Watch Puki Give the Commencement Address at Maharishi School Graduation 2014 (her section starts at the 16:18 point in the video).
Puki Freeberg’s career as a full-time teacher of the Transcendental Meditation® technique may not have happened but for some gentle pressure applied from a quarter that proved impossible to resist.
“I was about to graduate from MUM and I had this vague plan I was going to South America to learn Spanish and volunteer and immerse myself in a different culture,” says Puki, 26.
Two months earlier, before graduation — and before that plan could jell — she received a phone call from filmmaker and TM advocate David Lynch, whom she’d met when she volunteered at the David Lynch Foundation as an MUM student. She recalls the life-altering conversation fondly: “He said, ‘Puki, you’re going to become a TM teacher and move to Los Angeles and run the show there.’ I said, ‘Whatever, David, I’ll think about it.’ He said, ‘No, Puki, you’ll do more than think about it.’ I said, ‘Okay, we’ll see.’”
The next day, while eating lunch in the MUM dining hall, Puki sat beside a friend who was about to travel to Bulgaria for a Transcendental Meditation teacher training course. Suddenly she knew what she had to do. “The universe was trying to tell me something,” she says. She signed up for the course, traveled to Bulgaria and became a certified TM teacher.
Today, Puki works for the David Lynch Foundation in Los Angeles as its program director — just what David Lynch wanted — teaching TM to teenagers in schools like New Village Charter School, an all-girls public high school where Puki has worked for the past three years. Most of its students are Latina girls, age 15-18, many of whom are pregnant or parenting, or who for various reasons have not thrived in the traditional school setting.
“I can’t imagine anything I’d rather be doing more than this,” says Puki. “It’s fulfilling to share a tool and knowledge as profound as TM with these populations that so desperately need it. And at the same time, I’m growing and evolving, and waking up every morning doing something I love.”
Puki also spent years as a volunteer TM teacher at Children of the Night, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing children from prostitution. Her work there was profiled in Los Angeles Magazine.
“Seeing these girls engaged in a positive, creative, and healthy activity makes me so happy,” says Puki. “I leave behind any preconceived notions of who these kids are. They’re amazing, regular teenagers.”
On one of her more adventurous philanthropic activities, Puki takes part in an annual skydive as part of a fund-raising and awareness event held by 18for18, an organization benefiting the Somaly Mam Foundation, which aids women and children who have been victimized by sex trafficking.
Puki’s experience at MUM taught her that the sky indeed is the limit for young people who are motivated and willing to work for what they believe in.
“At MUM, I gained the most important thing I could have gotten out of an education,” says Puki, who was president of her MUM class. “I felt a deep connection with myself and a knowingness that everything is working out as it should. When I go out into the world I feel that I can do just about anything — anything I’m passionate about. That’s because of the knowledge about myself and my potential I gained at MUM. For me, that is more practical than anything I could have learned at any other university or educational setting.”
Puki and her puppy Harlen live in downtown Los Angeles (photo above, on the roof of her apartment building), a neighborhood she has come to love. “Downtown has more of a community vibe than anywhere in L.A. I’ve been,” she says. “I’m friends with all my neighbors. We’re like a family.”
Going forward, Puki plans to continue working with the David Lynch Foundation. “I’m committed to making sure TM carries into the next generation,” she says.
Written by Warren Goldie