Anxiety. Some consider it a prerequisite for creating great art. According to psychiatrist and author Rollo May, “real creativity is not possible without anxiety.” Lucky me.
Blame it on my New York upbringing, my Jewish heritage, or attending a pressure inducing prep school, anxiety has always been a part of my life.
Add in the stress of pursuing a career in entertainment business, often filled with doubt and uncertainty, and it can feel like a recipe for a perpetual panic attack.
Ellen Sandler, screenwriter and co-executive producer for the show Everyone Loves Raymond, says that when you’re working in television “you don’t have writer’s block. You’ve got a deadline and you’ve got to turn something in. You just get it done.”
So how does one manage the constant stress of working in a high pressured environment without going completely bonkers?
“Meditate and create” is the motto of The David Lynch Masters in Film (DLMA), which offers a unique approach to studying filmmaking by incorporating Transcendental Meditation (TM) into their program.
Developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, TM is a meditation technique using a mantra to help free the mind. The movement became popularized in the 1960s with The Beatles and continues to attract high profile celebrities like Lena Dunham, Oprah, and of course David Lynch.
DLMA Program Director Michael W. Barnard says that “as students develop their experience in transcendental consciousness and integrate it into their lives, they begin to perform at very subtle levels where anything is possible. This is a very powerful kind of ability essential to filmmakers.”
A long time practitioner, Barnard can attest to the profound impact TM has had on him both personally and professionally.
“Over my 40 year career in the film business TM has had an effect on me on a daily basis by getting more rest. I’ve gained a greater awareness and a greater calmness in various stressful situations. Releasing the stress that’s inevitably built up in modern life.
This year DLMA has been revamped into three semester program revolving the creation of a web series. Under the guidance of Sandler and producer Bill Borden, the students will collaborate in the development of one large project.
“It’s a very important exercise if you want to work in the business commercially because you are always collaborating. If you’re writing for tv, you will be working with a head writer, a staff, a star, a network, and a studio. Ultimately you’re collaborating with the all important audience. If you can’t work and play well with others it’s going to be difficult. It’s a much more valuable skill than these students realize they’ll be getting.”
Sandler recently began learning TM, and though a newbie, she says on the days she’s practiced so far “I got more done with less stress. I got through the day much easier. It opens your mind and makes you receptive in a nice way. That can’t be a bad thing, right?”
Yoga and meditation have definitely helped me through the ups and downs of this stressful career. What’s helped you?
*featured photo by Oscar Keys