Since the Beatles first travelled to India in the 1960s and were filmed meditating with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it has become much more mainstream in the west. Numerous celebrities have spoken about their love for meditation, and with more public attention there has been more scientific research into its benefits. To date there have been over a thousand published research studies that have linked meditation to changes in blood pressure, metabolism and brain activation as well as numerous other bodily processes.
Here are just a few celebrities who have helped bring meditation into the mainstream:
Richard Gere is one of the most famous proponents of meditation. A famously devout follower of Tibetan Buddhism, he first met the Dalai Lama in 1978 and has been a very vocal supporter of the Free Tibet movement. He also travels to Dharamsala regularly. He spends a lot of time in India as well, and speaks openly about his religion and meditation. Gere is not just one of these people who spout the standard line of “I’m a very spiritual person;” he is clearly striving to follow the dharma, and is happy to speak openly about his beliefs and practices.
Another very influential and globally famous lover of meditation is Oprah Winfrey. In fact, she has brought out meditation plans with Deepak Chopra, whose Primordial Sound Meditation course I also present. Oprah has said on many occasions how important her meditation practise is to her, something she wants to share with as many people as possible. As one of the most famous women in the world, she’s certainly doing a fantastic job of bringing meditation into the public eye, and encouraging more and more people to try it out for themselves.
Jerry Seinfeld, the famous American comedian, has said “I’ve been practicing Transcendental Meditation most of my life. I think that does something to your nervous system. It has given me a calmness I don’t think I had at 19.” Seinfeld’s eponymous TV show was massive during its running time from 1989 to 1998; he is still a very famous figure among comedy fans across the world.
Russell Brand was famously a drug addict and hedonist in his earlier years; he has spoken openly of how finding fame and fortune did not make him feel as satisfied as he had hoped it would. He turned to meditation and has since calmed down a great deal, securing roles in Hollywood blockbusters and world-wide fame and success, though he still meditates regularly and says that it is helpful for all human beings and everyone should do it.
Everyone knows about Madonna’s fantastic, age-defying dance moves; some of her more recent videos show her busting out moves someone half her age would find hard. A lot of this incredible flexibility can be attributed to her regular yoga practice, something she teams with daily meditation. She famously said “meditation showed me how much energy silence has.”
Other very famous meditators include Clint Eastwood, Will Smith, Howard Stern, Al Gore, Hugh Jackman, Demi Moore, Tina Turner, Keanu Reeves, Ellen DeGeneres and Jessica Simpson. And, of course, the two remaining beatles Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
How lovely it is, to see that celebrities, so often photographed falling out of nightclubs or famous for being glorified clothes horses, can also be a force for good. My hope is that many of these celebrities’ fans will follow them into a life of blissful meditation. I’ve found it’s a wonderful thing to have in my life and I would love for others to find this for themselves.
Love Anandi x