My review of the new David Lynch self-portrait Lynch, opening next Friday at the IFC Center, just went up on In the meantime, I thought I’d use the opportunity to say a word or two about my experiences with Transcendental Meditation (TM), which Lynch has been promoting with his foundation and last year’s book, Catching the Big Fish.

TM had always intrigued me, and after I got hold of Catching the Big Fish, my curiosity was seriously stoked. But two things kept me from trying it out: the slightly cultish vibe of the official web site, and the prohibitive cost. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi charges $2,500 for learning the “simple method” to a better life, and I wasn’t about to plunk down that kind of money for what may or may not have been a bunch of hokum.

Wikipedia to the rescue: at the bottom of the article on TM, I found a reference to a low-cost alternative called Natural Stress Relief. Founded by renegade TM teachers, NSR can be learned for $25, which pays for a manual in pdf format and an mp3 file. (According to the Maharishi, TM can only be learned through personal instruction.) NSR also sheds a lot of the mystical trappings of TM — it’s advertised as a no-nonsense method for relaxation rather than a way to gain cosmic consciousness and bring about world peace.

A year later, I haven’t missed any of the twice-daily meditation sessions and can corroborate all of the claims Lynch makes for TM. Natural Stress Relief is a very effective way to drop the mind into a state that’s neither sleeping, dreaming, or waking. In this state, the nervous system begins to heal itself and release stresses that have accumulated over the years: anxiety, anger, pain — Yoda’s entire litany of everything that leads to the Dark Side. Since I started NSR, I’ve been feeling more optimistic, creative, outgoing, and productive. Of all the supposedly consciousness-expanding experiments I inflicted on my poor head over the years, NSR has been the most effortless, the most useful, and the most joyful. If you’re curious, take a look at the NSR home page and the forums, where former TM teachers discuss the method and give helpful advice.

Now, who’s got my one-legged sixteen-year-old and that pet monkey ?

Lynch. blackANDwhite, 2007. ****