I interviewed Mario Orsatti, an authority on meditation who is helping everyone, from at-risk people on Main Street to risk takers on Wall Street.
I’ve recently been thinking about a deeper commitment to mediation with a teacher and continuous support. So I’ve started to research Transcendental Meditation, aka “TM.”
This blog is about exploring courageously. Most posts are about exploring our external world but this post is about internal exploration.
Consider trying meditation if you haven’t and if have, consider a deeper dive. The benefits are vast and include stress reduction, controlling anxiety, enhanced self awareness, emotional health and the list go on.
Before the interview, some context…
What is Transcendental Meditation?
There are many types of meditation and relaxation techniques that have meditation components. All share the same goal of achieving inner peace.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) refers to a specific form of meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi created and introduced the TM technique and TM movement in India in the mid-1950s. Advocates of TM believe that the technique promotes a state of relaxed awareness, stress relief, creativity, and efficiency, as well as physiological and health benefits.
“Expansion of happiness is the purpose of life, and evolution is the process through which it is fulfilled…. if one is not happy, one has lost the very purpose of life. If one is not constantly developing his intelligence, power, creativity, peace and happiness, then he has lost the very purpose of life. Life is not meant to be lived in dullness, idleness, and suffering; these do not belong to the essential nature of life.”Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living:
To know more about TM I reached out to Mario Orsatti, a particularly articulate, humble and kind person, doing very important work!
Mario is the Director of Special Projects for the David Lynch Foundation.
Mario has been teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique since 1973. In addition to teaching TM to business professionals here in NYC, he has helped direct TM centers in Washington, DC, Boston, Berkeley, Denver, and Hong Kong. Mario’s work with the David Lynch Foundation has included helping direct projects that bring TM to individuals recovering from homelessness, veterans with post traumatic stress, women and children who are survivors of domestic violence, and to teenagers dealing with learning disorders.
Mario, thanks again for your time and interest in sharing your thoughts with my readers.
What drew you to start meditating and how did that evolve to Transcendental Meditation?
I was not initially drawn to meditation. I was just not interested at all in what I understood meditation to be – a kind of passive relaxation. I was majoring in theater and loved the creative action it involved.
I thought meditation would be contrary to the goals I had which was to be active and as creative as possible. I had tried relaxation techniques and found them dulling–the opposite of what I wanted, so when I heard about meditation my assumption was that it would be somewhat in that direction.
BUT, a close friend of mine started Transcendental Meditation, and I noticed as the months went on he started to have exhibit a noticeable increase of creative energy and long-lasting concentration in his performances, AND was more happy more often, and less bothered by problems in his personal life. I wanted what he had been gaining, so I gave TM a try.
“I love energy. I love it. And I pursue it, and I want more of it. Physical and mental energy, to me, are the greatest riches of human life. And TM is like a free account of an endless amount of it.”Jerry Seinfeld
How did you come to start working with the David Lynch Foundation?
Right after college I worked as an junior high school teacher in an inner city school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I don’t think that I could have enjoyed that job or helped my students near as much if I wasn’t meditating.
During my teaching years I realized that TM would be an ideal tool for children. I keep that thought in mind for 30 years and when filmmaker David Lynch started a foundation to help fund and organize the teaching of TM in underserved communities’ schools, I wanted to get involved.
I have friends who are skeptical and have not tried mediation. What would you say to them about how to begin meditation?
I would tell them not to dismiss the idea of meditating as a useful part of modern life. We live in very challenging times. We need the tools to survive and thrive in this century.
There are many different forms of meditation. Find one that works for you. Some involve adopting some particular beliefs, or change in lifestyle, and would also involve something like trying to stop your thoughts to achieve the meditative state.
I think that it is important to get one that offers personal instruction over a period of time with expertly trained teachers. I think that most of us feel that if you are going to learn something, do the best you can to get expert instruction. That is one of the things that drew me to Transcendental Meditation.
How is TM different than regular mantra meditation?
Mantra meditation involves the chanting of these particular sounds, either on the vocal level or subvocally. It can certainly be of value. In TM it’s a different approach to using a mantra, one which allows the mind to go beyond that thought to experience finer levels of the mind’s intelligence and creativity, and ultimately to fathom the source of thought, the fountainhead of the mind’s creative intelligence.
Please explain briefly what is happening in our brains when we meditate and/or practice TM.
Research over the past 50 years has found that when people practice TM, their brain physiology experiences a unique state of deep restful alertness.
Electroenchepholography (EEG), which measures the electrical activity of the brain, shows the meditative state that occurs during TM to have high EEG coherence, or extremely valuable orderliness in brain function. These functions have been highly correlated with enhanced creativity and moral reasoning, and decreased neuroticism. The prefrontal cortex, the brain’s center for decision-making, becomes lively and well coordinated with the rest of the brain, the opposite that occurs for those who suffer from attention disorders.
I’ve read about how TM has been helpful for PTS (Post Traumatic Stress).
The simplicity of TM and yet its profound effect on the brain has been found in research to help those with PTS. Our foundation is working with the Veterans’ Administration to help bring TM to any and all veterans. We are also funding programs for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. Our newest initiative is called, Heal The Healers Now, which funds TM training for our front line healthcare workers who are fighting the pandemic.
Regarding the creative process as it relates to Transcendental Meditation… does it have something special to offer to people who work in the arts or who want to increase their creative and/or original thinking?
For sure! Look at all the performing artists who are practicing TM and talk about how important TM has been in terms of their creative output. TM is not just about relaxing and de-stressing. That is just a side-effect. It is primarily about expanding one’s potential, expanding consciousness while at the same time enhancing the ability to focus sharply and effectively.
What are the differences between or similarities between TM, Introspection and intuition if any?
TM allows us to become familiar with the true nature of who we are. Deep meditation brings profound self knowledge, which is such a vital thing to gain amidst the complexity of life today
“In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it. Nothing has ever opened my eyes like Transcendental Meditation has. It makes me calm and happy, and, well, it gives me some peace and quiet in what’s a pretty chaotic life!”
If someone is comfortable picking meditation up from the online expert, well regarded writers etc. they should should jump in, right? If one wants a more structured approach, to have someone check on their progress, verify they are meditating correctly and to answer ongoing questions, TM may the way?
Sounds good. The important thing is to get started.
I recommend that everyone download the book, David Lynch Foundation offers individual scholarships to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique especially to those at risk like veterans, recovery, domestic violence survivors, frontline health providers, and families in need. How should people take the first step if they are interested?
Please contact your local TM center by going to TM.org, or come to our foundation’s website at DavidLynchFoundation.org
Some people eat, drink or smoke various things to dull their senses so they may ignore the root cause of their suffering. These coping mechanisms where people feel free or elated are not sustainable indefinitely. Can you share how TM (and mediation) helps free people from these substances?
People caught in the grip of additive behavior can benefit so much from TM. Inner agitation is what causes many to abuse substances. They benefit greatly from the freedom from stress that a practice of deep meditation brings.
People too often don’t realize that there is an important difference between the experience of calm, and the experience that comes from meditation — a difference that is important to know since so many things people do give them the kind of calm that is an illusion of the meditative state- -e.g., comfort food, alcohol, drugs, etc.
A real meditation brings us a transformative experience that is so much more valuable than a momentary experience of relaxation, the kind of calm that comes from these kinds of things.
After teaching TM for almost 50 years you’re not slowing down, you are on a mission! What are your next goals personally and/or professionally?
I think that the most important thing for me now is to help people really see how important the full development of consciousness is. It is the key to solving the problems we have as individuals and the intractable issues of our society.
During our pre-interview conversation you touched on the future of mediation. You mentioned it may be mediations. Can you share your thoughts on where meditation may be going in the near or distant future?
I see meditation becoming an integral part of every institution of our society–healthcare, education, business, rehabilitation,etc. It’s what our society really needs now.
Let’s discuss the one large obstacle for many people to get involved with TM, the cost. It’s close to $1000 to be taught. In this post-covid world, where people are unemployed or underemployed or struggling and could use the benefits of TM, what opportunities exist?
The cost of TM is already being offered on a sliding scale to make it affordable for everyone. Scholarships for those in need are there too. The future is going to bring health insurance coverage and funding by businesses and other institutions so that the cost for giving people the needed training for be covered for everyone.
Thank you for your time, I hope we change some lives for the better with this collaboration!
Ron, Thank you!
More about the David Lynch Foundation
The David Lynch Foundation helps to prevent and eradicate the epidemic of trauma and toxic stress among at-risk populations through promoting widespread implementation of Transcendental Meditation in order to improve health, cognitive capabilities and performance in life. > More
Considering reading David Lynch’s Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity this bestseller dives deeper into the creative process and the benefits of Transcendental Meditation.
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“If you don’t already meditate, take my advice: Start.David Lynch
It will be the best decision you ever make.”
Some context about why I wrote this article.
TM (and meditation) has the potential to cut through the noise of today’s intense life and with simple, not simplistic, ways to find peace, happiness, health and creatively. Many people find that with meditation they can be put on the path to begin to eliminate the obstacles and medications and be healthier and happier.
When I consistently practice mediation, it has been a springboard to a healthy lifestyle. Don’t take my word for it, this article from the American Heart Association points out how meditation boosts health and well-being!
As noted, consider trying meditation if you haven’t and if have, consider a deeper dive.
Please share your thoughts or links to your works in the comments below!
Please contact BraverGuide if you are interested in an interview.