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David Lynch on Meditation

4 Oct

catching

And now for something completely different: a book review of Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch.

I don’t think I was ready for the combination that was David Lynch + transcendental meditation until very recently, and so that is why I think that Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity only came into my life nine years after its 2006 publication. This is the first book that I can ever remember turning back to page one and starting again immediately after finishing it. It was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. I hope that even one of you finds it to be the same as a result of reading this review.

CloXhKAAn important reason this book is so near and dear to me is that David Lynch is also so near and dear to me. His voice is so distinct- I was thinking FBI Agent Gordon Cole from Twin Peaks- that it was easy to imagine him reading it . And although his voice is NOT transcendentally-meditative, it lulled me into a peaceful calm. Let’s just call it premature enlightenment.

Part of the appeal of this book is obviously learning a little bit about how David Lynch ticks. Some of its allure comes from the behind-the-scenes looks at a few of his enrapturing films. Yet another draw is Lynch’s description of transcendental meditation. I’m not quite there yet, but I am very, very interested.

At parts of the book, I found myself sitting in awe of his lessons, as if at the foot of a master teacher; at other moments, his sense of humor and his almost-childlike, brutal honesty broke the spell and snapped me out of the seriousness of it all. Those deep laughs of realization thrust me into the happiness of actual zen acceptance of the present moment, that true Buddha smile.

bloglogoAnd despite all of this praise, the true clincher for me was learning that yet another intersection of my life’s love and passion came into play: the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. This is an initiative that Lynch started when he realized how intense the stress and pressure is on kids these days. The Foundation teaches meditation techniques and with excellent results. According to Lynch (about students who have benefited from the Foundation, “Stress just doesn’t catch them; it’s like water off a duck’s back.” As an teacher and tutor, this hit so close to home. It still makes me tear up just ever-so-slightly. If I could ever get employed by this foundation I feel like I could really find my true life’s purpose. Well, probably.

I would like to share a selection from my favorite chapter, “Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit.”

“When I started meditating, I was filled with anxieties and fears. I felt a sense of depression and anger.

I often took out this anger on my first wife. After I had been meditating for about two weeks, she came to me and said, ‘What’s going on?’ I was quiet for a moment. But finally I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And she said, ‘This anger, where did it go?’ And I hadn’t even realized that it had lifted.

I call that depression and anger the Suffocating Rubber Clown Suit of Negativity. It’s suffocating, and that rubber stinks.”

Its chapters are short little snippets about his life experiences, and the book takes no time to zoom through from cover to cover.

Thank you to my friend, Lindsey, who told me about this little gem.

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The Elephant Man

3 May

A recent trip allowed me to spend some quality time with a caring community that restored my faith in humanity. I had just experienced a week full of love, sharing and kindness that left me with the feeling that people aren’t just not-all-that-bad, but that we are all connected through love and all of our actions affect one another and we are capable of making great things happen, of changing the world, through this love. Why am I sharing this with you? Because then I saw David Lynch’s The Elephant Man for the first time, and it led me to think, “man…people are shit.”

Luckily, I have since shaken off the feeling of disappointment in humanity. However, the feelings of sadness associated with this movie will be with me for a while. This film is based upon the story of Joseph Merrick (John in the film), known as the Elephant Man, whose deformed appearance led him to be a freakshow attraction in England in the mid- to late-1800’s.

In the film, Merrick begins as the main attraction in a little sideshow with an abusive alcoholic “owner.” Due to repeated abuse, he is hospitalized, and Dr. Frederick Treves takes a particular interest not only in Merrick’s physical deformities, but his mental capabilities as well. While at first Merrick appears to be mute, it turns out that he is actually eloquent and intelligent. He becomes more of a revered celebrity than a sideshow attraction as high society takes an interest in this brilliant man who is at the same time so physically abnormal.

The true sadness in this film lies in the fact that Merrick comes to feel truly accepted and loved, only to be cast back down again into a pit of misery. Although a sad film, it is beautiful in a way that only David Lynch could have been responsible for. The themes are both timeless, yet modern, and the fact that it takes place in the 1800s and is shot in a way to make it look older really adds to the bizarre feeling that the movie gives you.

I believe that I am behind the times in getting to this movie, but better late than never. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s your turn now.