A woman depicted in one of the Beatles’ most famous songs tells her story.
Bruns played a small but significant part in the history of the Fab Four: she, along with her sister, the actress Mia Farrow, and the Beatles, went to India in 1968 to study meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Her dedicated attention to meditation for long periods inspired John Lennon to write “Dear Prudence,” which appeared on the Beatles’ 1968 self-titled record. However, most people know little else about Bruns, a Transcendental Meditation teacher based in Florida, and this debut memoir attempts to change that. As the daughter of director John Farrow and actress Maureen O’Sullivan, she grew up in a life of privilege, including servants, private schools, and trips abroad. A common thread that runs through her memoir, though, is her search for something spiritual and meaningful, going all the way back to Catholic school. She experienced personal tragedies, including the untimely deaths of her brother and father, and lived through rebellious teenage years, which included drinking and bouts of depression. A harrowing experience with LSD (“it felt as if my body was gone and I was left in hell for all eternity”) led her to practice meditation, and she describes its transformative effects almost poetically: “Although subtle, a priority shift had quietly taken place. Time took on new meaning, suddenly becoming far more precious to me—I couldn’t waste it anymore. I felt compelled to use it much more wisely.” The final chapters center on her meeting the maharishi and her experiences with the members of the Beatles, particularly Lennon and George Harrison. She was more interested in meditation during her stay than being in the musicians’ company, although she found them to be kindred spirits: “I related to George and benefited from his perspective through transference.” What makes this book stand out is the fact that it’s not a typical, dishy celebrity tell-all, although there are some fascinating stories about her Hollywood upbringing and her time with the Beatles (such as when Lennon and Harrison entered her room performing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”). It’s a portrait of a young woman trying to center her life amid personal pain and how she found herself. Overall, it’s a rather life-affirming tale from someone who’s more than just a footnote in pop-music history.
A moving, spiritual account
of a search for meaning through meditation.