On October 8, It-girl Lena Dunham, participated in “Women. Meditation. Stress” a panel discussion hosted by The David Lynch Foundation. The HBO star spoke about how Transcendental Meditation helps her control Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While I find Transcendental Meditation to be a beautiful and amazing practice that helps people emotionally and creatively (especially after reading David Lynch’s book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity), I feel ambivalently about Dunham’s thoughts on the subject.
Here are 10 things Lena Dunham said about OCD and meditation:
1) “I’ve actually been meditating since I was nine. I’ve been practicing TM [Transcendental Meditation] since I was nine.”
Lena Dunham always seems so hellbent on demonstrating her precociousness. How many nine year olds would be down to take meditation seriously?
2) “My mother meditates, my grandmother meditates and my great-grandmother meditated. That might make you think I’m part of like a grand hippie tradition, but these are actually all just neurotic Jewish women who need TM more than anyone.”
I too am a neurotic Jewish woman who comes from a long line of neurotic Jewish women, but we aren’t really meditating types. Sometimes I really relate to Lena Dunham, but then she keeps talking.
3) “I have to tell you, it’s pretty charming to see a very well-dressed anxious Jewish woman take a moment at her country club because she needs to meditate.”
That does sound charming, but I find “very well-dressed anxious Jewish” women charming in general.
4) “When I was around nine, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, I feel forever grateful that instead of assaulting me with a barrage of medications my mother decided it was time for me to learn to meditate.”
This is the quotation that actually troubles me. It’s great for Lena Dunham and anyone who finds meditation to be a serviceable substitute to pharmaceuticals, but medication is not assault. Just because transcendental meditation works for some, doesn’t mean it can work for everyone. Some people need chemical intervention and that’s okay.
5) “When you’re nine you have trouble articulating the sort of internal shifts you feel, I know that it made an incredible difference. It made it possible for me to understand what I was going through, and to process what I was going through and to calm down.”
Here we go with Lena Dunham the nine year old wunderkind again.
6) “When I was a teenager I stopped meditating because sitting still for 20 minutes is very low on the list of things teenagers want to do unless they’re stoned.”
Sitting still for 20 minutes is low on the list of things I want to do ever, which is why meditation isn’t something that will work for me personally. I appreciate Dunham acknowledging that she took a break from meditation.
7) “When I started working in the incredible, challenging and often very stressful world of entertainment, my world was spinning really quickly and I knew that I needed to return to some sense of calm.”
Is this a humble brag about living the dream?
8)“Since my re-initiation into meditation has been even more powerful than my first experience, and it has made it possible for me to weather certain challenges and storms and public moments that I didn’t ever imagine would be in my life.”
9) “It gathers me up for the day and makes me feel organized . . . happy . . . and capable of facing the challenges of the world, both internal and external.”
That’s how some people feel about their lifesaving meds.
10) “I recognize how lucky I am, and how lucky I was, to find meditation.”
Excellent, Dunham should feel lucky to have TM work for her and to have had the resources and opportunities to learn about it.
It really is lovely that Lena Dunham feels passionately about something that helps her de-stress and control her mental health problems, but did she really have to compare administering medicine to assault? If you’re struggling, whatever works works and no one should feel like they’re doing something wrong because they take pills.