Transcendental Meditation for Change: Navigating a Stressful & Imbalanced World | with Bob Roth

Bob Roth is one of the most experienced and sought after meditation teachers in America. For nearly 50 years, Bob has taught transcendental meditation to many, many thousands of people. He’s the author of the New York Times bestseller “Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation” and the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, a global non-profit that has taught meditation to more than one million at-risk adults and youth in 35 countries. He also directs the Center for Health and Wellness, which brings meditation-based wellness programs to Fortune 100 companies and small businesses.

Bob was born in Washington, D.C. His father was a World War 2 veteran who had suffered some very serious trauma. They moved out to the Bay Area of San Francisco, and he had a very happy childhood. His family became very interested in politics, and at an early age, Bob realized that it’s your obligation to give back when you’ve been given a lot of opportunities in life. When he saw Robert Kennedy speak at the Civic Auditorium, he saw a path to creating a better world — and four days later, Kennedy was assassinated. Bob set out to become a Senator and change the world, and he truly believed he could change the world through legislation.

Going to Berkeley was like being a fish out of water. He went into it with a sense of naivety about working together to change the world, but he had no idea what he was actually in for — rioting in the streets, tanks parked outside his dorm, and being chased by police just for being a student. It was then that Bob realized that politics was never going to heal the soul of the nation.

He still needed to figure out what he was going to do with his life. His mother was a teacher, and teachers are able to change the world one person at a time. Then he thought that maybe he could write an educational curriculum and equip children with the tools to navigate a stressful and imbalanced world.

Then, meditation happened.

Someone Bob worked with always seemed especially calm and down to earth. So, Bob asked him what he was doing, and he said he was just meditating. Bob was a skeptic, but he listened to a talk his coworker pointed him to and he gave it a try. He immediately saw the benefits — he was relaxed, he started sleeping better, his memory improved, and more — and he just kept doing it. Bob thought if this was so good for him, it must be useful for others. Maybe this was the tool he was meant to share with others.

Today, Bob is one of the most well-regarded teachers of transcendental meditation in the world. The David Lynch Foundation, of which he’s the CEO, has taught meditation techniques to millions of at risk children and adults. Bob knew early on that he wanted to do something to change and heal the world, and through discovery and trial and error, he found it.

What Brett asks:

  • [01:31] Can you tell us about your early childhood and journey?
  • [04:26] Can you elaborate on what it was like to grow up in the Bay Area?
  • [09:15] What was it like being at Berkeley in the 60’s?
  • [14:15] Can you talk about how meditation came into your life?
  • [24:21] How do you make sense of how these things show up in our life?
  • [33:36] How was working with people of high influence been important to you?
  • [36:49] What are you doing with your foundation in tackling trauma?
  • [46:26] Can you talk about what you are seeing going on in the world?

Lessons for intentional living:

  • If you’ve tried meditation before and believed it wasn’t for you, try again. There are several different models of meditation practice and there is one out there for everyone. Meditation is the simplest practice you can adopt to make the largest impact on your health and life.