Consciousness, Creativity, and the Brain

podcast of David Lynch at UC Berkely

In this hour and forty-minute podcast, filmmaker David Lynch answers questions from the audience and talks about meditation. Many of the questions concern Lynch’s film making. While I am not a big David-Lynch-fan (I missed the whole Twin Peaks craze), I did think Blue Velvet was cool and appreciate him as a skilled story-teller. Before listening to this talk, I had no idea that Lynch practiced mediation regular and says that many of his creative ideas come directly out of his mediation practice.

The meditation that Lynch has been doing for 30+ years is transcendental meditation, which he says expands his consciousness and grows his intuition. He says it is an ?ocean of solutions ? that he dives in to make his work. He clarifies that he doesn’t meditate ? on ideas or his creativity, rather he practices mediation which acts to open the ocean of solutions ? and later (after the experience of mediation) the ideas come. He says he doesn’t meditate to ?get ideas ? but to expand that contain of bliss, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, harmony, coherence, love, energy, power ?

He also talks about how mediation has helped him reduce his anger, depression, and negative emotions. This is of particular interest to me. I have noticed times when anger keeps me from being fully creative in my writing (as well as having other negative impacts in all areas of my life).

I do not practice the same style of mediation that Lynch talks about but I have noticed the similar results. When I am regular practicing mediation (which for me has typical been 30-45 minutes every day), writing comes easier for me. I am able to focus on the page and ideas arise.

But it is not a 1:1 ratio where if I sit for 45 minutes in the morning, I am guaranteed to write brilliantly that afternoon. For me much of the benefit comes from a regular practice, from sitting consistently everyday. It is an exercise in self-discipline it takes to sit every day on a cushion and focus my mind on my out-breath. A strong foundation of self-discipline is required for me to sit at the computer everyday and focus my mind on writing. This is a particular benefit of mediation practice that mind expanding chemicals cannot bestow.

The mind expanding qualities of mediation require a high degree of trust in order to manifest. This is something my good friend Tim Hernandez introduced to me. Both of us meditate and know how the practice benefits our writing. But as Tim says, when you go to the cushion you have to put your writing away and trust the process, trust that you will be able to return to the writing later and the ideas will be there.

Later in the talk, Lynch introduces Dr. John Hagelin, who discuss how the brain is changed through meditation. Dr. Hagelin is a quantum physicist and adds a scientific perspective on mediation. He says that western science over the past 50 years or so has come to discover the principle of ?unity ? espoused by most major world religions in terms of sub-atomic physics governing the universe. He goes on to say that the practice of mediation can allow one to experience this field of unity within ?.

Dr. Hagelin talks about how this phenomenon might be used in education. He says that education is not merely the practice of a student gaining new information, but is integration of the student’s brain functioning. And mediation can facilitate this process of integration.

There were some aspects of the talk I’m not totally convinced of (such as the idea of unity ?). But I was glad to hear David Lynch talk about his own creative process and the part mediation plays. The scientific part of the talk and demonstration (by Dr. Fred Travis and his assistant) was also interesting. The University of World Peace is also an interesting idea and one whose time has come.

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