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David Lynch tours to tout the benefits of Transcendental Meditation in schools

Glenn Gamboa
Newsday (MCT)

David Lynch doesn't want to be the spokesman for anything.

The Oscar-nominated director still prefers to let his movies - such as "Eraserhead," "The Elephant Man," "Blue Velvet," "Mulholland Drive" and the recent "Inland Empire" - speak for themselves.

But, in recent years, as he learned more about increasingly stressed-out children and violent schools, Lynch felt he might be able to help by bringing Transcendental Meditation, which he has practiced for 34 years, to schools.

"Schools have tried many, many, many things and nothing on the surface is working," Lynch says from his office in Los Angeles. "But when a student or a teacher truly transcends and experiences this deepest level of life, modern science's unified field, watch what happens. It transforms the schools. It transforms the kids ... It works. Now, more and more people are hearing about this thing that they thought was so weird. Meditation for students? It's too weird. People think it's a religion, it's mumbo-jumbo, it's a cult. It's none of those things. It's a mental technique that works."

Such a "weird" technique would obviously have its opponents, who either complain that it's a covert way of putting prayer in schools or that it wastes time in an already-crammed school day. So Lynch decided to throw his support behind the idea, establishing the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace and going on the lecture circuit to discuss the idea.

"I don't like doing this," Lynch says. "I really like the people I meet, but I don't like public speaking."

His talks are essentially question-and-answer sessions. He estimates that 75 percent of the questions are about meditation and about 25 percent are about his movies and his 1990s TV series "Twin Peaks." By discussing the impact Transcendental Meditation has had on his life, Lynch ends up explaining more about his work than he ever has. And, of course, he ends up confronting questions about the dark, often puzzling, imagery of his work.

"People always say, `David, if you're so happy, why do you think of those things?"" he says, laughing. "When you expand your consciousness, who would want to just turn into a goody- two-shoes? You just get more and more you, a stronger you, a happier you. You're still going to fall in love with certain ideas."

Those ideas include mutant children, breathing-challenged voyeurs, various severed body parts and murder mysteries - a few of the subjects of David Lynch movies - but in the grander scheme of his mind and the expanded range of possibilities that come with his expanded consciousness, they become less upsetting.

"Stories always have contrast throughout time," he says. "The whole range of human condition, that's what makes a great story. It's not just one happy line going through. The artist doesn't have to suffer to show suffering, he just has to understand the thing."

Lynch says he hopes that all his work with TM can make the contrast between his work and the outside world even greater.

"You can tell all kinds of stories and people can leave the theater a happy camper and still have had this experience, while a lot of times, even if it's a troubling film, people leave the theater into a world that's worse than that," he says. "It's kind of important to create things, but it's also important to get our world straightened out."

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LYNCH FOUNDATION RAISES FUNDS FOR TM

The David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace was founded in 2005 to offer scholarships to students and funding to schools that want to provide Transcendental Meditation programs. His appearances are generally fundraisers for the foundation and he hopes to keep the money raised in the area. "The greatest thing would be for me to do a talk in an area and then have the money go to a school there," Lynch says. "But that's not always possible."

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