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.
Stress can lead to all sorts of diseases and take away your physical ability to do the things you love. It can also challenge your inner calmness, and take away your perception of reality. Take it from me, it's not worth it. Your family needs you more than you know, and so do your friends and colleagues etc. The good news is you can lessen your daily stressors. Here's how to start...
KERRIE'S SELF-CARE TIP #1:
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND SEE A DOCTOR
Add these words to your daily life: "Be aware, implement self-care." It's so important at any age. Whether you write them on the bathroom mirror, in a journal, or on a sticky note and post on your dashboard of the car.
I remember back in 2013 when I ignored the warning signs and what my body was telling me. I chalked it up to normal holiday stress and every day living. You too may think that those aches and pains are normal monthly or daily trivial results of life, however if you experience a massive migraine for two weeks straight, you've got to realize that's not normal.
Of course I'm not a doctor, but I can speak about what happened to me and how I ended up having a heart procedure at the age of 39. I know all too well that nagging pressure on my chest and around to my back, and my constant headaches were sure signs something was up.
Four years later, I finally understand why I should have gone to the doctor immediately.
But life got in the way. Who has time for a heart attack?
So my advice is if you feel anything unusual or long-lasting, or you're overwhelmed at work or home, see a professional. Perhaps taking a personal day from work could be the best thing you do to refresh and catch up on some "me" time.
Please know that asking for help or admitting you need some time to yourself is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign of strength.
In fact, we have to start thinking differently. We could be young, in shape, in great spirits, or maybe even just young at heart; but this doesn't always stop our bodies from deciding to take the lead in a health trauma situation. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.
Ever since my book My Heart, My Self was released in October, I've received many messages from women I don't know telling me how much they appreciate the advice to seek help. Some were even inspired enough to make an appointment with their GP or talk to their teen daughters about the detrimental impact that stress can have on the body. Take it from me, listening to your body and being aware at all times is critical to your health. And health leads to lifestyle happiness.
Remember, if you do talk to a doctor and it ends up being nothing, and they give you the "all clear", those very words might at the very least alleviate some weight on your shoulders. And you might even feel better.
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.