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Lena Dunham diagnosed with OCD at age 9, meditates to stay calm

USMagazine, Wednesday, October 9, 2013, 2:20pm (PDT)
  • Lena Dunham has been meditating for 18 years. The 27-year-old "Girls" creator gave an inspirational speech about how meditation has changed her life in helping to manage her obsessive-compulsive disorder at the Paley Center in New York on Oct. 8. Dunham was one of the speakers taking the stage at the "Women in the Workplace: Reducing Stress With Meditation" panel discussion, hosted by The David Lynch Foundation.

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    "I've actually been meditating since I was nine. I've been practicing TM [Transcendental Meditation] since I was nine," she shared on stage. "My mother meditates, my grandmother meditates and my great-grandmother meditated. That might make you think I'm part of like a grand hippie tradition, but these are actually all just neurotic Jewish women who need TM more than anyone," Dunham joked. "I have to tell you, it's pretty charming to see a very well-dressed anxious Jewish woman take a moment at her country club because she needs to meditate."

    "When I was around nine, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder," the actress and writer explained. "I feel forever grateful that instead of assaulting me with a barrage of medications my mother decided it was time for me to learn to meditate. ... Although when you're nine you have trouble articulating the sort of internal shifts you feel, I know that it made an incredible difference. It made it possible for me to understand what I was going through, and to process what I was going through and to calm down."

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    Dunham took a break from meditating during her teen years, but quickly realized she was lost without it. "When I was a teenager I stopped meditating because sitting still for 20 minutes is very low on the list of things teenagers want to do unless they're stoned," she joked. But when I started working in the incredible, challenging and often very stressful world of entertainment, my world was spinning really quickly and I knew that I needed to return to some sense of calm."

    "Since my re-initiation into meditation has been even more powerful than my first experience, and it has made it possible for me to weather certain challenges and storms and public moments that I didn't ever imagine would be in my life," Dunham shared. "It gathers me up for the day and makes me feel organized ... happy ... and capable of facing the challenges of the world, both internal and external. I feel so lucky that I found it and so lucky that I met Bob [Roth, Executive Director of the David Lynch Foundation], and that I found out there's a way to sort of take this gift that I've been given and give it outward. I recognize how lucky I am, and how lucky I was, to find meditation."

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    Dunham made her character on "Girls," Hannah Horvath, also suffer from OCD. At the end of season two of the HBO series, Hannah's disorder spiraled out of control and she was hospitalized after sticking a Q-tip too far into her ear.

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