Last week, with a nightcap of Bellocq White Wolf tea and my daily viewing of David Lynch’s cult ’90s classic Twin Peaks, I watched as Agent Cooper sat up in bed, slowly opened his eyes, and spoke into his perma-accessory, the recorder: “Diane, it’s 1:17 PM. I’ve just concluded my second meditation of the day in lieu of sleep, and I feel completely refreshed, and struck again by the realization that all of us on this great big planet earth live at only a fraction of our potential.”
Typically Lynchian, yes, and thoroughly transcendent. More than mere character building, the scene is a curious reference to Transcendental Meditation (TM), Lynch’s number-one passion, and of critical worth to me. Confession: I am a lifelong Transcendental Meditator.
I Instagrammed the scene, chuckling at the not-so-subtle nod to my twice-daily habit, a technique I’ve practiced regularly for nearly my entire life. The fifth of six children, I grew up the daughter of a TM teacher who’d turned to the practice following a brief stint as a green beret circa the Vietnam War, and — in the flower power days of Donovan and the Beatles caravanning through India — was so powerfully impacted that he trained to be an instructor. He passed the technique onto his children; I began my own practice in elementary school, with 10 minutes of quiet time in the morning and during recess, during which I’d repeat my unique, personal mantra (assigned by my father). This later became 20 minutes both morning and night during my teens and into adulthood.
As a child, I noticed that TM improved my general well-being: it helped me focus and made AP Calculus bearable. I set my sights on fashion journalism at 14 and never looked back. I meditated extra when I was sick, and with purpose when I was preparing for a track meet. It didn’t define me, but it did refine me — molding my character into a being that can inhabit what meditators call “pure consciousness,” a personal transcendence from the world around you. In this state you enter into a plane of inner silence and enlightenment, which is where TM differentiates itself from other forms of meditation. All meditation shares common goals, one of which is to reduce stress. But, TM has established itself as a real catalyst for metamorphosis, one in which the meditator is transformed not only in a metaphysical way, but in measurable cognition and overall health.
But, like most fine things, I came to most fully appreciate TM only after I matured, and came to understand that the practice was more than an excuse to further procrastinate my homework. I could, I realized, use it as a tool, a means by which I could pique both my creativity and my intellect to reach the pool of inspiration and light that lies within, developing a unity between myself and nature. Where my peers turn to substances for these types of highs, I meditate, with more powerful, truly natural effects. My daily meditation not only improves my mood, but it reduces my anxiety, gently washing it out of my nervous system, releasing stressful toxins and purifying my system. It cools my temper, creates an inner peace, and eases my interactions. And, beyond myself, the practice promotes social harmony.
As research proves, when we do good for ourselves, elevating our own consciousness, we lift the global consciousness. Maharashi Mahesh Yogi, the guru who brought TM to the Western world, and most notably for me, to my father, likened us to the earth: There cannot be a green forest without green trees, similarly, world peace cannot be possible without peaceful individuals. A bunch of hippie hocus-pocus? New age mumbo-jumbo? The extensive scientific research and study of TM proves its positive effects to lower crime, violence, and stress within communities. There's no greater example than at-risk schools, where the David Lynch Foundation (DLF) has taught grade-schoolers to meditate and they have simultaneously become better students. And, considering TM’s vacation-like effects, who wouldn’t share the love?
Enlightenment, by tapping into that divine nature, proves us all of our greatest worth — but how was I communicating that to others? Cut to me two years ago, frustrated with the seemingly shallow world of fashion and beauty. I was fed up, prepared to become a TM teacher myself, because nothing was fulfilling me and the darkness was overwhelming. Following a brief internship in Student Outreach at DLF’s New York outpost, I found parallel enlightenment in fashion, in the transcendent quality of subversion and deconstruction within the avant-garde. It was where the consciousness of Comme des Garcons and old-school Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, and Yohji Yamamoto mirrored the consciousness within myself, and I felt renewed with purpose, establishing my own blog as an outlet for transcendence through personal style.
Because, as Lynch writes in Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, “The thing about meditation is: you become more and more you.” As an extension of myself, shouldn’t my clothes also communicate my consciousness? It symbolized my own blossoming, the development of all the facets of my being, as I sought the fullest, unabashed version of myself.
And, just like brushing my teeth (or more commonly, stuffing my face with chocolate) meditation has become a ritual as critical to my well-being as that other restful activity, sleep, which, might I add, TM beats out in the power-rest category. The cherry on top of the whole technique? Transcendental Meditation is easy, as natural as breathing, and when I sit down to meditate, I don’t have to count my breaths or imagine a vision or block out my thoughts. I close my eyes, and my mantra rolls through me, part of me, and my thoughts and ideas are free to bounce in and out of my psyche, the only place where I am able to fully transcend the high-octane energy of New York’s pulsing streets.
As Dr. Norman Rosenthal writes in Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation, “In my attempt not to miss out on anything — by being continually plugged in — I was in fact missing out on something very important: the art of being.” From Baby Boomers to Gen Y, the “need” to constantly refresh social media is erased, as meditation releases the obsession, so that in each precious twenty minute session, I’m recharged, reset, and rebalanced. There is nothing as pure and inspiring as my evening meditation. And, with each session, the benefits expand upon one another, so that this ball of consciousness grows and grows, and I am continually evolving into my truest self.
Catching the Big Fish claims its title from this astute observation: “Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.” Kind of like Finding Nemo, but more like Finding Myself because TM will help locate your essence as you dive deep for the pearls within you. Can you tell Diane that, too, Agent Cooper?
Madison Stephens is a New York-based fashion blogger. She delves deep into the avant-garde on her eponymous blog.