US authorities should use more transcendental meditation to help soldiers returning from Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder, filmmaker David Lynch has said.
Hosting a Beverly Hills screening of "Meditation, Creativity, Peace," his new 70-minute documentary about the technique, Lynch also touted its positive impact on troubled schoolchildren, jail inmates and female abuse victims.
"Some people say it's a Mickey Mouse form of meditation, or it's for beginners. That is total baloney. It's an ancient form of meditation, so profoundly beautiful for the human being," Lynch said.
The Oscar-nominated director, famous for films like 1980's "The Elephant Man," "Blue Velvet" (1986) and 2001's "Mulholland Drive," is a well-known proponent of transcendental meditation, developed in the 1960s by Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
His movie follows Lynch on a tour around Europe appearing at talks with film students, explaining the benefits of TM mental techniques to largely adoring audiences.
Clips of the 67-year-old expounding about TM are interspersed with philosophical sayings and aphorisms from religious texts, including the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita, against a sitar-lacked soundtrack.
British comedian and actor Russell Brand, himself a TM devotee who has practiced the technique for more than three years, hosted a question-and-answer session after the screening.
Lynch was indulgent when Brand started the session off by jokingly comparing the attractions of meditation and masturbation.
"For Russell, we know what his desires are. And each of us has different desires," he said, adding that TM's main advantage was "that you can grow and find this fulfillment and the key is... that treasury within."
Bob Roth, head of the David Lynch Foundation, said the Department of Defense was exploring the possible benefits for waves of US military veterans returning from Iraq and now Afghanistan.
"Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day in America. So they're looking desperately. A handful of pills isn't doing it, a cocktail of drugs that make these young men and women crazier," he said.
Lynch added: "I had no idea how powerful and profound this technique could be until I saw firsthand how it was being practiced by young children in inner-city schools, veterans who suffer the living hell of PTSD, and women and girls who are victims of terrible violence."
TM helps to reduce flashbacks and bad memories, ease insomnia and reduce drug and alcohol abuse, according to a Journal of Counseling & Development study cited by the filmmaker.
The foundation is working to teach TM to 10,000 veterans, active duty personnel, cadets in training and their family, in a bid to get more support from US authorities.
Struggling schools could also benefit. "It's amazing... what happens when you get TM in schools that have been some of the worst... turns around in one year to a school you would love you kids to go to," said Lynch.
"It is so beautiful."
Other entertainment industry figures on the Lynch Foundation advisory board include Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Emmy-award winning US television doctor Mehmet Oz.