Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Insights from Richard Wagamese’s Meditations

May 26, 2020

I’ve been reading Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese. I discovered an excerpt from it on a blog I follow. I had not heard of him and previewed his book online. Inspired by what I saw, I included three profound perspectives on silence, the soul, and his creative process in a blog post I created: Coincidences happened that introduced me to the great Ojibway storyteller Richard Wagamese.

A collection of early morning writings he had posted on his Facebook page, they were later put into an award-winning book by his publisher. I ordered a copy and found similar entries about the silences he experienced outside in nature, and those within—the gaps between thoughts, words, and moments.

To write, he would separate himself from the noises and distractions of everyday life and retreat into “the sound of silence,” then bring it out with him into the world, “the sound of self emerging.” For him, “silence is the stuff of life.” He wrote, “I want to dive into those small bits of silence. They contain the ocean of my being and our togetherness.”

This impressive insight concludes Chapter I: STILLNESS.

I DON’T KNOW the word for it, that space between seconds, but I’ve come to understand for myself that it’s the punctuation of my life. Between each word, each thought, each moment is where the truth of things lies. The more intent I am on hearing it, seeing it, feeling it, incorporating it, the more precise the degree to which I’m focused on my life and the act of living. I want to dive into those bits of silence. They contain the ocean of my being and our togetherness. So if I don’t respond quickly, excuse me. I’m busy allowing the surf of consciousness to break over me so that I can stand on the coast of our unity and be more.

This reminds me of Maharishi’s Vedic Science. He described this silent space or gap as the transcendent, our own inner transcendental consciousness that we tap into during Transcendental Meditation. He said it was also an unbounded reservoir of pure knowledge, the Sounds and Gaps in Veda and Vedic Literature that structure creation in a sequential, self-referral flow. I mention this process in a previous post. He also spoke of ritam bhara pragya, a refined state of consciousness, ‘that intelligence which knows only the truth.’

Those Embers entries indicate an experiential understanding of a deeper inner reality. In a Q&A session that followed a talk Richard Wagemese gave at MacEwan University, he answered a question about how his recent practice of yoga and meditation had impacted his writing. His answer and the video are both included in that blog post referenced in the opening paragraph above.

Here is another significant insight from the book, in Chapter III: TRUST.

MY MOTHER’S PHYSICAL death taught me that I didn’t come here to master devastating situations, circumstances, changes, losses or even my own feelings. I came here to experience them. I came here for soul lessons and spirit teachings so that I could carry on in this wonderful spiritual journey we are all on, this teaching way, this blessing way. So that, in the end, I can, like my mother has done, return to the beauty that I was when I first arrived here.

A similar theme is expressed in Chapter IV: Reverence.

I CAME HERE to inhabit a body that would allow my soul to experience. So I am not my body. I came here to experience the grandest thought. So I am not my mind. I came here to experience the deepest feeling. So I am not my feelings. I am all of it: thought, feeling and experience. That translates to awe, joy and reverence. For all life, for all beings, for all Creation. Knowing this, understanding this, make living the hardest thing of all—but the joy is in the challenge, the gradual day-by-day becoming.

In Chapter V: Persistence, he learns the miraculous power of forgiveness.

I LIVE FOR miracles in my life these days. Not the earth-changing, light-bringing, soul-powering kind. But the ones that carve out a small space of peace where before there was only the jumble of resentment, fear and doubt. The ones that happen from choosing to live the right way. Like coming to understand that forgiveness isn’t about gaining a release from others—it’s about gaining release from me. If I release my hold on what binds me, I can walk free and unencumbered. But I have to embrace the resentment, fear and doubt to gain that. I have to own them, hold them again, so that I can learn to let them go. In that letting go is the miracle.

There are more entries worth sharing, including short dialogues with a wise elder, Old Woman. His questions elicit unexpected pithy replies as she offers wise advice about life. Here’s an example from Chapter V.

ME: You always repeat things three times.

OLD WOMAN: Just the important things.

ME: Why? I hear you the first time.

OLD WOMAN: No. You listen the first time. You hear the second time. And you feel the third time.

ME: I don’t get it.

OLD WOMAN: When you listen, you become aware. That’s for your head. When you hear, you awaken. That’s for your heart. When you feel, it becomes a part of you. That’s for your spirit. Three times. It’s so you learn to listen with your whole being. That’s how you learn.

Advice on Writing

My earlier post shared Richard Wagamese’s reflections on the writing life. In Embers, Chapter III: TRUST, he describes the process of timed free writing and what it can do for us both personally and professionally.

WRITE SPONTANEOUSLY EVERY day for fifteen minutes.

First, get settled. Breathe. Big, deep, full breaths, taken slowly. Clear your mind of words. Be wordless. Then, open your eyes and write whatever comes out of you, and keep writing without taking your hands from the paper or the keyboard for fifteen minutes. Don’t worry about punctuation or spelling. Just write. Every day. Fifteen minutes. Regardless. Watch what happens to your level of craft when you work on a project. Why? Because stories live in our bodies and we need to feel our fingers moving in the process of creation every day. Your hands are your interpretive tools. They bring your spirit out in words and language.

In Chapter IV: Reverence, he shares his personal approach to writing.

YOU STOKE THE FIRES of creativity with humility, gratitude and awareness. You need to ask for the gift to be directed. Writing is a spiritual process. To be a creator you need to connect with Creator.

In Chapter VII: JOY, he tells us that writing is a process of self-discovery.

DON’T JUST WRITE what you know. Write what you wish to know. What you reveal to yourself, you reveal to the reader. Storytelling is about discovery.

It was how he wrote Medicine Walk. I included his quote and video link in that earlier blog post about him. He had described this process in that same talk he gave at MacEwan University for their Book of the Year selection—Indian Horse. That book was turned into a film by the same title, which I had recently seen on Netflix but didn’t know it was written by him until I made the coincidental connection.

With reference to spontaneous writing and storytelling, I know what he means. When I first discovered writing and what writers said about it, one of my first poems came out as a result of free-writing practice: Writing—a poem on the writing process.

Around that time I had made up a bedtime story for my kids. It was so magical we did it again the next night and recorded it. After it was done I spontaneously spoke out what that process was like, then wrote those two sentences down as Storytelling—a poem on the storytelling process.

Wagemese concludes by encouraging us to share in the transporting and transforming power of storytelling, advising us to not be didactic, but to inspire others instead to discover the questions for themselves.

TO TELL. TO use the act of breathing to shape air into sounds that take on the context of language that lifts and transports those who hear it, takes them beyond what they think and know and feel and empowers them to think and feel and know even more. We’re all storytellers, really. That’s what we do. That is our power as human beings. Not to tell people how to think and feel and therefore know—but through our stories allow them to discover questions within themselves. Turn off your TV and your devices and talk to each other. Share stories. Be joined, transported and transformed.

It reminds me of what Raner Maria Rilke said in Letters to a Young Poet.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations became a 2017 BC Book Prize Winner. I can see why, now that I own a copy. In addition to Richard Wagamese’s words of wisdom, humility and gratitude, the book cover and content are colorfully laid out with creative photographs, all printed on quality paper. Douglas & McIntyre produced a beautiful work of art.

Breath and fire in the heart feed each other as essential creative forces in Erica Jong’s poetry

April 11, 2020

I’ll admit my ignorance here. All I remember of Erica Jong was her early 70’s infamous best-selling novel, Fear of Flying. I had no idea that she had become such a prolific award-winning writer. Besides being a famous author, she is also a fine poet. She says, “The poetry is the source of absolutely everything I do.” I discovered some of her impressive poems looking inside Becoming Light: New and Selected Poems, and on poetry websites PoemHunter and Poeticous.

Filled with life and passion, Jong uses breath, air, wind, “prana whistling in the dark;” and fire, “a flame in the heart,” “a living lantern,” as imaginary ways to describe the creative forces within the heart of a poet. They are beautifully expressed in these 3 poems: Alphabet Poem: To the Letter I, Poem to Kabir, and Zen & the Art of Poetry. There may be other poems with these motifs I have yet to discover, but these caught my attention for their shared imagery and theme of being a poet, a writer.

Alphabet Poem: To the Letter I (12th/last stanza, 3rd poem in Becoming Light) 

We are all one poet 
and always 
we have one 
communal name, 
god's name, nameless, 
a flame in the heart, 
a breath, 
a gust of air, 
prana whistling in the dark. 
i dies— 
but the breath 
lingers on 
through the medium 
of the magic 
alphabet 
and in its wake 
death is no more 
than metaphor. 

Poem to Kabir   

Kabir says 
the breath inside the breath 
is God   

& I say to Kabir 
you are the breath inside that breath 
which is not to say 
that the poet is God–   

but only that God 
uses the poet 
as the wind 
uses 
a sail.

Zen & the Art of Poetry
 
Letting the mind go,
letting the pen, the breath,
the movement of images in & out
of the mouth
go calm, go rhythmic
as the rise & fall of waves,
as one sits in the lotus position
over the world,
holding the pen so lightly
that it scarcely stains the page,
holding the breath
in the glowing cage of the ribs,
until the heart
is only a living lantern
fueled by breath,
& the pen writes
what the heart wills
& the whole world goes out,
goes black,
but for the hard, clear stars
below.

In the last section of What You Need to Be a Writer, Jong comes clean, listing her fears, then describes what it really takes to be a writer — having something to say so intensely, that it “burns like a coal in your gut…pounds like a pump in your groin,” and concludes with having “the courage to love like a wound that never heals.” Ah, the human condition.

& then there’s all 
I did not 
say:   

to be
a writer
what you need
is
 
something
to say:
 
something
that burns
like a hot coal
in your gut
 
something
that pounds
like a pump
in your groin
 
& the courage
to love
like a wound
 
that never
heals.

In a Mother’s Day Playboy interview last year, the first question daughter and writer Molly Jong-Fast asks her mother is how she knows things, especially what’s happening to women in the socio-political arena. Jong answers: “I think a writer is someone who lives like a wound that never heals. And if you’re a writer, you feel the rumblings in the air.” It’s interesting how she uses the same metaphor for a writer to love or live like “a wound that never heals.” How she’s been bravely living her life.

I found this beautiful ethereal painting online, Walking Lily, by Vietnamese artist Xuan Loc Xuan

April 1, 2020

I found a beautiful painting on Colossal by Vietnamese freelance illustrator Xuan Loc Xuan. Titled, Walking Lily, it is also posted on her Instagram page. Her work is available at Toi Art Gallery.

“Life creates art while art changes life.” – Xuan Loc Xuan

Xuân Lộc Xuân was born in Vietnam. Her name means “Spring.” She lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Xuan Loc Xuan studied Fine Arts at HCM University, the biggest art school in the south of Vietnam. She’s been working as a freelance illustrator for several years. She uses traditional and digital tools to draw. Her designs tend to be minimalistic and the use of color is a main factor in her artworks. For her, “life creates art while art changes life.”

Independent journalist & editor of The Floating Magazine/TFM Studio, Payal Khandelwal interviewed Xuan via email. She introduces her: Xuan Loc Xuan dresses up melancholy in vibrant colors in most of her artworks, and the results are breathtaking. Having grown up as an introvert child in a large family, Xuan always felt an inherent sense of loneliness and sadness. And the essence of those feelings drips down into most of her work. Her subjects are always shying away from the audience. They are either glancing sideways or have their back to the world, and are always lost in their own thoughts. Most of Xuan’s work also has a very ethereal feel to it. Read the interview: People: Xuan Loc Xuan.

This is a magical, mystical image. I love the various shades of green in the picture, their textures, especially the girl’s dress, the different colored flowers. She appears contemplative, in her own world. This work holds an otherworldly, timeless silence. I found a companion piece, Water Lily, of a boy sleeping among the same water lilies, or lotuses.

Lily could be the girl’s name and/or the lilies, but these are lotuses. Their larger pads and flowers rise high above the water, whereas most water lilies, pads and flowers, float on the water, with some flowers rising a few inches above it. Maybe the word means the same for both in their language, but these are different species.

I learned that distinction over three decades ago in the fall, when a friend and I encountered many tall, large lotus pads and pods at the second Round Prairie Park pond in Fairfield, Iowa. There had been a drought that summer, and many stood high above the lowered water level. She began sketching them, and I attempted to write about the process in a poem as an observer. After several attempts, I gave up, switched perspectives, and surprisingly, the poem wrote itself; we had become the observed! You can read the poem and more about what happened afterwards in Ode to the Artist Sketching Lotus Pads at Round Prairie Park.

I submitted the poem to a poetry competition at Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum and forgot about it. Much to my surprise, on a very special day, I found out by Registered Mail that I had won their Distinguished Poet Award, which included a $100 check! They mailed the plaque separately, published the poem, and sent me a copy of Treasured Poems of America, their anthology, which contained my award-winning poem.

The editor requested a follow-up poem. The only thing I could write about was that mysterious, creative interaction that took place between us and the lotuses. He published Sometimes Poetry Happens in their next issue. Those experiences gave me the confidence to keep writing, and a flood of poems continued to flow from me, for which I was very thankful.

I like Walking Lily so much I ordered a large print of it to hang in my entrance way on the wall above the small antique green cabinet. I was given a 20% discount on my first order and free shipping, a nice surprise!

Another beautiful artwork is of a stunning sunrise or sunset in “A Fjord” painted by Norwegian artist Adelsteen Normann.

@bradkeywell interviewed @DAVID_LYNCH on #TranscendentalMeditation @chicagoideas

February 2, 2020

I enjoyed this interview that took place recently at a Chicago Ideas event. Filmmaker David Lynch sat down with entrepreneur Brad Keywell to talk about Transcendental Meditation. David gave an in-depth explanation of what TM is, the value of transcending, how it informs his creativity, and why it’s different from other meditation practices.

David also discussed the benefits that his Foundation’s Quiet Time program has been bringing to traumatized students in stressful Chicago schools to help “Silence the Violence.” They showed an excerpt from a video of educators and students talking about the significant results.

The David Lynch Foundation was one of three organizations that received grants to help lower the crime rate in Chicago schools. The Quiet Time school project was funded and researched by the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

The Chicago Tribune had published a report on the project three years ago. The project was so successful, DLF received another larger grant to expand the program in more schools.

Enjoy this lively discussion. David delivers a compelling message!

The playful joy of effortless creation displayed by Donna Warwick inspired this haiku turned tanka

November 29, 2019

Author, visual artist, and TM teacher Donna Warwick posts digital paintings on her Instagram as @artsfusionist. She created this painting that expresses the effortless mysterious process of creation. The Absolute becoming Relative. BEing BEcoming. To me it looks like the moment of conception, and also the sprouting of a seed idea. Either way, it’s creation. It inspired me to write this haiku, then extend it to a tanka. Read Donna’s description below.

Effortless Creation

Inspired by a painting by Donna Warwick

I AM THAT I AM
I AM ONE — Become Many
BEING Becoming

I AM therefore I Create
An Idea of My Self

®Ken Chawkin
Nov. 29, 2019

Donna added this description for Thanksgiving Day: Thought and Action:
It is the frictionless flow between thought and action that produces effortless achievement in life. One feels the profound connection between the source of thought and the fulfillment of the action. The sweetest thing is that the result of this is the bliss of experiencing something greater than our small selves. For the true source of all success is not the ego. Nor is it the wide assortment of details about one’s personality/individuality. That is why the experience of unity with unbounded pure consciousness is so fulfilling. Consciousness is that which is shared by all. For me, that experience is one of the natural results of my practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. On this Thanksgiving I feel waves of gratitude to my TM teacher.

New study shows a Maharishi Vastu designed office building increased the creativity of an architecture and engineering firm’s employees

October 22, 2019
2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard, Developed and Managed by The Tower Companies, Rockville, MD. Credit: Ron Blunt

This is the first-of-its-kind study on the effects of a Maharishi Vastu designed office building on an architecture and engineering firm’s employee creativity. The company, NIKA, is a tenant in The Tower Companies, 2000 Tower Oaks Boulevard, MVA designed and LEED Platinum building in Rockville, Maryland, close to Washington, DC.

The study, published in Creativity Research Journal, was publicized by EurekAlert!, a service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, (AAAS). PhysOrg, ScienceCodex, and Bioengineer, were some of the websites that posted the news.

Lead author, Maharishi University of Management Professor Anil Maheshwari, and co-author Margaret Rose Werd, collected more data on other variables, which will be presented in future papers for publication. It was all part of Mrs. Werd’s PhD thesis she is still working on. We thought it impressive that such an important journal would publish the first article on this topic before she even completed her doctorate! Here are the EurekAlert! Summary and press release.

A study published in Creativity Research Journal found creativity increased in an architecture and engineering firm’s employees after moving into a building designed according to Maharishi Vastu® architecture. They scored higher on Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking compared to scores four months earlier in their previous location. Verbal originality rose by 84%; figural originality, 48%; elaboration, 61%; and resistance to closure, 40%. There was less than a 1% possibility the result was due to chance.

Can the design of a building improve the creative output of its occupants?

New study published in Creativity Research Journal shows Maharishi Vastu architecture increased workplace creativity.

This graph maps the average number of unique, original ideas produced per respondent on y-axis, for two types of tasks against the two building architecture (Conventional vs Maharishi Vastu) on the x-axis. The first pair of bars show that the average number of unique, original ideas produced for a product enhancement task increased from 1.9 to 3.5 or about 84% upon move to Maharishi Vastu. The second set of bars similarly show that the average number of unique, original ideas for a graphical figure completion task increased from 3.56 to 5.27, or about 48% upon move to Maharishi Vastu.

A ground-breaking study published in the September issue of the scholarly Creativity Research Journal found increased creativity in employees who worked in a building designed according to Maharishi Vastu® architecture. In this first study of its kind, employees of an architecture and engineering firm, based in a major metropolitan city in the Eastern United States, moved into a Maharishi Vastu office building and scored higher on the standardized Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) compared to their score four months earlier in their previous location. In particular, they generated 50-80% more original ideas. The study found that there was less than a 1% possibility that the result was due to chance.

“This research experimentally demonstrated that moving from a conventional architecture building into a Vastu building led to large measurable improvements in employee creativity, in particular in the originality of the ideas generated and their open-ended and detailed elaboration,” said Professor Anil Maheshwari of Maharishi University of Management, the first author of this study. “I think every organization, big and small, could benefit from this.”

The study was conducted by Maharishi University of Management with participation from The Tower Companies and NIKA in Rockville, Maryland, a city located just outside of Washington, D.C. 2000 Tower Oaks is a Maharishi Vastu building developed by The Tower Companies in 2008 and was recognized as the largest application of Vedic design in the world. NIKA moved into the building as a new office tenant in 2017.

Architecture in harmony with nature

Maharishi Vastu is a traditional system of architecture that originated in India, and is known there also as vastu or sthapatya veda. Features of Maharishi Vastu include alignment with the cardinal directions; a silent central area called a brahmasthan; specific placement and proportions of rooms; appropriate slope and shape of the land; an unobstructed view of sunrise; a location that’s distant enough from major sources of electromagnetic radiation; and use of natural materials and solar energy. The researchers hypothesized that this architecture would have a wide range of benefits because it is said to be more in harmony with nature.

“It may seem unfamiliar to a Western, scientific perspective, but the fact is that our physiology is intimately tied to the material and rhythms and forces of the earth and sun,” Dr. Maheshwari said. “Traditional systems of architecture, which have arisen in many places around the world over a long span of time, take these things into account. And now we’re intent on seeing whether the supposed benefits can be scientifically verified.” Earlier exploratory studies have documented that specific elements of the Maharishi Vastu system can influence such markers as mental health and heart health.

Greater originality and depth of creativity

The Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) includes three assessments of verbal creativity and five of figural creativity. The researchers hypothesized that Maharishi Vastu architecture would show improvement on all eight assessments. Since before-and-after tests can result in higher scores on the second test simply due to being familiar with the testing instrument, TTCT has two different but comparable versions to control for familiarity and learning. One version is used in the initial condition and the other different version is used after the variable/s has been applied. 32 employees took one version of the test in the conventional architecture location, and 22 employees took the second version of the test in Vastu location. Of these, 21 employees were common and took the tests at both locations.

The results of the verbal tests found a statistically significant (p<0.05) increase (84%) in originality (i.e. unique unconventional ideas generated) but not in fluency and flexibility. On the figural tests, which requires subjects to expand on a series of incomplete figures, the results showed a large statistically significant (p<0.01) increase in tests of originality (48%), elaboration (61%), and resistance to closure (40%) (that is, a focus on pursuing new directions to complete a task). Tests of figural fluency and abstract title (ability to name an abstract original concept) did not show an effect.

A boon for the world

NIKA, the architecture and engineering firm that participated in the study, was delighted with the results. “Creativity, especially the sort of figurative creativity measured by TTCT, is an important trait for an architect. The company was pleased to have this objective support for the feeling of greater creativity experienced by their employees,” said Mrs. Margaret Rose Werd, the co-author of this study. She further added that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his vision for world vastu for all mankind are the source of the inspiration for this research.

“Not many real estate developers deliver that kind of return on rent!” added Jeffrey Abramson, partner at The Tower Companies. Jon Lipman, AIA, director of Maharishi Vastu services for North America, said, “It appears that Maharishi Vastu architecture can help to solve major challenges that face our cities. I recommend it to developers who aspire to create buildings that promote creativity and the flourishing of life and business.”

This research was the first longitudinal empirical study using standardized measures of creativity to look at the effect of buildings on employee performance in an organization. Data from more organizations would help to validate the results across multiple industries and locations. This research study can be accessed at: https://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2019.1667943

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The Tower Companies also listed the press release and case study on their website, and shared the news via their social media platforms.

Enjoy TM News, THE TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION® MAGAZINE, featured the study in their ISSUE 40 • NOVEMBER 2, 2019: Can the Right Architecture Make Us More Creative? New research on Maharishi Vastu architecture shows greater creativity and originality.

@Willwrights interviews Director @DAVID_LYNCH on #TranscendentalMeditation for @LOfficielUSA

July 29, 2018

This interview between L’Officiel USA journalist William Defebaugh and Director David Lynch on Transcendental Meditation is one of the best on the subject! Visit their website to see the article with photos published July 23, 2018. (Photo: Matthias Nareyek/French Select/Getty Images)

David Lynch in L'OfficielUSA by Matthias Nareyek:French Select:Getty Images

While David Lynch may be most revered as the man behind mind-melding cinema masterpieces like Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and Twin Peaks, his work with the human psyche extends far beyond the small and silver screens.

Since he discovered its potency in the 1970s, the artist and auteur has been an avid practitioner and preacher of Transcendental Meditation. In 2005, he started the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which actively teaches TM to adults and children — including war veterans and victims of violence and assault — in countries all over the world. Why? Because it works.

When and how did you first discover Transcendental Meditation?

I heard about Transcendental Meditation from my sister in 1973. I’d been looking into many different types of meditation; before that, I was not interested one bit. But suddenly it hit me, this phrase I heard, “True happiness is not out there. True happiness lies within.”

Then I thought, “Maybe meditation is the way to go within.” So, I started looking into different forms of meditation.

Nothing seemed right for me. My sister called. She said she started Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She told me about it, and I liked what she told me. More than that, though, I heard a change in her voice. More self-assuredness. More happiness. I said I want this. So, I went and got it.

Do you recall preliminary breakthrough moments in your early days of practicing or did it have more of a gradual effect?

You know, everyone is different. Me, it hit me with my first meditation. It was as if I was in an elevator and someone cut the cables and I just went within. So blissful, so powerful. I had this anger in me that I took out on my first wife. And after I’d been meditating two weeks, she comes to me and says, “What’s going on?” And I said, “What are you talking about?” And she said, “This anger, where did it go?” And it just lifted. That negativity starts leaving and positivity starts coming in when you truly transcend. That’s the key. Transcending is the thing that we human beings want. We want to experience the deepest level of life. For some reason, we’ve all lost contact with that level.

Transcendental Meditation is a mental technique, an ancient form of meditation. Ancient: Maharishi revived it, he didn’t make it up; it truly brings the experience of transcendence. Now with brain research, they know that’s true.

Whatever size ball of consciousness they had to begin with truly starts to expand, little by little. You expand consciousness. Every human being has consciousness, but not every human being has the same amount. But the potential for every human being is unbounded consciousness. Infinite consciousness. Enlightenment. It just needs unfolding.

Do you consider meditation to be more of a mental practice or a spiritual one? Or is that an irrelevant distinction?

It’s strange. This bliss, it can be physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual all at the same time. You can vibrate in happiness. And we human beings are supposed to enjoy life. Right from the beginning, when you start transcending, huge pressure goes out. Negativity starts lifting away. They say negativity is just like darkness. And then you say, “Wait a minute. Darkness isn’t really anything. It’s the absence of something.”

What separates TM from other forms of meditation?

In Transcendental Meditation, you’re given a mantra—a very specific sound, vibration, thought. And the mantra you’re given is like a law of nature, designed for a specific purpose. And that purpose is to turn the awareness from out, out, out, 180 degrees to within, within, within.

Once you’re pointed within, you will naturally start to dive through deeper levels of mind, and deeper levels of intellect. And at the border of intellect, you’ll transcend. You’ll wish you could stay there, but you’ll come out with thoughts. And you’ll go again. You just stay regular in your meditation day by day and watch things get better and better.

And how do you go about finding a mantra for someone?

It takes about four days to learn, about an hour and a half a day. You need a legitimate teacher of Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It’s so important that the technique stays pure. And the teacher knows what mantra is correct for you.

At the end of the four days, you’ve been taught how to meditate, and your questions have been answered. This is the way, I feel, that our almighty merciful father has built into this game to get real peace. You enliven that deepest level and affect collective consciousness.

With Transcendental Meditation, you’re given the technique and it’s up to you to do it. When you learn this technique, it’s like you’re placed in the middle of the river, in the fastest current and you go. It’s a very profoundly beautiful cosmic thing to get on the path to enlightenment. To get a technique that works, where you truly transcend and experience this level of life, which is eternal. Always there.

Everything in the field of relativity has a lifespan. Some super long some very short—but a lifespan. Beneath the whole field of relativity is a non-relative absolute and that’s what you want to experience. That’s the key to everything good in life.

If you could capture the entire world’s attention for two minutes, what would you tell them?

I’d say, “Do yourself a giant favor, learn Transcendental Meditation from a legitimate teacher and practice this technique regularly. Be a light unto yourself.”

A baptism by fire: Why Paul Dalio’s debut as a filmmaker is Touched With Fire

July 25, 2016

TOUCHED WITH FIRE PosterPremiered last year at SXSW, with a theatrical run this spring, and now on DVD, Paul Dalio’s first full-length feature film, Touched With Fire, is a love story between two bipolar poets that reveals the relationship between illness and creativity.

Dalio was inspired by Kay Redfield Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, which explores the link between great art and bipolar disorder. He read that many famous writers, poets, and artists suffered from this mania and may have produced their work because of it. Their genius was touched with fire.

This was a welcome relief for Paul who had become bipolar. He now saw himself no longer in clinical terms as a social outcast without a cure, but as a creative artist who was dealing with a neurological imbalance.

The most well known example of that heightened state was Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The painting is a kind of leitmotif throughout the film, even materializing as a literal hallucination by the main characters.

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night

Reflecting on his own experience of being bipolar, Paul wanted people suffering with the illness, and those concerned with their health, to better understand what they are going through, that they are not necessarily crazy, perhaps gifted, and to help remove the stigma associated with the disease.

He compares the manic highs and depressive lows of the disease to the seasons. The film’s palatte of colors reflects the changing emotions within and between the main characters. Attempts to control these mood swings with drugs create deadening side effects, part of the conflict within their relationship.

In his Huffington Post blog, Touched With Fire, Paul asks: How much more receptive would a patient be to treatment if the patient was told that the treatment was to nurture a gift they had, instead of terminate a disease they had?

Director Dalio gave author/psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison a role in the film as herself, to explain how the right balance of medication can help rather than hinder a manic personality. Marco is concerned that the medications are stopping him from feeling any emotions, and is destroying his creativity. From her own experience, Kay shares with them how “medication can tamp the fire down a bit without losing that gift.” She tells him, with the right dosage, which takes time, she became even more productive than before becoming bipolar.

Cast and Crew

Paul Dalio wrote, directed, edited and scored Touched With Fire, his feature-film debut starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby, with other performances by Griffin Dunne, Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman.

Paul’s longtime friend, Jeremy Alter, produced the film, along with Kristina Nikolova, Paul’s wife and fellow student at the NYU Film School, who convinced him to make this semi-autobiographical film. Their teacher, Spike Lee, is the executive producer.

The brilliant acting in this passionately moving film is intensely engaging. Holmes (Carla) and Kirby (Marco) play two poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they meet in a treatment facility, their chemistry is instant and intense driving each other’s mania to new heights. They pursue their passion, which breaks outside the bounds of sanity, swinging them from fantastical highs to tormented lows until they ultimately must choose between sanity and love. Watch the official trailer.

Comments from the Critics

The New York Times Critic’s Pick wrote: “Luke Kirby and Katie Holmes boldly meet the challenge of playing bright, high-strung artists. An extraordinarily sensitive, nonjudgmental exploration of bipolar disorder and creativity.” Read the Review: ‘Touched With Fire,’ a Love Story Between Two Bipolar Poets.

The Los Angeles Times said: Writer-director Dalio has firsthand experience with bipolar disorder, and his perspective sheds fresh light on the unique ways in which manic-depressive individuals experience love and creativity. Read the Review: Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby propel ‘Touched With Fire’ as it shines fresh light on bipolar disorder and creativity.

This is a powerful film! We witness their struggles from the inside out. More reviews are listed on the film’s website.

The Role of Poetry in the Film

In one of the interviews from the Special Features of the DVD, Paul Dalio talks about the value of poetry in his life, and for the main characters in the film. “It was only when I met my wife that my heart became more tender, and I actually started reading poetry, which I never did, and I started writing poetry.”

Paul describes the transforming power of poetry to heal and create beauty. He speaks from his own personal experience as someone who has dealt with the ups and downs of this disorder while trying to become a writer, composer, and filmmaker. The film is an amazing testament to his artistic achievement! See his bio under Cast & Crew for more details.

“Poetry at its best has the deepest expression of being in the worst hell, and having no choice but to bring some kind of aesthetic meaning to it, and some kind of beauty to it, just to even cope with it. (and) Only by being forced down there to such a hell are you forced to bring that much beauty to that hell, and in the process it becomes a healing. And so it was natural how it wove itself into the film, as these two characters use it to cope with their psychosis, and to deal with coming out of their situation.”

From my own experience, writing poetry does have the power to transform and heal. Another film where poetry is featured is in Words and Pictures, where a poem invites you to be who you are.

The Soundtrack to the Movie

Paul Dalio’s blog post includes both the song and lyrics to Starry Nights. Listen to the Touched With Fire Soundtrack Preview, followed by Starry Nights, the song at the end of the film during the credits, published by Lakeshore Records. Download the album on iTunes.

Interviews with the Director and Actors

Charlie Rose: ‘Touched With Fire’ (Feb. 4, 2016)  Director and writer Paul Dalio, actor Luke Kirby, and psychologist Kay Jamison discuss the movie “Touched with Fire” and the connections between bipolar disorder and creativity. (18:51) Paul does mention his use of medication and meditation, which he elaborates upon in this next video.

At a David Lynch Foundation-hosted screening of the film, Paul opened up about his own struggles with bipolar and how pivotal the practice of Transcendental Meditation has proved to be in living a happy, healthy, and creatively rich life. “TM is the difference between surviving with bipolar and thriving with bipolar. I never stopped meditating, without fail,” he says. “That’s when my doctor, Norman Rosenthal, witnessed the power of TM and was so blown away he decided to do a study on the effects of TM.” Paul was responsible for Dr. Rosenthal restarting his long-lapsed TM practice, which led to the publication of two best-selling books on the subject. Visit NORMAN ROSENTHAL, MD for details. See Thriving with Bipolar – A Conversation with Writer/Director Paul Dalio.

TODAY: Katie Holmes Discusses Role In ‘Intense’ Film ‘Touched With Fire’ (4:41)

The Washington Post: Filmmaker Paul Dalio mines his bipolar disorder for feature debut

HotSpot: TOUCHED WITH FIRE | Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Paul Dalio & Jeremy Alter Interview | February 8, 2016 (26:54)

Video of Marbling Art Animation of Starry Night and Van Gogh

Check out this amazing video on marbling art animation of Starry night and a Van Gogh self-portrait: Van Gogh on Dark Water Animation. The Turkish artist is Garip Ay, and the ancient technique of painting on water to marble paper is called Ebru.

The Unexpected Math Behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, “When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.” As difficult as turbulence is to understand mathematically, we can use art to depict the way it looks. Natalya St. Clair illustrates how Van Gogh captured this deep mystery of movement, fluid and light in his work. Visit TED-Ed for more.

Billy Collins interviews Sir Paul McCartney about writing songs, poems, Beatles music, and more

March 21, 2016

On October 23, 2014, Sir Paul McCartney visited Rollins College at the invitation of Rollins Winter Park Institute Senior Distinguished Fellow Billy Collins. In this interview Paul shares some interesting stories from his life as a Beatle, how he wrote songs with John Lennon and by himself. He answered students’s questions and concluded by singing Blackbird.

Nancy Shevell’s son, Arlen, Paul’s stepson, was a student at Rollins at the time. The following year, at Arlen’s private graduation party in May 2015, Paul had asked to sing with the local band Nancy had hired. Josh Walther and The Phase5 Band shared their amazement online!

I discovered some surprising connections between Nancy Shevell and Barbara Walters, and with Paul McCartney’s first wife, Linda McCartney. See Who Is Nancy Shevell, Paul McCartney’s New Wife?

You may be interested to read The Story Behind Paul McCartney’s Song: “Let It Be.” See other posts about Paul McCartney on The Uncarved Blog, and poems by Billy Collins, including video interviews and readings.

“Meditation Creativity Peace”—A documentary of David Lynch’s 16-country tour during 2007–2009

March 3, 2016

Between 2007-2009 the iconic American director David Lynch made a series of trips to 16 countries in Europe and the Middle East to talk about Transcendental Meditation, Creativity, and Peace.

Wherever he went David was met by hundreds of fans and honored by several film societies. He spoke with heads of state, educators, the press, and local meditators inspiring them to form peace-creating groups.

Footage from these events was taken by film students and film institutes in cities on the tour and sent to David, who, along with his editor, turned it into the film titled, “Meditation Creativity Peace.”

Interwoven throughout the documentary is an excellent interview with a French journalist at an historic art studio in Paris where David goes to create his lithographs. Besides being a talented creative artist in various visual media, David is also an excellent teacher. The way in which he illustrates and explains how TM works and what it can do for us as human beings is absolutely brilliant!

The film premiered in various cities and countries to raise funds for the David Lynch Foundation to help teach Transcendental Meditation to at-risk students everywhere. Meditating celebrities joined David at the LA premiere. See some of the coverage and interviews below. The film is now posted on the DavidLynchFoundation channel for all to see.

Here are a few related posts on this subject: David Lynch addresses Israelis on Skype call after they see his film Meditation Creativity Peace | David Lynch speaks with Alan Colmes about his 16-country tour film Meditation Creativity Peace | Russell Brand and David Lynch at LA Premiere of ‘Meditation, Creativity, Peace’ Documentary | David Lynch, Russell Brand, Bob Roth Q&A after screening Meditation, Creativity, Peace documentary at Hammer Museum | Watch the trailer for a new documentary film on David Lynch titled “Meditation Creativity Peace”.

This article beautifully complements the film: David Lynch on meditation in the NewStatesman: Heaven is a place on earth. It includes the diagram and reads like a transcription of David’s brilliant explanation woven throughout the documentary film. 

This earlier article is also very interesting: Celeb Spiritual Report: One significant day in my life by David Lynch for Jane Magazine (May 2004).

See a rare look at David Lynch in this documentary made by Richard Beymer: “It’s a Beautiful World.” New film shows David Lynch retracing Maharishi’s footsteps from North to South India and the start of the TM movement.

Read inspiring excerpts from an earlier post on David Lynch’s book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

David’s explanations on TM & Creativity from the Documentary

The complete brilliant explanation David gave the French interviewer about TM, which was incorporated into the documentary filmed at David’s Paris studio, was edited together with a background soundtrack in this video: David Lynch explains Transcendental Meditation.

That brilliant answer David gave a film teacher’s question at the Majestic Theater in Boston shown in the documentary, of whether TM could help her and her students, has been excerpted and posted as: David Lynch on Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain (Transcendental Meditation).

It was later brilliantly animated to David’s voice as David Lynch On How Meditation Can Change Your Life–Transcendental Meditation & Creativity.

They were all included in this Spanish website, IDEAS, by Juan Carlos Sosa Azpúrua on noviembre 1, 2019: Lynch: Meditación trascendental.

Sr. Azpúra also posted recent videos of David Lynch receiving his honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards, with introductions by Isabella Rossellini, Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan, and David Lynch‘s short acceptance speech.

Great interview by Paul Zollo for American Songwriter: A Q&A With Director, Songwriter David Lynch, on David’s birthday, January 20, 2020.


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