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By Ralph DePalo, Ph.D.

New York, N.Y.  Leaders of the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), the Global Stress Initiative (GSI), and The Water Initiative met recently at the home of business leader and philanthropist Kevin McGovern to highlight the remarkable successes of these charitable organizations to overcome traumatic stress among at-risk youth, veterans and abused women and girls – as well as to purify the contaminated drinking water of billions of people worldwide.

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Host Kevin McGovern, the David Lynch Foundation’s Bob Roth, and Ed Schloeman.
Photo: Rose Billings.

Robert Cancro, M.D., Chairman Emeritus of NYU Langone’s Department of Psychiatry and Medical Director of the Global Stress Initiative, explained that post-traumatic stress and other stress-related disorders are on the rise and can precipitate alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, depending on a person's genetic predisposition.  Dr. Cancro recommends the simple, nonreligious Transcendental Meditation technique for everyone because it helps combat stress.  “Research has shown that TM can increase attention, clarity, focus and decrease anxiety, depression, and insomnia.  Given there are no side effects this technique is well worth considering since it improves a person's quality of life,” Dr. Cancro said.

Lorraine Cancro, MSW, Director of the Global Stress Initiative promotes alternative approaches for the alleviation of stress disorders.  “One of our goals is to spread awareness of TM and its efficacy as an alternative technique for the alleviation of stress and in some cases supplement to psychopharmacologic treatment for post-traumatic stress, which impacts military members, their families and civilian survivors of trauma from man-made and natural disasters.  TM is making a huge difference in people's recovery from stress disorders.”

Business leader and philanthropist Kevin McGovern explained how TM had given him focus and peace of mind to be able to found The Water Initiative:

Working to bring customized and innovative clean water solutions globally thru The Water Initiative is a spiritually rewarding experience.  Helping the wonderful people working with the David Lynch TM foundation – particularly helping with their work for children – is also spiritually rewarding and complementary.
Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, expressed appreciation that Kevin McGovern would host the evening gathering.  “Kevin is an incredibly successful business leader, a true visionary, and a practical man with a huge heart.  The David Lynch Foundation is very grateful for his time, attention and support.”

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Emily J. Dean and Singer/Songwriter Lisa Nemzo at the event. Photo: Rose Billings.

Musical advocacy on behalf of veterans was also a part of the evening.  Brilliant musician Lisa Nemzo launched a video called Arlington on April 24th to raise awareness of the great loss that returning veterans and their families endure.   Arlington is a beautiful but haunting song that was featured during the evening and may be seen on YouTube.  There was not a dry eye in the house.  The Washington Post calls Arlington an “Anthem to a Generation.”  Music is a universal language and through such a song we hope to open up people to the suffering of so many and encourage them to enlist in helping the military population.

Lisa Nemzo stated:

Lisa Nemzo states she feels strongly about helping veterans and their families who suffer from stress disorders since they put their lives on the line for America.  Even if you do not agree with the war, they performed their duty for our country.  We owe them our allegiance, support and care.  Proceeds are being raised to help military members and their families through the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness, Global Stress Initiative and the Arlington Project.
David Lynch, world renowned filmmaker and founder of DLF remembers now how he recoiled from the concept of meditation when he heard about it in the late 1960s, when the movement — founded by the renowned Indian meditation teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi —was experiencing its first wave of popularity among young people in the West thanks to the songs and support by pop stars like the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Donovan.

“The word ‘harmony’ would make me want to puke,” recalled Lynch.  “Meditation would be a sickening thing to consider, because you want that edge to create,” he said, wearing worn khaki trousers and a tattered black sports jacket with a hole in the right elbow the size of a saucer.  “I don’t want to be a namby-pamby.”

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Thomas Cook, Lorraine Cancro and Errol Rappaport. Photo: The Stewardship Report.

That all changed in 1973, when the future filmmaker discovered Transcendental Meditation (TM), which he believes allowed him to quiet — and, at the same time, unleash — his considerable inner creative forces.  He said that he has not missed a day of meditating since.  And now, the low-key auteur is emerging as the most visible, at times highly activist, proponent of the resurgent practice, which is being used increasingly in schools and in the workplace, as well as by a new generation of stars, including Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Brand, Russell Simmons, Heather Graham, Laura Dern and the recording industry maven Rick Rubin.

The David Lynch Foundation was established to bring meditation to at-risk youth.  In July 2005, Lynch launched the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which has now provided Transcendental Meditation scholarships for 200,000 at risk, underserved students in middle schools and high schools throughout the country and worldwide.  Later that year, Lynch embarked on a series of lectures on college campuses in the U.S. and worldwide that would draw over 100,000 young people and garner significant attention in the news media.

Lynch wrote a book about his experiences on the road, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity (Tarcher/Penguin), which is now reaching an international audience.  “It’s weird,” said Lynch.  “I guess it’s as simple as this: I wish I had heard it earlier.”

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Ilka Rocchi, Errol Rappaport, Thomas Cook, and the author - GSI Scientific Advisor
at the event. Photo: The Stewardship Report.

One of the most frequently asked questions of Lynch is: What is an edgy artist like you doing promoting the bliss of meditation rather than the angst of suffering?  His answer is always right to the point: “Artists like to say, ‘I like a little bit of suffering and anger,’” he said.  “But if you had a splitting headache, diarrhea and vomiting, how much would you enjoy the work and how much work would you get done?  Maybe suffering is a romantic idea to get girls, but it’s an enemy to creativity.

“It’s like a key that opens the door to the treasury within,” he said.  “Here’s an experience — poooft! — total brain coherence.  It’s what’s missing from life today: unbounded intelligence, creativity, bliss, love, energy, peace.  Things like tension, anxieties, traumatic stress, sorrow, depression, hate, rage, need for revenge, fear — poooft! — all this starts to lift away.  You see life getting better and better and better.  Give the people that experience and it’s beautiful.”

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Ilka Rocchi, Lauren Towle, with Errol Rappaport. Photo: Rose Billings.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. – “Dr. Oz” – has meditated for three years:

As a heart surgeon, I see the effects of stress on the heart.  We believe TM can help a lot of people.  That’s why it’s important to understand exactly how effectively this meditation reduces stress and stress-related disorders.
So, what exactly is Transcendental Meditation?  Transcendental Meditation is a trademarked mental technique introduced by Maharishi in 1958 based on the proposition that a practitioner, by silently repeating a personal mantra throughout two 20-minute sessions a day, can achieve a state of “restful alertness”— and, theoretically, tap into a “unified field” of energy.  The training process involves working with personal instructors over five days at one of about 1,000 Transcendental Meditation centers worldwide, and it costs about $1,500 for the initial training and a lifetime of follow-up—with special discounts and scholarships for students, military personnel and veterans, retired people, and the unemployed.

“David has become a huge promoter of TM,” said Donovan, whose real name is Donovan Leitch.  Leitch learned the practice from Maharishi himself, along with the Beatles, Mia Farrow and Mike Love of the Beach Boys, in Rishikesh, India, in 1968.  Leitch added that Lynch has been able to capitalize on his fame and “redirect meditation back where it belongs, with the students.”

During the past 40 years, the TM practice has been the subject of 340 scientific studies, conducted at leading medical schools and research institutions and published in top scientific journals.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded nearly $30 million to study its impact on stress and heart disease.  Numerous studies have shown that meditating middle school and high school students have higher grade point averages and test scores, higher graduation rates, and decreased suspensions, expulsions, and drop-out rates.

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GSI’s Medical Director Robert Cancro, M.D. with actress and author Kelly Le Brock.
Photo: The Stewardship Report.

In the past few years, hundreds of schools worldwide have implemented the technique into their curriculum.  Called “Quiet Time,” students and teachers meditate for 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each day.  

“Grades and attendance go up 20% to 30% and suspensions and expulsions go down,” Lynch says.  “Instead of giving the kids drugs like Ritalin that just numb them, we give them a technique to reduce stress and focus better.”

At Trinity College in Hartford, the women’s squash league began meditating together after every practice last year.  The Doe Fund, an organization that assists the homeless, has begun offering TM to its residents to help them master courses in computer skills and job training.

Martin Scorsese a two-year year meditator, told us, “I want to offer my support and encouragement in these efforts to help children and veterans, and anyone who needs the help to overcome stress through meditation.

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Ed Schloeman, Sara Herbert-Galloway, Lorraine Cancro, Ilka Rocchi, and Genco Chaviano.
Photo: Rose Billings.

Jerry Seinfeld, a 41-year meditator, said:

I’ve been practicing Transcendental Meditation most of my life.  I think it does something good to your nervous system.  It has given me a calmness I don’t think I had at nineteen.
Lynch says the reason his foundation has grown so fast is, well, basically, TM works.  He also credited the growing number of prominent meditating artists, musicians, actors and television personalities who have lent their considerable support.

Beginning in April 2009 with the first “Change Begins Within” benefit fundraiser at an historic concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr (along with Jerry Seinfeld, Cheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder, and Ben Harper), the David Lynch Foundation has benefited enormously from high-profile galas that bring global media attention and financial support to the cause.

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Russell Daisey, Donnetta Campbell, Lisa Nemzo, Valarie Gelb and friend at the event.
Photo: Rose Billings.

The momentum continued in December 2010, with “Change Begins Within II” at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art with celebrity support coming from Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of the Emmy award winning Dr. Oz Show, Russell Brand, and Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese (via videocast).  And just this past December, the third annual “Change Begins Within” gala shifted coasts to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with Ellen DeGeneres joining Russell Brand and Russell Simmons has headlining hosts.

Brand spoke passionately and sincerely about the emotional solace he has found in Transcendental Meditation, describing how TM has helped him repair his psychic wounds.  “Transcendental Meditation has been incredibly valuable to me both in my recovery as a drug addict and in my personal life, my professional life,” Brand said.  “I literally had an idea drop into my brain the other day while I was meditating which I think is worth millions of dollars.”

Bob Roth, Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation where he has helped to direct the introduction of the TM program to over 150,000 at-risk students in 130 public and charter schools in the United States, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.  

A teacher of Transcendental Meditation for 40 years, and author of the definitive book on the technique, entitled, fittingly, “Transcendental Meditation”, published in 21 languages states: “Learn to meditate, transcend, dive within and be yourself…”

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Blonde with auburn: Sara Herbert-Galloway, Lorraine Cancro, Barbara Bender.
Photo: Rose Billings.

Meditation, properly understood and practiced, allows the mind to settle down effortlessly deep within to quieter levels of thought until the quietest, most refined level of thinking is transcended (that means going beyond the field of thought) and you are left alone with your Self… the big Self, the Knower, the Experiencer, You.

And who are you?  When you experience your Self you will know for certain… You are infinite, unbounded, eternal… a limitless reservoir of energy, intelligence, and bliss…

The David Lynch Foundation has provided scholarships for over 100,000 at-risk youth (and now men and women in homeless shelters and prisons) to learn Transcendental Meditation, dive within to experience their own inner Self, and transform their lives from within…

By the way, there are real, concrete benefits to transcending—beyond the bliss… Medical schools have been studying the effects for decades.  There are dramatic reductions in stress, anxiety, tension, headaches, insomnia, substance abuse… dramatic improvements in creativity, decision-making, problem-solving, innovative thinking…

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Jim Luce with Barbara Bender, Co-Artistic Director of Career Bridges for Opera Singers, and Lorraine Cancro, MSW, Director of Global Stress Initiative. Photo: The Stewardship Report.

It’s not magic… It is who we are when we are who we really are, without the heavy baggage of years and decades of built-up stress and fatigue…

The body can throw it off… Learn to meditate, transcend, dive within, and be your Self…

The attendees at Kevin McGovern’s home were intrigued at the prospect of transcending their troubles through this age old technique that is fast reaching millions around the world.  With more events like this it will not be long before most of Manhattan will be using TM to find inner peace.  If it can make it here it will make it anywhere.  

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Ralph DePalo, Ph.D.
Dr. Ralph DePalo received his B.A. in Gerontology from Iona College.  He went on to receive his Master’s Degree from Fordham University and received a full scholarship from the National Institute of Mental Health in Gerontological Community Mental Health. He received his analytic post-graduate certificate in psychoanalytic training from The Alfred Adler Institute in New York City. He obtained his Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work from New York University’s Ehrenkranz School of Social Work.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, Russgirl, matrix

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    by jimluce on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 06:29:53 AM PDT

  •  I strongly believe in alternative health care (6+ / 0-)

    however, to be frank, your diary, though initially interesting turned me off.  And I'm knee deep in alternative health and know a fair amount about it.

    First of all the diary read like a commercial, an advertisement.  Big turn off.  Secondly, I don't think that the photos, etc. were congruent with your audience.  Do you really think that photos of the rich, glitzy and famous are going to appeal to us here at DK, fighting for basic things?  Well, they sure turned me off.  $1500 a training session?  Are you effing kidding me?

    I believe that meditation is vitally important, as are other alternative practices which I practice everyday.  And it is against my knowledge of these practices that I found your article shallow.  However there was a terribly misleading quote right off the bat.

    So, what exactly is Transcendental Meditation?  Transcendental Meditation is a trademarked mental technique introduced by Maharishi in 1958 based on the proposition that a practitioner, by silently repeating a personal mantra throughout two 20-minute sessions a day, can achieve a state of “restful alertness”— and, theoretically, tap into a “unified field” of energy.
    What this quote does not acknowledge or reflect is that meditation practices are as old as man and that there are many types of meditation.  Calling it a trademarked 'mental techinique' suggests that it is original yet sitting and repeating a mantra is the basis of many Buddhist meditations. And Buddhism is older than 1958.   So, bottom line, I find this misleading and offensive.

    You had a chance to post something meaningful here, which is why I clicked on it.   Instead, to me, meaning was lost in a free advertisement aimed at appealing to the 1%.  

    I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

    by SeaTurtle on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:22:27 AM PDT

    •  and people can certainly learn to meditate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes, worldlotus

      without spending $1500.

      a)  seeking someone/group in the community who can help them
      b) going to 'Sounds True' and getting one of their 'meditation' dvds/cds
      c) reading

      Spending maybe $30, leaving the rest, $1200 to pay for the rent, gas, utilities, etc.

      THAT'S the world the 99% live in!

      I belong to the “US” of America, not the “ME,$,ME,$,ME,$,ME,$” of America!

      by SeaTurtle on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:25:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Technique is not limited to TM (4+ / 0-)

      For me (growing up in the 60's), TM carries an aspect of...well, not cultishness exactly but clubbyness maybe. You are right that such a technique is thousands of years old.

      I like "The Relaxation Response," a small paperback by Herbert Benson, M.D (1975 but since re-published), which describes in clear, simple steps how to do it and what the known benefits are, with much discussion of stress. Probably you can find his how-to steps on the internet.

      Dr. Benson's approach is scientific, non-religious, non-trademarked and helpful.

      I would agree with the diarist that centered, focussed breathing techniques might be very helpful for people suffering from stress disorders and the technique, while 'alternative,' should be respected as a useful tool.

      ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~ I am proud to say three generations of my family lived in WI. Though I live elsewhere, am with you in spirit!

      by sillia on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:40:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Refining your understanding about TM (0+ / 0-)

      To anyone who thinks that the technique of effortless, natural, automatic self-transcending (Transcendental Meditation) is "shallow," I humbly suggest getting a better understanding of the TM technique specifically, and perhaps of meditation in general. I say this on the basis of having taught the TM technique for 40 years to every imaginable kind of person, including Buddhists, long-time practitioners and teachers of Vipassana and Zen and every other kind of practice you can name.

      Indeed there are meditation practices as old as man, and TM is one such timeless practice. Yes, TM is a form of mantra meditation, but very unlike any other mantra practice, distinguished by the type of mantras used in TM and by the specific technique of using the mantra. This particular technique of meditation had been lost to society, even in India, before being introduced in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Before that time, you would have been very hard pressed to find anyone teaching meditation in ways anywhere close to how the TM technique is practiced. TM was (and still is) revolutionary, a revival of something that had been fundamentally lost in the Vedic tradition.

      TM is trademarked for a reason that has nothing to do with commerce: to maintain the "purity," integrity and effectiveness of the technique in the world. Thanks to the trademark, when someone tells you they can teach you TM, you can rest assured that the person teaching is a qualified teacher who was rigorously trained to teach this technique properly, that what you'll be learning is the original, authentic TM technique. Only trained teachers can use the name. More about this here.

      The TM program (and the content of this article, in my opinion) is not just for the 1%, but for everyone. Through personal instruction, a series of classes, and ongoing follow-up, anyone can learn to effortlessly transcend and experience the field of pure consciousness at the basis of the mind. The tuition for TM is set at what it actually costs to make the technique available. It is time-intensive for the teachers, and they provide unlimited, lifelong guidance and support at no charge.

      Thanks to the non-profit set up, anybody who cannot afford the tuition for TM classes can receive financial aid assistance from the Maharishi Foundation.

      Hundreds of thousands of people have learned TM for free over the past 5 years.

      One can have a negative attitude about anything, but this is one thing against which negativity doesn't stand a chance, once the truth is known.

      "Truth passes through three stages: it is ridiculed, it is violently opposed, it is accepted as self-evident." -- attributed to Schopenhauer

      by Tom McKinley Ball on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:59:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Groovin' on an authoritarian fundie vibe... (0+ / 0-)

        It's kinda funny, to watch Tom here, a full-time employee of the TM movement who's been involved with it for decades, walk out here in a public forum and pull a "purity of the teaching" sort of defense for the TM promoters' ways of doing things.

        Then there's the not-so-subtle implication of perfection laid on top of that purity gambit, the same sort of thing you'd expect out of the average Christian fundamentalist, but perhaps it's not so completely obvious because what's being pushed is, at its core, Vedic fundamentalism, imported in bits and pieces from another culture. When someone walks out and claims to be above it all, that what he's pushing is the "one thing against which negativity doesn't stand a chance," they're claiming the same sort of divine immunity from scientific review that any religious fundamentalist does.

        It's all the more ironic to see this sort of comment following an article that states that the claims of TM can be reconciled with science and medicine. They can't, since at their core the claims are about as bogus as those of, say, "Maharishi Astrology."

        As for why Tom's here bragging about how many people have learned TM for free, when it's so obvious (and has been obvious for decades) that promotions and personal networking for TM are aimed at the phenomenally wealthy, I'd propose that the reason for that is clear from his own post: people who are preoccupied with "purity" really don't want to live or work in "impure" environments, so they live in TM enclaves like Fairfield, Iowa, and essentially become what in other cultures were temple workers, doing the religion's work in which interaction with the outside world is ritualized and on their own terms. Thus this growing subsidized class of TM teachers who give it away for free, who get to live in their own bubble of unreality, like Tom here, getting their way paid for by a few multimillionaires and even billionaires.

        It's not something any sane person should be getting involved with at any level.

  •  I paid $125 for a mantra, now it's $2000 or (5+ / 0-)

    thereabouts. I was sworn to secrecy over my very personal, individualized mantra which I later found out was shared my many college classmates (I forgot, by birthdate or birthyear?)

    TM is great, but you don't need lessons or a mantra (some words, even in thought, might resonate in the mind promoting quicker relaxation). You can look up "your" mantra now on the internet if you prefer one.

    Here's a cheap book giving you the skinny:
    Relaxation Response
    You can get copy for 33 cents.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 07:43:06 AM PDT

  •  I am a believer ... (7+ / 0-)

    ... in the value of meditation for well-being.  But this post reads as a glitzy ad for snake oil.  There is no way anyone needs to spend $1,500 for a five day course to learn to meditate.  

    Meditation can be as simple and profound as following your breath as it comes in and goes out.   This short passage helped me get started many years ago:

    Breathing in, I calm my body.
    Breathing out, I smile.
    Dwelling in the present moment,
    I know this is a wonderful moment!

    --- Thich Nhat Hanh

    If you are an absolute beginner, it'll help to comfortably sit or lay down in a quiet place.  With practice, you can meditate anywhere.  
    •  Different Practices, Different Results (0+ / 0-)

      It depends on what you want to get out of meditation. Research shows that all meditation techniques do not produce the same benefits. Following your breath is relaxing, but it is a completely different process from transcending during TM practice:

      "Truth passes through three stages: it is ridiculed, it is violently opposed, it is accepted as self-evident." -- attributed to Schopenhauer

      by Tom McKinley Ball on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:05:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I got my mantra (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about 20 years ago and it cost then $200.  Always wondered if the word given was given to others also.  The fee they charge now is ridiculous.  Benson's technique is the same thing without all the 'drama' involved and money.

    TM does work.  But they should offer it at a low cost fee so more people can benefit.  I think Deepak Chopra has gone commercialized and that's why its so expensive.

    Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote.

    by Renie57 on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:37:03 AM PDT

    •  Perspective (0+ / 0-)

      Actually the tuition for TM is less than what people typically pay for other professional services. And no therapist, doctor, or trained professional would give you a lifetime of free follow-up and support, as comes with TM. It's actually an incredibly great deal, especially when you consider that your getting a technique you'll be benefitting from everyday for the rest of your life—saving you a lot of stress and suffering. As explained above, the Maharishi Foundation offers grants and scholarships for people who can't afford the tuition. Money is not the issue with people learning TM, the only issue is understanding what it really is.

      By the way, Benson's technique, though modeled after TM, is a completely different practice, not a technique for transcending but a technique for relaxation, and has not been shown to produce the same effects:

      There's no empirical evidence that Chopra's technique is equivalent to TM, either, and there's no reason to expect the same benefits, since it also engages the mind in a different way.

      I'm not sure what "drama" you're talking about. People whom I've taught find that learning and practicing TM is simple, natural, and joyful.

      "Truth passes through three stages: it is ridiculed, it is violently opposed, it is accepted as self-evident." -- attributed to Schopenhauer

      by Tom McKinley Ball on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 04:16:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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