We know filmmaker David Lynch for the dark surrealism of "Eraserhead," "Blue Velvet," "Inland Empire" and "Twin Peaks," as well as for his deep, abiding love of coffee.
Lynch is also passionate about transcendental meditation, which he first took up "on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning" in 1973. That passion spawned a book, "Catching the Big Fish," and the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.
Lynch spoke about what TM means for him and why others should try it too. Catch the longer podcast at latimes.com/davidlynch.
Can you describe how you discovered TM?
I didn't know anything about meditation, and I thought it was a waste of time. Then I heard a phrase that true happiness is not out there, true happiness lies within. And I started thinking about that, and it had a ring of truth. It hit me that maybe meditation was the way to go within.
One day my sister called, and she said she started TM, and I heard a change in her voice -- more happiness, more self-assuredness. And I said, "This is what I want."
I was filled with an anger and sorrows and doubts and melancholy. And I took it out on my first wife. I made her life pretty much a hell. So I start transcendental meditation, and two weeks later she comes to me and says, "What is going on? This anger, where did it go?" Things lift away so naturally.
Your foundation started with introducing TM into schools. What changes have you seen in students who have been through the program?
They say stress is hitting kids at a younger and younger age. There's violence, bullies, there's very little learning, and it's not fun to learn. [With TM] they get more intelligence, they have more creativity, more energy, more happiness, and then when the teacher says something, understanding is growing. The teachers say, "Now Billy can focus, and Suzy is just blossoming." Kids start finding what they really love and finding a way to do it.
The foundation has now expanded to other realms, such as introducing TM to veterans and prisoners.
Prisoners get this technique and they get super, super happy. And they get this ability to pause before they do something.
So something that people say is, "Before I started meditating, I just reacted. Now, with meditation, I have this pause and this reasoning: Do I really want to blow this man's head off with a .357 Magnum in my hand?" And then the answer is, "No, I don't think so." They have time to think.
Is it hard to meditate in certain places?
You can do it anywhere. One of my best meditations was in kind of a little closet room with a wall that was by a sidewalk. All during my meditation, there was some guy jackhammering the concrete sidewalk. But as he jackhammered, it jiggled the bliss in me and I was just flying high. It was so beautiful.
Are coffee and TM compatible?
For me, coffee and transcendental meditation go together like a horse and carriage. You don't have to give up anything to do TM. I think most meditators go easy on the coffee, naturally.
I smoke cigarettes too, and most meditators say the urge to smoke kind of lifted away when they started meditating.
Not me! My urge to smoke got greater. I just love tobacco.
I eat pretty good, but I just love these things, and that's the way it is.