Celebrities Who Meditate
MEDITATION and Why Howard Stern and Russell Brand Do It
I am frequently asked about meditation: how to do it, why to do it, even where to do it. I wrote an easy intro to meditation in “The Immortality Edge “ for those who want to dip into it. I believe one of the biggest reasons to practice a form of meditation is that it helps fight depression—something that so many suffer from in these crazy times. Here’s what Dr. Rosenthal had to say about Transcendental Meditation, a very specific style of the practice, and depression:
Q: What makes you think that Transcendental Meditation (TM) might be helpful for depression?
A: I have reached this conclusion based on three lines of evidence: (1) Very credible individuals with marked depression, whose symptoms were alleviated by TM; (2) five controlled studies suggesting that TM lowers depression ratings in people studied for reasons other than depression; and (3) Plausible explanation for how TM may alleviate depression.
Q: Can you really reach any conclusions based on individual case histories – and why do you find these stories credible?
A: You certainly can’t reach definitive conclusions, but often compelling case studies are a good place to start in discovering that a new treatment or practice works. In my book, I profile several people with powerful stories of depression improving after starting TM. One physician Jim Bray dropped out of medical school because of depression. Although antidepressants failed to help him, he responded very well to TM, and has meditated for the past 35 years without any relapse of symptoms. One well-publicized case of depression responding to TM is that of the mother of radio host and media personality Howard Stern. Stern credits TM with turning his mother’s life around many years ago. He remains grateful for TM’s founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for turning his mother’s life around.
Q: Would you recommend TM for your patients with depression.
A: I would – and have done so for several patients. I must emphasize, however, that at this time TM should not be recommended as a first-line treatment for depression because there are other treatments available, which have been extensively tested and constitute part of the standard of care for treating depression. Because depression is a potentially dangerous condition, I am concerned that people do not use TM as a stand-alone treatment or “try it out” before seeking the help of a qualified professional. Rather, I see TM as a potentially valuable addition to a treatment plan for someone who is already receiving conventional care.
Q: How might TM work to help depression?
A: Here are 7 possible ways by which TM might help depression:
1. TM tends to stop people from ruminating – a big problem in depression
2. TM tends to help anxiety, which is often part of depression
3. TM is often a joyful experience – and depressed people need sources of joy
4. TM may reduce the fatigue and lethargy that depressed people often feel
5. TM may decrease the amped up stress responses often seen in depression
6. TM is a structured activity and many depressed people benefit from structure
7. In doing TM, depressed people can feel like they are doing something good for themselves.
Q: What kinds of depressed people would be the best candidates for TM – or the worst?
A: The best candidates for TM would be depressed people who also have a strong element of anxiety as well. TM might help both their anxiety and their depression. Depressed people who overreact to perceived criticisms or slights by others are also good candidates because TM tends to buffer responses to the negative behaviors of others. I have seen several people with bipolar disorder derive antidepressant benefits from TM. The least favorable candidates for TM would be those people with severe depression, who are so down that they are unable even to engage in the process of meditating.
GB Note: The list of celebs who practice TM as their style of meditation runs the gamut from Howard Stern, mentioned here, to Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and beyond. Meditation can take many forms and there are courses offered in nearly all cities. It is well worth your while to begin a daily practice—think of it as telomere therapy, since it has been proven to rejuvenate them!