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Dear Prudence: You Are Cordially Invited to Meditate

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By Bruce Collier

 

Dr. Prudence Farrow Bruns has been a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation (TM for short) since her encounter in the late 1960s with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She went on to become a teacher of TM, studied Sanskrit at the University of California at Berkeley, and earned a PhD. Bruns has also worked in theater and film, written articles on Asian Studies and other subjects, done charitable work, and traveled extensively.

 

Bruns retired to Florida with her husband in 2008, where she continued to write, study and teach TM. On Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 10 AM, Bruns will be speaking and teaching TM at the Walton County Coastal Branch Library in Santa Rosa Beach. She recently took time to talk to Beachcomber.

 

“I enjoy teaching,” she says, “I’m still very enthusiastic.”

 

The daughter of Hollywood director John Farrow and film and stage actress Maureen O’Sullivan, Bruns grew up in a beautiful California home, attending parties at the homes of film legends, and traveling all over the world. Brought up in a traditional Catholic household and education, she later rebelled, drifting into drugs and near-despair before finding her way. Bruns chronicled her sometimes harrowing life journey and spiritual development in an autobiographical book published in 2015, titled Dear Prudence – The Story Behind the Song.

 

Beatles fans will recognize the reference, a song written by the partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and recorded by The Beatles on The White Album. Lennon, George Harrison and McCartney were studying with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India at the same time as Bruns (who was around 20). Concerned that Prudence was studying too intensely, isolated in her room, they reportedly knocked on her door and sang the song to her (“Dear Prudence…won’t you come out to play?”).

 

Numerous legends have grown up around the song, and about her time with the Beatles, but Bruns recalls them as kindhearted and dedicated fellow students, and “very funny” in their attempts to raise her spirits.

 

The song notwithstanding, Bruns’ studies with the Maharishi instilled in her a deep interest and lifelong passion for the healing potential of TM. “The role of the mind is critical,” she says. TM offers a tool to get at the root of physical and mental stress accessing “the deeper parts of the mind, [which are] more silent and stable.”

 

Bruns uses the example of a plant—“without deep roots, it can’t thrive. A shallow mind is the same.”

 

Physical position is a part of the process, incorporating stretches and relaxation to provide grounding for the mind. Bruns says there is no definite age level at which TM can begin to be learned. Children under 4 might be too young, and a 10-year-old can absorb the more complex principles. Attendees of TM classes don’t fall into easily identifiable categories, but often tend to be female, somewhat more receptive to learning ways to battle stress.

 

Retirees and people “in the last chapter of life” are also frequent attendees. Bruns expects her Feb. 12 presentation will be predominantly of retirees, given the time of day.

 

Bruns maintains that TM can offer a way not only to relax and live more comfortably, but can also unlock creativity, vision and potential. She also sees it as a remedy to the “every man for himself” attitude that prevails. “We are all responsible for each other.”

 

Though TM is neither a religion nor a medical procedure, Bruns has noted that a number of people who take instruction in TM come to it from therapists and psychologists. Some of them have told Bruns, “You’ve done the most work for them.”

 

Attendees of the Feb. 12 presentation can expect to hear a little of Bruns’ life story, some Hollywood anecdotes, and “why I am the way I am.”

 

The Coastal Branch Library is located at 437 Greenway Trail, behind the South Walton Government/Education Complex, off U.S. 331 South, in Santa Rosa Beach. The presentation is free for the public with limited seating. For details, visit www.youseemore.com/walton.

 

Longtime Beachcomber contributing writer Bruce Collier recently appeared as Winston Churchill in Emerald Coast Theatre Company’s Storytellers series. To great acclaim, we might add. And just did.

 

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