Deepak Chopra Once Emptied The Contents Of His Briefcase On His Boss’s Head
Megan Bruneau , [email protected]
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Chopra emptied a briefcase full of papers on his prestigious fellowship supervisor’s head
I [was] ostracized, I was criticized, I was even blasted in a few medical journals. In the beginning that was painful.
I have a strict “Nothing before 10am” rule. After living most of my life sleep-deprived, I now consistently get 6-8 hour sleeps, thanks to ridding myself of the I have to wake up in 5/3/2.5 hours! anxiety.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, of course: If I have to catch a flight; if I’m participating in a sporting event; or if I’m interviewing Deepak Chopra.
Today is the latter of the three (but stay tuned for Megan Goes To The Airport!). Our interview is taking place in at ISHTA yoga–where we both practice and the first common ground we identified when we met a little over a year ago (hear the full interview on iTunes, TuneIn Radio and Forbes.com).
Despite several meetings since then, I’m still thankful I slept the night before (my rule notwithstanding). Comfortable as I am conversing with who TIME Magazine described as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century,” our meetings always stretch my brain beyond what caffeine’s magic allows.
While I’m still adjusting to the ungodly hour of 9am, Chopra shares that he’s already meditated, completed his daily yoga practice, and played with his granddaughters (check out his Instagram for their adorable videos). I’m humbled but not surprised–the world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation has churned out more than 85 books in the last 25 years, alongside founding The Chopra Foundation and co-founding of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Ranked by The World Post and Huffington Post global internet survey as the #1 most influential thinker in Medicine, Chopra’s social media community boasts over 15 million. His mission? “To help create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, happier and healthy world.”
But before he became a friend and spiritual guru to the likes of George Harrison, Princess Di, Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey, Chopra emptied a briefcase full of papers on his prestigious fellowship supervisor’s head . Then he went straight to the bar and got drunk, while his pregnant wife received the ominous phone call, “Your husband has ruined his life.”
Chopra doesn’t endorse humiliating one’s superior to pivot our way to greatness, but he does identify that “failure” moment as being a turning point in his career. “[Had that not happened], I would be stuck in a lab sacrificing rats,” he laughs.
He went on to study emergency medicine before completing the fellowship from which he’d exited so dramatically that life-changing day (though this time, under a different supervisor). Yet while he studied and practiced traditional western medicine, Chopra became fascinated by human behavior and consciousness. Confused by his own impulsivity and dependence on alcohol and cigarettes, he was motivated to understand and change his habits. He became infatuated with the mind-body connection, ultimately convinced western medicine was ignoring a critical element.
However, his beliefs in integrative medicine and spirituality were not shared. Upon hearing rumors he was going to be fired, he left for the west coast–where his ”New Age” ideas were more accepted.
“ I [was] ostracized, I was criticized, I was even blasted in a few medical journals. In the beginning that was painful. ” he shares. But he continued to let passion guide him, despite ample negative reception.
Chopra shares his advice on finding your purpose and persevering in the face of criticism and pushback. ” You have to know what you’re passionate about [and] you have to be listening to the zeitgeist .” He adds surrounding yourself with people who share that vision but have complementing strengths adds to the ease of the journey.
I just see what I”m passionate about, and then I express it, and situation, circumstances, people, events, they just show up and it happens…Rumi says, ‘I want to sing like birds sing, not worrying who listens or what they think,’ so…sing your song, and ask yourself who would listen to it, ultimately.”
When asked what he’s working on now, he excitedly elaborates on his latest project, Jiyo. The ”personal wellbeing companion” is a comprehensive digital platform and hub for all things wellbeing.
Of equal importance alongside passion and purpose? “Happiness,” he says, but clarifies it’s actually contentment one ought to be seeking. ”Contentment and joy go together. Happiness is always for a reason, and the reason can be taken away from you at any time, so happiness is a form of misery.”
And how does one experience contentedness? Chopra shares his wisdom:
You have to be present, but…people misunderstand being present. They think it’s being present to an experience. It’s being present to the awareness in which the experience occurs. It’s the presence in which the mind is happening. Mind is just a fluctuation of that and it’s very transient–the thought you were experiencing now wasn’t a thought a second ago. Experience is a dream. It happens, and now it’s gone . Be aware of the observer.”
Megan Bruneau, M.A. RCC is a mental health therapist, wellness coach, writer, and host of Forbes’ The Failure Factor. Read more from her on her blog, One Shrink’s Perspective