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The Rubber Clown Suit Begins to Dissolve: David Lynch and Transcendental Meditation

During his career, David Lynch has produced a remarkable range of deliciously weird films and inspired an almost cult-like devotion from his fans.  Long after it was originally screened, Twin Peaks remains enthrallingly eerie, acting as both the sartorial reference point for generations of sweater girls and as the source of uncomfortable necrophiliac Laura Palmer daydreams.

In recent times, Lynch has moved away from film and released an album Crazy Clown Time, plus opened a night club in Paris inspired by a setting in his 2001 film Mulholland Drive.  Whether or not you are one of the initiated devotees of Lynch’s work, it must be agreed that the man is nothing but extremely productive and creative.  Furthermore, it may now be possible to find out exactly how it is that Lynch keeps up his output.

On Sunday 13th May at 7:30pm, the UBU students’ Union will be hosting a screening of a slightly different film by Lynch.  Meditation Creativity Peace is a documentary chronicling Lynch’s 16 country tour across the globe promoting and instigating the teaching of transcendental meditation to at-risk groups of people.  Additionally, he also discusses his own experiences of TM and how it has enabled him, and others, to access reservoirs of creativity from within.

Lynch is by no means alone in his interest in this form of meditation.  Other famous practitioners include Ringo Starr, Paul Mc Cartney and Heather Graham, yet this is also far from being a celebrity fad.  Since the 1970s interest has been steadily increasing and, save for a slight blip in the 1990s, more and more people from all backgrounds are including it in their lives.

Patrice Gladwin of the Bristol Transcendental Meditation Centre believe that it is no longer seen as something odd, mainly because more and more people now know of someone else who practices.  Indeed this could also be argued with all forms of meditation and relaxation techniques, for instance Mindfulness, which are encouraged and included in mainstream medical practice for conditions such as anxiety, depression and severe stress – the student counselling service at Bristol University offers relaxation classes incorporating aspects of the technique.

How transcendental meditation differs from other practices, such as Mindfulness, is that instead of seeking to train or control the mind, it aims to send the practitioner into what is known as the fourth state of consciousness – inner silent awareness.  It is in this state of consciousness that one becomes able to access creativity that may otherwise remain latent and inert.

Lynch has himself credited some very specific sparks of creative thinking to practicing the technique.  For instance, if you ever wondered how he got the idea of the Greek chorus of prostitutes and the sitcom rabbits of Inland Empire, then here is your answer: it was through transcendental meditation.

It would be easy to either dismiss the entire idea of TM as a quack-practice or suggest more pragmatically that the simple act of dedicating 20 minutes twice a day to sitting in a state of upmost relaxation as being obviously beneficial to anyone’s life, no matter what the specific practice used.  However, there is a wealthy chunk of scientific research supporting TM as a beneficial practice, including some fascinating studies involving brain imaging technology, endless links to which can be accessed through the David Lynch Foundation website.

One of the most attractive things about having Lynch promoting it lies in how he is himself far from the stereotype of an aged hippie.  It is hard to imagine Lynch being duped anymore than it is Special Agent Dale Cooper.  Whilst nearly all Bristol University students will be in much better situations than the specific groups Lynch has worked with on his tour –prison inmates, the homeless and war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress – many will still experience high level of stress, depression and go through periods of emotional instability, such as grief.  These people could benefit from the peaceful effect of TM.  Lynch has stated that ‘The side effect of growing that consciousness is, negative things start going away. Like fear. It’s like the suffocating rubber clown suit begins to dissolve.’

However, possibly the most interesting possibility for the majority happy faces which I witness bounding down Tyndall Avenue each day is this suggestion that TM may encourage and facilitate creativity.  If you ask your parents, there is a chance they will recall that during the 1960s TM was considered as a possible alternative to taking LSD.

Whether or not you are someone willing to accept unanimously all of the positive evidence surrounding TM, the practice itself and Lynch’s documentary on his laudable worldwide trip are definitely more than intriguing.  For those free on Sunday 13th May I encourage a viewing if for no other reason than that we could all probably benefit from a few more inspired thoughts regarding Greek choruses of prostitutes and rabbits.