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Keeping Your Hair On by Barry Egan - Read here

Confessions of a Peaceful Mind by Joanna Braniff - Read here

TM is Dr Ashley Dean's Answer by Aingeal Ní Mhurchú - Read here


by Joanna Braniff at the Irish News

Joanna Braniff talks to avant-garde, Oscar nominated film director David Lynch ahead of his visit to Belfast later this month on his belief that Transcendental Mediation can improve the world and his personal mission to spread peace and tranquility.
Calmness, relaxation and spiritual bliss are not words you would normally associate with auteur film director David Lynch. As an Oscar-nominated, yet avant-garde director, with a career spanning more than three decades, Lynch has changed the visual language of cinema and television forever.
More famous for directing nightmarish visions of collective consciousness like Eraser Head, Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive and The Elephant Man, Lynch's very name has passed into popular parlance to mean weird and disturbing.
So it may come as a surprise to many that the American director is currently on a global mission to spread the calming practice of transcendental meditation (TM), especially to young people in schools. Despite the fact that his schedule is best described as hectic, he took time out of setting up an important exhibition of his art in Milan to chat to The Irish News about his core beliefs.
In a post-conflict society such as ours, David believes that TM can have a positive impact on the lives of all and that is why he is keen to visit Northern Ireland. David is a firm believer in the ancient practice of TM and has been using its techniques for more than 30 years to improve every aspect of his life and work.
He has just released a fascinating and engaging book entitled Catching The Big Fish about his own life, his personal experiences of using TM and he will be in Belfast later this month as part of the Queen's Festival to spread his message that TM can improve the lives of all. He has set up a global foundation in order to provide publicity and funding to introduce TM into schools to set up a life long practice that can improve creativity and quality of life.
Popularised by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Transcendental Meditation involves twice-daily sessions in which practitioners meditate on a specific mantra to achieve inner peace although it is important to point out that it is not affiliated or based on any specific or religious practices.
Lynch believes that human beings have the capacity to "dive within" their own consciousness through the practice of TM to achieve 'full brain potential' and experience bliss and joy everyday. He is working with an organisation called Stress Free Schools in order to educate and implement programs for young people to help them cope with modern life through this ancient practice.
As his mission statement says: "In today's world of fear and uncertainty, every child should have one class period a day to dive within himself and experience the field of silence - bliss - the enormous reservoir of energy and intelligence that is deep within all of us. This is the way to save the coming generation."
When David visits Belfast this month he will be giving a lecture about the practice of TM and his own life experiences using its techniques. "Transcendental Mediation is a mental technique," David says. "It is an ancient form of meditation. In TM you are given a mantra and this is very specific sound or vibration or thought. These mantras are there to turn the mind or the awareness within. Always, our awareness is out. We look for happiness 'out there' and sometimes we find it. But because we live in a constantly changing world the happiness starts to change and we then seek happiness somewhere else.
"The mantra turns the mind within and you naturally dive into deeper levels of your mind, to a deeper level of intellect. It is a natural process because each deeper level of mind and intellect has more happiness. So you just dive within - it is beautiful, easy, and effortless. When you get to the deepest level, the border of intellect, this is called the unified field or pure bliss consciousness, you transcend and you experience unbounded happiness, intelligence, creativity.
"When you experience this deepest level of life you enliven it and it starts to grow so what you are doing is really, truly growing more consciousness, awareness, understanding, intelligence, creativity and power. It starts expanding day-by-day and then you notice that negative things like sorrow, anger, depression, tension, stress, depression and hate start to recede.
It is easy to tell that Lynch is passionate and committed to this cause and desperately wants to spread the techniques of TM to the world so that everyone can experience the benefits that it has brought to his life.
David was introduced to the practice in the early 1970s and based on his personal experiences, which are explored in detail in Catching The Big Fish, he has found a key tool for both his professional and personal life.
Science also supports the claims for the positive benefits of TM. Over the last 30 years hundreds of scientific studies, including those carried out at the prestigious Harvard and Stanford Medical Schools, have validated the benefits of TM. This research has shown that the TM technique produces physiological states of alertness - distinct from ordinary waking, dreaming or deep sleep. This deeply rested state of physiology can have long-term benefits for health and mental well-being.
Lynch is keen to offer this tool to young people in schools so that they can achieve their full capacity. It is through the practice of TM David believes that people can appreciate every aspect of their life on a much deeper level and therefore get much more out of their experience. If people can awaken their innate curiosity and enthusiasm for life on such a primal level they can experience the world on a deeper level and get more enjoyment and build their self-esteem more fully.
David says: "Through TM the student learns to know their self. A great self-assuredness, inner happiness and a brightness comes and they become very creatively powerful and strong - real happy human beings. They are shedding stress like a dog coming out of water and shaking stress off."
There must be something in the miraculous claims of the techniques of TM because Lynch is best described as a true renaissance man having excelled in art, music, photography, writing and film making. Unbounded by convention, he has been an artistic pioneering over his long and illustrious career. While his movies and art could never be described as calming or peaceful works, Lynch says he reflects the world outside and around him, but within he experiences bliss everyday.
"Bliss takes off where happiness ends. Bliss is intense, complete happiness. You can vibrate in it - its physical, emotional, mental and spiritual happiness. This happiness is natural and it grows and grows and the things that used to kill you don't get you so much."
Through the work of his foundation, David hopes to spread the benefits of TM to the next generation. "My foundation is there to give TM to students if they want it. More and more schools want it now for all their students and those that have taken it have seen a huge transformation - a giant change! "Some of the schools that have taken it were hell holes filled with violence and anger and then things start changing for the better through TM.
"It's like at night - the sunlight is missing so it's dark. But when the sun comes up, without even trying, just by its nature, darkness goes away. So negativity is just like darkness - it's really nothing - it's just the absence of something. So just as sunlight removes darkness, this light of unity removes negativity. When anybody stays regular in the practice of TM their life gets better - it's a real phenomenon!"
David, who has Irish roots, is really looking forward to his first visit to Belfast and he hopes that the message he is bringing can have a positive effect on our society as a whole and specifically help children and students achieve their full potential.
"TM offers a way for people to experience the deepest level of themselves and that holds the promise for peace, individual enlightenment and the full potential of the individual."
* David Lynch, along with singer/songwriter Donovan, will give a talk as part of the Belfast festival at Queens on Sunday, October 21 at 2pm in the Whitle Hall.
To buy tickets for this event or for more information call 028 9097 1197
For more information about David Lynch's foundation see
For more information about the implementation of
transcendental meditation in schools see
Reprinted with the kind permission of Joanna Braniff at the Irish News ( October 13th 2007 )




"I encourage all my patients to practise Transcendental Meditation. Experience shows, and research confirms, that it is the best vaccine against stress-related conditions. Regular practice keeps you inwardly settled despite being surrounded by chaos.”
—Dr. Donn Brennan (MRCGP), General Practitioner"


"Numerous comparative research studies have found TM to be twice as effective as other techniques in reducing anxiety, high blood pressure and overall cardiovascular disease and increasing longevity.”
—Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D.