Stars' Mantra: Get 1M Kids to Meditate

Experts say transcendental meditation cuts stress and boosts performance.

ByABC News
April 5, 2009, 3:18 PM

April 6, 2009 — -- Picture yourself on a stage with a mission with "tangerine trees and marmalade skies," or so the song goes.

For the first time since the death of George Harrison in 2002, what's left of the Beatles sang together Saturday at a Radio City Music Hall concert -- "Change Begins Within" -- to promote transcendental meditation.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr joined a new generation of stars to support the David Lynch Foundation's goal of teaching 1 million at-risk children the practice developed by the Beatles' guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who died in 2008.

Research studies -- including many funded by the National Institutes of Health -- show the all-natural approach to de-stressing can improve brain function and cardiovascular health.

"It was a great gift," said McCartney of transcendental meditation as he joked with his former drummer at a pre-concert news conference about not remembering the band's trek to India during the drug-infused era.

"It came at a time when we were looking for something to stabilize us at the end of the crazy '60s," McCartney said.

Then, meditation was just one more way to tune in, turn on and drop out.

But today, when 10 million children suffer from depression and 4 million are being treated with the drug Ritalin for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, transcendental meditation -- or TM for short -- is seen as a way to lower stress and boost academic performance.

The Lynch foundation now teaches 70,000 students for free in 350 schools around the world; 15 of them are in the United States.

The cost to learn TM at a center can be as high as $750 to $1,000 per individual.

The brainchild behind the benefit concert was David Lynch, the abstract and often dark filmmaker who credits his creativity with 36 years of meditation.

For the fundraiser, Lynch recruited other musicians, including '60s icon Donovan and Mike Love of the Beach Boys, who also met the Maharashi in 1968.

Younger singers Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper and Moby and Def Jam's Russell Simmons also entertained, as well as shock jock Howard Stern and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

"I feel like I'm at a meeting of meditators anonymous," Moby said jokingly during a news conference the day before the benefit.

The self-confessed son of hippies said he once associated the practice with "ritual animal sacrifice" but has now been "won over."

In four decades since the Beatles traveled to India, TM has attained more mainstream acceptance.

"Meditation allows any human being to dive within and transcend, which means to go beyond," said Lynch, whose signature salt-and-pepper coif is as wild as his famously surrealistic films including "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive" and his television series "Twin Peaks."

"When you experience it, you are infused with unbounded consciousness and an ocean of infinite intelligence, creativity, infinite love, happiness and infinite energy and dynamic peace. It's all positive and you start growing," Lynch said.