PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In a city known for its pride, fast pace, and grit, violence is no stranger. Statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department show 917 kids ages 17 and younger were arrested for violent crimes just last year. These include murder, rape and robberies.
Could this be stopped?
Enter Hollywood film icon David Lynch who wants everyone to just slow down and breathe.
“The second biggest influence in my life is the City of Philadelphia,” said Lynch.
Lynch, creator of “Twin Peaks” and other films, spoke to CBS from his studio in Los Angeles. He lived in Philadelphia from 1965 to 1970, graduating from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
“Philadelphia was very very very good to me,” says Lynch.
Now he wants to return the favor to Philadelphia by giving the gift of “Transcendental Meditation.”
“Transcendental Meditation is not a religion. It’s not a cult. It’s a mental technique,” said Lynch, who runs a foundation in his name to teach TM.
He says it allows adults and kids to experience the deepest level of life.
“You’re given a mantra. The mantra you’re given in transcendental meditation is just like a law of nature. Designed for a specific purpose and that purpose is to turn the awareness from out out out 180 degrees to within within within. It’s easy and effortless it does not involve trying,” said Lynch.
And he says he wants to take that approach to Philly’s schools to stop violence, including some of the smallest behavior problems.
“Pretty books, painting the school room isn’t going to do a damn thing for this. You gotta get these kids diving in, transcending everyday,” he says.
Lynch is backed by Larry Jones, the principal at Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School in Southwest Philadelphia.
“Teaching is a high-stress profession,” said Jones.
So Jones and his wife will start teaching TM to their teachers.
“We see this as an opportunity for our teachers and staff to get another tool in their toolbox that will help them effectively deal with children and effectively deal with the stresses in their lives,” said Jones.
The couple plans to eventually start meditating with their students.
“I think we would see a decrease in violent behaviors from students and also nonviolent behaviors from students. They would just actually be more caring, more empathetic with their peers,” said Electra Smallwood-Jones.
Lynch says this school is a textbook example of what should happen in other schools in Philly and across the country.
“Teachers start to like to teach again. Students start to get along. The fighting stops. People start getting happy. They get more energy. They can sleep better at night,” he said.
If you ask Larry and Electra Jones, they’ll say it’s the way school should be.
“Everybody always says when you get your body together, your life will change. When you get your mind together your life will change, so that’s what I see TM doing,” said Electra.
The School District of Philadelphia does not practice TM but CBS3 has learned that other forms of meditation are available.