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A Star-Studded Celebration

Stella McCartney and Fern Mallis Receive Humanitarian Awards

By Lisa Burwell | Photography courtesy of David Lynch Foundation

Just the mention of Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Eraserhead, and Blue Velvet can send David Lynch’s fans into a frenzy of adoration. The Guardian echoed that sentiment, referring to him as “the most important filmmaker of the current era.” This filmmaker, artist, musician, actor, photographer, and philanthropist has had his sights set on goals loftier than just making an indelible mark on the entertainment industry. Renaissance man Lynch is also a longtime student and teacher of Transcendental Meditation (TM), spreading peace and wellness to as many people as he can with his eponymous foundation.

“I started practicing Transcendental Meditation in 1973 and have not missed a single meditation ever since. Twice a day, every day. It has given me effortless access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within. This level of life is sometimes called ‘pure consciousness’—it is a treasury. And this level of life is deep within us all,” he opines on his foundation’s website. He adds, “But I had no idea how powerful and profound this technique could be until I saw firsthand how it was being practiced by young children in inner-city schools, veterans who suffer the living hell of post-traumatic stress disorder, and women and girls who are victims of terrible violence.”

On May 8, the David Lynch Foundation (DLF) hosted the second annual Women of Vision luncheon. International fashion and design consultant Fern Mallis and fashion designer Stella McCartney were honored with humanitarian awards for their contributions to the fashion industry and tremendous support of women in need. Tickets for the star-studded event, held at swanky 583 Park Avenue, started at a thousand dollars each. Proceeds help fund a New York City initiative to teach Transcendental Meditation (TM) to women survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Rosanna Scotto of Good Day New York hosted the luncheon alongside DLF director Bob Roth, author of Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation. Scotto, who also practices TM, spoke with Roth about her life before meditation: “I was anxious, angry, unhappy, stressed out, frenetic. And that was just before breakfast. Now that I’ve learned the practice, I’m much calmer and definitely more focused.” When interviewing Roth on the telephone a few months ago, I knew I was talking to a very well educated man and a TM guru, but I had no idea he would be as down-to-earth as he was. He was certainly self-effacing as he recounted telling his sister about his book being named a New York Times bestseller. When I asked if TM was a religion, he said, “TM is, in a word, life-changing for the good. It is not a religion. It is not a philosophy. It is a tool that tones the brain.” He quoted William Butler Yeats toward the end of the interview: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

“TM is, in a word, life-changing for the good. It is not a religion. It is not a philosophy. It is a tool that tones the brain.”

Bob Roth is a world authority on Transcendental Meditation who has spent forty-five years helping people access their innate creativity and power with TM. He has brought TM to many thousands of students ranging from war-scarred veterans and inner-city youth to Fortune 100 CEOs and such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gisele Bündchen. Every day, a growing epidemic of stress is damaging our physical and emotional health—and at younger and younger ages. People from all walks of life and of every race, age, and income level make the same confession: “I am so stressed.” It is literally killing us.

While there is no one single cure, there is a simple practice that dramatically changes how we respond to stress and life’s challenges: the Transcendental Meditation technique. With scientifically proven benefits—improved focus, sleep, resilience, creativity, and memory, to name a few—this five-thousand-year-old practice has a clear and direct impact on our very modern problems. Roth trained under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the twentieth century’s foremost scientist of consciousness and meditation, and has since become one of the most experienced and sought-after meditation teachers in the world. Roth saw the profound and practical capabilities of the technique, and as cofounder and chief executive officer of the David Lynch Foundation, he has helped bring TM to more than five hundred thousand at-risk youth, veterans with PTSD, and women survivors of domestic violence. He also teaches TM to top leaders in government, business, medicine, and the arts. In Strength in Stillness, Roth breaks down the science behind meditation in a new, accessible way. He highlights the three distinct types of meditation—focused attention, open monitoring, and self-transcending—and showcases the evidence that the third, Transcendental Meditation, is the most effective and efficient way to reduce stress, access inner power, and build resilience. Free of gimmicks, mystical verbiage, and over-inflated research studies, Strength in Stillness is a simple and straightforward guide to calming mind, body, and spirit.

Movie star siren Isabella Rossellini presented the Women of Vision Humanitarian Award to Stella McCartney, who explained her connection to TM. Although she had learned of it at an early age, she turned to meditation “through trauma and loss” after her mother, Linda, died twenty years ago. “I went to meet the Maharishi. I said, ‘Dad (Paul McCartney), this is the time to get back into the meditation mode.’”

McCartney, citing the foundation for helping the less fortunate, said that is “probably one of the best gifts you can have because it is something that you can take everywhere. I’m sure a lot of people in the room travel a lot; we carry our bags around and we have a lot going on in our lives. Meditation is something that I just carry around in my back pocket and in my heart for free. It’s weightless, effortless, and it’s a real gift.”

Meditation is something that I just carry around in my back pocket and in my heart for free. It’s weightless, effortless, and it’s a real gift.”

Fern Mallis, who accepted her Humanitarian Award from Norma Kamali, said, “The fact that I am being honored by the David Lynch Foundation is really crazy. It’s the last organization on earth that I thought this would happen with.” She reminded the crowd that the event was a fund-raiser for women and children victims of sexual assault and said, “I only wish that we could get to all the horrible men in the world and teach them to meditate.”

As it turns out, the David Lynch Foundation is also starting an initiative to teach perpetrators to meditate. Since abusive behavior is often triggered by stress, teaching them to meditate might nip the problem in the bud. “Prevention is always superior to cure.”

In a world rattled by chaos and confusion, it is good to know that men and women are sharing their tools, time, and resources with a world in need.

— V —

To learn more about the David Lynch Foundation, visit www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

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