Brain Wave: Learn to Calm the Mind, and Learn
So why don’t more of us do it? That was the question contemplated by a group of well-known meditators during the “Brain Wave” session at the Global Conference. They were led by Mallika Chopra, founder of Intent.com and daughter of renowned alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra. “Years ago, my father was labeled the East Asian doctor who sold snake oil,” she said, adding that she was grateful to scientists like panelist Sara Lazar for validating his research on the benefits of meditation.
Lazar, an investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard professor, came to meditation after injuries forced her to stop running. After just a few weeks of yoga and meditation, she noticed she was more focused and compassionate, in addition to being more flexible. She decided to devote her career to proving the scientific benefits of mindfulness.
Actress Goldie Hawn recalled a similar epiphany after discovering meditation in the early 1970s, when her sudden stardom brought sudden anxiety. Meditation soothed that anxiety and made her feel in touch with her true being for the first time.
The experience prompted her to ask a question—“Why aren’t we teaching this in schools?”—and to answer it. The Hawn Foundation has spent the past 13 years introducing meditation to more than 1 million school-age kids, with dramatic results. In schools that have adopted Hawn’s MindUp program, violence has declined, grades have improved, and empathy increased.
Entrepreneur Russell Simmons reported similar transformations in schools that have adopted the David Lynch Foundation’s Transcendental Meditation program, which Simmons has sponsored. “The results are crystal clear,” he said. “Schools and children who meditate do better.” And because the principals and teachers have to learn about meditation before they can teach it to children, they’re happier too, Simmons said.
The famed music executive confessed that he initially sought out meditation in a yoga class “because there were so many hot girls and no guys.” But he stuck with it for the mental clarity it gave him. “Bottom line, it makes you happy. And happy makes you money. It quiets the mind, and that’s all anyone wants.”
Allan Lokos, founder and guiding teacher at the Community Meditation Center, led the audience through a 10-minute meditation session, encouraging participants to bring awareness to the sensation of their breathing. He advised potential converts that the amount of time they spent meditating isn’t as important as carving out at least a few minutes each day.
“This is not some New Age shit,” Simmons said. “It’s way before that. It’s in all the scriptures, so it must not be wrong. More of us thinking more clearly will make the world a better place.”