March 2021 marks the one-year mark since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives forever. Chopra Global recently announced the final release of the 21-Day Meditation Experience, “Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life,” led by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. The free, three-week program will help participants tap into their creative potential and improve mental health.
To learn more, I spoke with Deepak Chopra about the program and how we can incorporate meditation and mindfulness in our daily lives:
This past year during the pandemic, we were all forced to adapt to a new norm and find a routine that made us less stressed and more balanced. What changes did you make to your daily routine? When it comes to stress management, what works best for you?
(Laughs) I’m never stressed, so I didn’t have to make any changes. I meditate every day, do yoga, and spend two to three hours every day between meditation and yoga. I get 8 hours of sleep, watch my diet, and make sure that my relationships are filled with love, compassion and empathy. And I don’t take myself seriously, so I did not make any significant changes other than increasing my practice because I was interested in lowering certain biomarkers of aging. And so, I enjoyed myself and shared a lot with the world on how to reinvent the body and resurrect the soul.
In this meditation program, you teach techniques about how to connect to the present moment and be more mindful. What are practical ways we can become more mindful in our everyday lives? Are their specific habits you’ve cultivated over the years that have made a difference in your life?
Over the last 45 years, I start my day with four intentions. The first is a joyful, energetic body. Second is a loving, compassionate heart. The third is a reflective, clear, alert, and creative mind. And the fourth is lightness of spirit, lightness of being, joy, and flow. And that entails, no resistance, no regrets, no anticipation, but for being fully alive in this moment, and enjoying it. So, those intentions influence every choice I make during the day and this year was an opportunity to be even more conscious of the choices I’m making.
I also started a nonprofit called Never Alone for prevention of suicide and improving mental hygiene. If you check out the website, neveralone.love, you’ll see we have a chatbot called Piwi – she talks to people and refers to counselors – millions of conversations are happening with her right now. And so, I thought this was a year to help democratize well-being through social networks and make it freely available to the world.
This 21-Day Meditation Experience focuses on creative living and activating your creative potential. Can you explain the connection between creative living and meditation?
Many of us are constantly being triggered by people into predictable responses (which is what happens – we become bundles of conditioned reflexes that are constantly being triggered by people and circumstances into predictable outcomes). So society, especially in today’s digital age, is becoming an algorithm with no creativity. Creativity can only happen if you have a clear and quiet mind. That’s where meditation comes in.
Meditation takes you to the source of thought which is called consciousness. This is the place of unlimited creativity because meditation takes you beyond your conditioned mind. It takes you into a deeper awareness – infinite possibilities and infinite creativity. So, you can’t have creativity, unless you surrender to unpredictability, surrender to uncertainty and surrender to the present moment. And when you experiencing creativity, you lose track of time. When people say ‘I don’t have time to meditate,’ they think it’s a chore. But if you fall in love, you don’t say ‘I don’t have time to fall in love.’ If you play the piano, you don’t say ‘I don’t have time to play the piano.’ If you’re listening to a song that you enjoy, you don’t wonder, ‘when is it this going to end?’ Have you ever read a poem or listened to a song you loved and wondered ‘when is it going to end?’ You don’t, because your attention is grabbed by joy. And this is what people don’t realize: when the mind quiets, you feel joy and creativity. You begin to embrace the uncertainty.
You say the key to “getting unstuck” is closing the gap between the self we see in the mirror and the true self. What do you mean by this?
Our normal self is what other people think about us; it’s called a bio. So, if I want to know your bio, I would go on LinkedIn and that would be enough. But, our true self is not our bio; it’s about what we want, who we think we are, self-esteem, who are our heroes and heroines in history, mythology and religion, what friendship means to us, what’s our story, what are our unique talents and how do we use them, what gives us meaning and purpose in our lives. Do we have moments of transcendence? Do we think of life as an opportunity or a struggle?
What you see in the mirror is your social persona, the ego which is what you need to navigate experience in a social ecosystem. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that our true self is not our selfie.
When it comes to meditation, many people use the excuse, “I don’t have time.” How do you recommend they incorporate meditation in their daily routine? How much time do you need daily to reap the benefits?
If you say you don’t have time to meditate, then you are the one who needs it twice a day.