A while back I had the pleasure of meeting Deepak Chopra at a media event. When I reflect on this once-in-a-lifetime interaction, it amazes me how far I've come personally and spiritually and how much his words of slowing down and taking time to breathe every day would become such a big part of my daily curriculum. Life truly wows me sometimes. Things really do come full circle. As a long-time magazine editor and writer for various outlets, I know I have been blessed to work in the industry that I have. So on to what happened...
Perhaps my wanting to go to this special event was two-fold: On a personal note, I had been going through my own spiritual journey since a health scare in 2013. Professionally, I wanted to learn more about his important messages on how to live happier and healthier. I've always loved yoga too so that was a no-brainer. But for some reason, as soon as I opened the invitation, I knew this wouldn't be your average media event where editors and writers mingle and talk shop or gossip about the latest cutbacks and how print is a lost art. This was going to be a life-changing experience for me so I took it as a sign I had to attend now matter what.
For those of you who don't know, Deepak Chopra is a world-renowned physician and expert in mind-body healing, and has written over 65 books including New York Times bestsellers. He has a huge following in every country, along with many celebrity clients, and is highly respected around the globe for his thought-provoking teachings about alternative medicine. I was excited.
We had to remove our shoes at the door when we got there. A tad unusual for a press event, but after all, it was the opening of the new Chopra Yoga Center in Toronto so it made perfect sense. And actually put everyone at ease.
Deepak entered from the back of the room and the applause erupted. Not surprisingly though, with hence his incredible allure. It was almost as if he had walked out on to Oprah's stage. He was wearing a nicely tailored suit and he stood in front of the table that was set out for him to sit at so he could be up close and personal with our small privileged group. He opened by asking us what we wanted to talk about, which spawned a few giggles from the crowd.
We wanted to hear his thoughts on life, love and happiness of course!
He spoke clearly and calmly and looked straight in people’s eyes as if to invoke some sort of trance. As we listened to his theories on the best lifestyle practices for brain health, and how important they are for busy parents, he said: “Every now and then, stop, and ask: ‘Am I aware? What am I aware of?” And the world will open up.” The audience was silent.
His words filled me with emotion and pride. I’ve made some changes in my life over the past 10 months that have made me a stronger, more self-aware person, too. And hearing him speak about this topic right there in front of me was the affirmation I needed that I’m on the right path.
We were also able to ask him some questions. I was up.
“What was the inspiration behind your book Super Brain?” I asked him excitedly.
What came next was not what I had expected. Deepak laughed. Laughed! (Well, maybe more of a chuckle but it was directed at my question particularly. He said simple and sweet, it was a great question because of the answer he was about to tell.
“It was inspired in the bathroom,” he chuckled.
Turns out he met his co-author Rudolph Tanzi, PhD. in the bathroom at a conference and they casually started talking about the brain and how it was the key to health, happiness and well-being. After a few hours of brainstorming (literally) they had decided to write a book together. Wow! Now, I knew people did a lot of thinking in the toilet, but this was crazy.
What else did I learn?
He said regular exercise, yoga, proper breathing techniques, sleep, meditating at least twice a day, and avoiding alcohol are all imperative to self-awareness. In other words, getting to know yourself inside and out is critical to being happy and healthy. This all made perfect sense to me.
But he also said that multi-tasking is the one skill you can’t make better with practice.
“If you’re doing everything at once you’re not doing anything at all.” This was my biggest takeaway.
I thought about this for a moment. It's so true. As women we try to do it all. We want to be superwoman 24-7. And we pride ourselves on our multi-tasking skills. In fact, it’s often our survival technique. But to my surprise, Deepak didn’t agree with this theory. He told us that women. and moms specifically, need to realize there’s more to the precious time we spend trying to get everything done.
“You need to meditate every day, and if you don’t have time, then you need to do it more,” he explained.
In other words, those of us who claim we don’t have enough time to do things for ourselves, are really the ones who need it the most. So true.
Take a few minutes from your hectic day to slow down. Find a quiet spot in your house or close your office door at lunch and do a 15-minute meditation. How does this make you feel? Are you ready to take on the rest of your day? Try to meditate once a day (preferably in the morning) as it will help clear your mind and relieve stress.
Three days ago I had a Cardiac Ablation or RFA (Radiofrequency Ablation) to rectify my heart’s short circuit. Basically, without getting too technical, an electrophysiologist conducted an Electrophysiology Study (EPS) to test my heart’s electrical system and how it works, and once he figured out the areas that weren't working, he destroyed (ablated) the "dead spots". It's called an "AV Node Ablation due to a Slow Pathway."
Turns out I had an unusual dual-pathway where the blood flowed and this is what was giving me problems when pumping blood to my heart. So one of the pathways was eliminated. The procedure was quite invasive. Four catheters were inserted into my blood vessels (veins) on both sides of my groin and moved along until they reached my heart. Radio frequency energy traveled through the catheters in order to “silence” the cells where the abnormal rhythm was coming from.
I remember laying on the operating table anxiously watching the numbers on the screen. The surgeon instructed the “heart pace” technician to elevate my heartbeat to 250 bpm into a state of tachycardia, and then slow it down to normal, and then up again to 300 bpm, and so on. This went on for two hours so you can imagine how uncomfortable it was.
Even though I knew I was in good hands, and in a controlled environment in the hospital, I had no control over what my heart was doing and felt very overwhelmed and constricted; not knowing if my heart would stop at any time. But the deal was that they had to emulate the irregular heart episodes I'd been having because they've been interrupting my normal way of life. And at 40, with two small kids, this wasn't ideal. So when they finally found the faulty circuits, an electrical surge was sent down the tubes -- and I felt the burning sensation (heat) as they burned the dead areas in my heart.
After it was all over, and I was back in my bed, I had a panic attack when two nurses were putting pressure on my incisions. They were pressing so hard on the four tubes to stop the bleeding that I instantly felt faint. They called two more nurses in to help and immediately dosed me with Gravol to calm me down. I remember the exact same symptoms when I had a panic attack a year ago in the cafeteria at work -- cold sweats, feeling sick, and not knowing whether to fight or flight the scene. Then I cried uncontrollably. The nurses at the Trillium Cardiac Health Centre were amazing and knew exactly how to get me through it. A half an hour later, I fell asleep.
After I woke up, the doctor came to speak to my husband and I about how the procedure was a success. Then I was allowed to get up and take a few steps. But when I did, a pool of blood gushed from the top of my right leg. The blood did not clot at one of my incisions and there was blood all over the hospital floor. The nurses rushed me back to the bed and applied more pressure in order to avoid losing too much blood. They said it could have been a result of me not going to the washroom and my full bladder was putting pressure on my groin. But finally, after more pressure, I was able to get up and go to the washroom (I couldn’t even force myself to go on the bed pan).
The next day, I was instructed to take it easy and move slowly. I had to hold my incisions every time I sat up or down or used the stairs, but I could have a shower and take the bandages off. I felt some periodic shooting pains in my chest and an aching pain in my groin where it was starting to bruise. I also felt a pressure on my left side that went through to my shoulder blade – similar to how I felt last January (2013) when I had my initial heart scare. (Read my full story in Chatelaine magazine.)
Today I am walking more, but still slowly, and feel much better. The doctor told me not to go back on my heart meds and wait to see how I feel at our next follow up appointment in 8 weeks. I am hopeful that my fast heart beat does not come back, and so far, it's looking good. I am so thankful for my family and friends who are here to help me.
I hope to (in some small way) help others who may have noticed some irregularities in their heartbeat, unusual shortness of breath, or panic attacks, and alert those who are under a lot of stress. Don't sit back and think it's nothing, because it could lead to further complications down the road. Believe me, if there's one thing I've learned from my heart journey over the past 13 months, it's to listen to my body. Please call your doctor today and be heart aware. Stay well.
Kerrie Lee Brown is a sought-after health and lifestyle expert. She writes books, blogs and articles and is published all over the world. Kerrie Lee is also a heart-health survivor and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows sharing life-saving tips for women on how to listen to their bodies and slow down. Kerrie Lee is a mom and proud Canadian living in Denver, Colorado.