David Lynch (Picture: PA Images).
Health and Fitness

'A Holistic Experience': Twin Peaks Director Helps Personnel With Their Mental Health

David Lynch (Picture: PA Images).

David Lynch is an American filmmaker best known for directing 'Twin Peaks' (Picture: PA).

A Hollywood director has told Forces News how he is helping serving military personnel and veterans to overcome stress-related illnesses.

The David Lynch Foundation is a charity set-up to help people - including military personnel - to learn Transcendental Meditation.

The Twin Peaks director has practised Transcendental Meditation (TM) since the 1970s, and told Forces News about teaching a form of meditation to overcome stress-related illnesses.

The Foundation has a programme called Operation Warrior Wellness, which is specifically aimed at helping members of the armed forces to overcome conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

David Lynch explains how TM can help service personnel struggling to overcome stress-related illnesses.

Mr Lynch told Forces News: “Many veterans are suffering from post-traumatic stress, their life becomes a hell.

"The nightmares at night are horrible and the daytime is not any better. It affects them negatively, it affects their family their loved ones, their friends.

"It’s a horror. This torment inside, they go to drinking or drugs to mask it, but it doesn’t get rid of it.

"They get this technique of Transcendental Meditation and they start transcending and this horror, this torment bursts out of them.”

Soldiers meditating during Operation Warrior Wellness CREDIT David Lynch Foundation
Operation Warrior Wellness aims at helping members of the armed forces to overcome conditions such as PTSD (Picture: The David Lynch Foundation).

TM differs to other forms of meditation as there is no concentration on outside sound. 

When learning TM, a person is given a mantra - a specific sound - which is repeated in the mind and transcends a person to a place of calmness.

Previous studies have questioned whether a non-trauma-focused treatment can be as effective as trauma exposure therapy in reducing the symptoms of PTSD.

Some studies have suggested non-trauma-focused therapies might be a viable alternative for those who don't respond well to traditional treatments, or prefer not to receive them.

Lindsay Crockett is a GP and practises TM. She said: “It [TM] can be very beneficial and we know that from a recent publication in the Lancet actually just a couple of months ago, where the arm of people that were in the trial learning Transcendental Meditation showed a 63% clinically meaningful benefit to their PTSD.”

The study, which was funded by the US Department of Defense, found TM to be a viable option for decreasing the severity of PTSD symptoms in veterans.

Lindsay Crockett is a GP and practises TM
Lindsay Crockett is a GP and practises TM.

One person who says TM has put him back in control of his PTSD along with his medication is Trevor Coult.

The Army veteran served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded the Military Cross for fighting off insurgents in Baghdad during 2005.

Photographs of the Army veteran being honoured by the Queen and the then US President George Bush in the White House hang on his wall.

But Mr Coult's smiles were masking a cruel torment that began haunting him in Iraq and grew when he served in Afghanistan:

“We lost a lot of men out there. Saw a lot of carnage and death and I still hadn’t clicked onto what was going on. I was doing my job 100% but it started to affect me.

"I had a twitch in my eye for about three years and every so often when I got nervous about a situation I would put my hand in my pocket because, for some reason, that hand would go again.

"It would just shake and I wouldn’t know what it was. I sort of mashed all that, but I was suffering inside and I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

Trevor Coult with US President George W Bush.
Trevor with US President George W Bush.

Mr Coult was prescribed medication which helped but the consuming memories that had imprinted on him manifested themselves in frustration and anger.

Then he discovered TM through the David Lynch Foundation which has already taught many veterans and military personnel in the US.

Mr Coult said: “It helps me relax, it gives me a focus. I will never tell anyone to come off medication, I still take it because it works.

"However, I also would promote the TM because I’ve probably now got about six or seven things in my toolbox which I can work off.

"Not one can fix me, but together using them all, you’re back in control of your mental health rather than it being in control of you.”

Trevor Coult meditating at home.
Trevor meditating at home.

Many studies have been carried out on treatments for PTSD. Professor Neil Greenberg of King’s College London has researched the condition for many years:

“Interventions like TM are unlikely to be a mainstay treatment within the military because they take some time to work and also they don’t necessarily get people to a level of fitness where they are ready to go back to the frontline.

"So certainly when I was in service many years ago, TM would not be the sort of intervention we would use by itself. It can be a useful adjunct to treatment, that is it helps treatment to go along a bit better.

"For many people, TM is a good way for them to get a sense of calmness in their life, which is good in lots of ways not just to do with PTSD.”

Professor Neil Greenberg of King’s College London has researched the condition for many years.
Professor Neil Greenberg of King’s College London has researched the condition for many years.

David Lynch would like to see his foundation help more military personnel to learn TM:

“A vet that gets this is the same as any other human being they just have more torment, the negativity starts to recede, I say it’s like bringing in gold from within and saying goodbye to garbage.”