Goldie Hawn, award-winning Hollywood actress and founder of the Bright Light Foundation that conducts studies on how to enhance a child’s sense of self, capacity for joy and resilience, was in India a few years ago. I had interviewed her but the piece had never been published. I think my blog is a suitable space for our chat to finally see light:
What is your organisation working on?
We’re looking at how we can shift and change behaviour. What happens in the brain of someone who has a pessimistic attitude, or what happens to someone when they have a habitual need? What happens in the mind of children who have ADD? Our research shows that meditation and certain aspects of it change the way the neural pathways go. This can be used in a way to make children understand their own mind.
How does it work?
An exciting finding is that the brain has elasticity the likes of which we never thought it had. If you have a strong intention to shift and change, and you habitually do what you need to do, you will make new neural pathways that will actually change your habit. For example, if we are angry and we supplant anger with, say, a vision of a lotus in the heart, and every time we feel angry, we now shift to this vision of the lotus and focus on the beauty of it, eventually our anger will shift to something softer. We will be able to redirect that anger to something constructive.
What is the application?
The one ability we have as humans is to change negative behaviour and rehabilitate ourselves. No other being in the animal kingdom can do that. Since we have it, it’s up to us to use it. We should watch our behaviour, speak to our own minds, understand what it is we are doing. We can have a dialogue with our own selves, look inside, and bring about a change in the way we behave. It is a fascinating gift.
What draws you to Buddhism?
It’s very analytical. It deals with the workings of the mind. I like the meditation, visualization, sharpening of the brain. The intellectual aspects of it fascinate me. I love the coming together of science and spirituality. Also, any religion or philosophy that deals with compassion gets my vote. I go for Mahayana, the middle way, but I also believe there are many teachers. We could have one but it’s still important to keep learning from other people. Wisdom comes in many forms; we have to open our minds.