Your Brain Health Episode 21

Introduction: This is Your Brain Health with noted Neuroscientist, Dr. Kristen Willeumier. Your Brain Health Explores strategies to maximize your cognitive functions through life. Here’s Dr.. Kristen Willeumier.

Dr. Kristen Willeumier: Welcome back to Your Brain Health on Radio MD. I’m Dr. Kristen Willeumier, and I’m here talking with Bob Roth, Meditation Expert who’s been teaching meditation for over 45 years. He’s the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation. And Bob, I want you to go into some of the incredible research that you’ve been doing with the David Lynch Foundation.

Bob Roth: I mean, over the last 40 years, or even more than that, beginning with a research that was done at the university of California, Los Angeles Medical School and at Stanford Medical School back in 1968. 50 years ago, and it was published in science and Scientific American. The researchers started to identify and recognize that significant changes, galaxy constellation of changes actually take place in the brain, in the respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system when a person transcends, when a person does TM. Today there are over 400 studies that have been published in peer reviewed journals. That goes all the way from and funded by research by dollars, $30 million from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, show a whole broad range from reduced high blood pressure, heart risk of heart disease and stroke and to increase creativity, intelligence, to reduced anxiety, depression, improvements in bipolar disorder just across the board. It’s a very exciting time.

Host: Yeah. I don’t know why every physician doesn’t know this practice. I think there isn’t any one of us should be able to learn some kind of technique to help us.

Bob Roth: Kristen you are going to lead the way you’re going to lead the way.

Host: You and I together will do this.

Bob Roth: Fine with me.

Host: I’m in, but you know, we’ve been in this game for quite some time. I think, you know, people need to understand having this kind of research published in science, which is the top scientific journal in our field is extraordinary in the fact that it started back in the 60s, you were saying?

Bob Roth: Yeah, well 1970 was published but the research was started 50 years ago.

Host: I know the benefits are extraordinary. And you know, my goal in doing shows like this and you know, going and talking about this on television is to really get everybody involved, you know, to teach it to everyone. This is for kids, this is for kids with autism, this is for people with post traumatic stress disorder. This is, it’s really a technique that I think we all need. And what’s great is it’s free. It’s not a medication. It’s something that we can do at home. And once you start it, I think once you know how to do it appropriately and really understand and feel the benefits, that’s when people start to do it more consistently. Would you agree?

Bob Roth: 100%, and I think that that’s one of the reasons why the model that at least with TM is you get your own trainer. You know, it can be confusing. Someone like yourself, you’re an adept, you’re quite advanced. But for a new person who doesn’t know anything about it, it helps to have a guide there to say, yeah, that’s good or no go this way. And they can, just takes a little bit of time and then you’ve got it and then it’s something that you have for the rest of your life.

Host: I’ll tell you, I live here in California and I was trained at a place called the Self-Realization Fellowship, which was started by Paramahansa Yogananda back in the 1920 so it’s sort of this spiritual space that everybody knows about in Los Angeles. Gandhi’s ashes are buried there. And I just out of curiosity, you know, started taking some meditation classes there and that’s how I got started. So I needed a formal training as well. Then once you do it in community and somebody trains you and you kind of understand how it feels, that’s when it took off for me. And maybe that’s the piece that most people need. They just need to feel, people always ask me, how do you know if you’re doing it right? How do you know if you’re in a meditative state? And that’s actually a really good question. My response, you know, there’s all kinds of tools and technologies, you know, I like that Muse Meditation sensor. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it or use it, but it’s a wearable device that people can buy and at least it will show you when your brainwaves shift into those slower alpha and theta state. So that’s a tool or a guided meditation. CD is a tool. But, but like you said, having a trainer or somebody that you can work with and connect with, you know, weekly or monthly I think is really probably one of the [inaudible].

Bob Roth: And when we do these programs that I saw, I helped run the David Lynch Foundation, which is now brought TM for free to a million inner city school kids in the US and around the world. And so, what we’re trying to demonstrate is that actually, dear parent and dear school principal and dear, you know, teachers, our children are getting crushed by stress. The developing brain cannot process the 24, 7 digital, you know, world. Just cannot and, and they’re short circuiting if they’re just, and so we need to take this very seriously. It’s an epidemic. And so we’re saying to the schools, you set aside 10 minutes, not 10 minutes once a week, 10 minutes, twice a day as part of the course, the school curriculum for quiet time, they can meditate, they can do silent, sustained reading, they could even nap. But you take 10 minutes out twice a day and you will change that kid’s life. And so we’re standing up for not to, don’t just give us a few minutes here. This is a serious problem. Trauma and toxic stress with our children and it requires something, a serious solution with solid science to back it.

Host: Well, I like this. So schools are actually integrating it now into their morning and afternoon programs. Is that, do you teach at the school or how did you?

Bob Roth: We teach in the school, in the school and then the school. Then the class, the classroom. If people go to, there’s, there’s wonderful videos of the work we’re doing with veterans, with school kids, women who are survivors of domestic violence. But we teach them and then this, then they just be like a class, the first 10, 12 minutes of the school day and the end of school day sitting at their desks and their class, they meditate or they take a nap. But 98% of the kids do TM.

Host: Well, I love this. So what if somebody is listening to this and they’re a school teacher in Iowa? Can they connect with you through the foundation?

Bob Roth: Email me at Bob, this is, everybody can get this. This is my real email address, not a trick one, Bob@DavidLynchfoundation. L Y N C H I will email you back with any questions that you might have.

Host: I know you will. You are very accessible and I have to ask before I wrap this segment up. You know that Parkinson’s is something that is near and dear to my heart. It’s part of the research that I’ve done. I know you’ve worked with Michael J. Fox who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 29 and I know he’s utilized TM to help him with his symptoms. Are you able to share a little bit of that experience? Because I really also like to think of this as a technique that people who have movement issues can use.

Bob Roth: Well, it was an interesting thing because I’ve taught thousands and thousands of people and I, so here’s the, here’s the story, I’ll say it quick. So I’m at a New York Knicks basketball game with my nephew because he’s a big Knicks fan and I get a phone call during halftime and it’s Michael J. Fox’s wife, and says that Michael, she’d really like to set up a course for Michael to learn because he’s had famously Parkinson’s for decades and he has a lot of anxiety about it. So I said, yeah, I’ll be happy to teach him. So he came in to, it is taught over four consecutive days, about an hour a day over each day. So this is a four consecutive days. So he comes in on the first day and he has Kristen, he has no medication. You see him on television, he’s loaded down with medication, no medication, so some pretty strong tremors. And I teach him, I give him what’s called a mantra. I tell him how to use it. He closes his eyes.


Within 10 seconds, all of his tremor stopped and I meditate with him, with the person, but my jaw dropped and then I meditated for five minutes or however long we did just to start. And then I opened my eyes and it’s, he’s not moving. And I say, okay, let’s finish the meditation. And he comes out and he just opens his eyes and he just stares at his eyes for 10 minutes. And I knew enough not to say anything. And afterwards he said, that’s quiet. That’s the only time in the last 25 years, my arms, my hands have not been moving since I got Parkinson’s. So he meditates for now, two and a half years. All the symptoms disappear while he’s meditating afterwards, some of them they do return. But he says, cause it’s not just a relaxation thing, it’s got something to do with dopamine. There’s a whole reason for it. But he said for him, the single most, the thing he prayed for, the hope for, he knew that the tremors were going, one way or another we’re going to be around him, with him. But the anxiety prevented him from actually being with the people he loved, his daughters, his wife, his dog. And he said since he started meditating, yes he has this Parkinson’s disease disorder, but the quality of his life, he’s living his life again. And that almost made me cry because it shows that you can have life if you can just get rid of the stress. And that’s what TM had done for you.

Host: It’s extraordinary. And I’m so happy that we closed on that. I mean, my father had essential tremor with some Parkinsonian symptoms for years. So towards the end of his life, I mean, just to be able to lift a cup to his mouth and not have it shake and you know, the people don’t understand what it’s like to live a life where you’re shaking all the time and it’s an embarrassment and they don’t want to go out in public. And to have this kind of a tool, I mean acupuncture can work, TM can work. There’s a lot of sort of simple accessible tools.

Bob Roth: And people should have all those tools because it’s not one thing alone. That’s the thing we want. It is not one thing alone and more research. And I think research on you add TM to acupuncture, or you add this to that and you see is it even more powerful, more influential. That’s what I’d love to see.

Host: It’s bringing practical solutions to people, you know, non-medication type solutions that can help to improve our life. And Bob, I just adore you. You have no idea. I think you might, but I’m so, I am in such deep gratitude, number one for having you as a guest on my show. And thank you for your passion and your life’s work. I mean, this works extended to prisons. I mean he’s taught TM in prisons, like San Quintin, women shelters, inner city schools and veterans facilities to name a few. I mean, you are truly a kind, compassionate, generous soul. I’m so honored to know you and to be able to call you my friend. So just as we wrap up, please share again where people can find you.

Bob Roth: You can go to David, two websites,, which which will tell you about the work we’re doing collectively. Or, you know, for at-risk under resource populations. You can go to to find out more about the research on TM if that’s something you’d like to learn. And if you want to email me directly here it is And that’s really my email address,

Host: And if you want to learn more, he has an amazing book, Strength in Stillness.

Bob Roth: Oh yeah. Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Yes, Strength in Stillness. The Power of Transcendental Meditation. It’s a published by Simon and Schuster and it did really well with two times on a New York Times bestseller list.

Host: It’s amazing. I’ve read it many times. I have it on my Kindle. I have the hard cover book. I love going back. It’s got amazing stories. It talks about the science behind meditation. So if you’re not ready to start but you want to learn more, I really encourage you to get the book. So Bob, I adore you. I know. I’m going to see you again at the next Move for Minds event. Hopefully you’re going to be coming to LA.

Bob Roth: I sure hope so.

Host: Hopefully we talk before then. So thank you again.

Bob Roth: And I’d like to say Kristen, you do such a great service to the community, to your listeners, to the country. You’re a real blessing. You really, really are. And just know that you are deeply appreciated for all the hard work that you do and with such genuineness and authenticity and no agenda and just all you want is good for people. And I recognize and appreciate that a lot.

Host: I’m glad we have this recorded. You’re so kind. Thank you. Thank you so much. We’ll talk soon.

Bob Roth: Okay. Take care.

Host: Okay, bye. Bye. I’m Dr. Kristen Willeumier, thank you for listening to Your Brain Health on Radio MD. I look forward to having you join us again.

Conclusion: You’ve been listening to Your Brain Health with Dr. Kristen Willeumier, for more information or to contact Dr. Willeumier, visit That’s D, R W, I, L, L, E U M, I, E,