Katy Perry’s statement about her role in the upcoming David Lynch Foundation (DLF) benefit is unequivocal: “I am so proud to give an intimate performance at the ‘Silence the Violence’ benefit concert at The Anthem on October 11, to raise funds to bring the power of meditation to 10,000 D.C.-area young people. I have been practicing TM® for over nine years, and it has changed my life. It is one of the most important tools I use to keep me balanced and creative with a positive mindset.”
Perry, along with Norah Jones and Mavis Staples, will headline the benefit concert, which also features the Celebration Gospel Choir, Jeremy Elliot, and others. Concert proceeds will help DLF bring the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation® technique for free to thousands of vulnerable youth and their families in Washington, D.C., through in-school and after-school programs, churches and community centers, recovery programs and detention centers.
“We’re here to help stop the violence and uplift this whole community,” says Rena Boone, director of DLF’s The Meditation Center. “And the TM piece is foundational. It addresses the fundamental cause of violence, which is fueled by stress. Reduce the stress, reduce the violence.”
Here Boone gives us an inside look at how this indispensable work is unfolding.
“The TM piece is foundational. It addresses the fundamental cause of violence, which is fueled by stress. Reduce the stress, reduce the violence.” —Rena Boone, Director of The Meditation Center
DLF Partners with D.C. to Reduce Stress
The Meditation Center is one of many organizations serving the community in under-resourced Wards 7 and 8, east of the Anacostia River. There are schools for girls and for boys, a music school, an early-childhood center, a community college, a children’s health clinic, a theater, a restaurant, even a farm growing local food for residents.
“In D.C. we collaborate to serve the community, so we started working with fellow organizations by offering Transcendental Meditation to directors and staff,” says Boone, who’s also DLF Regional Director for Washington, D.C. “We wanted everyone to know that we have a technique that will benefit both the professionals and the people they serve.”
Now many organizations are offering the TM technique as one of their “wraparound services,” like education and job training. “TM is a foundational tool that will help a person become more successful and improve their quality of life and well-being,” Boone explains. “When people can be calmer, less stressed, more focused, more themselves, then it helps make any program more successful.”
For example, the director of an early childhood learning center is having The Meditation Center offer the TM technique to parents with young children. “The parents are asking for ways to be better parents, to reduce stress, and just to improve the quality of life of their family,” Boone says.
A community organization that serves homeless families recently contacted The Meditation Center and said, “We’d like to do a collaboration with you.” Soon they’ll be offering the TM technique to staff and families.
“TM is a foundational tool… When people can be calmer, less stressed, more focused, more themselves, then it helps make any program more successful.” —Rena Boone, The Meditation Center
An organization serving abused children and their families arranged to have their staff learn TM. “People in high-stress professions take on the trauma of the people they serve, which is called ‘vicarious trauma.’ They also experience compassion fatigue. So they’re looking for ways to manage their own stress levels as they work with people who are stressed,” Boone says.
Peace of Mind, Peace of Community
Members of the community are also taking advantage of The Meditation Center.
“People coming in are all saying the same thing: I’m so happy that you’re here. I want to reduce the stress levels in my life. I want to improve the quality of my life. And I want my family to learn,” says Boone, a 40-year certified instructor of the TM technique.
“When I ask people why they want to learn TM, they tell me, ‘At the end of the day, I want peace of mind,’ ” reports Boone.
“And when they learn TM, one of the first things they say is, ‘I feel more peaceful. I feel calmer. I notice in the middle of my day, I’m less agitated. I can think better. I can focus better. I’m making better decisions. I have more patience.’ So the impact of TM shows up in a very practical way,” she adds.
“People coming in are all saying the same thing: I’m so happy that you’re here. I want to reduce the stress levels in my life. I want to improve the quality of my life. And I want my family to learn.” —Rena Boone
“Quiet Time” Returns to Its Roots in Washington, D.C.
DLF’s efforts to bring the TM technique to 10,000 at-risk youth and their families in Washington, D.C., will also include public schools. In DLF Quiet Time school programs, all students, faculty, and staff practice the TM technique twice a day in the classroom. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, research has shown that the TM-based Quiet Time program helps reduce school violence, absences, and drop-out rates, while helping increase graduation rates, GPAs, and college admissions.
Now Quiet Time will be returning to Washington, D.C., where the first program of its kind was established in the early 1990s, and served as inspiration for David Lynch and DLF in the 2000s. (For more of this history, see “Celebrating 50 Years of Teaching TM in African American Communities: 1969–2019.”)
In fact, “Quiet Time” was coined by Dr. George Rutherford, the first public school principal to include the TM technique twice a day in the curriculum, at Fletcher-Johnson Educational Center, a K–8 school in D.C.’s Ward 8. He later became the principal of Ideal Academy Public Charter School, the first public school with the TM technique in its charter.
Boone has decades of experience with the profound impact of the Quiet Time program. She served as the TM teacher at Ideal Academy for 8 years, after teaching for 30 years at Maharishi School, the K–12 Consciousness-BasedSM independent school at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.
Research has shown that the TM-based Quiet Time program helps reduce school violence, absences, and drop-out rates, while helping increase graduation rates, GPAs, and college admissions.
Inner Brilliance Shines with Inner Silence
Youth in high-conflict, underserved environments like Wards 7 and 8 are under tremendous stress. “Stress is affecting who they are. It’s affecting their happiness, their creativity, their sense of well-being, their health, everything, because when people are stressed out, they’re in fight-or-flight mode all the time, and that’s no way to live life,” Boone says.
“When a lot of these children come to school, they may be upset about something. There’s no telling what’s going on in their family. They come to school with that stress, that trauma, and they may not be ready to learn,” she explains.
“With Quiet Time, before we even open a book to learn anything—to read, to solve a math problem—we close the eyes and we practice Transcendental Meditation. It makes all the difference in the world because it prepares the brain for learning so that children can focus better in the classroom. They can stay on point more. It calms their physiology so they don’t distract each other. The teacher can teach, and the children can learn,” she says.
To illustrate the profound impact this inner calm can have, Boone tells the story of a fifth-grader at Ideal Academy.
The girl had been bullied at another school and was deeply traumatized. Her asthma was exacerbated and created breathing difficulties. She didn’t want to attend school at all, but her mother enrolled her at Ideal Academy. Boone invited mother and daughter to learn the TM technique, and they did.
“All of that stress started to dissipate. She became a happier child. And the miracle was that this young girl started to sing. She had a beautiful voice, and her family didn’t even know that she could sing. It became her new thing. She started creating her own songs, and she found her talent,” remembers Boone.
“When you remove the stress, people can be who they really are. Their own inner intelligence can shine forth.” —Rena Boone
“Stress inhibits creativity, so if you release the stress, then the natural creativity can be expressed. You’re removing the barriers to this inner brilliant intelligence and creativity. When you remove the stress, people can be who they really are. Their own inner intelligence can shine forth,” she says.
“When Given a Chance, the Human Spirit Will Thrive”
These are just a few examples of the profound effects the TM technique is having and can have for the lives of children and their families in Washington, D.C.
“What we have to offer will enhance the field of education, so that educators can realize the potential, the goal, the vision of what education can be for young people. And not only for students but also for educators—so many people quit the field of education every year because of stress and burnout,” notes Boone.
Now, with this new David Lynch Foundation campaign to teach TM to 10,000 youth and their families, this effect will reverberate at home and throughout the community. “If parents are meditating as well, then children are returning to a more peaceful home. And so TM enhances their life not only at school but at home, too.”
Boone concludes by sharing what she often says in talks about the stress children are under and what the TM technique can provide: “When given a chance, the human spirit will thrive.”