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My Story: Breaking Down Barriers for Women and Children
by Tish Lara

David Lynch Foundation Blog    Translate This Article
2 December 2014

''It doesn't matter who you are, or where you came from, the ability to triumph begins with you. Always.'' -Oprah Winfrey

I am no stranger to adversity. Unless you are one of the lucky few, most of us are met with the constant waxing and waning of life, the feeling of treading water, of attempting to keep our head above the seemingly endless crashing waves and if possible, doing it all with a smile.

I wear my working class upbringing like a badge of honor. Although it wasn't always easy, it has instilled in me a great sense of gratitude and a passion for social justice. Growing up in the dynamic community of East Los Angeles exposed me to incredibly talented, creative, intelligent, generous people that far too often cannot reach their potential because of societal structures blocking their way. It was important for me to work towards eradicating those structures, but on a deeper and more personal level, it inspired me to want to help people from all walks of life break down the barriers within themselves.

I earned a Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California and although I was certainly making a positive impact in the lives of my clients, something was missing. I felt that the tools I employed were not sufficiently holistic, and focused too much on my role as a mental health expert. The entire reason for pursuing social work was to empower, not pathologize my clients. At times, I felt disconnected from my work and from myself. I took home all the pain and frustration that my clients shared with me in our sessions and internalized it. I would lie awake at night, thinking about all my clients' problems and feeling hopeless and powerless. To make matters worse, the majority of my colleagues were mirroring these negative emotions. It felt like we were all trying to fight a battle we were (knowingly) fated to lose. Burnt out and deflated I was prepared to walk away from social work forever.

''Life finds its purpose and fulfillment in the expansion of happiness.'' -Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Intrigued by the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) and the David Lynch Foundation's diverse programming, I happily accepted a job at the Foundation working in the Women's Initiative division. Within my first few days at the Foundation, I noticed something unusual—everyone appeared to be blissful. Staff meetings were filled with enthusiasm for new projects, and teachers reported exceedingly positive updates from their students. Within days of learning, students experienced a reduction in post-traumatic stress symptoms and felt hopeful, happy, and empowered. These types of changes usually take several months, sometimes years, of working with a client. After listening and reading testimonials from new meditators, I felt, for the first time in a very long time, hopeful; hopeful that there is a way for people to unfold their potential, to become empowered. I had to try Transcendental Meditation. These types of results were just too powerful to ignore.

''Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.'' -Unknown

I was told that Transcendental Meditation is an effortless, natural technique and was advised to not 'try' to meditate. The concept of being able to naturally relax made little sense to me, but I tried (er, didn't try; what is the opposite of trying?) it anyway. Within days of learning TM, I found myself feeling drastically more peaceful, excited and optimistic about life. Surprised and thrilled with my own transformation, I set forth (!) eager to share this tool with others.

''A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.'' -Christopher Reeve

I have been working with the Women's Initiative for a little over a year now and the work never fails to inspire me. Since its inception in 2012, the Women's Initiative has taught TM to over 450 women and children who have been victims of violence and abuse, through our international and domestic programs.  We have partnerships with the New York City Family Justice Centers, a one-stop resource center for victims of domestic violence; Sanctuary for Families' Sarah Burke House, a transitional housing shelter; Crime Victims Treatment Center at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital; Rikers Island and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.

Time and time again, clients share their struggles and explain how Transcendental Meditation supports their healing process, along with how powerful they feel after learning how to meditate.  I am constantly overwhelmed by not only their inner beauty and strength, but also by TM's ability to affect change within the individual without pathologizing them. The change that occurs in the lives of these women comes from within. TM gives these women the ability to tap into their innate strength and gain confidence in their abilities.

I am thrilled to be able to share our programs via this blog. It is my hope that the DLF's blogposts inspire change within our readers, pushing you to discover new ways to eradicate a culture of violence and abuse towards women and children, and fight for women's empowerment. I look forward to sharing stories of resilience and transformation and highlighting the incredible ways that Transcendental Meditation has helped people break down barriers, and unfold their full potential.

Copyright © 2014 David Lynch Foundation

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