As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, mounting collective stress and trauma across the nation sparked Meditate America, a new campaign by the David Lynch Foundation for Awareness-Based Education and World Peace that brings free meditation to vulnerable populations.
When asked what inspired it, David Lynch clearly replied, “Look at America today.”
Courtesy of the David Lynch Foundation
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Meditate America kicks off with a free virtual benefit concert on December 3rd, streamed on YouTube and featuring prerecorded performances by Elvis Costello, Angelique Kidjo, Kesha, Sting, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and others, including live chat with media personalities and an interview with Hugh Jackman and Katy Perry on meditation and motherhood. The fundraiser will create awareness and support for the initiative that aims to make meditation free to everyone in America who needs it.
The campaign is part of the David Lynch Foundation’s ongoing efforts to bring the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique to risk groups suffering from stress and trauma. The David Lynch Foundation was founded in 2005 by the renowned filmmaker and avid meditator who bears her name. She has offered free meditation to 1 million students in underserved schools in 35 countries, as well as thousands of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). and their families and survivors of domestic violence.
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The new initiative will focus on the impact of pandemic stress and trauma on health care providers and key workers on the COVID-19 frontline, as well as families in underserved communities living in hard-hit areas where hospitals are underfunded and again overwhelmed by virus cases continue to increase. Meditate America will continue to serve veterans at risk for depression and suicide during the pandemic.
The state of the nation’s mental health
A recent CDC report on the effects of COVID-19 on mental health in the country showed that at least 40 percent of adults are struggling with substance abuse and mental health problems. 31 percent suffer from anxiety or depression and nearly 11 percent are considering suicide. Some experts have already warned of possible long-term psychological effects.
Meditate America’s goal of serving demographics that currently reflect nearly half of the U.S. population may seem lofty, but Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, says he has no doubt the campaign will be a success becomes. Although the virtual benefit concert is free, donations are already being made for the cause, according to Roth.
“We just wanted to give the country something wonderful to think about and celebrate,” said Roth over the phone. “And meditation is the opposite of absolutely everything that’s going on in the country today, namely fear and restlessness.”
Roth says the cost of production has been paid for by donors and that other foundation-run campaigns are often subsidized by the generosity of the TM community, which includes growing numbers of celebrities. “It’s all very grassroots,” says Roth. He explains that, for example, the Starbucks Foundation recently made a $ 250,000 grant to the David Lynch Foundation to help health care workers in underfunded hospitals as part of the foundation’s Heal the Healers Now campaign, launched in April in response was to offer free TM the rising rates of doctor burnout.
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Why Make Transcendental Meditation Free?
Transcendental meditation is a proprietary meditation technique that was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the mid-1950s and adopted by the Beatles. The evidence-based practice is to sit for 20 minutes twice a day and quietly recite a mantra. TM’s popularity can be attributed to its simplicity and accessibility to most adults and children, including those with ADHD. “It gives the body a deep state of calm and relaxation and there is a different set of changes taking place in the body,” says Roth.
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The average cost to initiate TM is between $ 500 and $ 1,000. For this reason, the David Lynch Foundation continues to strive to provide these for free.
Meditate America has received support to fund rigorous scientific research into the effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation Technique. Most of the studies so far have been small. If funded, Meditate America plans to conduct large-scale studies and clinical trials on the scientifically proven benefits of TM in healing trauma, lowering high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke, and reducing anxiety and depression.
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With the completion of extensive Phase III clinical trials, TM could potentially qualify as a medical intervention covered by public and private insurance companies. This would insure the TM technique for anyone in the US who, according to the David Lynch Foundation, insures up to 300 million Americans. “The whole country is at risk,” says Roth. “The whole country is traumatized.”
Roth, a respected leader of the Transcendental Meditation Community with 48 years of experience teaching the technique, says the world is changing and it won’t be long before alternative healing methods like TM are insured. This will of course depend on the results of the Phase III trials, which Roth said could take about three years.
Medical intervention used to be reserved for pharmacology and surgery, but today, according to Roth, complementary and integrative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation are increasingly accepted as forms of medical intervention.
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“There is no drug, no pill that anyone can take to reduce and neutralize anxiety,” says Roth. “We should provide our citizens with enough evidence-based tools to deal with the world that is coming to us.”
Meditate America will air on December 3rd at 7:00 p.m. East. Register and attend the event for free and find out how to donate at meditateamerica.org.