David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption and its link to Transcendental Meditation

With Flying Lotus, Angel Olsen, Animal Collective and Jim James on the bill, a music festival fan would have plenty to enjoy at the Festival of Disruption, the filmmaker David Lynch-curated weekend that makes its debut in New York after two successful runs in Los Angeles.

But the star of the two days — and a trait that links many of the performers together — is Transcendental Meditation, the heart of the event and the David Lynch Foundation, for which the festival is raising funds. Proceeds go to the organization, with the goal of bringing the meditation technique to schools, survivors of domestic abuse, veterans and others in need of stress relief.

amNewYork caught up with Bob Roth, the Lynch Foundation’s executive director (and a speaker at the event), and Erik Martin, one of the festival’s producers, to talk about Transcendental Meditation and its relationship to the festival.

Is every artist in the lineup a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation?

Erik Martin: David curates the entire festival himself, and there’s a wide variety of interests he has in music, film, art, dance — all of the disciplines that we do. Many of those people are meditators and are interested in supporting the cause of the Foundation and what the festival’s trying to achieve. Many are just friends and fans and associates of David. And then some play the festival and learn to meditate after and become inspired. It’s not a prerequisite that they’re meditators, but almost always the majority of them are.

Is there a specific connection between music and meditation?

Bob Roth: I think one of the things that is different between Transcendental Meditation and other forms of meditation is that it actually makes up the two creative networks in the brain. . . . What artists find, I think, is that it helps get rid of a buildup of stress, and by waking up the creative network in the brain, it allows the creativity to flow. It’s ideal for a creative and long life as an artist.

Transcendental Meditation has had some doubters along its journey in America. What does this festival have for those who don’t meditate?

BR: There was a lot of misunderstandings about meditation, and Transcendental Meditation in particular got branded as a certain thing — “it’s religious” or “it’s New Age.” But over 40 years, that branding has really dissipated. We’re now in public schools all over the country, where the kids begin and end each day with 15 minutes of Transcendental Meditation. I think something like the Festival of Disruption, in the same way as if you get a name actor like Tom Hanks, or medical doctors, or veterans — anyone who has some trust and says they meditate — it has an effect, waking people up from a bias.

EM: There’s no skepticism among the fans of the festival, the fans of David and the artists and their fans. It’s a very celebratory experience; it’s like the highest use of human potential and creativity, and David being such a renowned creative artist, it’s on display.

Festival of Disruption takes place on May 19 and 20 at Brooklyn Steel, 319 Frost St., Williamsburg, festivalofdisruption.com.