Posts Tagged ‘Transcendental Meditation’

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

September 8, 2021

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

Meditation is Penelope Cruz’s escape

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

5 September 2021

Penelope Cruz

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

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

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

Penelope Cruz

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

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

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

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

“So I think: thank you!”

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

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

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

July 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

From the book description:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donovan celebrates 75th birthday, releases video of ‘I Am The Shaman’ produced by David Lynch

May 9, 2021

Donovan celebrates his 75th birthday with the release of a video single ‘I Am The Shaman’ in collaboration with David Lynch and launches an appeal for teaching Transcendental Meditation to students in Ireland.

Photographer : Jamue Caldentey : c Donovan Discs 2021

Donovan, world famous singer songwriter, who shot to fame with his extraordinary folk music in the 1960s and spent time with Maharishi and the Beatles in Rishikesh, India, now celebrates his 75th birthday on May 10th 2021. To mark the occasion Donovan is releasing a new video single with iconic filmmaker David Lynch. 

‘I Am The Shaman’ is available on: www.donovan.ie, Spotify, You Tube, and other platforms after May 10th.

At the same time Donovan is launching an appeal for teaching Transcendental Meditation to students in his native Ireland. If you would like to contribute: paypal.me/donovanleitch.

Also, please consider leaving a birthday greeting on his official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DonovanOfficial.

Donovan, who was inducted to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014, says: “David and I are compadres on a creative path rarely travelled, and we bring Transcendental Meditation to the world. Thanks for all your support!”

How it happened

“It was all impromptu,” Donovan explains. “I visited the studio and David said, ‘Sit at the mics with your guitar Don.’” He continued, “He had asked me to only bring in a song just emerging, not anywhere near finished. We would see what happens. It happened!”

Donovan said he “composed extempore … the verses came naturally. New chord patterns effortlessly appeared. He added, “On another day David ‘sound sculpted’ my Ferrington acoustic guitar ‘Kelly’ and he played his unique Modal Chord Ferrington Guitar textures with ‘effects’.”

The video was released today, May 10 for Donovan’s 75th birthday, in hopes of raising money to help him “give students TM Meditation.” Transcendental Meditation is a type of meditation that is taught to students one-on-one. Lynch is another major proponent of it, and organized a livestream festival benefitting his Meditate America initiative for the David Lynch Foundation. Donovan stated, “David and I are ‘compadres’ on a creative path rarely travelled. And we bring TM Meditation to the world.” 

Some news coverage

wxdmw: This article goes into how the song and video came together in David Lynch’s LA studio: Donovan Enlists David Lynch to Direct New Video for “I Am The Shaman”.

Pitchfork: David Lynch Directs New Video for Donovan Song “I Am the Shaman”: Watch. The song was produced by Lynch and mixed by collaborator Dean Hurley.

Rolling Stone: Donovan Taps David Lynch to Direct New Video for 2010 Song ‘I Am the Shaman’. Filmmaker also co-produced the song, which first appeared on the folk legend’s album, Ritual Groove.

IndieWire: David Lynch Directs Psychedelic Music Video to Celebrate Donovan’s 75th Birthday — Watch. With black-and-white images of stars and skulls and a droning soundscape, “I Am the Shaman” is a very Lynchian affair.

NME: David Lynch directs video for new Donovan song, ‘I Am The Shaman’. “David and I are ‘Compadres’ on a creative path rarely travelled”.

Stereogum: David Lynch Directs Donovan’s “I Am The Shaman” Video.

This news was reported on IMDb and many more places on the internet.

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The last time Donovan was in Fairfield he performed at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts and at Fairfest 2016: Sunshine Superman Donovan is a Very Mellow Fellow, a Hurdy Gurdy Man with Loving Vibes.

Transcendental Meditation effective in reducing veterans’ PTSD, sleep difficulties, depression and anxiety symptoms by 50% in 3 months: new study

March 22, 2021

News Release 18-Mar-2021 | EurekAlert! Summary & Press Release

Veterans with PTSD who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique showed significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity, according to a new study published today in Journal of Traumatic Stress. Fifty percent of the meditating veterans no longer met criteria for PTSD after three months compared to only 10 percent of controls. The randomized controlled study also showed significant reductions in veterans’ symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties.

IMAGE
IMAGE: Fifty percent of veterans who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for three months no longer met criteria for PTSD compared to only 10 percent of controls. Meditating veterans also showed significant reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties. This figure shows the unadjusted mean change in PTSD symptoms, based on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), for the Transcendental Meditation group compared to the treatment-as-usual control group (all P values <.05) over the three-month intervention period. Credit: Maharishi International University Research Institute

Transcendental Meditation effective in reducing PTSD, sleep problems, depression symptoms

Veterans with PTSD who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique showed significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity, according to a new study published today in Journal of Traumatic Stress. Fifty percent of the meditating veterans no longer met criteria for PTSD after three months compared to only 10 percent of controls. The randomized controlled study also showed significant reductions in veterans’ symptoms of depression and anxiety, and sleep difficulties.

“Transcendental Meditation is a non-trauma-focused, easy-to-learn technique that was found in this study to improve PTSD symptoms, likely through the experience of physical rest,” said Mayer Bellehsen, Ph.D., director of the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and their Families, Northwell Health, and study principal investigator. “In contrast to commonly administered therapies for PTSD that are trauma-focused and based on a patient’s recall of past traumatic experiences, this intervention does not require extensive review of traumatic history, which some individuals find difficult to engage in. This intervention may therefore be more tolerable for some individuals struggling with PTSD.”

The randomized controlled trial, conducted at Northwell Health in Bay Shore, New York, assigned 40 veterans with documented PTSD to either the Transcendental Meditation (TM) group or treatment as usual control group. The TM treatment provided 16 sessions over 12 weeks, with twice-a-day daily home practice. PTSD symptom severity was assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5), and patient self-report with the PTSD Checklist for DSM -5 (PCL-5).

The results showed large effect sizes, indicating a strong TM treatment impact in reducing trauma symptoms for both PTSD measures. Other factors associated with trauma, such as depression and anxiety symptoms and sleep problems, also showed a strong impact of TM treatment.

“This trial corroborates the findings of a large clinical trial published in The Lancet Psychiatry,” said Sanford Nidich, Ed.D., Director of the Center for Social-Emotional Health at Maharishi International University Research Institute, and study co-investigator. “The current study further supports the effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation as a first-line treatment for PTSD in veterans. The availability of an additional evidence-based therapy will benefit veterans, both by offering them a greater range of options and by serving as an alternative treatment strategy for those who don’t want to engage in trauma-focused treatment or who aren’t responding to a previous PTSD intervention.”

The authors point out in their research paper that TM may positively affect trauma symptom severity through the reduction of hyperarousal symptoms. Previous research has shown that TM practice decreases physiological responses to stressful stimuli. In addition, recent research indicates that TM may improve resilience and positive coping strategies, providing further benefit to both veterans and active military personnel.

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This study was supported by David Lynch Foundation. The article is titled, “A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation as Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans.” Northwell Health, New York University, and Maharishi International University Research Institute collaborated on the trial. Preliminary results had been previously presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference, November 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: EurekAlert!

Northwell Health posted their release on March 22, 2021: New study shows transcendental meditation effective for reducing veterans’ stress. The study, led by Mayer Bellehsen, PhD, showed that the technique resulted in significant reductions in symptom severity.

Many science and international news outlets posted the news, including this excellent report in Medical News Today (PDF). And Jim Dwyer MD produced and tweeted this 60-seconds MediBlurb: Transcendental Meditation for PTSD in Veterans, which airs on regional radio in Arizona.

An unforgettable incident 50 years ago during intermission at a Montreal Place Des Arts concert

February 11, 2021

I remember this incident as if it was yesterday, even though it happened around 50 years ago. I had purchased a ticket to see a well-known rock group perform that evening at Place Des Arts, Montreal’s newest and most beautiful arts center at the time.

I had learned Transcendental Meditation a few years earlier and was conscientious about getting both meditations in every day. The morning one was easy, but fitting in the evening session could sometimes be a bit of a challenge depending on where I was.

There was a long intermission between performances, when people could go to restrooms or get refreshments on the mezzanine. As audience members around me got up to leave, I decided to stay and do my evening meditation. I closed my eyes and meditated undisturbed. I could hear the buzz of people socializing on the other side of the closed doors to the concert hall, but it didn’t bother me.

After I finished, I went out to see what was happening. People were milling about and talking. There were several oval-shaped bars located on the floor with a few servers behind them. Some people had formed separate lines on all sides leading up to them to purchase drinks or snacks. I joined one of the lines closest to me. I felt calm, relaxed and refreshed, and was in no hurry.

We were moving slowly. Some people spoke casually among themselves. The lady in front of me was antsy. She kept looking at the barman at the front of our line serving customers, wanting him to hurry up and get to her. Frustrated, she blurted out, “He’s everywhere but in front of him.”

“He’s everywhere but in front of him.”

I looked and noticed the barman taking an order from the person in front of him. He then ran to serve a drink to someone further down the bar. Next, he gave change to a customer who had just paid for their drink from another side. He was all over the place.

After seeing how busy he was, I rearranged her words from a different perspective and said, “But everywhere is in front of him!”

“But everywhere is in front of him!”

She anxiously looked again, and this time noticed that he was quickly trying his best to serve as many people as possible. My observational joke had broken the tension. She laughed and said, “That’s a good one.”

I was just as surprised as her at what had spontaneously come out of my mouth. I smiled and said, “You like it? It’s yours.”

Visibly relaxed, she smiled and thanked me. Good thing I had done my TM! Just goes to show you the effect we can have on each other for good.

(more…)

Cartoon wisdom from Karl Stevens appears in this week’s print edition of The New Yorker

February 1, 2021

When I saw this wise cartoon by Karl Stevens on his Twitter and Instagram feeds I had to share it. I posted comments on both and Karl replied. Turns out there’s a TM connection. See our conversation below.

The New Yorker Cartoons have now also posted it on their Instagram.

I was so taken with this cartoon, I had to share a comment on Twitter and on Karl’s Instagram: “Love this! So funny and so true!!”

Surprisingly, Karl replied to both! Here’s a compilation: “Thanks, Ken! By the way, (You know) I’ve been doing TM for the past 7 years. Completely changed my life for the better! Thanks for all your work.”

I’ve been doing TM for the past 7 years. Completely changed my life for the better!

I had a suspicion this may have been the case when I saw a page from Karl’s forthcoming book, Penny, A Graphic Memoir. Published by Chronicle Books, this colorful graphic novel features the philosophical and existential musings of a cat named Penny.

The original publication date of April 13 was pushed back to April 20, then May 4 because of the shipping crisis, but you can still preorder the book in Karl’s profile @karlstevens from booksellers around the world.

In this frame on his Instagram, Penny says: “No, true transcendence comes from within. There is an oasis of happiness inside of me waiting to be unlocked. I just need to find the right key.” The second frame shows the cover of this new book, his fourth.

I had asked Karl if I could post his cartoons and he replied: “You can absolutely use that Penny comic for your blog. I’ve been meaning to be more vocal regarding my TM practice. Use the links for the Penny graphic novel in my profile, and my IG and Twitter handle,” which I’ve done.

I looked up Karl Stevens’ books on Amazon, and Time Out Boston wrote on the back of his book, Failure, “Karl Stevens may be the closet thing to a Charles Bukowski equivalent working in comic art. Except Stevens is way classier….” I mentioned it to Karl and told him that Charles Bukowski had learned TM later in his life. Karl was excited to learn about this. He said when he was working on Failure, “I was struggling with alcoholism which I think was where the comparison lies. I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.”

I stopped drinking a couple months before beginning to learn TM. Obviously the practice was crucial to helping me focus on living a cleaner life.

Karl Stevens is a Boston-based comic strip artist. He’s written four graphic novels, and his comics have appeared regularly in the New Yorker, Village Voice, and Boston Phoenix. His comic strips appeared in the Boston Phoenix between 2005 and 2012. His work has been well received all around, and The Lodger was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.

Find out more about Karl Stevens at https://linktr.ee/karlstevens, and follow him on Twitter @KarlStevensart and Instagram @karlstevensart.

UPDATE: After reading this blog post my niece found a cartoonist profile on Karl and sent it to me. He mentions his TM practice further down under Misc. It was posted May 22, 2019 on A Case For Pencils. The blog, created/edited/run by Jane Mattimoe, is a peek inside the pencil bags and minds of New Yorker cartoonists, where they talk about their art supplies and drawing process.

Cartoonists sit and concentrate on drawing for long periods of time. In that profile, Karl describes the benefits of exercise and TM. He says:

It’s important to take breaks during the day, especially exercise. At the risk of sounding like David Lynch, I would also recommend learning Transcendental Meditation. I’ve been doing it for five years, and have never felt more creative. Slacking off twice a day for 20 minutes each really does help your mind and body recharge.

Karl also recommended The Winner, published May 23, 2018. He did it after he started TM. He said, “It’s on the lighter side, basically a love letter to my wife Alex.” I took a Look inside at the book preview on Amazon and it’s beautiful! Some of the panels are like miniature paintings. I can see why this book garnered rave reviews.

When I asked Karl what or who inspired him and his wife to learn TM he said that a friend of his had started six months before they did. He also said, “it was because of David Lynch. Well, Howard Stern too. We were/are regular listeners and would hear about the benefits from him too.” I sent him a link to a conversation Howard Stern and Jerry Seinfeld had about their TM practice.

Speaking of slacking off twice a day for 20 minutes to meditate, Jim Carrey, in his 2014 Commencement address at MUM/MIU mentions a similar thing at this point in his talk. Very funny!

Mark Wooding animated some highlights of Jim’s wise advice to the Class of 2014 for his After Skool site, which I’ve also posted, with links to the full talks and news coverage.

Here’s another post on cartoonists: Good cartoons teach us a lot if we’re willing to learn and laugh at our little foibles and neuroses.

UPDATED: April 26, 2021, The New Yorker, Daily Shouts: Penny Rejects the Rules of Man by Karl Stevens.

Asheville TM Center offers free Transcendental Meditation courses to help health care workers find peace during COVID-19 chaos

January 25, 2021

Group tries to help health care workers find peace during COVID-19 chaos by Caitlyn Penter for ABC 13 News. Monday, January 18th 2021

WLOS ABC 13 News, Asheville, NC VIEW ALL 7 PHOTOS

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Medical experts say health care workers are experiencing higher rates of burnout, exhaustion and even PTSD as they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One group is trying to change that.

Tom and Jeanne Ball, directors at the Asheville TM Center, joined the national Heal The Healers Now project to offer free Transcendental Meditation training for health care workers who are experiencing higher rates of burnout, exhaustion and even PTSD as they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Click to see video of WLOS ABC News 13 Report

Tom and Jeanne Ball, directors at the Asheville TM Center, have joined the national Heal The Healers Now project to offer free Transcendental Meditation training for health care workers. This is happening at a time when those involved in the project said health care workers need it the most.

“We found before the pandemic a year ago, found that half of physicians anyway were reporting significant levels of burnout,” said Dr. Stuart Rothenberg, medical director of the Center for Health and Wellness. “Now, we have 75 to 80% reporting significant burnout,” said Stuart Rothenberg, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Health and Wellness.

Tom Ball said health care workers need a way to do destress.

“Our health care workers that are so overly stressed and overly taxed right now,” Tom Ball said.

He said the Transcendental Meditation technique is a way for them to find peace during the chaos.

“Practice 15, 20 minutes a day, just sit comfortably with your eyes closed,” Tom Ball said.

Jeanne Ball said she’s teaching a nurse right now.

“She’s told me that she’s been able to take a break at the hospital and just sit down and do this,” Jeanne Ball said.

Michael Stephens, an Asheville area doctor, agreed with the technique’s effectiveness. He learned the technique before the pandemic.

“Working in a COVID environment is very suffocating. Wearing protective gear all the time and having to wear masks and gowns and gloves and shields is very suffocating, both physically hard to breath and emotionally,” Stephens said. “The Transcendental Meditation just really gives respite.”

Rothenberg said a national survey found that since the pandemic 76% of health care workers feel emotionally exhausted and 50% said they cry frequently at work, with 67% of nurses saying they cry frequently at work.

“We don’t really see the light at the end of tunnel for our health care workers,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity, twice a day, to get out of that cycle.”

The Balls said the free course they are offering is held over four days with 1.5 hours each day.

For more information click here.

Also posted January 19, 2021 on KCTV 5.

Entrepreneur @SigurdVedal and #TM teacher Lakos Antal discuss how to build a better life

November 15, 2020

Doug Rexford sent me a link to an interview on The Sigurd Vedal Show. Sigurd Verdal is an American-Norwegian tech entrepreneur, successful multi-business owner, investor, and CEO of Vedal Media Group. Sigurd invited his TM teacher, Lakos Antal, on his show for a lively discussion on how to build a better life with Transcendental Meditation. The names of the host and his guest were unfamiliar to me, but as soon as I saw and heard the TM teacher speak, I recognized him as Tony.

Sigurd Vedal interviews Tony Antal: How to build a better life with Transcendental Meditation.

I had met Tony, as we knew him, and his friend Peter, around 20 years ago on an international TM course for men in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They were friendly young TM teachers from Hungary who had worked on international projects. Coincidentally, years later, Peter had become a student here at MIU, married a fellow student, had a son, and is now completing his doctoral thesis on a TM research study.

Tony had learned TM in high school when he was 15. Within 3 weeks he noticed it gave him added energy and clarity of mind. He was a straight ‘A’ student and was expected to follow his family’s tradition of becoming a medical doctor. During his first year of medical school Tony would come to realize that the medical profession only dealt with treating diseases, not preventing them.

Becoming a TM teacher instead of a doctor

After a year of medical college Tony felt it really wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life and followed his heart’s desire instead to become a TM teacher. Turns out it was the right decision for him. One of the things he did was give Introductory talks to medical students. Many of them started as they needed something to help them deal with the stressful challenges of their chosen profession.

Interestingly, Stritch School of Medicine, affiliated with Loyola University Chicago, was the first to make TM available as an elective course. It’s been part of the medical curriculum for four years now. See The first Transcendental Meditation elective course offered at a major US medical school. Two years ago the Catholic Health Association of the United States published an excellent report on the program in Catholic Health World: Medical students learn meditation to counter stress, promote physician wellness.

Tony told Sigrud that when he was a student in Budapest, meditation was a foreign concept. Today, millions of people of all ages and backgrounds around the world have learned to meditate, including famous celebrities who praise the benefits of TM. With hundreds of scientific studies verifying its efficacy, TM is part of wellness programs and recommended by doctors to patients with high blood pressure and other stress-related diseases. TM has been shown to help veterans suffering from PTSD.

I emailed some questions to Tony and he said he taught TM to Sigurd in August. Since Sigrud has business ties to Hungary, the interview took place in his Budapest apartment. They had both tested negative for COVID before they got together. Sigurd shared how TM has helped him to maintain a more even perspective in stressful situations, and that he is now able to fall asleep without the aid of sleeping pills.

Sigrud asked Tony some practical questions prompting him to go into more detail, which he did by sketching his ideas out on paper. They also edited in graphs and animated sequences illustrating Tony’s points, as well as video footage of people meditating in different situations.

Meeting with the president of Hungary

One story Sigrud really wanted Tony to share was his interaction with TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the end of his TM Teacher Training Course. Based on Tony’s answer to a particular question, Maharishi suggested that he contact the president of his homeland, Hungary, with a solution to his governmental problems. Maharishi even gave Tony a message to relay to the president on his behalf! How such an improbable meeting could occur, and how the president would respond to the presentation and Maharishi’s personal message were beyond Tony.

Listen to how it all unfolded, halfway through their conversation. It reveals a fascinating insight into the workings of leadership and collective consciousness—the highlight of this discussion for me. Tony told me that the story about the president made him realize that the government is really just an innocent mirror of the collective consciousness of the nation, as Maharishi had taught us. He explained the mechanics of this concept to Sigurd in the podcast video.

Jerry’s Last Mission was not just in WW2; he later helped bring peace to today’s troubled veterans

November 11, 2020

This week, Nov 9-13, 2020, is ‘Jerry Fest’, a 5-Day free, Sneak-Peak Screening and Virtual Celebration of Veteran’s Day, honoring the life of Jerry Yellin with the release of a new documentary film, ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’.

Here is a press release that was sent out announcing this week’s activities: Ed Cunningham Announces David Lynch Foundation and Regnery History to Host ‘Jerry Fest’. 5-Day Virtual Festival Celebration of Veteran’s Day and WW2 Fighter Pilot will include free screenings of the Feature Documentary ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.

The two virtual Q&A sessions take place on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 8 pm ET hosted by Regnery Publishing, and on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 8 pm ET hosted by the David Lynch Foundation. Both will include Yellin’s family, producers Ed Cunningham and Melissa Hibbard, and director Louisa Merino. Check the film’s website for zoom links. 

The film’s website is www.jerryslastmission.com and the social media addresses are facebook.com/jerryslastmission, @jerrys_last_mission_film on Instagram and @jerrylastmiss1 on Twitter. The film’s distribution rights are represented by Scott Kaplan of Domino Content (www.dominocontent.com).

The NJArts wrote a great article about the film in time for Veteran’s Day: War and inner peace: Moving documentary ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ available for free viewing. [PDF] Here’s the film’s trailer.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, a young Jerry Yellin signed up to become a fighter pilot. He flew P-51 missions over Iwo Jima, including the last official bombing raid of the war over Japan. He was the only one left in his squadron to survive. He returned home a hero, but suffered for decades from what is now known as PTSD. Thanks to his wife, Helene, Jerry learned the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, which transformed his life.

Decades later, when Jerry heard about the high rate of suicides among today’s veterans, he inspired the David Lynch Foundation to start Operation Warrior Wellness, which provided scholarships for veterans and their families to learn Transcendental Meditation.

So Jerry’s last mission was not only at the end of WW2, but also decades later during the latter part of his life, when he made it possible for American veterans of foreign wars to heal their PTSD by learning TM.

Last year The Fairfield Ledger published this 2-page cover story: Jerry Yellin laid to rest with full military honors. See more stories on this blog.

Just found another great report on the film, this one by News 12 The Bronx: Hate turns to love: ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ tells the story of WWII veteran coping with horrors of war. The story of a World War II fighter pilot from New Jersey who flew the last combat mission over Japan is now the subject of a new documentary film – “Jerry’s Last Mission.”

I cropped a photo of Merino and Yellin from this excellent TV news story.

Director Louisa Merino and Jerry Yellin

Additional news coverage

In addition to the NJArts and Bronx News 12 reports, these new articles came out: Baristanet: Limited Pre-Screening of ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ Will Honor New Jersey WWII Veteran, and this comprehensive article by Claire Barrett, who interviewed Louisa Merino and Michael and Steven Yellin for The Army Times, Observation Post: ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’: How WWII’s last combat pilot became a lifelong testament of the human spirit. Steven Yellin was also interviewed by KTVO-TV3’s Beth Waldon: New film helps Fairfield man understand father’s fighter pilot experiences in WWII. Click the title to see a video of the full report with the news anchor’s introduction and conclusion to Beth’s report embedded here.

This article, with photos from Michael Yellin, came out November 24, 2020: Montclairian’s father, Jerry Yellin, a WWII hero.

Don Henley and Lissie use the same approach to writing songs—don’t force it and wash the dishes!

October 4, 2020

I enjoy listening to songwriters talk about their creative process—how they approach the task of writing a song, the kind of strategies they use.

How Don Henley writes his songs

I recently watched a 92nd Street Y interview posted on YouTube in 2015. American Rock royalty Billy Joel and Eagles drummer and singer-songwriter Don Henley covered a lot of ground in 85 minutes. One of the things Joel asked Henley about was what does he do to get himself into the space where he can write songs.

Don tells Billy how he may hole up in a cabin, or somewhere where he won’t be disturbed, and shuts out all electronic distractions. He also says he doesn’t just sit there and write; he can’t force the words to come. He says he follows the zen-like advice to do a simple task first.

He tells the audience, “I’m dead serious. I’ve written some of my best stuff loading and unloading the dishwasher! Because you’re distracted and yet you’re not. I don’t know how to explain the thing. But I’ve read about the zen masters saying the same thing—if you can just do a menial task instead of sitting there with a pen and paper, in front of you going, (he clenches his fists and grunts).” The embedded video may play from the beginning, but that part of the discussion starts at 57:14.

How Lissie writes her songs

That reminds me of the exact same thing Lissie said in The A-Sides Interview. She discusses how she is learning to balance art with commerce, and spontaneity with structure. Describing her creative process she usually comes up with a melody, sometimes working with other musicians, then later writes the lyrics alone.

When writing lyrics, she’s “careful to not force it” and is always surprised when rhyming phrases pop into her head “when washing the dishes, not focusing hard on the lyrics.” That’s when she’s presented with newer better word choices she hadn’t thought of.

She emphasizes finding a balance: “being spontaneous, yet structured.” The embedded video may play from the beginning, but that part of the interview starts at 4:58.

How Colin Hay writes his songs

Another singer-songwriter I had discovered and recently wrote about is Colin Hay. When it comes to writing songs he says he likes to have as empty a mind as possible and puts himself in a space where he won’t be interrupted. He emphasizes that time is important, to give himself enough time to fail. He describes a scene where he’s all alone for 3 or 4 hours without any distractions, just sitting with his acoustic guitar doing nothing, just idling, coming up with musical ideas.

At other times, a friend may drop by and mention something in passing that will act as a catalyst to what he’s been thinking about. It triggers the melody, and then the words spontaneously come out in one take. In those cases he’ll quickly finish a song in under an hour. That’s how he wrote Waiting for my Real Life to Begin.

He explains all this in a 2011 CNN interview with Brooke Baldwin when she asks him where he was when he wrote that song, then quotes some of the lyrics to him. The embedded video may play from the beginning, but that part of the interview starts at 3:52.

TM, creativity, and the default mode network

Our minds are usually working on a particular problem, consciously and unconsciously. I’ve had the same thing happen to me when I’m writing a poem or a blog post and reach an impasse. I give up, let it go, and, surprisingly, the right solution later presents itself when I least expect it.

Science calls that place in our brains the default mode network (DMN), a.k.a. the imagination network or genius lounge. It’s activated when the mind is daydreaming, not engaged or concentrating on anything, just “idling” as Colin Hay put it. The key is to be easy. Focusing or “forcing it” turns it off.

Interestingly, the DMN is also activated during the effortless practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique as practitioners experience a state of “restful alertness.” Sometimes great ideas may show up during, but more likely after TM, what David Lynch calls, “Catching the Big Fish.” He often tells students, “TM is a boon for the filmmaker.” It facilitates access to one’s inner resources to create and think out of the box.

Jon Bon Jovi says washing dishes brings on hit songs

Addendum: Jon Bon Jovi, who loves doing TM, shared the same experience as Don Henley and Lissie on Monday night’s A Late Show with Stephen Colbert when they discussed the events that influenced his new album, Bon Jovi 2020. He told Colbert how the song Do What You Can came about when he was washing dishes in one of their JBJ Soul Kitchens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bon Jovi concluded, “Washing dishes brings on hit songs, Stephen.

Related: Lissie @lissiemusic and her connections to Twin Peaks, Fairfield and #TranscendentalMeditation and Colin Hay’s song—I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You—is so relevant during these tough times


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