Meditation is a modality that can sometimes feel as if its being shoved down your throat. You hear about it and read about it all the time. My first exposure was through the filmmaker, David Lynch, some ten years ago. He travels the world doing lengthy presentations on transcendental meditation. It’s a long story, but at the time, my cousin who was also interested in meditation suggested we go to one of his talks at UCLA. It was totally last minute and hundreds of people were in line. At one point I think we finally figured out that it was, of course, completely sold out.
But the universe does it’s thing and somehow I ended up at the stage entrance where people working the event were taking a smoke break. I did the classic “act like you know” thing and walked in with them and sat down at an empty seat. No one blinked an eye, because it was as if I was meant to be there. A minute later with his massive head of hair, there was David Lynch on stage literally blowing my mind. Besides the usual rants about how Hollywood ruins films, he talked about how meditation helps him channel his increasingly risky ideas into his films through a “stream of consciousness” technique. He even had a physician on stage hooking people up to some machine that showed how the brain waves were effected during meditation.
According to the David Lynch Foundation, Transcendental Meditation doesn’t focus on breathing or chanting, like other forms of meditation. Instead, it encourages a restful state of mind beyond thinking.
Stevie Wonder also sang about TM in one of his most popular songs “Jesus Children of America” from his mind blowing 1973 album, Innervisions. The lyric “transcendental meditation speaks of inner preservation” used to loop in my mind for hours after listening to that song. I thought, wow, Stevie was really tapped in to the incredible creative energy of the 70’s and I need to meditate so I can write songs as profound as he did during that time.
I tried TM but soon realized it wasn’t really “hooking me” so I gave it up. I tried chanting with a Buddhist organization and it was a form of mediation to some degree but that didn’t seem to work for me either.
Meditation works differently for everybody. For some people, they need to do 20 Ayahuasca ceremonies and ask for help with their meditation practice. Some people need to do a 2 hour yoga class to relax enough to actually mediate. I love yoga, and I can typically meditate for a few minutes after a class but in order to really “tap in” I needed to step it up a notch.
One day I discovered a group sound meditation session lead by Alexandre Tannous. He uses gongs and tuning forks to “tune” the body. Not long after a session with Alexandre, I formed my dream project, a band called Dream Circle with my husband Joel. Alexandre was also the inspiration for the first webisode that eventually turned into the feature documentary, Time is Art. Watch the clip below.
Fast forward many years later. My husband Joel and I had been editing Time is Art for months. When it came time for story editing, the most difficult part of the process, the three core collaborators did a private sound meditation at Golden Drum to help smooth out the tension. We are all very opinionated with strong personalities that often talk over each other so it was important to get in sync. We were also told after the session that creating an alter in alignment with the four directions before a major meeting or editing session will help the collaboration process.
Just to relax, I started listening to a particular mantra with tibetan bowls. Not long after the sound bath we started each editing session by creating an alter and listening to this recording which turned out to be the Gayatri Mantra. In the beginning I didn’t know what it meant but felt transformed every time I would meditate to it for even just a few minutes which goes to show you just how powerful it is.
The Gayatri Mantra is revered by both Buddhists and Hindus worldwide and is a Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rigveda. It is considered to be a supreme vehicle for gaining spiritual enlightenment. The longer form of the mantra activates all seven major Chakras and connects them to the seven great spiritual realms of existence.
A modern translation of the entire mantra says, “I invoke the Earth Plane, The Astral Plane, The Celestial Plane, The Plane of Spiritual Balance, The Plane of Human Spiritual Knowledge, The Plane of Spiritual Austerites, and The Plane of Ultimate Truth. Oh, great Spiritual Light which is the brilliance of all Divinity, we meditate upon You. Please illumine our minds.” By chanting this mantra, Divine spiritual light and power is infused in each of the seven chakras and connects them to the Spiritual Realms. The last part infuses our minds, hearts and souls with the power of the spiritual light that created the Universe.
After a few months of consistent meditation to this recording I began to live the messages in the film. Time truly became less about rushing and trying to get things done. I’ve learned to slow down and take things as they come. My creative ideas have always been more then I can handle (or anyone else for that matter, just ask my husband). When the time comes I know all the documentary treatments, the screenplays, the events, the workshops, the albums, the trips all over the world will be executed when they are ready. There’s no rush because there’s plenty of time, especially since there is really no time when you live the mantra ‘Time is Art’.