Last night at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., a star-studded gala took place to raise funds for teaching Transcendental Meditation, a well proven technique to relieve traumatic stress, to veterans and at-risk youth.
A National Night of Laughter & Song was organized by the David Lynch Foundation.
The gala’s hosts were Huge Jackman, the Academy Award-nominated, Golden Globe- and Tony Award-winning actor, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, an internationally acclaimed actress and passionate advocate for vulnerable and abandoned children, and Katie Couric, the award-winning journalist and Yahoo Global News Anchor.
The show’s stand-up section was spearheaded by the legendary international comedy superstar Jerry Seinfeld, “the hardest working man in show business” Jay Leno, and one of the funniest women alive, Margaret Cho.
One of the major music influences of our generation Angélique Kidjo, the three-time Grammy Award winner and human and animal rights crusader who’s taken the music world by storm, Kesha, and Sharon Isbin, one of the world’s greatest classical guitarists, took the night’s musical entertainment into their talented hands.
“[These artists] want to make a better world by addressing the epidemic of trauma and toxic stress that so many are enduring right now, particularly underserved or at-risk people, like veterans who come back from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Brought together by the practice of TM
David Lynch, in turn, explained to The Washingtonian:
“There was a consensus among them that now would be a good time raise the awareness of the benefits of this evidence-based, stress-reducing meditation technique to the leaders of the nation. The response, to date, has been terrific.”
On the red carpet, the stars also shared their personal experiences with Transcendental Meditation.
“Starting seven or eight years ago, there are very few top athletes or top business people who don’t have any meditation technique,” said Jerry Seinfield who has been practicing Transcendental Meditation every day since 1972. “Everybody has something now.”
Asked what would happen in a town like DC, if everyone started doing TM, Seinfield replied: “If you are agitated, you cannot hear anyone but yourself. TM brings it down from a boil to a simmer, so that might help.”
Speaking of the evening’s purpose of teaching TM to at-risk populations, Seinfeld commented:
“To say it’s easy is not even correct. It’s an effortless technique that brings your tension level down, so obviously it would be great for veterans.”
He also retold the story of how he recently got the actor Tom Hanks to learn TM, restoring Hanks’ faltering energy levels.
“So you gave America Tom Hanks back?” the journalist asked. “Yeah!” Seinfeld quipped.
Musician Ben Folds explained that he tried TM after touring had taken a toll on his mental and physical health. “I came out of my first week with it not white-knuckling the steering wheel in traffic, not having to return phone calls immediately, and the knock-on effect was far better decisions than I had been making,” he said.
“It helped me a lot when I needed some space and some sanity,” he added.
Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, explained that not only did they meditate on their way to the gala on the plane, but they also host friends for Sunday morning meditation and brunch back home.
“Everybody benefits from meditation, everyone I’ve ever met. It changed my life. It’s available to every single person, you don’t have to be talented at it. It’s literally the simplest thing on the planet. For those people who are really struggling and seeing no way out of it, it is life changing, “ Jackman touched on the purpose of the fundraising event.
“How wonderful that they can find peace within chaos or trauma,” Furness Jackman added.
Relief for those who need it the most
The proceeds from the night are going to be put to great use. In collaboration with V.A hospitals, schools, shelters, community centers and the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus, Transcendental Meditation will be taught to 10,000 veterans and at-risk youth in the Washington D.C. area.
“The problem is there’s no drug or medicine that any of us can take to prevent stress or cure it. We certainly mask it with alcohol and coffee or other drugs, but nothing that gets to the core of it. … The solution is not just to take more Ambien, Xanax, Klonopin. 80 percent of all illnesses are said to be caused by stress,” Roth emphasized the severity of the issue.
Hence the reason DLF works tirelessly to restore the peace of mind of the populations most vulnerable to the perils of stress.
“Transcendental Meditation is a very simple, easily-learned meditation technique that’s considered the gold standard of meditations right now,” Roth explained.
“TM is the most medically-sound, evidence-based. … There are hundreds of research studies published in top journals by the American Medical Association and funded by the National Institutes of Health that show that this particular meditation is as effective, if not more effective, than any medicine you could ever take to address this problem.”
The occasion was also used to honor exemplary men and women for their lifetime of dedication and service by the 2017 Lynch Awards.
Candy Crowley, award-winning journalist and former Chief Political Correspondent and Anchor of CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley was honored for Lifetime in Service to the Public Discourse. Patricia De Stacy Harrison, the President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting received an award for Lifetime of Service for the Public Good.
Dr. George H. Rutherford II, Chair of the U.S. Committee for Stress-Free Schools who has worked in public education for 52 years was recognized for Lifetime in Service to America’s Youth.
Rona and Jeffrey Abramson, and Joni and Kevin Kimberlin founding members of the Board of Directors of DLF and The Rona and Jeffrey Abramson Center for Peace: A Division of the David Lynch Foundation and the Joni Kimberlin Center for Women and Girls Health: A Division of the David Lynch Foundation (respectively) were honored for Lifetime in Service for Peace.
Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal received an award for Lifetime in Service to the Public’s Health, for the groundbreaking research and educating the general public in psychiatry.