David Lynch on Why He Meditates
My New Year’s resolution is to learn how to meditate. It’s always sounded like something I should do, but I don’t know how to. My friends who do it say it’s really freakin’ brilliant. They say you can’t know the peace/awareness/contentment until you do it. My brain drives me mental. I am going to start. Tomorrow.
I think I get it.
David Lynch on Why He Meditates
When I first heard about meditation, I had zero interest in it. I wasn’t even curious. It sounded like a waste of time.
What got me interested, though, was the phrase “true happiness lies within.” At first, I thought it sounded kind of mean because it doesn’t tell you where the “within” is, or how to get there. But, still, it had a ring of truth. And I began to think that maybe meditation was a way to go within.
“What got me interested, though, was the phrase “true happiness lies within.””
I looked into meditation, asked some questions, and started contemplating different forms. At that moment, my sister called and said she had been doing Transcendental Meditation for six months. There was something in her voice. A change. A quality of happiness. And I thought, “That’s what I want.”
So, in July 1973 I went to the TM center in Los Angeles and met an instructor, and I liked her. She looked like Doris Day. And she taught me this technique. She gave me a mantra, which is a sound-vibration-thought. You don’t meditate on the meaning of it, but it’s a very specific sound-vibration-thought.
“It takes you to an ocean of pure consciousness, pure knowingness. But it’s familiar; it’s you. And, right away, a sense of happiness emerges—not a goofball happiness, but a thick beauty.”
She took me into a little room to have my first meditation. I sat down, closed my eyes, started this mantra—which is a specific sound-vibration-thought—and it was like I was in an elevator and they cut the cable. Boom! I fell into bliss—pure bliss. And I was just in there. Then the teacher said, “It’s time to come out; it’s been 20 minutes.” And I said, “IT’S ALREADY BEEN 20 MINUTES?!” And she said “Shhhh!,” because other people were meditating. It seemed so familiar, but also so new and powerful. After that, I said the word “unique” should be reserved for this experience. It takes you to an ocean of pure consciousness, pure knowingness. But it’s familiar; it’s you. And, right away, a sense of happiness emerges—not a goofball happiness, but a thick beauty.
I have never missed a meditation in 36 years. I meditate once in the morning and again in the afternoon, for about 20 minutes each time. Then I go about the business of my day. And I find that the joy of doing increases. Intuition increases. The pleasure of life grows. And negativity recedes.
You can meditate anywhere. You can meditate in an airport, at work, anywhere you happen to be.
Once you add this and have a routine, it fits in very naturally.
I want to emphasize that meditation is not a selfish thing. Even though you’re diving in and experiencing the Self, you’re not closing yourself off from the world. You’re strengthening yourself so you can be more effective when you go back out into the world.
So compassion, appreciation for others, and the capacity to help others are enhanced when you meditate. You start diving down and experiencing this ocean of pure love, pure peace—you could say pure compassion. You experience that, and know it by being it. Then you go out into the world, and you can really do something for people.
“The ability to transcend—to dive within and experience an ocean of energy, intelligence and happiness—is the birthright of every human being.”
Four years ago, we started the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace out of compassion. Our goal was to ensure that any child anywhere in the world who wanted to learn to meditate could do so. Since then, we have offered “Quiet Time” meditation programs to at-risk students in hundreds of schools in 30 countries, but also to at-risk adults in homeless shelters, prisons, and hospitals—to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder and to American Indians living on reservations who suffer from diabetes and heart disease.
The ability to transcend—to dive within and experience an ocean of energy, intelligence and happiness—is the birthright of every human being. If you want to master anything truly worthwhile in life, you want a qualified teacher. That is the same way with mastering meditation. And that is why Transcendental Meditation is taught one-to-one by a trained teacher—it is not taught through a book or a tape. My feeling is, if you are going to take 20 minutes out of your busy schedule to meditate, you might as well be sure that you are doing it right.
– David Lynch, 64, is a filmmaker, painter, photographer, sculptor, musician, woodworker, and founder and chairman of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. He is notable for the TV series, Twin Peaks and for many films including Wild at Heart and Mulholland Drive.