All posts by Mallika Chopra

About Mallika Chopra

Mallika is Tara and Leela's mom. She's written two books inspired by them - 100 Promises to My Baby and 100 Questions from Her Child. She started Intent to realize her personal intention to connect with others by sharing and listening to each others stories.

Mallika Chopra: Train Your Mind Like An Olympic Athlete

 

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By Mallika Chopra

Wellness is a popular trend these days. From bootcamps, to botox, to gluten-free diets — there is no shortage of methods and techniques promising to change your body and fix your life. But we, as a society, often forget that wellness is not just about physical prowess. How far you can run, how fast you can swim, how heavy a weight you can lift – these kinds of measures sometimes suggest that wellness always comes with a six-pack and perfectly sculpted calves.

No doubt, physical fitness is  important – especially the strength, balance, and confidence that becomes so important for quality and longevity of life. But let’s not forget the emotional and mental aspects of wellness.

Olympic athletes like cross-country skier Chandra Crawford, alpine skier Emily Brydon and freestyle skier Shannon Deanne Bahrke have spoken about how yoga, mindfulness, meditation and breathing has helped them deal with the pressure of competitive sports, as well as giving them the mental clarity and space to perform better.

Body and mind are intricately interdependent, and in my experience, fitness and healthy lifestyle habits are made infinitely more successful when coupled with a clear and centered mind.

This is where meditation comes in.

I began meditation at 9 years old. Meditation was a powerful tool my family and I shared to cultivate mindfulness and clarity — because nurturing a balanced, healthy home was something we all cared about. I didn’t know how the practice might benefit my life in the long-run, but all that mattered was how it made me feel in the present moment. In my teenage and adult years, the practice of meditation stayed with me as a lifestyle technique I could use in countless situations. The mental strength gained through meditation, which I have the benefit of nearly a lifetime in practicing, gives me that extra edge to stay centered and persevere through even the hardest of “workouts,” whatever shapes they might take.

Many recent studies illustrate meditation’s benefits. A study from researchers in Brazil showed that meditation increases people’s mental focus.  Researchers in India have found that meditation (and yoga!) can improve stamina, cardiorespiratory performance, and even increase the body’s secretion of melatonin, which is important in sleep regulation. Finally, another study by researchers at the University of Oregon demonstrated that mindfulness meditation training can even lead to white matter growth in the brain. While these studies are only preliminary, they do suggest that meditation could provide benefits for athletes in their training. And for the rest of us, meditation is a powerful tool for helping us achieve our fitness intents.

My father, Deepak Chopra, is a great example of someone who has been meditating for many years and has maintained excellent health into his 60’s. Through my own meditation practice, I have gained more awareness of my body, and the ability to listen to what I need to feel healthier, more energetic and more balanced.

My intent is to continue meditating for my own mental, physical, and spiritual health, and to encourage others to incorporate meditation into their every day routines. And, I’d love to hear from you if meditation affects your exercise experience, in particular.

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If you would like to learn the basics of meditation and live in New York, I’d like to invite you to join me for a very special evening of mindfulness and meditation in partnership with Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club/NY.

On Thursday, June 20th, I’ll be teaching a short meditation, followed by a reception with refreshments and live entertainment at the Reebok Sports Club/NY,  from 6:30pm to 9:30pm. We’ll cover strategies for quieting your mind and incorporating meditation into your life, as well as the vast health benefits of its practice. More information here

Sports Club/LA has been recognized as an urban lifestyle brand that serves as the ultimate health and wellness destination. Visit a Sports Club/LA location in Boston, Chestnut Hill, Miami, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York Upper East Side as well as their sister club, Reebok Sports Club/NY. For more information visit www.SportsClubLA.com.

We will miss you, Debbie Ford.

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This morning, when my father forwarded me the news that Debbie Ford had passed away, I was running around NYC trying to find flu medicine for my daughter. How the everyday routines seem so insignificant at times.

I read the email message from Arielle Ford, Debbie’s sister, to my father at a street corner, moved by Arielle’s words that Debbie is now at peace. While not unexpected, the news still stung and the overwhelming sadness of losing such a teacher, friend, mentor took over. I could not help but think we only lost David Simon not so long ago. Why is it that we lose such wonderful souls too early? There seems no good reason yet again.

Debbie inspired so many people with her willingness to share her painful past, her shadows and healing. Here amazing books, Spiritual Divorce, The Dark Side of The Light Chasers and The Secret of The Shadow transformed peoples lives.

She was an amazing mother to Beau, now a young man whom we all watched grow with pride. Her sisterhood with Arielle was one I have always watched with love and admiration, hoping the my 2 girls will always be so close. She was a dear friend individually to both my mother and my father. And for me, she was a mentor, someone I admired as a mother and teacher and aspired to be like as a writer.

Arielle has shared a beautiful page to remember Debbie, there are some lovely memories of Debbie being posted on her Facebook page here, and we were honored to share some of Debbie’s words here on Intent.

How Intent is Giving Back

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Late last we year Intent decided to try something new.  We asked people to support our Intent to give back, and for every support we said we would give $1 to a cause recommended by the community.  We received over 130 supports, and decided to chose three foundations to donate $136.

To be honest, it’s not a lot at this stage, but our hope is that we can expand this concept of community supporting intents with action that is not just emotional, but tangible through petitions, volunteering and donations.

Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Kiva have reinvented ways to raise funds for companies, non-profits or causes through crowd sourcing.  Intent is eager to work with such platforms to support people’s intentions by providing resources and sites for tangible action.  We have people stating their intentions to help others every day –  hopefully, we can provide meaningful and trusted suggestions for how we can translate our intentions into action.

Tomorrow, February 7th, I am participating in the Pure Philanthropy Conference – a new, exciting forum that is bringing together the top philanthropists in Canada with social thought leaders to think about the rapidly evolving new paradigm of philanthropy.  You can learn more about the conference here (and I know they have plans to do more in Canada and expand it to the US, as well.)

I would love your thoughts on philanthropy today, as well as sites and platforms you think are creating inspiration, ease of use, motivation, and action.

And, last but not least, here are the three foundations Intent will make a donation to based on your suggestions:

 

1. American Red Cross Disaster Relief

Mission: Each year, the American Red Cross immediately responds to about 70,000 natural and man-made disasters in the U.S., ranging from fires to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents and explosions. People count on the Red Cross to help them in their darkest hour.

Why we chose them: For their remarkable work in helping people during Hurricane Sandy and for all the other people they help each year.

2. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital 

Mission: To find cures for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases through research and treatment. And no family ever pays St. Jude for anything.

Why we chose them: St. Jude’s is not only taking care of our world’s sickest children, they’re actively working to find cures for the diseases that ail them. St. Jude’s is a pioneer in both clinical treatment and scientific research, and they’re saving countless children’s lives.

3. Half The Sky Movement

Mission: Cutting across platforms to ignite the change needed to put an end to the oppression of women and girls worldwide, the defining issue of our time.

Why we chose them: Led by world-renown journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDun, Half the Sky has launched a transmedia project that uses video, websites, games, blogs and other educational tools. We, as a media company ourselves, are inspired by the way they’re using online media to promote social good.

Goodbye 2012… May 2013 be a year of worthy intents!

Midnight here in Delhi is still an hour away, and I am sitting in bed, surrounded by warm blankets, with my daughters and husband already asleep.

Given the “Damini” tragedy here in Delhi, there are no big parties or celebrations. Security is more stringent around the city, and generally our friends and family fittingly are in no mood to party into the new year. For me it was a perfect day – hanging out with my husband, kids, cousins, grandparents, in-laws, my happy little 18 month old niece.

I have to admit that last few weeks of 2012 have been sobering. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A civil war in Syria where over 40,000 people have died (most of them this year) while the world waits. The atrocious gang rape in Delhi which awakened the world to the everyday horrors that plague women, not only in India, but around the world. Dysfunctional governments – whether in India in response to protecting its citizens or in the US to negotiating a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. And these just some of the headlines. Its challenging not to be a bit despondent.

2012, undoubtedly, had many positive moments and I hope we all embrace the hope that humanity can do better as we enter 2013.

As I think about my own intents for 2013, my hope is that I can use my energy and resources to continue a global conversation knowing we can do better, help one another, and seek equality, health, peace and justice for our brothers and sisters and children around the world.

Let 2013 be a year that we realize more of our potential to foster a society and global culture we are truly proud of.

Let 2013 be a year of worthy intents.

May “Damini” Rest In Peace

Damini, the name given to the 23 year old gang rape victim in Delhi, has died. She was flown to Singapore a few days ago in an effort to address her grave condition, and perhaps, remove her from the fury boiling in the streets of Delhi.

I am writing this from my IPad in Delhi, heartbroken, having just read the announcement about her death. For the last week much of the conversation in our homes and with friends has revolved around her tragedy and the circumstances around her death. While her attack was so extreme and vile, it highlights how unsafe it can be for women in India. As a mother of two young girls, my paranoia for their safety , which often seems crazy, sadly seems more than justified.

The reality so far in Delhi has been that the protests were confined near India Gate, and life in Delhi has continued as normal. We will see if more unrest unfolds today. There is no question this young woman’s tragedy has begun a conversation. The inane statements of the President’s son, Abhijit Mukherjee, himself a Minister, about the protesters being “painted and dented” women justifies to me a call for his resignation. It’s a mindset that girls should not dress and speak in certain ways, exhibit too much independence or confidence, that needs to be changed at every level of society. (Sadly much of the conversations in the past week have been about other cases where women were gang raped after being at a bar or out too late at night.

So, with sadness and prayers, may Damini rest in peace. May her family find some solace in this meaningless tragedy that her tragic end will not be forgotten.

Newtown Connecticut Shooting Tragedy: Can one ever make sense of the senseless?

There is nothing I can imagine worse than losing your child.

When my mom texted me this morning about the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, I was dropping my kids to school.

There were no details yet – no details that 20 children and six adults head been killed.

No details about what actually happened or why.

No details that 3 weapons were found at the scene, or how the suspect got them.

All I could think of as I told my kids “I love you” as they went into school was what would it be like to never see your kids again. Is there any way to make sense of the senseless?

I spent the morning avoiding coming home. The text messages continued from my mom, cousins, friends. Texts about feeling heartbroken, helpless, angry. I realized I cannot avoid the news, and put on NPR. A teacher from the school was sharing her story. I stopped the car and cried while I listened to her.

Oh, my heart goes out to those who lost their kids. To the Principal of the School, the psychologist the teachers and others who lost their lives.

And, I ask all of you – this is a national tragedy. We will all mourn.

Those of us who believe in stricter gun control will be angered that this guy had at least 3 guns that killed so many innocent children and people.

But, what do we need to do to change these senseless, absolutely senseless, tragedies?

Ravi Shankar Dies: A True Musical Legend

I read just now that Ravi Shankar has passed away.

I remember hearing Ravi Shankar play sitar when I was young. To be honest, listening to classical Indian music in those days was somewhat painful for my brother and me who were more attuned to Wham, Michael Jackson and pop music.

But I distinctly remember having one of my first ever experiences of time standing still when listening to him. His ability to take you to a different realm while listening to him was amazing.

Check out this video of one of his early appearances on American television:

Years later, George Harrison would share stories with our family about spending time and learning from Ravi Shankar.

I’ll never forget how much he seemed to love and be in awe of this great Indian maestro. Here’s an interview I found on YouTube of them chatting about their friendship and Ravi Shankar’s passion about sharing Indian music with Western audiences:

Ravi Shankar was 92 when he died today. One can only celebrate a great life that through his music brought joy and passion to the world. He truly was a “national treasure” as the Indian Prime Minister said when confirming his death.

Ravi Shankar also left behind two amazing daughters with unbelievable music talents – Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones. What a legacy to be truly proud of!

Mallika Chopra: Gratitude & Giving Back

This time of year is one of gratitude, reflection, and planting the seeds for new intentions or re-affirming our intentions in the new year.

2012 was a big year for Intent. We relaunched Intent.com and Intentblog.com, grew our Intent community, added many new Intent Voices as bloggers, and grew significantly in our reach. I’d like to thank all of you – our community and supporters – for making it such a great year.

To express our gratitude, we wanted to try something new on www.intent.com. We have set the intent to give back to our community with a donation – for every support of this Intent, we will donate $1 to a charity that is recommended by one of you (up to $1000).

Please support this intent, and in the comments, tell us of an organization that could benefit from our donation. The more comments and stories you share with us, the more all of us can learn about the great work being done by individuals and organizations around the world. We will seriously consider all your referrals before making the donation. We’d love to also interview the person who made the recommendation that ultimately is chosen.

Please share the intent with your communities to garner more support (and money) for the campaign and ask people to support your recommendation or give us their own favorite charities.

We look forward to hearing from you about the great work that we know so many organizations around the world are doing to help others.

Mallika Chopra: A Lunch to Remember: Michelle Obama at Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s House

I have been blessed in my life to meet some amazing people, and experience some truly magical moments. I truly hope to never forget how special some of the things I get to participate in are.

So, its with gratitude that I share my experience on the lunch I attended earlier today at Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s house.

It was a fundraiser. I got an email for it, decided it was a nice opportunity to finally make the donation I had yet to make, and went by myself as I was curious about what Michelle Obama is like in person. (As stated earlier, I have been blessed. I have met and heard Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama speak in the past.)

I was probably one of the first people to arrive, and found I had been assigned to a table right in the back. Generally I know that that the “Deepak Chopra’s daughter” card can be used to get to a better table, but my intent was truly to listen and watch (and I am generally very shy about using that card!).

(All that said, it felt like an intimate gathering – my guess is 200-250 people as it was set up as a lovely lunch where people got to chat and mingle.)

So I sat down, checked my email and watched as people entered. (By the way, the Smiths have an amazing house. It’s very elegant and peaceful.)

Jada Pinkett Smith came to the tent just after I got there, and was actually personally making sure everything was in order. Boy, is she beautiful in person!

She warmly welcomed people as they came in, but being awkward and shy as stated above, I sat at my table and didn’t go talk to her. As luck would have it, she headed in my direction to check the tables, and Salma Hayek arrived at the same time and came to say hi to her. Since my dad knows Salma, I did get up to say hi to her, and then she introduced me to Jada who was super nice, gracious and welcoming. So I got my celeb encounter for the day. :)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my friends was at the lunch, so I had someone to chat and people watch with. So much fun!!

I was thrilled with my table mates. Sitting next to me was a hair dresser who had organized a yard sale to raise money for the Obama campaign. She had been invited to the lunch and just couldn’t believe she was there – she had been screaming with excitement for a week. She was so thrilled to see celebrities, pointing out Demi Moore, Katy Perry and lots of others – including agents and entertainment honchos – whom I had no idea who they were! I loved sitting with her at this fancy lunch, because she was so authentically thrilled to be there and had no pretenses about it.

(I sat next to another intriguing guy who I am convinced is a spy – but that is a another story. And I am sure he will google me, find and read this blog, and I will be very embarrassed for writing that he is a spy – which he probably isn’t – but its more fun to imagine he is. So no more info!)

Fancy lunch, fancy people watching, amazing house on a beautiful day. Even without the FLOTUS it was a great afternoon.

And then she came!

Jada Pinkett Smith gave her the most eloquent introduction. As Michelle Obama stepped to the podium, her presence was strong and calm, fresh and fun. She spoke passionately about Obama – like she did at the convention – the man of conviction that she fell in love with 20+ years ago.

She talked about how they as a couple had been blessed with hard working parents and grandparents, with financial aid to both get an amazing education, and with opportunities to succeed.

She reminded us how America is built on people helping each other, and that those who have seen success help others achieve success too.

She pointed out the dismal state of affairs the country was in 4 years ago, and the hard work it has taken for America to begin getting out of that black hole ravaged by the Bush years.

And, she recounted the successes of this administration, stressing how it takes time to shift the tide, and the next 4 years is critical to continue the work.

Yes, it was a political speech, but she spoke in a way that made it personal and passionate.

She pointedly reminded everyone that this election is very, very close.

She directly asked people to donate more if they could or to ask our friends to donate if they could give more. So, I ask you, my friends, to donate if you can. Go to www.barackobama.com to donate or find out how to get involved.

She said you can also get involved by traveling to critical states (if you don’t live in one) and knocking on doors to get people out to vote.

Or you can make calls – go to www.barackobama.com and click on Get Involved, and then Make Calls or go directly to call.barackobama.com.

I have heard many amazing people speak in my life, but Michelle Obama ranks at the top of the list.

I love that she is unapologetically a mom first, but she is as smart, articulate, and powerful as any other leader out there. She makes me proud to be an American – representing that sacred American dream where every person deserves the opportunity to work hard, succeed and give back to their world.

So, again, with gratitude, I share my day and use it as an opportunity to remind each one of you to vote.

I came home and filled out my ballot – which I am mailing in this year. I read through every choice with my kids, and we discussed what each issue entailed and why I was making certain choices.

I know many of my friends and readers are making different choices than I am – which somehow, with difficulty, I will come to terms with! I just hope we never take for granted the blessing we have to live in a country where we chose our leaders and have a voice in shaping our destinies.

Mallika Chopra: A Chopra Family Reality TV Show?

For several years, people have approached my family about doing a reality show.

Basically, producers thought there would be an audience curious about the life of Deepak Chopra and his family. Perhaps they think we meditate and do yoga all day long. Or that celebrities secretly do oil treatments in my parents house. Or they want to believe that we fight and bicker and have dramatic lives like the Kardashians.

The reality is that there is nothing all that different about our life. My dad works and travels constantly – writing and speaking in cities around the world; my mom is most often watching my kids if not with my dad in NYC; Gotham is doing various projects that seem to have him always driving around town; and I am dropping off, picking up, or at soccer practice with my girls.

And more importantly, we have never considered a reality show because we are quite private when it comes to our personal life.

So, it is with the utmost respect that I am excited to launch “30 Days of Intent,” a new “reality” show on The Chopra Well, our YouTube channel.

The show features actor and YouTube sensation, Iman Crosson and former professional soccer player and activist, Natalie Spilger — 2 very charismatic people — who allow us to join them on a journey of self-exploration and discovery. They were brave enough to let us witness their questions, fears, hopes, and discoveries as they figure out what their intent, their purpose, truly is.

Natalie and Iman were adventurous enough to begin each day with a blank slate, not knowing who they were going to meet or what they were going to do. They were incredibly gracious trying out tantra, yoga, healing with horses, and even a death and dying dinner at my house!

Over the next few months, we will share each episode of 30 Days of Intent here on Intent Blog with profiles on the experts and topics covered.

We would love for the show to be a catalyst for your own journey of intent. If you want to join us, post an intent and tag your intent, #30days. It would be great if you update the intent with thoughts or motivations or adjustments as you watch the series.

To get us started, here are Natalie and Iman’s intents.

Natalie: I intend to live my fullest potential and serve others by helping them to do the same.

Iman: I intend to live with purity and clarity of heart and mind, clearing away any negativity.

Please support them by clicking on the links above! And, I just posted my intent here.

I am so excited to finally launch this show – looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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