I first met Russell Simmons, entrepreneur, philanthropist, bestselling author (and the media-anointed “godfather” of hip-hop music) about two years ago in his offices in Manhattan’s fashion district. I had recently read an interview in the New York Times in which Russell spoke very forthrightly about his dedication to yoga and meditation. But, he rued the fact that his meditation practice was a bit random, difficult, and was not yielding the sought-after results. Russell and I talked a long time and he asked me a lot of questions about Transcendental Meditation, which he had heard about but had never learned.
I showed Russell a short video clip of an “NBC Today Show” segment about a Detroit middle school which has been using the TM program for 15 years to help kids cut stress, promote inner happiness, improve focus, and do better on tests. The video images of so many young kids looking so serenely calm and settled during their meditation practice definitely captured his hyper-multitasked attention. Russell wanted to do what they were doing, wanted to have what they had. So, two weeks later, I taught him the TM technique in his home on the west side of Manhattan.
Russell is deeply devoted to his yoga practice; rarely, if ever, does he miss a daily session at the yoga studio down the street from his office. The same is also true with his TM practice. In fact, he is so enamored with his meditation practice that he got his 10-year-old and 7 year-old daugthers to learn, and tweets about it often at @unclerush and has joined the advisory board of the David Lynch Foundation to take a more proactive role bringing the technique to at-risk, inner-city students.
In the process, Russell and I have become good friends. When we are both in New York City, we often meditate together in his (new) apartment in lower Manhattan. He is a very impressive guy—heartfelt, insightful, amazingly energetic, and incredibly generous. He oversees the day-to-day operations of several international fashion, financial, and jewelry enterprises as well as a vast network of philanthropic educational, cultural, and economic outreaches in New York City, and around the world. He is also a regular blogger for his own site, “Global Grind,” and for “Huffington Post.” Russell recently wrote a column, entitled, “Why I Meditate,” which drew tens of thousands of readers. It is a very Russell Simmonsque, which means it is always engaging, always thoughtful, always something new…