Transcendental Meditation is said to be one of the easiest forms of meditation. Unlike many of the others, it doesn’t involve concentration, control of the mind or specific postures, but is instead an enjoyable form of ‘regenerating while resting’ as one simply sits comfortably for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, repeating a specific mantra in the mind.
TM, as it’s commonly known, has been popular in the west for a number of years but only recently has it really begun to catch fire. Developed in the 1950’s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it gained popularity during the countercultural movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, catching on in certain celebrity circles.
Many big names have sworn by it for decades. Jerry Seinfeld has been doing it for 40 years. Oprah Winfrey, of course, is a practitioner, and Paul McCartney learned the technique from Maharishi himself during a pilgrimage to Rishikesh, India, with the rest of the Beatles in the early 70’s.
Yet not until 2005, with the creation of the David Lynch Foundation, a charity which provides free TM instruction to inner-city school kids and veterans suffering from PTSD, has the practice really begun to reach the mainstream. This is due in part to the vast number of celebrities who signed on to learn TM and now swear by it. Not bad for an inexpensive, belief-and-ideology-free (emphasis on that last point!) technique in the land of the cult of Scientology…
So yeah, you probably already know that people like Russell Brand and Jim Carrey are into it — of course they are! But here are a few celebrities you may not have guessed who practice TM as well.
Okay, so this first person might be the one exception! Of course Jeff Bridges is a Zen Master — he’s The Dude. His numerous roles over the years, the many reports of his infallible niceness and his demeanour and his general attitude as expressed in numerous interviews all seem to be indicative of someone who is very focused, good at what he does, centred and down to earth.
But this didn’t just ‘happen’. Not only has Jeff spent years studying Buddhism, he actually co-wrote a book with Bernie Glassman, (founder of Zen Peacemakers), entitled “The dude & The Zen Master“, he ritually utilizes TM for 30 minutes before beginning work on any film set.
That’s right. Dirty Harry is actually a dirty hippy. Eastwood has been practicing TM for nearly 40 years — all throughout the making of many of the films and characters he is most noted for — and when asked during a GQ interview in 2009 if he still does it, he had this to say: “Twice a day. It works great. Because it just gives you a chance to gather your thoughts. I’m religious about it when I’m working.”
Just like you probably would’ve never guessed that this was a picture of Howard Stern, you probably didn’t know that he is another celebrity who has been practicing the technique for well over 4 decades.
As he told David Letterman during an interview in 2009:
“I was in college. My mother was severely depressed—her sister had died and she took it very, very hard. I was worried about her… I get a call one day from this happy, elated woman and I wonder, ‘Who is this?’ and it’s my mother. She tells me she was watching the Johnny Carson Show and she saw Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and she went on and learned Transcendental Meditation. My mother sounded transformed. She said to me, ‘Come on, I want to take you down to the TM Center.’ I did it. And it’s the easiest thing I ever did. I have been doing it since I was 18. I love to do it after the show. I find it very relaxing.”
“I start the day with Transcendental Meditation. It puts me in the best mood. I wake up and just prop myself up in bed for 20 minutes. It’s the only time my mind gets absolute rest. When I am asleep, my subconscious mind is switched on and, when I am awake, I am alert… For people that are so creative and have this kind of creative faucet that never turns off – it just continues and continues – it can be a little exhausting… I’m never really off. And meditation is actually the one time I get to really reset.”
The mega pop star learned TM in 2011 from now ex-husband Russell Brand, and has kept up with it ever since. She has become such a staunch supporter of the foundation she’s actually asked for donations to the David Lynch foundation instead of presents for past birthdays.
Oh, Arnie. You have busted, blasted and crashed your way across our screens now for decades — who knew you were secretly sitting in meditation during breaks on those same film sets? Actually, Arnold only practiced TM for one year in the seventies when his career was really beginning to take off and he started to develop anxiety because of it. From an interview with Tim Ferris (quote from the business insider):
“I did 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, and I would say within 14 days or three weeks, I got to the point where I could really disconnect my mind … and learn how to focus more and calm down.”
After a year’s practice his problems with anxiety had apparently dissolved and he gave it up, but he credits it, nonetheless, with changing his life.