Lena Dunham: ‘I’ve Been Meditating Since I Was 9 Years Old’

Lena Dunham: ‘I’ve Been Meditating Since I Was 9 Years Old’
According to Lena Dunham, if you’re a Type-A woman, you could probably stand to benefit from meditation. The “Girls” writer, creator and actress has been turning to the practice as a way to find calm in the chaos since she was in elementary school.

“I come from a line of neurotic Jewish women who need Transcendental Meditation (TM) more than anyone,” Dunham said yesterday at a David Lynch Foundation event in New York City, “Women In The Workplace: Reducing Stress Through Meditation.” “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 to say she needs to meditate.”

The practice of Transcendental Meditation had been passed down for several generations among the women in her family. When Dunham was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder at the age of nine, her mother had been meditating for more than two decades. Instead of “assaulting [her] with a barrage of medications,” she brought a TM teacher to their home to teach her daughter how to find calm by stilling her mind. Since then, meditation has been an important part of Dunham’s life.

Meditation allowed her to understand and process what she was going through, Dunham says — and she’s not the first successful woman to open up about how the practice has changed her life. Started in the 1970s, the TM method — which involves meditating twice a day for 20 minutes by sitting with the eyes closed and repeating a personal mantra — has attracted celebrity followers from the Beatles to Oprah to Ellen Degeneres, who “can’t say enough” about its benefits.

Also a loyal TM devotee, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley said at The Women in the Workplace event yesterday that meditation has brought increased focus and creativity into her life. “I just have more clarity of thought… I don’t know how else to describe it,” she said.

Dunham expressed that the practice has been most beneficial when it comes to navigating the often stressful entertainment industry, and maintaining a sense of calm when feels that her world is “spinning quickly” around her.

“[Meditation] 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,” said Dunham. “It gathers me up for the day and makes me feel organized and happy and capable of facing the challenges of the world, both internal and external.”

You Need Caring Too!
Women in particular have a very hard time putting themselves first. When they look at their days, they slot in time for work, for cooking, time to clean the house, time to drive the kids to soccer, basketball and dance, time to help with homework and time to chill with their husbands. Whew! That’s a lot! But there’s someone missing here. Where is the time to look after themselves?

Many women feel guilty at the thought of taking care of their own needs. They feel like everyone else has to come first, they’re at the bottom of the list and throughout their days they never quite reach the items at the bottom. They feel that’s what mothers/wives are supposed to be like. Their mothers devoted their lives to their families without thinking about themselves, after all. That’s what mothers are supposed to do. Isn’t it?

If you think that, then let me ask you a question. Are your children and husband better off with you in their lives, or will they be better off when you’ve succumbed to your illnesses caused by the fact that you didn’t look after yourself?

Whether you’re a man or a woman, the very best gift you can give your children and anyone you love and who loves you is to take very good care of yourself. And that means making sure you eat properly, exercise consistently and take regular “me” time. What good does it do your family if you give them every moment of every day but have a heart attack at 52? I want you to really think about that. If you asked your family if they mind giving up an hour of time with you each day to ensure that you are with them for many, many years to come, then what do you think their choice would be?

But there’s more to it than that.

Are you teaching your children that it’s ok to put themselves last once they become parents? Because if it is, then when they have children they’ll continue on with that same tradition. You’ll still be concerned about their health, but they’ll think it’s selfish to worry about themselves. You are telling your children that once you become a parent, you are worthless. You see how this can go on for generations?

When a parent, and a mom in particular, begins exercising and looking after herself there can be some backlash. The kids are used to having her undivided attention. They don’t like that all of a sudden she has something else going on in her life. They feel cheated on! They may attempt to sabotage her efforts. And that sabotage often works. When you take the fact that you have to convince yourself to make these changes and get to the gym even though you sometimes don’t want to, combine that with the fact that you already feel guilty, and add to that the fact that your kids will do practically anything to get you not to go… well, you have a serious hurdle to overcome. That is when you really have to dig deep, focus on your goal and do whatever it takes to get there.

You have to remember that kids hate change. It’s not that they don’t want you to look after yourself and be healthy — of course they do. They just want everything to stay exactly the same, always. They will do whatever they can (oh, and they’ll try) to make sure you stay the exact same selfless mom you always were. Not because they want a selfless mom, but because they don’t want change. At this point, you should have a talk with them regardless of their ages and tell them why you need to do this for yourself. Tell them you need to be healthy so you can live a long life and be there for them, and that this is what you need to do to be healthy.

You’ll see that a funny thing happens when you continue on course regardless of their efforts to stop you. First when they see their manipulative tactics don’t work, they’ll stop trying and simply accept the fact that you are doing things for your own health. And after that, a miracle occurs. They start feeling proud of you. They start bragging to their friends about how you ran a 5K. They wait at the finish line for you, with signs telling you what an awesome mom you are. They look at you with the same look in their eyes that you get in your eyes when they nail a solo at the school Christmas concert.

And you know what happens next? They ask if they can join you. What could be better than that?

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