McCartney says meditation helped stabilize Beatles

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The surviving members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, will perform at a concert on Saturday to raise funds to help children learn a meditation technique McCartney said helped stabilize the band at the height of its fame.

Presenter Paul McCartney poses backstage at the 51st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles February 8, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

McCartney and Starr will perform separate sets at the “Change Begins Within” concert for the David Lynch Foundation, which helps people learn Transcendental Meditation.

The Beatles helped popularize Transcendental Meditation -- described as a simple mental technique that combats stress -- in 1967 when they sought spiritual guidance from an Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

“It was a great gift that Maharishi gave us,” McCartney told a news conference on Friday to promote the concert. “For me, it came at a time when we were looking for something to kind of stabilize us toward the end of the crazy ‘60s.”

“It’s a lifelong gift. It’s something you can call on at any time,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing it’s actually coming into the mainstream.”

Starr also described Transcendental Meditation as a gift and that since learning it more than 40 years ago “sometimes a lot and sometimes a little I have meditated.”

The lineup for the concert at famed Radio City Music Hall also includes Sheryl Crow, Donovan, Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, blues-folk musician Ben Harper and techno star Moby.

Filmmaker David Lynch’s foundation says that since 2005 it has provided scholarships for more than 100,000 at-risk young people, teachers and parents in 30 countries to learn Transcendental Meditation.

The concert is intended to raise funds toward the foundation’s goal of helping a million children learn to meditate.

“I feel like I’m at a meeting of meditators anonymous,” Moby joked. “I just learned T.M. recently because I was raised by hippies, and to be honest with you anything associated with T.M. and hippies scared ... me.”

“When I was growing up, I thought T.M. involved ritual animal sacrifice and moving to some country and renouncing wealth and materialism and eating bugs. But one of the things that impressed me about T.M. ... was its simplicity,” he said. “It’s a simple practice that calms the mind.”

Editing by Mark Egan and Will Dunham