In this episode, I speak to my friend, mentor, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and 50-year practitioner of TM, Bob Roth. He is the voice I seek when I feel unsettled, and his wisdom, love, and encouragement have helped me and countless others stay true to their paths, find peace in turmoil and stay centered when it feels like the world is swirling around us. We spoke at the beginning of the pandemic, but his words and wisdom ring equally true today and for any future challenge you may face. He offers a way to see the world where no matter what comes your way, no matter what storms may come, you can keep your center and not only survive, but thrive.
Vanessa: How do you keep your center you, Bob Roth, with a 50 year practice of tm,
Bob : Know thyself Be true to thyself. I think if one has an internal resonance, that if something feels wrong, on any level, not truthful, then don’t do it. And if something feels truthful, and right, then proceed, proceed gently. First of all, to know thyself, there’s nothing more important than a meditation practice is nothing more important than closing your eyes. And then you know, the analogy, I use the ocean with the waves on the surface, and then the ocean is silent, that its depth. And if you’re talking about keeping your center in the storm, you can never keep your center if your boat isn’t anchored to the depths of the ocean just can’t. It’s just it’s an impasse, it’s an impossibility. So a meditation that allows you to access that core stability within yourself is an opens up to yourself those inner your interior of life. Then from that it’s as simple it’s a simple dictum of just be true to yourself, and I do what I know to be right. And I don’t do what I as much as possible. I do what I know to be right. And I don’t do what I know to be wrong. I think in in these times when there’s no when the outer external, everything’s changing and your doubts, and you don’t know, what’s going on. Now with the Coronavirus and the economy and everything all we have, all we really have is that ability to access within no one can take that away from you that ability to dive within an access that core of yourself whatever term you want to use. And then from there, all the choices and things that come along. It just you have to it has to feel right.
Vanessa: There is that place inside that is calm. But does that mean that we don’t have strong emotions in that place?
Bob : Oh, whoa, whoa, we have very strong emotions. But emotions can be complicated. The simplicity is underneath all of that. Under the underneath all of that that anchor sits on a on a settled bed. But and that’s what allows us to maintain ourselves through all those emotion, no emotions, are you kidding? You feel your emotions more as you continue to grow, you are more accepting of your emotions, you are more kind to yourself, and give yourself more space for the ups and downs because you have a center. So when I say simple, it’s that level of light is, you know, the quiet level of the ocean, it is very simple to get to that. As we know through at least transcendental meditation, the process is simple. But the path is challenging. path is challenging, very, but it’s still it’s this the the all the complications are going on. You just go back to that thing. Is this true? Is this true? Is this right? From that centered, anchored self, you’re able to then give more appropriately to more people and less resentfully because you are rejuvenating yourself from within yourself. You’re regenerate the energy is coming from within yourself. You’re not asking, oh, you’re supposed to make me happy. And that Job’s supposed to make me happy. And well, I’ve been with you for all these years. And why aren’t you this way? Yeah, that’s an impossible task.
Vanessa: Yeah. I just I am so glad you said that. Because people have said to me, Well, you must just be Zen all the time. Right? You’re very Zen. I said, I’m not Zen at all. I feel deep sadness. And I feel anger. And I feel all of those things. And actually, I think that a practice of self inquiry and feeling those things, allows you to feel a deeper, because you know that when you go into that feeling, you’re not going to become lost in it. You can feel it fully, completely without numbing yourself and still come back to center. But I just don’t you know, but I think that that word calm sometimes might apply to people. Always happy, always calm and I’m so glad you, you agree that that’s not what that is.
Bob: When you use that word, deep sadness, deep, this the keyword is deep. You have access to that deep depth of feelings. And I just feel like a practice. I mean, I taught you transcendental meditation, I think many of the people but there needs to be whatever practice you do, has to give access to those deep reaches within because it opens those areas up. Also as you settle down and as the mind accesses that quiet then it brings the box To that deep state of rest, and we’ve talked about this trauma stresses from the past. And what did they say the first 1000 days from conception until what your two and a half or three years old, those are some of the most formative years times of your life, they’re going to serve the stresses the traumas that you experienced unconsciously? And there’s that book called body keeps the score. Yeah, I’m reading it right now. Because it says there’s no filter, real filter between mind and body, there’s no there’s no wall, it’s just a great it’s like becomes more abstract body is concrete mind is more abstract feelings more abstract, but it’s still one continuum. So you have an experience, someone hurts your feelings, or someone is abusive to you, or you grew up with neglect, or whatever that lodges mind into the body, just. And so you may even forget that experience. But your all of your activity actions are actually informed by it. And you may not even remember it when you’re in therapy, or when you’re talking to a best friend. But that but it’s lodged in the body, it’s changed the way your neural pathways are. And again, the value of a meditation practice on a regular basis, is that by giving the body that deep rest, those knots of stress that that sleep doesn’t even get rid of dissipate, dissolve, and then we’re freer to face the things we face because it doesn’t meditation doesn’t get rid of all problems. But it puts us in a much better position in a stronger position to deal with whatever comes our way. And also wake up the creative networks in our brain and, and be progressive, not just be lost in the past all the time.
Vanessa: I love that you mentioned the body because I think a lot of people think of meditation, as a process of the mind. Right, a mind fullness process. So tell us more about why it’s in the body, really,
Bob: because there’s no difference between mind and body. If you have an experience that you’re worried about something subjectively, your minds worried about something well, your adrenal glands are pumping out cortisol, you know, and if you’re threatened by something that greeno glands are pumping out adrenaline, or if you’re sad about something, then your serotonin levels go down, which is their happiness neurotransmitter, or you’re very happy about something Something is going your wealth and serotonin levels go up. It’s not there’s no difference. It’s just it’s a continuum. The thing, the thing about mindfulness approaches to meditation. They’re called cognitive processes. And I am in supportive, as you’ve heard me say, we need many tools in the toolbox to deal with life, they should be evidence based, I’d say that you should see that if you’re doing something for the mind, you’re not just Oh, that was a nice, self-indulgent experience, you would like to see that it’s actually healing the body as well. But cognitive processes. And that’s what we call open monitoring, or mindfulness practices, which is learning to dispassionately observe your thoughts, your moods, your feelings, your behavior. Those are largely cognitive processes, it does translate into the way your body functions and reacts to things, but they don’t give this profound relaxation, deeper than sleep that you find in this transcending process. And it’s there, that those deeply rooted stresses those knots from traumas is a child or when we work with a veteran who maybe is so traumatized by a bomb that blew up in Fallujah. And now anytime there’s a car backfires, they’re right back in the the amygdala, which is your Fight or Flight Center doesn’t know geography. megillah doesn’t say, oh, you’re not over in Iraq anymore, you’re here doesn’t know. The amygdala hears the sound, and you are in fight or flight mode, to have a practice that gives your body profound rest, then you’re not bringing the you’re not giving the opportunity for the body to heal itself.
Vanessa: Tell us about what you think is happening globally, with fear. And and I’m also curious about your thoughts about this sort of big collective pause.
Bob: I think what’s going to happen is, some people are going to grow, they have something called post traumatic growth in the field of trauma now, where they say a person has a traumatic experience and that traumatic experience can be it’s not just you’re in combat, traumatic experience can be your well that’s what we’re doing. You’re on the front lines of the healthcare crisis. A traumatic experience can be a fear of, of violence into home. We live in it in an epic pandemic of of trauma do we have in our genes, the ability to turn that experience into growth, or does it undermine us and we can And ultimately destroy us. And I think what we’re gonna see is a lot of people, hopefully, they some probably bell curve, you know, there’ll be 20% of the people who just thrive in this 20, people will just really get trampled. And then rest of the 60% of the people will grow from it to a certain extent, maybe fall back, you asked about what how people are feeling and Why fear. I think if we this is a term that’s used in the meditation texts, if we are object referral, if we know who we are based on, oh, I’m 59 years old, and and I’m a business person, or I’m, I’m a grandfather, or I’m 40 years old. And I’m mom, and I know myself in terms of outer things. And then anytime outer things change, then we lose ourselves, oh, my kids have gone away to school, who am I? Or there’s a change in my relationship. And now I’m single, who am I, I knew myself and or I was once 21, when I looked in the mirror, and now I’m 50, who am I, if we know ourselves only in that terms, if my sense of my identity is that, then when anything changes, and it inevitably must change. Because it’s fear, it causes uncertainty, it causes lack of lack of fear, there’s no there’s nothing to hold on to. But what those experiences ultimately do, they’re a gift, I believe they’re a gift from nature, it’s like if you put your hand on a, on a hot burner, you know, you keep burning your hand, ultimately, you go, there’s pain. Thankfully, there’s pain. Because if there was no pain, when you put yourself in a hot tub, put your hand on a hot burner, you burn up your hand, but there’s pain. So this isn’t working anymore. This knowing myself in terms of outer stuff, the way I looked with, that’s never gonna work. So it drives us to get away from that pain. It drives us to find security, safety, equanimity, and sustain over time. And you hear for all time, oh, meditation, meditation somehow does that do to true happiness lies within. So at some point, we’ve been hearing about meditation, and it hasn’t been relevant. You know, you have find this for other people, or I could never do that, or I’m not into that stuff, or that’s Whoo. And then all of a sudden, there’s like a receptor site in the brain that goes inside.
Vanessa: So besides meditation, which we know, is, is really powerful. What can what can people do in terms of mindset, in terms of the way they approach it, the way that they look at this in order to give themselves the best chance of being in post-traumatic growth, rather than post-traumatic falling apart?
Bob: There’s obviously all the things they talked about the importance of community. I mean, I think the service that you provide an ESA is enormously valuable, this conversation we’re having right now. In all the gazillions of interviews I’ve ever done. And I started off this conversation by saying the truth is, most I and I said this when I was on your podcast, I love having conversations with you. I mean, this was like, bam. So okay, Bob, we are going deep here.
Vanessa: Yeah. I don’t mess around.
Bob: Just like, wow, this is fantastic. And I think the reason why people love the service that you provide is that you give room and you end it’s comfortable to say anything. And I think this is absolutely, vitally important. I also so communication, this sort of thing. But I also think there’s things that we don’t value, simple healing measures, and I’ve been on a jag about this lately. It’s gonna sound silly, we don’t value sleep. You know, people say, Well, I can get by on four hours of sleep. No, you can’t. You can’t. Right. Julie can’t, you might push through and you might be okay. But it’s gonna catch up with you. Lack of sleep is probably the risk high biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s. For high blood pressure. There’s something called sleep dirt, which is the waste product of the brain work through you know, the brain cells firing all day working all day. And at the end of the day night, there are seven grams of what’s called sleep dirt and it’s about the size of a teaspoon. And when you sleep at night, the there are like, it’s amazing like canals are formed in the brain, and that sleep dirt gets flushed out of your brain. Now what happens when when you don’t let that sleep dirt get flushed out of your brain plaque and what is plaque lead to Alzheimer’s but I’ve been reading up and and, you know, I can say three things that a person can do that. Now that can allow them to actually fall asleep faster and sleep better at night. Want to hear them?
Vanessa: Yes, please.
Bob: So the first one is, we have to take we have, it’s not like you can run around and then work hard. And then you do the dishes and get the kids in bed, you do all the different things in your emails, and then Okay, now it’s 1130, I’m gonna get into bed, I’m gonna go to sleep. You’re not. Some people can. But a lot of people can. What the experts say we should do is you should like you work out, you’re a marvelous athlete, you stretch you prepare before you go for a run or you go for a swim, they say an hour before going to bed, you need to start the process of going to sleep. Going to sleep starts an hour before you get into bed. Now you can wash dishes at that time, you can take a bath, you could do some light reading, but you can just say I want to be in bed 1115 1015 I’m starting to that’s I’m starting to get ready to go to sleep. Second thing they say. The second thing they say is that you’ve all heard this, you need to turn off in that hour beforehand, need to turn off your computer, you need to turn off the TV you need to turn off is impossible. And I’m not like no one of these like whoo guys who thinks that oh, you know you live in ideal world. It’s it tough, but worse is to toss and turn for four hours in bed, or whatever. So that’s it turn off the TV, your your iPhone, or smartphone or computer. Why not just because watching the news is so unsettling? Yeah, it’s the blue light that comes from these devices, that what they do is they suppress the production of melatonin in your brain. Melatonin is your sleep hormone, you don’t go to sleep if you don’t have melatonin. And Melatonin is suppressed with blue light. And then the third thing which is a little bit more interesting and a little bit more obscure is they say your bedroom should be cool. Naturally, as you get ready for sleep, your body starts to cool down. And they say your room temperature should be between 60 and 70 degrees. And your room should be like a dark, cool cave.
Vanessa: Alright, so I want to get to questions, because we have some really great ones. Okay, so I’m gonna I’m just gonna dive in. Francesca from Italy asks, I find it difficult to be centered during stressful moments. Sometimes people are aware of it and take advantage How can I be myself and fully centered and still empathetic.
Bob: If you are yourself and fully centered, truly fully centered, and truly yourself, you’ll be an ocean of empathy and an ocean of compassion. If we’re not ourselves, if we’re stressed, if we haven’t slept well, if we haven’t done the things, we have to do the things that set up the conditions that allow us to be ourselves. So those things are exercise, those things are eating right, those things are meditation practices, things are sleeping, right? Those things are being honest with people be like Vanessa, then you’re going to be yourself. But if you’re tired or stressed or bandwidth, then it’s everything’s too much everything much.
Vanessa: And I think if you’re really centered in that place, you can’t be taken advantage of, oh, no people can treat you poorly, right? You can’t control what other people do. But you can’t be taken advantage of because you can’t really be touched in that place. Sarah from England, what would you recommend as the next stages on from transcendental meditations? Should I study with the Maharishi University further my practice both I’m desiring further expansion, I’ve been meditating for 38 years.
Bob: There are advanced techniques, they have these weekend retreats, they even have some zoom half day virtual retreats. And the last thing is they have a lot of online courses that you can take free or next to nothing marshy, international university or anywhere about consciousness about your body, or VEDA, there’s so many things you can do talk to your local tm center.
Vanessa: So we know that you talk about tm as a tool. And it’s not a religion. And people can use it as a way to reduce stress and to flush stress out of their body. And if they’re not interested in it in a spiritual way. They don’t have to be it still works for everybody who doesn’t. But for me, I see my meditation practice as sort of a portal, right? I, I get a lot of information when I’m very, very still. And that information to me is little little droppings of the truth, right? So that I can start to approach you know, capital T truth. And so I’m really intrigued by the potential For for a spiritual path. And I would say, Bob, that the way that you live your life shows that you’re on a deeply spiritual path. And you don’t talk so much about your spiritual path which I which was, which I appreciate, because sometimes the talking about it interferes with the living of it. I’ve seen that a lot. But I sort of can’t help myself. I’m so curious, I would love to hear from you. What it’s opened up to you, you know what, 50 years of tm and teaching and a life of service has opened up to you.
Bob: I think what I think what spirituality really means ultimately is a growth towards those full human values, like the human capacity to love, the human capacity to care, the human capacity to be resilient, the human capacity for friendliness, the human capacity for discernment, for strength, for saying no, for doing what’s right. That to me, we don’t have doesn’t have to be a divinity. Just Let’s be as fully human in that fully human, there’s great humility in that fully human. And it’s not a false humility. It’s a truthful humility. So I would say my years of meditating is you have to be something other than yourself. I still love baseball, you know, I still love I still, I’m myself, but I’m not. And as you are with your practice, and as anybody who’s it’s nothing is nothing extra special here. It’s just we become more ourself, inner self, and less, the product of outer hammering us.
calling from New York asks, does it take longer for older people to see benefits from tm
Bob: has nothing to do with age, if anything, it has to do with just how I’ve lived my life. If you have analogy, if you have two lawns, front yard of two houses, and one hasn’t been watered for a while, and one sort of watered, but the one that hasn’t been watered is pretty parched soil, and you put same amount of water on both the one that’s a little greener will turn green or faster. But it’s been parched, it’ll come along, maybe take you know, a few weeks, another week or two of watering, but it’ll is no age is about a factor.
Right? Another question that came in my 84 year old mom is in a nursing home, she has COVID-19 she got sick there and is very handicapped Parkinson’s. First of all, I’m so sorry to hear that. I got her on a group call. Um, and I have PTSD on somebody from years of violence, I’m extra sad, making space to be breathe, trying to combat hard any thoughts or tools.
Bob: So the thing is, is if you learn Transcendental Meditation from a teacher, certified teacher, our day over four days, then I would like you to contact your teacher, and they can support you by phone. If you haven’t been able to do that yet, because of the shelter in place, then the moment the nanosecond that you can go to your center and learn to meditate, it’ll make a big difference. And there is a course fee that’s involved. If you can’t afford that, then you can eat, I’m going to give everybody my email, this is my real real email, you can email me, then go to anybody else to me, Bob at David Lynch foundation.org. Because I appreciate them so much. So Baba, David Lynch foundation.org. If you would like to find a teacher or you have questions, then I’ll help you with that. And so I would just say to you learn Transcendental Meditation properly. If you have and it’s not, you’re not getting benefits from it. Then I’ll put you in touch with the teacher and help you through that. And then everything else you just need to do. You need to take care of yourself, it’s not going to go away. You need to go to sleep early. You need to do some exercise, it doesn’t go on too long. You need to take care of yourself.
Vanessa: Thank you. Thank you about a number of questions. And I’m going to read this one from Diane, about sort of being distracted or finding it difficult to meditate or focus during this time. Hi, Bob, you taught me to meditate. 10 years ago, I’ve been meditating daily ever since since being stuck at home. I’m easily distracted during meditation. How can I regain focus?
Bob: Email me and I’ll refresh your practice.
Vanessa: Danielle’s says I’m working on my internal resonance and listening and knowing myself being able to dive into my poor. I’m very used to listening to other people not trusting myself and looking for others to show me the way can you give me tips on how to dive into my core to know myself?
Bob: The fact that you know, you want to do that. It’s like well begun is half done. You’ll discover your path some of the things I’ve been talking about. We because it’s a mental thing, I feel confused or I feel, then we think we were going to sort it out in our mind, and we want to do that. But bring your body with you. So I’m a big so many times I’ve talked to people and they’re upset and they’re going in this downward cycle and I say, Are you eating? Well? No. Are you sleeping? Well, no. doing any exercise? No. It’s like, it’s gonna be so hard. Because you’re not giving your mind the support that it needs.
Vanessa: A quick question, do you believe alcohol to be destructive to a spiritual Mind Body practice?
Bob: I believe abuse of anything is disruptive to a spiritual Mind Body practice, alcohol to the ex, I don’t drink. But I never liked it. I grew up in a household that no one ever drank. So it was never, I never got it. But I know a whole lot of tm teachers who enjoy wine and you know people who meditate. But that is true that if you drink too much alcohol, it shuts down your prefrontal cortex, your prefrontal cortex, the size of your fist behind your forehead. it governs judgment, planning, decision making, and your sense of self. I would drink in moderation. I’m not a big fan of do’s and don’ts. Everything in moderation.
Bob: When we’re anxious, we breathe through our mouth. We bring no oxygen up into the brain. The amygdala goes nuts, your reactivity center, when you breathe through your nose, up into your brain, you’re bringing oxygen to the brain, it calms your brain. So a pranayama breathing exercise, something that you can learn through a tm center, along with your yoga postures and your meditation and rest. Very powerful.
Vanessa: A couple of questions about I’ve started tm, I had a practice, I’ve fallen off the wagon, I don’t know how to get back. Any advice on how to get back to a practice, keep it regular be able to keep it consistent.
Bob: I do know, every morning and every afternoon, a meditation on the phone. And there’s like 1000s of people calling in, and that a lot of people are saying that they’re using this time to get back into a good routine. So email me, Bob at David Lynch foundation.org. And I’ll send you the information that you can call in.
Vanessa: Before we wrap up and move on to the meditation. I wanted to mention two things to everybody. First, Bob just launched a podcast, which is very exciting. Please tell us about that. And then also, please tell us about the heal the healers initiative that you’re involved with.
Bob: So the podcast is called Stay calm. It’s on I Heart Radio. It’s downloadable with Apple and Spotify, anything, any of those things, it’s five days a week, it’s about seven or eight minutes. It gets downloaded every morning. And they are I tell some stories of all my years of teaching, transcendental meditation, particularly the work we’re doing with foundations. So stories of transformation of a woman who’s survived domestic violence or a child with nonverbal autism. And it’s just a nice thing. It’s a nice thing. And it, they say it’s really good if you subscribe to it, because then I Heart Radio knows that it’s great. I don’t get any money from it. But then the word then they do more promotion of it. So if you could subscribe, you just stay calm. Bob Ross. Right. The other one is, here’s if you have a pencil, write down, heal the healers now.org heal the healers. now.org tells you everything about the work we’re doing with the doctors, nurses and other health care providers, including custodial staff and orderlies who are risking their lives for us. And it’s our David Lynch foundation. It’s our work to bring this meditation for free to as many of them as they can as we can, not just in the US. But now it’s all over the world.
Vanessa: Amazing. That’s great. So Bob, I can’t thank you enough. I could literally talk to you all day. Bob is going to lead us in a meditation. I’m not going to say anything at the end of the meditation in case you want to just continue to sit. I don’t want to interrupt that. So we will we will do this bubble q the end of 10 minutes. And then if you choose to sit longer, please do. Thank you for being with us. And I’ll turn it over to Bob.
Bob: Vanessa, you’re a real blessing. A real blessing. I think everybody feels so good. I feel so good from just spending this time with you.
Bob: So what we’re going to do is we’re going to in keeping with Vanessa approach, which is to give everyone the space to be themselves, we’re going to have 10 minutes and I will time it, you don’t have to worry about it. If you do transcendental meditation, please just feel comfortable doing Transcendental Meditation. If you do another form of meditation, please feel comfortable doing that in this quiet. And those of you have no practice, I’m just going to tell you a very simple breathing process you can do for the 10 minutes or five minutes, and you can lie down if you want to do it. The main focus here is no straining, no, no forcing. And the breathing exercise is just elegant in its simplicity, I want you to just breathe in through your nostrils from your abdomen, up into your lungs into your head, hold it for two seconds, and then just out through your lips just almost like a basketball, he gets flattened and hold it for two seconds. And then in through your nostrils. Now you can do that, I’m going to say one more thing about that there are many breathing techniques, you’re supposed to pay attention to your breath and your sound and your body into this and then your Don’t let your mind wander. let your mind wander, do whatever you want. We’re just all we’re doing here is just allowing the air we’re bringing the air up into the amygdala, the oxygen up into the brain, holding it for a second or two and then just out so you can plan your I don’t care what you do, and if you want to do it lying down. So we’ll do it for 10 minutes. And again, my party. huge thank you to for all of us to you Vanessa. person, okay, so let’s close the eyes. And everybody just wait about a half a minute. Before you begin either the breathing or tm or whatever practice you do. And again, don’t mind the time and we’re just gonna go right through. No one’s gonna say anything. You’re done when you’re done. All right, so let’s close her eyes. Wait a half a minute, and then start your practice.