By Patrick Miller
Seeking a red-carpet guru? No longer exclusive to yak-herding nomads and emperors of the Orient, meditation practices have gone mainstream. Transcendental Meditation (TM), Yoga and Buddhism-based techniques are all being applauded for their health-giving powers.
Offering liberation from emotional baggage, meditation also provides relief from physical pain. Historically, it has had a powerful appeal to the poor and destitute; however, even the most affluent and celebrated have also taken notice. After achieving great success and fame, high-profile celebrities are often noted as saying that they still struggle with loneliness and misery. As such, it isn’t surprising that the arts of self-cultivation would attract the sparkle of celebrated eyes! Check out the list below!
Hugh Jackman knows firsthand that meditation can help quell anxiety. It helped him heal his obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and he considers the practice to be life-transforming.
This quiet member of the iconic Beatles was an avid meditator, and introduced the practice to his fellow bandmates. He considered meditation a method that enabled one to “obtain God perception.”
Christy Turlington is an extremely devoted practitioner of yoga and yoga-based meditation. Meditation, mantras (sacred sound chanting) and mudras (hand gestures) are all part of her personal practice.
In Shape Magazine, Christy was quoted as saying: “Once you make time to do whatever it is that you want to do – breathing, meditation, exercise – it becomes second nature. The key is practice.”
Since the 1970s, David Lynch has practiced meditation and been an active advocate of Transcendental Meditation, the movement founded in 1957 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Maharishi is the same controversial yogi with whom both The Beatles and The Beach Boys studied meditation. David Lynch advocates the teaching of TM techniques in schools as part of the standard curriculum.
(inspirational speaker, author, New Age health guru, M.D.)
Perhaps America’s best known advocate of alternative medicine, Deepak Chopra has not only discussed his daily meditation practice in numerous interviews, but many of the thirty-five or so books he has authored provide meditation instruction. Several of those have been simultaneous bestsellers.
High-profile and ubiquitous, Chopra now has over a hundred audio, video and CD-ROM programs on the market. He has been published around the world and translated into twelve languages. With regard to his English writings alone, close to ten million copies of his books have been sold (double that when other-language sales are taken into account). He has also produced programs with PBS. What’s more, Dr. Chopra is a member of the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.
In an interview with journalist and ET correspondent Jann Carl, Gwyneth Paltrow offered profound words regarding what she had learned about yoga: “Well, the primary thing is you can’t look to get anything out of it. You just have to go and humbly do your practice every day. You don’t do it so you can have a good body. The whole reason that you do it is to be able to sit in meditation for three hours…”
About meditation specifically, she said: “…it’s a process of learning to detach from the way you perceive yourself. And by doing that, you start to detach from all the things that make you suffer in life.”
To prepare for a film role, Adrien Brody secluded himself in a jungle hut and studied meditation techniques.
After beginning his TM practice close to forty years ago, Howard quit smoking almost instantaneously.
Actor Julia Roberts is reported to use meditation to refresh and energize herself. She is rumored to have benefited from its effects most after the birth of her twins, Phinnaeus and Hazel. Exhausted by her mothering and professional responsibilities, Julia has said that meditation is her salvation, providing her with energy and calmness.
Musician Herbie Hancock is a practitioner of a style of meditation that places strong emphasis on chanting. One of the greats of modern jazz, Mr. Hancock was inspired to try meditation after witnessing its effect on the performing abilities of fellow jazz players. A cornerstone of his artistic development, meditation facilitates his courage to try new things.
Kate, Goldie Hawn’s daughter, picked up meditation techniques from her mother, whom she describes as a “Ju-Bu,” or “Jewish Buddhist.”
Keanu Reeves does not claim spiritual adherence to any one path. But he was introduced to Buddhism during the making of the movie Little Buddha, in which he played Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha). Through that experience, he developed an interest in meditation. Though publicly low-key about his spirituality, Reeves also narrated the introduction for a video series on Buddhism called Discovering Buddhism.
(President of FIDE and Former President of the Republic of Kalmykia, Russia)
Definitely a different kind of celebrity, Kirsan IIyumzhinov is President of FIDE (World Chess Federation) and formerly President of the Republic of Kalmykia, an autonomous Russian republic. Located in southern Russia on the shores of the Caspian Sea, Kalmykia is Europe’s only Buddhist republic. Forty-six percent of the population is Buddhist, a figure that corresponds almost exactly with the number of ethnic Kalmyks.
Madonna is a practitioner of Ashtanga, a form of flowing and physically demanding yoga. She also chants, meditates and reads sutras. There have been various media reports of Madonna requesting a sound-proof meditation area be prepared for her before concerts.
Meg considers herself a “seeker”; it is that facet of her personality that has led her to explore traditional Eastern thought.
In US Weekly, she commented: “I’ve had meditation experiences that were kind of outrageous and fun. Enough to whet my appetite… Basically, it’s the experience of oneness, a visceral rather than intellectual experience. And the deep knowing that everything is OK. Everything matters. And there’s no separation between anything. But this kind of stuff all sounds weird when you read someone else talking about it.”
Russell has been meditating for approximately fifteen years, and credits the practice with bearing the gifts of joy and success. “It has given me energy, strength, health, wisdom, and access to my own inner stillness, inner silence, inner bliss. It is my connection to myself; it is my connection to the Universe.”
Meditation and its accompanying philosophies have helped the star of such films as Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings avoid the self-destructive path common to those who find success in Hollywood. Orlando has found greater strength and peace by incorporating meditation into his daily life in a practical, workable way.
Ricky Martin no longer lives his life hiding behind his bodyguards; he feels that his practices of yoga and meditation provide him with all he needs to live securely and at peace. He has been quoted as saying that he works diligently for internal peace through his self-cultivation practices. During a visit to India, this non-smoking, non-drinking vegetarian even shaved his head as part of his learning process.
Ricky has said that he is inspired by Gandhi’s writings and has discussed his spiritual pursuits extensively with the media.
Ever since moving to Japan at the age of seventeen to study Zen, acupuncture and martial arts, Steven Seagal has been a devotee of meditation.
Sharon Stone has been involved with a number of Buddhist projects. She narrated an eighty-three-minute DVD on Buddhism, as well as an acclaimed documentary titled Jews and Buddhism.
Peter Hata quoted Sharon as saying: “My practice is Buddhism, but I believe in God… I don’t believe in Buddha as my God… I believe in the practical ways of Buddhism as a way to live.”
Sting and his wife are deeply taken with the practice of yoga. He views it as a spiritual practice, and spirituality is a concept he claims to be gradually growing more in touch with. In an interview with Ganga White for Yoga Journal, Sting is quoted as saying that the breathing aspects of yoga bring it very close to meditation.
Tina Turner may very well be the Western world’s best-known female Buddhist (a facet of her life that was little recognized until the release of the movie What’s Love Got to Do with It). She credits Buddhist-style meditation with life-affecting change.
So look to “the stars” for inspiration to walk the path of meditation, a path increasingly populated by diverse luminaries. From enhancing creativity to reducing stress and connecting with inner bliss, the famous effects of meditative practice are clearly valued by many of the famous among us.