Most people sitting in their room practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique don’t motivate John Lennon and Paul McCartney to write a song. But that’s exactly what happened to Prudence Farrow Bruns when she sat to meditate in Rishikesh, India.
Prudence, the daughter of Hollywood actress Maureen O’Sullivan and film director John Farrow, as well as the sister of actress Mia Farrow, says she began the TM program in 1966 at a summer course at UCLA while visiting her older brother.
She remembers sitting on the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean outside his home, reading a book on meditation, when suddenly a voice seemingly manifesting itself out of nowhere said boldly, “If you’re interested in meditation, I know just the meditation for you.” Startled, she turned to find a tall, lanky friend of her brother’s named Peter Wallace peering over her shoulder at the large, opened book on her lap.
Peter had recently come back from six months in India where he spent time traveling with the renowned saint Anandamayi Ma, who introduced him to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was there that he began the practice of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation technique. Prudence says that although she was enthralled by his story of India, it was his description of meditation that captured her attention.
“It was the simplicity of the Transcendental Meditation practice that struck me most,” Prudence said. “I had been actively reading and trying different methods of meditation for some time. They had all been complicated and difficult. When Peter described a simple, natural practice of diving deep within, I knew he was truly onto something.”
So began a journey that would lead her to India in 1968, and the rest, as they say, is history. Prudence remembers being in India: “It was a very special time for me. I knew that to be able to study meditation under the direct tutelage of a master of the caliber of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi comes but once in a lifetime. So I would rush straight back to my room after lectures and meals in order to get the most from this precious time. In the evenings John, George, and Paul would sit around jamming—playing and writing music.”
“I could hear them from my room, which was next to theirs. Sometimes they would come into my room and play their new music, thinking they were cheering me up. As much as I appreciated their attention, I preferred to be left alone to meditate.”
John Lennon and George Harrison describe bringing their guitars to her room to encourage her to come out and sing. It was this dynamic that became the inspiration for their song, “Dear Prudence” in which John sings, “won’t you come out to play?”
George Harrison mentioned to Prudence that they had written a song about her, but Farrow did not actually hear it until it came out on the 1968 album The Beatles, commonly known as the “White Album.”
Prudence’s dedication to her meditation practice allowed her to graduate from the course four months later and become one of the youngest teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique at that time. She then returned to India for further training with Maharishi in 1970.
Since that time, Prudence has instructed thousands of people throughout the U.S. and Canada in the practice. She also became a published Sanskrit scholar with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Broadway and Hollywood producer.
Currently Prudence teaches the Transcendental Meditation program in northwest Florida with her husband, Albert. She also has three children and four grandchildren.