Film Director’s Nonprofit Lobbying Capitol Hill on Meditation

  • The David Lynch Foundation hired a K Street firm for outreach
  • Wants to raise awareness of benefits, urge study of meditation

David Lynch credits meditation with helping him create some of his legendary works. The film director’s eponymous foundation is turning to Congress to help spread the word to others who may benefit.

The David Lynch Foundation, founded in 2005, recently hired its first lobbying firm, Michael Best Strategies, to discuss with congressional offices the role meditation can play in treating post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and trauma.

Bob Roth, who’s led the foundation for 17 years, said in an interview that he hopes this engagement will raise awareness about the organization and the potential benefits of all forms of meditation.

Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
Film director David Lynch’s nonprofit to promote transcendental meditation has hired a lobbyist.

Disclosure forms state that advocates are working on “issues relating to funding for studies on the impact of transcendental meditation to help treat PTSD and hypertension.”

Roth emphasized that the organization itself isn’t seeking funding. It wants to be involved if there’s federally allocated research funds at universities or agencies. The National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department have previously studied the impacts of meditation, but more widespread studies are needed, he said.

“All I want to do is sort of educate people and say, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ because the problems of trauma are so huge, and the conventional approaches are not working,” Roth said.

“For me, the whole key thing is evidence-based, rigorous gold-standard research — not woowoo stuff, not branding, not marketing,” he said. “We need to look at these things, we can’t just dismiss them.”

‘Particularly Children’

The foundation offers transcendental meditation programs for inner-city children, veterans, and women who’ve survived domestic violence, among other groups both in the U.S. and abroad.

“I believe we’re moving into a new pandemic” in the wake of Covid-19, Roth said, “a pandemic of trauma and toxic stress, for which there is no magic pill, no vaccine. And that cuts across all demographics, particularly children.”

Last year, the foundation responded to reports about the stress experienced by health-care workers dealing with Covid-19 by launching a transcendental meditation initiative at 30 hospitals and medical centers.

The initiative includes “research focused on TM and healthcare provider wellness at 10 major research and teaching centers,” according to a financial statement released by the group that describes its activities.

Its website is replete with testimonials about the effectiveness of transcendental meditation, including from celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Paul McCartney, Jerry Seinfeld, Cameron Diaz, and Martin Scorsese.

To contact the reporter on this story: Megan R. Wilson in Washington at mwilson@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kyle Trygstad at ktrygstad@bgov.com; Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com

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