenges of living with a mother who suffers from bipolar disorder and an absentee father.

@LynchFoundation CEO @meditationbob offers #TranscendentalMeditation to those in need

September 16, 2018

Last year, Alexandra Wolfe wrote a great profile on teacher and David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth for the Wall Street Journal‘s Weekend Confidential. Transcendental Meditation for Everyone was published June 30, 2017. It’s posted below with added links. See the 5-column printed article with photo by Chris Sorensen: Bob Roth: The nonprofit executive is working to bring Transcendental Meditation to all.

Bob Roth, chief executive of the David Lynch Foundation, teaches Transcendental Meditation to a range of students, from elementary-school children to CEOs.

Bob Roth knows his field sounds a little like “woowoo” spirituality, as he says. But as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation, he now works with a wide-ranging clientele that includes celebrities such as Katy Perry and Jerry Seinfeld, hedge-fund managers, inner-city students, prisoners and veterans. He has the same goal for everyone: to teach them the virtues of T.M., as it’s called—a practice that involves silently reciting a mantra over and over for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day.

Proponents say that the practice reduces stress and raises self-awareness. Bridgewater founder and co-chairman Ray Dalio, a student of Mr. Roth’s for more than a decade and a donor to the foundation, is a believer. The practice has been “integral to whatever success I’ve had in life,” he says. “It makes one feel like…a ninja in a movie, like you’re doing everything calmly and in slow motion.”

Mr. Roth, 66, is chief executive of the David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit he co-founded with the film director in 2005 that is dedicated to teaching Transcendental Meditation, particularly to at-risk populations, “to improve their health, cognitive capabilities and performance in life,” as the foundation’s website says. Some of its funds come from teaching courses to companies and individuals; a four-day training course costs up to $960 a person. The foundation has 60 employees in the U.S. as well as partners in 35 countries.

In early June, Mr. Roth opened the nonprofit’s first office in Washington, D.C., where he says he is currently teaching a dozen members of Congress. His organization has also been participating in studies in prisons recently. In a study published last year in the Permanente Journal, 181 male inmates at the Oregon State Correctional Institute and the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem either took a Transcendental Meditation program through the foundation or did nothing outside their usual routine. The researchers found greater reductions in anxiety, depression and trauma symptoms in the group that had taken meditation.

Mr. Roth finds an analogy in the sea. “The ocean can be active and turbulent on the surface, sometimes with tsunami-like 30-foot waves, but is, by its nature, silent at its depth,” he says. “The surface of the mind is the active, noisy, thinking mind—often racing, noisy, hyperactive, turbulent. But like the ocean, the mind of everyone is quiet, calm, silent at its depth.”

T.M. was developed in India by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a physicist turned meditation teacher, in the 1950s; it gained popularity in the 1960s when he worked with the Beatles and other celebrities.

The son of a doctor and a teacher, Mr. Roth dreamed of being a senator when he was young. He started meditating in college at the University of California, Berkeley, after a friend suggested it as a way to relax amid the student riots on campus.

He was skeptical at first but soon became hooked. After he graduated in 1972, he started teaching meditation to children in inner-city schools in San Francisco. A few years later, he traveled to Europe to study under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before returning to California to continue teaching over the next decade. In 1982, he moved to Washington, D.C., where he eventually met Mr. Lynch, the director of “Blue Velvet” and “Twin Peaks,” who had taken up the practice in the 1970s. “If you are a human being, [Transcendental Meditation] works,” says Mr. Lynch.

Contrary to what you might expect for a meditation teacher, Mr. Roth often wears a suit with a crisp white shirt. (More predictably, he has a serene demeanor.) He lives alone in New York, and in his downtime enjoys trying new Asian fusion and Italian restaurants and watching sports, especially baseball. “I grew up with Willie Mays, who was my first hero,” he says.

He spends half his time teaching and the other half running the organization. For all of his new students, instruction is the same. He conducts a short ceremony in which he acknowledges past teachers and gives each student a mantra—a sound or word that has no meaning and is to be repeated silently during the meditation. (The student keeps that mantra forever.) After that, the student closes his or her eyes for 20 minutes and silently recites the mantra while sitting in a comfortable position.

In follow-up sessions, Mr. Roth discusses the benefits of the practice, refreshes students’ techniques and answers any questions they have, often meditating alongside them. Critics have said that the practice isn’t any better than therapy, exercise or medication at reducing stress, but Mr. Roth points to studies that have shown it to be effective, including in reducing high blood pressure. “It’s not a matter of ‘either or,’ ” he says. “It’s a wiser matter of ‘and also.’ ”

The foundation is now participating in a study with the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab to research whether T.M. can reduce violence and improve scores in a trial with 2,000 children in five Chicago public schools. Next year, the research will expand to 800 students in two public schools in New York.

Mr. Seinfeld has been working with Mr. Roth for the past eight years and has performed at some of the foundation’s benefits. “It completely changed my ability to do work and be active and do the things I want to do,” he says. “Wives like to go out to dinner and husbands just want to lie there, but now I find I can do anything, with the T.M. to restore me,” he adds with a laugh.

Excellent interview with @DAVID_LYNCH about #TranscendentalMeditation & @LynchFoundation

September 16, 2018

Huffington Post writer/interviewer Marianne Schnall produced this wonderful, comprehensive Interview With David Lynch: His Mission to Change the World Through Meditation. It was posted December 9, 2014 and updated February 8, 2015.

I can remember being absolutely hooked and engrossed into the surreal world of the cutting-edge television series Twin Peaks back in the ’90s. That was when series creator and director David Lynch became a household name and the show developed a massive and passionate cult following (which the show still has — there was much excitement over the recent announcement that Twin Peaks will return as a limited series with new episodes written, directed, and produced by Lynch to air on Showtime in 2016). In addition to receiving numerous Emmy nominations for his work on Twin Peaks, Lynch has also received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay for iconic films like The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive. All these years later, I found myself playing my own cameo in a seemingly surreal scene: hanging out with David Lynch in a hotel cafe in NYC, sipping lattes and talking about topics such as meditation, consciousness, the Unified Field, and “positivity moving at the speed of light in all directions.” What I experienced during our inspiring and thought-provoking time together is that while he is an explosive force of nature creatively, in person he is a gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful, and deeply caring and compassionate soul. In addition to being a consummate artist in a variety of mediums (as well as being a film and television director and writer, he is also a musician, actor, author, and visual artist), David has one passion that is especially dear to his heart: the David Lynch Foundation, a non-profit founded by the legendary filmmaker to help people overcome trauma and transform their lives through the Transcendental Meditation technique. It began when he first experienced how dramatically TM transformed his own personal life experience, which he says granted him “access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within.” But he says, “I had no idea how powerful and profound this technique could be until I saw firsthand how it was being practiced by young children in inner-city schools, veterans who suffer the living hell of post-traumatic stress disorder, and women and girls who are victims of terrible violence.” The organization was founded in 2005 as the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace to ensure that every child anywhere in the world who wanted to learn to meditate could do so. Now, the foundation has expanded and is actively teaching TM to adults and children in countries everywhere and offers a variety of pioneering campaigns and programs, including many innovative initiatives aimed at youth and a variety of at-risk communities. The positive effects of the organization’s work is backed up by measurable results and emerging scientific data and research, as well as support from celebrities and fellow TM practitioners such as Russell Brand, Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, Ringo Starr, Ellen Degeneres, Lena Dunham, and Katy Perry. In the following interview, David Lynch shares the story of his own personal transformation and his belief in the power of meditation to not only positively affect one’s own enjoyment of life, creativity, and ability to cope with stress and trauma but also transform our “collective consciousness.” As he told me, “The human being is like a light bulb. If a human being is super stressed, depressed, and filled with negativity, this is what that human being radiates out into the world. On the other hand, if a human being is filled with happiness and positivity, this is what they radiate out into the world. We each affect our environment and that collective consciousness. The more people who are diving within and transcending and are getting that happiness and positivity, the better the world will be.”

Marianne Schnall: Tell me a little about your journey that led you to found the David Lynch Foundation and just in general how you wound up at this place, your own experience with Transcendental Meditation.

David Lynch: I started Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1973 in Los Angeles, California, on July 1st on a beautiful Sunday morning, about 11:00. I loved my experience with Transcendental Meditation. I loved my experience, I just loved it. And I’ve been meditating twice a day for 41 years now, never missed a meditation in those 41 years. I went to Fairfield, Iowa, one time to visit a high school where the entire school’s teachers and students practiced Transcendental Meditation. While I was there on a cold and raining night, I was invited to a high school play and I thought maybe it would be one of the most boring nights of my life. I went to a little theater that was packed with people. Then on the stage came students, high school students, and they put on a play that blew me away.

A lot of things about the play impressed me so much, but the main thing was a glow on every face — this glow of consciousness, of intelligence, of happiness. None of them were actors. They were high school students. They weren’t going into acting, but they were so beyond good and the timing of everything was so good, the humor of everything, where it was supposed to be humorous, was so good. It was tight. And it was performed so beautifully. There was some kind of extra thing coming off them that was thrilling. After that, I thought every actor, every actress, should learn Transcendental Meditation. It’s that thing, that charisma, that magic thing that was coming off the high school students.

Around this time, I started hearing about different schools around the country. I started hearing about students bringing guns to school and then more and more through the years, about more and more violence in schools, metal detectors, no learning, fights in the school, a lot of depression, a lot of pharmaceutical drugs, a lot of illegal drugs — the whole thing that by now everybody’s heard about. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if students knew about Transcendental Meditation? And one thing led to another and this foundation got born in 2005.

(more…)

How #TranscendentalMeditation is helping lifestyle writer/editor @Tara_Gardner_ @glam

September 8, 2018

I was so impressed with this article I shared it via Twitter and my newsletter. It’s so good I decided to post it on my blog. Tara Gardner‘s experience and understanding of what makes TM unique among other meditations is impressive. She nails it! I like her style and highlighted two key sentences. Here it is without visuals or links, except mine. Click on Glam to see the original published August 27, 2018.

How Transcendental Meditation Gives Me Mental Clarity Like Nothing Else

It hit me, quite literally, after endless months of going to sleep wired, waking up tired, and spending my days drifting through a murky brain fog. I stepped out onto the Chicago streets one morning, absent-mindedly looking in the British direction, and got clipped by a car. Something had to give.

Living in a new city and forging a new career as a freelance editor with a bazillion deadlines, I didn’t really give my head time to acclimatize. I just jumped right in and expected my brain and body to follow behind. To alleviate the low energy, I dosed myself on coffee and copious amounts of Diet Coke, riding the caffeine highs until the crashes became too much. After the car accident, I realized that I needed to find a way to give my head a break from the cranial quicksand of daily life. So, like any editor, I hit the trends — from cleanses to self-care — hard. Then, I tried elimination diets. I felt better physically, but the mental cloud still hadn’t cleared. (And, no, it wasn’t jet-lag, as many suggested; I’d been in the U.S. for six months at that point.)

Back in London, I had done several mindfulness meditation courses. I always felt a little superficially smug about doing them, too — like you do after you’ve just finished a three-day juice cleanse and everyone in the office is asking you how amazing you feel, but secretly all it made you want to do is eat a bucket of fried chicken. Truth was, I never actually noticed a huge shift in anything. Perhaps I wasn’t doing it properly. Perhaps my brain was immune to it. Perhaps (and most likely) I was sleeping through it. Obviously, mindfulness works for a lot of people, and I’m not saying it isn’t a method worth trying — we’re all wired differently. In fact, it’s one of the most popular forms of meditation, really hitting the mainstream in recent years thanks to a multitude of apps and YouTube videos.

But the main sticking point for me was its rigidity. Clear your mind. Clear the thoughts of clearing your mind. Self-observe but don’t think about those observations as you meditate. Focus on your breathing, but don’t think thoughts about your breathing. It all felt too, well, mindful. That said, I did enjoy the fact that it helped me be more present in my daily life, to take a moment, breathe and notice the more mundane daily activities, rather than rushing through every moment thinking about dinner, my next Instagram post, or a fight on The Real Housewives.

However, this practice didn’t travel with me to Chicago. I readily gave myself excuses, which I mindfully accepted: “I’m too busy teaching my cat to sit to take 12 minutes for meditation,” I would tell myself. It wasn’t until I started getting dragged down the rabbit hole of Twin Peaks season three (episode 8 anyone?) that I found myself looking up David Lynch interviews for clues as to what the heck was actually going on. I stumbled upon a video of him talking about Transcendental Meditation, or TM as it’s commonly called.

Anything that could open up my brain to the levels of Lynch-imagination was worth investigating. Oh, and add that Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Kate Hudson, Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow (okay, not that surprising), and Oprah all reportedly practice it, my pack-mentality told me there’s got to be something to this. Also, having long been a Seinfeld fan, the fact that the uber cynical Jerry Seinfeld was also a major advocate of the practice, gave me the green light. “You know how your phone has a charger?” he said during an appearance on Good Morning America. “TM is like having a charger for your mind and body.” I was sold.

Hippy-dippy, cultish connotations aside, TM is actually one of the most scientifically studied, evidence-backed forms of meditation out there. Studies have reported that it can increase and improve actual grey matter (brain cells), along with supporting all manner of issues, including PTSD, depression, ADHD, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and more. “Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting like other forms of meditation,” the official TM website reads. “Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking.” And, as I started researching it more, I found myself really drawn not just to the science but also the technique.

Unlike mindfulness or other meditations, it’s not about trying to empty the mind or monitor thoughts. In fact, concentration or trying to control thoughts couldn’t be further from the practice, making it ideal for a brain full of jumping beans like mine. What TM is at its core is getting to a place of deep relaxation, deeper than any other meditation practice, to the point where it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about or if you’re having thoughts at all.

What TM is at its core is getting to a place of deep relaxation, deeper than any other meditation practice, to the point where it doesn’t matter what you’re thinking about or if you’re having thoughts at all.

With the thick soup of emotions, activities, actions, and lack of sleep that makes up modern life, many of us find ourselves in a constant state of stress — whether we realize it or not. Our fight or flight responses are jacked up, leaving us in a pickle of confused cortisols and befuddled coping mechanisms, which really just mask the inner noise. This is where TM practice can really help, putting the body into a deep, regular state of relaxation, in which to heal and restore.

Think of the brain like an ocean, the practice says. The surface of the ocean is the conscious or thinking mind, and the waves are like the thoughts. Mindfulness remains on or slightly below this surface, but no deeper. TM is about effortlessly sinking as low into consciousness as possible — to the bottom of that ocean. Now, that’s not to say you’ll start levitating or have some out of body experience; it’s more that you’ll experience the relaxing and precious feeling you get just before sleep when you’re still sort of awake. That’s the “transcendence,” or as some call it, the “bliss” state.

But what is it that brings you down to this level? No guided words of wisdom or philosophical outlooks on life. It’s actually super simple and has been practiced this way for 5,000 years, originating in India. To anchor down into this state, your TM teacher gives you a word, a Transcendental Meditation mantra that is unique to you, which you silently repeat until it just becomes an intuitive and effortless act. The word is deliberately meaningless and more of a sound.  Yes, I did try Googling it to no avail, and you can’t say it out loud or share it with anyone else out of respect for the practice.

Quite aside from stereotypical views of sitting cross-legged or lotus with a straight back and Om position, you’re encouraged to find a comfortable spot to sit and relax into the meditation. Sitting for 20 minutes while repeating the mantra, you’ll find that over time everything just slows down, breathing becomes deep but quiet, and the mantra starts to fade to the back of your mind, while thoughts that were whizzing around at the forefront kind of just drift away.

I can honestly say, it’s a feeling quite like no other. After my first round of Transcendental Meditation mantras, it felt like I woke up out of a trance. The more I started practicing — with the four-session TM course and then on my own twice a day — the deeper I was lulled by its resulting calmness. I’ll admit that I was at first daunted by the idea that I’d need to do this twice a day, for 20 minutes each, but once the practice started, it actually became like a treat I’d look forward to, totally the opposite of previous meditations. I mean who wouldn’t want to escape Twitter shouting matches, Facebook political fights, and the constant ping of work emails for a deep, serene journey into the mind cave? Also, all cat-training went out the window.

I’ll admit that I was at first daunted by the idea that I’d need to do this twice a day, for 20 minutes each, but once the practice started, it actually became like a treat I’d look forward to, totally the opposite of previous meditations.

Some people in my course claimed almost instant effects from their practice — good moods, clarity, increased productivity — but me being the cynical Brit, I had to really take a step back and think carefully before announcing I was a “new” person. The thing is that it can take days, weeks, months, even years to see or notice the effects, depending on what you’re dealing with. But, as I started to regularly do the practice, I did find the fog lifting, the clarity coming through, and my thoughts becoming more ordered. The daily juggling act began to feel smoother and more efficient.

Still, it’s not always easy. There are moments when it feels like a Grand Slam final between my thoughts and the Transcendental Meditation mantras, but as long as the mantra is there, effortless and anchoring, good stuff is happening in ways and on levels I might never even be aware of. And, even if it’s not, it’s still like taking a twice daily, luxury brain staycation, which can only be a good thing.

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To learn more about Tara Gardner visit her website.

Also see: How is Transcendental Meditation different from mindfulness?

Quora posted this question: What is the difference between Mindfulness meditation and Transcendental Meditation? Read a very clear and concise answer Jim Karpen gave explaining their differences in method, experience, and scientific research. 

Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

August 17, 2018

I saw The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) on Netflix, based on the #1 best-selling book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It’s a period piece that takes place shortly after WWII. The war’s emotional aftermath still weighs heavily on the lives of these isolated islanders. Juliet Ashton, a London journalist and author, visits this small book club to explore the idea of an article about how they survived the war, and forms an unexpected bond with them. Writing, literature, life and love intersect in surprising ways. 

These lines from the trailer resonated deeply. “Do you suppose it’s possible for us to already belong to someone before we’ve met them? I feel keenly how the arc of her life has changed the arc of mine forever. If books do have the power to bring people together, this one may work its magic.” It did, as does the film.

shares some revealing research on the writing of the book and the making of the movie in her review for the Los Angeles Times. Definitely worth reading and watching.

You might enjoy some of my other favorite romantic films, including this 2009 Korea-China co-production, A Good Rain Knows when to come, (a.k.a. Season of Good Rain). See The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film inspired by the poetry of Du Fu. Most of these films reveal the power of love to transform individuals challenged by some kind of adversity.

The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film inspired by the poetry of Du Fu

August 17, 2018

The good rain knows its season,
When spring arrives, it brings life.

I appreciate believable romantic movies. For some reason this one deeply moved me. I’ve watched A Good Rain Knows (when to come) (2009) several times. Also titled, Season of Good Rain, the film’s theme was inspired by a poem from Du Fu (Tu Fu). Love, like the right season, can come around again and potentially renew one’s life.

HUR Jin-ho directs this Korean-Chinese co-production. The love story stars South Korean actor Jung Woo-sung (Dong-ha) and Chinese actress Gao Yuanyuan (Mei).

Season of Good Rain (A Good Rain Knows)

Synopsis: Timely like the spring rain, so has he come back into my life… Dong-ha is a thirty-something Korean man on a business trip to Chengdu, China where his company is carrying out construction projects to rebuild the city after the earthquake of 2008. There, totally by chance, he meets an old friend from his school days in the U.S.. Mei (May) is originally from Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province. She returned home after graduation and now works as a tour guide. Dong-ha and Mei were perhaps more than friends and had feelings for each other back then, but they parted ways before they had a chance to define or declare them. Now that their paths have crossed again, they find the old feelings remained, and new ones are forming that may resemble love.

This Du Fu poem inspired the film: Welcome Rain on a Spring Night.

The good rain knows its season,
When spring arrives, it brings life.
It follows the wind secretly into the night,
And moistens all things softly, without sound.
On the country road, the clouds are all black,
On a riverboat, a single fire bright.
At dawn one sees this place now red and wet,
The flowers are heavy in the brocade city.

The brocade city is Chengdu, in south-west China, where the story takes place. The park where Mei works contains a statue of Du Fu and a replica of the hut that he lived in, along with the kind of flowering trees he had planted. Dong-ha was also a poet, but got caught up in his work instead. He is later seen reading a poem by Du Fu titled, A Spring View.

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.
…After the war-fires of three months,
One message from home is worth a ton of gold.
…I stroke my white hair. It has grown too thin
To hold the hairpins any more.

The subject matter about the destruction of war from the past resonates with the physical and emotional losses in the city after a recent earthquake. Mei’s life was also affected, as we find out later in the film.

This romantic film carries feelings of loss and longing, uncertainty and hopeful renewal brought about symbolically by the spring rains arriving in time. The theme song, with scenes from the film in the trailer, emotionally conveys those feelings: A Good Rain Knows When to Come – Falling Down / Song by Sungbin Cho / Sondtrack by Jaejin Lee.

The rain and silence in the song, like the ones described in the poems, seem to carry a mystical quality about them, similar to the mysterious ways of love. The English translation leaves the listener wondering if there will be a more committed reunion. Here it is sung in English: Falling down – (A good rain knows when to come).

Maybe sometime
It could be here again.
Trying to find out.
We don’t know yet.

Maybe it’s something
To make us come around.
The rain will be something
To let me calm down.

There is silence
Flowing around me
In the air
When you approach.

Maybe it’s something
To make you turn around
The raining is something
Just holding me now.

(Musical bridge)

I know that you wonder
Where we stay around.
Maybe I found you
Always here in my mind.

It’s falling around me
I’m feeling like lost in time.
I’m waiting behind you.
Just don’t let me down.

You’re running away now.
You’re sinking in flowing time.
The raining reminds me of your smile.
Don’t bring me down.

This love song, sensitively and beautifully performed, captures the uncertainty of their situation after meeting again years later by chance. The attraction between them is still there, but it never had a chance to develop into a serious relationship. Will it now? The song plays at the end of the film and as the credits roll.

Two different endings?

For some reason the ending seems slightly different in this version, which has better picture and sound quality on YouTube. At this last moment of the film, we see Dong-ha pacing back and forth, hoping that Mei will come out of the park entrance, but she doesn’t appear. It leaves the viewer hoping and waiting, with him. Did he return after much soul-searching ready to commit to her? Was she ready to commit to him? Will he wait in vain?

In this similar version, with English subtitles, at that last scene, as he turns away, we see someone pushing a yellow bicycle with a basket out of the park entrance, but can’t quite make out if it’s Mei as it cuts to black and the credits roll. Maybe they did that to keep us in suspense. You get the feeling they will see each other, but we’re left to wonder what will happen next.

The reason why I think it’s Mei is because he had mailed a bicycle to her as a gift. She had sold the first one he had given her when they were students, since she didn’t ride a bike. When they meet again, and it comes up in conversation, he gets upset. Now, at the end of the film, her co-workers assemble the new yellow bike with basket. We see her awkwardly riding it at first, then with more confidence, and finally smiling with the wind blowing in her hair. Fade to black, then wait for who I think might be her. I found another copy on YouTube where you see clearly the same bike and someone like her. Click on this 3-second clip to see for yourself.

For some reason it was left out in the other version. Maybe they decided to make it purposefully ambiguous to keep viewers guessing? Or it might have something to do with which version was shown in which country — Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, or elsewhere. If you watch the film with both endings, post a comment; I’d like to know your take on it. Assuming those links will still be active. Here’s a BluRay 720p version.

Updated footnote: I emailed an American film critic living in South Korea about the two different endings. He had reviewed this film. When I pointed out the different endings he was surprised, and said “that was a very good eye catch on your part.”

He didn’t remember which version he had seen and wouldn’t have noticed or guessed that it was Mei with her bicycle. But he did give this surprising answer. “If I were to hazard a guess I would say the version without the woman and the bicycle is the original version and the one with the woman and the bicycle was added in for international release (or at least, the release in whichever market CHC operates in) for the sake of implying a happier ending. This is a fairly common practice with exported South Korean films from this time period.”

You might enjoy some of my other favorite romantic films. They reveal the transforming power of love triumphing over adversity through time. Here is a new one I share in this post: Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.


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