As humans we are drawn to other humans. We find comfort and strength in bonding together to form close knit groups that keep in mind the interests of the entire group rather than focusing solely on the needs of any one individuals. We call these groups communities and we create them in nearly every aspect of our lives; our neighborhoods are communities, at work we may have another close knit community and via the web, we can have communities based on common interests not bound by geography. With community playing such a key role in our lives, it seems like a natural step to create financial communities. This was the vision that Josh Siegel had in 2003 when he founded StoneCastle Partners which has grown to be one of the largest and most respected firms in Community Banking.
“It’s the purest of banking,” Siegel explained recently in an interview with Deepak Chopra for the series One World on Newswire.fm. “All they do is they collect the local dollars of people like us, they put in together and give it to a person in their community; its very community oriented. Its starting a business, it’s buying their first house. It’s doing something very connected and personal.”
These community banks are not only better in terms of the personal touch that they provide; they also tend to do a better job fiscally as well. “They lose less money, believe it or not, than the money center banks, they earn a better rate of return for their investors and they do more good,” says Siegel. In other words, they do everything that the larger mega banks do but on a manageable scale which allows them to be more successful.
It’s a simple and refreshing model; one that keeps a community’s money in that community and making sure those dollars are working for the people who need them. Josh recounts unusual stories of community banks helping in towns where natural disasters have hit without focusing on how they will recoup profits. Why? Because the banker is a member of that community and has a personal connection to the people with whom he does business. It is the humanization of fiscal responsibility. Banks don’t have to be the huge, profiteering machines that they so often turn into. Banks can and should treat people like people. It’s not just a pipe dream. Josh Siegel has proven that it works.
After being given an unnecessary hysterectomy at the age of 42, Michelle King Robson saw a dramatic shift in her health. She went into menopause overnight, gained weight, experienced hot flashes, joint pain and memory loss. “I got so sick that I didn’t want to live anymore,” she recalls of the experience. Her struggles with the procedure and the long road to recovery that followed, lead her to create her website EmpowHER.com.
Michelle recently sat down with Deepak Chopra to have a discussion on her experience as part of the One World series on NEWSWIRE.FM.
As Michelle struggled through recovery, she searched for someone who had been through something similar. After visiting hundreds of websites and reaching out to doctors across the country, she couldn’t find a single person who could tell her what to expect, recommend a course of action or even give her any words of encouragement. “I got sick, I got well, and then I got mad and that’s when I decided to start a company.” Michelle explains. EmpowHER was created to ensure that no woman has to go through the struggles that Michelle went through around her health.
“What happened with me was I didn’t advocate for myself, and most women don’t. We advocate for everybody else…but we don’t do it for ourselves.” She told Deepak for the One World episode. EmpowHER allows women to not only find support when they are dealing with a variety of health challenges; but also helps women (and men alike) take control of their health with condition-specific medical information and access to a dynamic community.
EmpowHER offers resources to women around what questions they should be asking of their healthcare providers and what things they can be doing to advocate for their health. “I wanted to make sure women have valuable information and support because that’s what I was lacking.” This is how EmpowHER’s 24-hour promise was born. Anyone can log into the site, ask a question and they are guaranteed a FREE answer within 24 hours. In this way, Michelle can ensure that no one gets left behind. “We all deserve answers, validation and support around our health.”
As caregivers in most societies, women are taught to put their own wellbeing last. With EmpowHER, Michelle seeks to turn this trend on its head. “It’s ok for you to be first in your life. Because if you’re not first guess what happens? The whole family suffers.” Rather than becoming bitter as a result of her own experiences, Michelle has created the support system and tools she wishes she had. EmpowHER brings credible health information and women together in a safe trusted community. “When you have information, you have the power to change outcomes in your life and every life you touch.”
Since establishing EmpowHER, Michelle has become a nationally-recognized women’s health and wellness advocate spending her time speaking before women’s groups, health care organizations, political leaders, regulatory bodies and the media about women’s health and the importance of women advocating for themselves and their loved ones.
You can see Deepak’s whole conversation with Michelle at NEWSWIRE.FM
So often in modern society, we look at success as being defined narrowly as attaining money and power. Particularly in the business world, there is a tendency to forget that there should be other measures of success including health, well-being, empathy and morality. These are the things that make up the Third Metric and there is a move by many in the business world to ensure that more emphasis is places on these things. Arianna Huffington is one business leader who is speaking passionately about this move.
When Arianna recently sat down with Deepak Chopra for a One World discussion regarding the Third Metric, she emphasized the importance of her mother in introducing the concept of the Third Metric to her. “She had always lived differently by putting relations and the heart and connections at the heart of everything and I had to catch up with her and to recognize why this is the only way to live.”
The entirety of that conversation is available now on NEWSWIRE.FM and one of the more striking points about the interview is that despite Arianna’s successes in digital arena, she is fully aware that being too wrapped up in technology is not conducive to well-being nor is it conducive to continued creative success. She explains to Deepak Chopra that “It is no longer possible to dismiss the value of meditation, sleep, learning to unplug from technology and reconnect with ourselves.” Human beings need more time alone, more space for self-reflection and a time to find the sources of creativity within ourselves.
Adrianna’s new book Thrive: The Third Metric to redefining Success and Creating Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, which will be released this month, focuses on the ways in which we must take care of their own bodies and minds to achieve success. Without our health and well-being, money and power will never be enough to satisfy us.
The Third Metric does not however only focus internally. Rather, as Arianna explains in the One World episode, giving is also a critical part of what makes a person thrive. “We can now see how giving and compassion are one of the fastest ways to happiness.” So much of what makes a person stressed is their inability to look beyond themselves and at the bigger picture. Conversely, when we focus on being giving and compassionate people, we are viewing life with a wider lens which more often than not is a way to put our own stressors into perspective.
So much of the purpose of the Third Metric is ensuring that we are viewing our own lives from the right perspective. “Very often, life has a bigger imagination than we have and we just need to be open to it” Arianna explains. Not everything will always go as planned but finding happiness and truly being able to thrive requires openness to the changes in life and a willingness to face them with genuine intentions and a clear mind.
As one of the highest earning hedge fund managers of his generation and the founder of the highly successful Robin Hood Foundation, Paul Tudor Jones is no stranger to success but it is his faith and passion for enhancing the conscious mind that have made him a true maverick. In fact, he attributes much of his success as a businessman and a philanthropist to his spirituality.
As a person of deep faith and spirituality, Jones feels strongly about the connection between the health and wellbeing of the mind and the health of a person as a whole. As a philanthropist, he has a passion for giving back. Paul Tudor Jones and his wife Sonia have been able to combine these two passions by introducing the contemplative sciences more fully to the religious studies department at the University of Virginia.
The model that Paul Tudor Jones has provided at UVA is a great example of the ways in which giving back to the community can and should focus on more than just one aspect of the human experience. As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, Paul Tudor Jones first set out to introduce yoga to the UVA community and ended up creating something much larger.
“We found this enormous thirst, this unquenched thirst for anything that can help people better themselves,” say Jones in his interview with Deepak Chopra. “Not just physically through something like yoga or tai chi but also mentally through meditation and a variety of other mind-body techniques that help people become better individuals mentally, spiritually, emotionally and then tap into the larger collective good.”
Paul Tudor Jones believes that being able to look beyond everyday life to a higher purpose, will lead not only to personal growth but will result in a more peaceful and just society overall. When individuals are given the time for self-reflection, they have the ability to connect more positively with their fellow man and the world around them. He embodies this in his charitable work, like that done by the Robin Hood Foundation. The idea behind the Robin Hood Foundation was to create a successful charitable organization that was enhanced by interaction with the free market. Using sound investment techniques, Paul Tudor Jones has made the Robin Hood Foundation a leader in the fight against poverty in New York City.
The Robin Hood Foundation is an example from Paul Tudor Jones’s own life of how self-reflection and an understanding of the conscious mind can lead to “more collective goodwill” in today’s society.
What is your higher purpose?
You can watch the entire interview with Paul Tudor Jones here.
This week’s episode of “Perfectly Imperfect Parents” on The Chopra Well is all about lying and how parents handle it with their kids. Deepak Chopra makes a guest appearance to discuss the grey areas, but one voice remains adamant that lying is never okay: Dr. Cara Natterson is a pediatrician and author of The Care and Keeping of You. We interviewed her on her firm stance against lying and how parents can model the merits of honesty to their kids.
The Chopra Well: What’s your view on kids lying – sometimes okay, never okay?
Dr. Cara Natterson: The best advice I ever got, ever in my whole life I think, was this:
Never tell a lie and then you won’t have to remember what you said.
As a pediatrician and as a mom, my rule is that lying is never okay. This is a boundary – and an important one at that – because it keeps kids safe. I don’t really care what my kids might be lying about. For me, there are no gradations here. A lie is a lie, and teaching the importance of honesty trumps the subject matter. Now that said, all kids lie. At least, at some point they do. It is a developmental right of passage. And so it’s not so much that lying is entirely preventable (because it’s not), but rather that parents shouldn’t tolerate it. Your kids will do it, and they will seek your reaction. In my house, the response is pretty firm.
CW: Isn’t there kind of a fine line between kids embellishing/using their imagination and outright deceiving?
CN: Sure there is. This is part of that developmental phase. Kids must explore the concept of consequences. And they need to learn how to draw a line between reality and fantasy. I think it gets increasingly hard from generation to generation as there are more visual cues (TV, video games, movies, apps) that further blur those lines. But by the time a child is in grade school – certainly by 2nd or 3rd grade – embellishment turns to deceit. And I think many kids are asking to be caught because they want to know the limit. Their job is to push us and test us, and our job is to respond consistently.
CW: Can you tell us an anecdote about catching one of your kids in a lie and how you handled it?
CN: My daughter is a horrible liar. Gotta love that. She has no poker face and she bursts into tears when she thinks she has let someone down. So I would have to dig deep to find a story that involves her lying and not just melting and revealing herself within 30 seconds.
My son is craftier than his older sister. Not in a bad way, mind you, but he just watches and learns. So he does not fear stretching the truth like she does, and precisely because she doesn’t do it that much he doesn’t fear the consequences either (because she doesn’t really have any). His most frequent lie is about thumb sucking. I will be reading with him at night and see him slip his thumb into his mouth – a habit he’s been trying to kick since he was four, but at seven-and-a-half he just loves a drag or two on that thumb. I will see him do it, or a shiny, moist digit will pop into my peripheral vision while we are reading. And at this point, I don’t even say anything. I just grab at his thumb as fast as humanly possible because it’s a race to see if I can feel the moisture before he wipes his thumb dry on his pajama bottoms. When he wins the race, he smirks at me. When I win, I smirk back. And either way, his thumb gets covered with a Band Aid, which is the only deterrent that keeps it out of his mouth. There’s the consequence, and he just keeps checking that I am going to follow through. Every single night.
CW: How have truth and deception played into your work as a pediatrician? Do your patients ever lie to you about their health and habits?
CN: Parents lie much more than the kids do. Parents are invested in making life look perfect, or at least in putting their best face forward, so they will shower me with positives about how their kids are always in car seats or there is no soda in the house or whatever it is they think I want to hear. And most of the time, the kids will out their parents. “We do too have soda, mom!” When people lie about their health choices – like when a father tells me he has given up smoking and I can smell the cigarette fumes wafting from his clothes – they usually do it because they have shame. So it doesn’t help to further shame them. When I know someone is lying, I will ask the questions in a different way or try to explain why I am asking in the first place, and oftentimes I get the truth out.
CW: As parents, what’s the greatest lesson we can teach our kids about honesty, and how can we convince them that telling the truth is always worth it?
CN: It’s simple: honesty keeps you safe. And it really does. It keeps you from getting in trouble, it keeps you from getting hurt, and it keeps the story straight. I try to point to real-life examples of how lying creates bigger problems. We talk about events in the news related to lying or something that happened to a friend who lied at school. Recently my mom was driving one of my kids and she used the cell phone while driving. My daughter knew that I had asked her not to, and so when she did it my daughter said something. She said, “Nana, mom’s rule is no phone in the car. And there’s a reason for that rule – everyone drives better when they aren’t on it.” An amazing thing happened. My mom isn’t always perfect about following my rules, but she became perfect on this one. She hasn’t picked up the phone in the car since. I think it’s because my daughter told her why. She gave a rationale, and it made sense. It reminded me that explaining the reason for the rule is as important as the rule itself.
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“I believe in intuitions and inspirations…I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” ― Albert Einstein
“Intuition is the voice of our soul,” says intuitive Scotti Putnam Holloway. Scotti is the founder of SP Divine Explorations. She has studied with incredible teachers including bestselling authors, Sonia Choquette and Doreen Virtue, and she travels worldwide to do readings and teach about intuition. I’ve watched her trust her intuition to grow her business and to use it as a way to be of service to others. In the following interview she helps us understand what intuition is and ways to allow it to guide us especially during challenging times.
Q: More and more people are realizing that there’s something more than just the rational mind that guides and prompts us. Some of us call it soul-Self, Higher Power, Spirit and it nudges us into action through intuition. How would you define intuition?
Scotti: I define Intuition as that ancient old wisdom or “knowing” that we are all born with and as we learn to listen,develop and act upon the messages from this beautiful higher power, we rediscover that which we have always known. Simply put, Intuition is the voice of our soul.
Q: What are some of the best ways to develop intuition and to learn to trust it?
Scotti: There are four separate steps that I talk about in my classes that help one tap into and develop their intuition. The first is to simply be open to being intuitive. Many of us block this gift from our everyday life fearing judgement from others. The second is to expect to hear this knowledge as we ask Divine Spirit for information.The next is to trust the information that you receiving when it comes to you in it’s many forms of arrival. And the last would be to Act on the information that you have been given. The more that we respond to this information from our higher self, the more information that we will receive.
Q: What have been some of the ways that your intuition has guided you?
Scotti: My intuition truly guides every moment of my daily life very much like having my own personal GPS system. By listening to and being in tune to the subtle messages from Divine Spirit, I have made healthy decisions in different areas of my life including finding the new building for my business, creating and surrounding myself with a community of happy,healthy like minded soul family, and have most recently found a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood that I have long admired. Yes, this sacred guidance system has never led me astray.
Q: A lot of people seem to be experiencing tough times especially with finances, jobs and the economic challenges. How can intuition help guide the way through this?
Scotti: It does seem that the fear base of the collective whole is at an all-time high which leads to a tough time in staying grounded and centered and truly listening to our intuition. It is important during these times to check in daily with yourself and tune into how you are feeling. What areas in your body are perhaps a little “off”? When trying to get through the tougher times in life and especially when faced with a difficult decision, simply stand still for a moment, take a deep breath in and and ask yourself out loud whatever you are looking for an answer about. If the feeling that you receive after asking the question feels exciting or expansive, then you should proceed forward. Likewise, if the feeling that you feel after asking the question feels constricted or fearful, then it may not be the right move for you to make in that moment. For me personally, I think that the best way a person can stay in- tune with their higher self, is through the ritual of daily spiritual practice. This should be a part of your morning routine just as combing your hair or brushing your teeth are. Keeping in mind that everyone’s definition of daily spiritual practice vary’s greatly. For me it is a simple, “Thank you,Thank you, Thank you” before my feet hit the ground, followed by a beautiful prayer from A Course in Miracles that states “Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say? and to whom?” Giving myself to the service of others and truly expecting great things to happen during the course of my day.
Finally, I do a morning and an evening meditation. Please remember that It’s not so much about what you do to connect with your higher self, it’s just important that you take the time to make the connection.
Family life today is challenging. In the majority of households both parents work long hours. Feeding your family nutritious meals and keeping them active can seem like a daunting task at times. It’s becoming more and more rare to see families that eat together, play together, and laugh together. We are all inspired when we see how successful families keep it together through childbirth, mortgages, and life’s ups and downs.
We spoke with the Duers, an All-American family of five living in New York, on how they stay connected, sane, and healthy while juggling family and work responsibilities. We love Betty Duer’s suggestion for a “good, old-fashioned, super hearty belly laugh.” She also shares her yummy Apple Cider Sangria recipe below:
Joe, as a professional model and a family man, how do you maintain balance while juggling all your responsibilities?
My Family is Priority #1. I’m fortunate to be in a profession that provides the time and flexibility to be a provider, as well as help my wife with our children and their crazy schedules.
I coach both of my sons’ teams for baseball and basketball, and I enjoy having a hand in developing their skills while spending meaningful time with them.
I maintain balance by staying fit and healthy, not only for my job, but for the mental and physical benefits of taking that time for myself so I can be better focused as a Father as well as a Husband.
Who would you say is the most inspirational person you know and why?
Honestly? My Wife. I am truly inspired by how well she wears so many hats with being a nurturing Mother, a loving Wife, and an awesome career woman. She’s also a fantastic cook who loves to laugh. She takes such great care of all of us in every way and challenges me to keep up.
Betty, how do you manage as a busy mother of three and stay sane and healthy yourself? If you only had 30 minutes of downtime for yourself, how would you spend it?
With work, after-school activities, a preschooler at home and countless commitments on my calendar, I find balance in keeping things trimmed down to the bare minimum. I can’t be everywhere all the time, so I must say “no” to anything and everything that is not essential or doesn’t add value to my family’s life. I am so much more happy and productive when I’m not overwhelmed, thus keeping my sanity intact. I find if I keep watch over my mental health, my physical health follows suit.
Finding time for myself is definitely a luxury – but I think I would do absolutely nothing if I had only 30 minutes of downtime. I would just be thinking of more ways to spend my time with my family. I suppose that would be considered “meditating” – but it really does make me happy to really connect with them, as they are the most significant people in my life. It is always a bonus if I get to spend quality time with my family and great friends. There’s nothing better than having a good, old-fashioned, super hearty belly laugh.
What are your favorite ways to use ginger powder cosmetically?
As I am now in my forties, and after three pregnancies, I noticed my hair was thinning. I love taking the WP organic ginger powder and mixing it with olive oil and honey and massaging it into my scalp. It smells divine and stimulates my hair follicles as I leave it on as a hair mask before shampooing. It is a wonder root!!
What are your favorite ways to use ginger powder in your kitchen? Can you share a simple recipe with us that our readers can try at home?
Ginger is my favorite way to add “depth” to any of my dishes I make at home. I add it to my homemade wontons filling, my fast fried rice, and my roasted butternut squash soup, as well as into my cocktails.
1. Mix equal parts white wine, apple cider, and seltzer water (or ginger ale).
2. Add WP organic ginger powder to taste.
3. Garnish with diced Fuji apples and fresh cranberries.
It was a huge hit. The ginger powder really gives it a holiday zing.
What are the kids’ favorite sports? Who are their heroes?
Jake and Rock love baseball and karate. They both say their Daddy is their Hero. Jake even wrote a report when he was in 2nd grade about how he “looks up to his favorite guy who is brave, handsome and smart.”
How do the kids help you out when you’re having a busy day?
Rocky likes to tell funny jokes he learned from his big brother, and GiGi likes to help Mommy in the kitchen by handing her the food to chop and cook. Jake pours Mommy a glass of wine. They are all Mommy’s biggest helpers.
Now is the time to stock up on Ginger Powder — whether you’re buying it for your own kitchen or to share as a stocking stuffer. Wakaya Perfection Ginger Powder has been featured in the New York Times Gift Guide and as one of Oprah’s favorite things.
This is the fourth post in a series of interviews with a variety of food, wellness, and beauty experts on the benefits of ginger and the many ways to use it. We’ll be sharing recipes, health, and beauty tips with you that are unique to each expert’s specialty.
Leah Felder, half of the musical duo Brandon and Leah, just released her album, California Christmasfeaturing unique, beach-inspired re-makes of holiday classics and an original title track. The tracks are infused with her honeyed vocals and the distinct sound of the ukulele, perfect balmy sweet sounds to light up the season. Inspired by my recent conversations (ranging from being finding joy in the awareness of the present, liberation and music and mindfulness) with this socially conscious and talented couple, I decided to inquire and find out what inspires them and keeps them churning out good vibes and beautiful tunes.
People love your newly released album, California Christmas, and the self-released video for “Life Happens” has reached close to a million hits. And many of your fans frequently mention how refreshing your music is, how inspiring your lyrics are and how distinct and unique Leah’s voice is. Can you name some of your musical influences?
L: When I was a kid I would go down to The Warehouse…remember that place? I’d get CD’s, come home, slam the door shut and I would listen to Etta, Nina, Billy and Aretha. And then I started getting into Erykah Badhu. I loved her for her, like… I think I was 12-years old and I loooved her “Call Tyrone” was my favorite song ever. I’ve grown to admire Nick Drake’s song writing and, of course, I love John Lennon and Dusty Springfield and the list goes on. And during my teenage angst there was a lot of Rage Against the Machine. I still keep that around, just in case. And I’d also like to add Edith Piaf. I think I am in love with her.
So how did a little girl from Malibu get into all of this old music in the late 1980s?
L: My sister listened to New Kids on the Block and my brother was into crazy speed metal. My dad didn’t really listen to a lot of music, he just played a whole lot of music. My mom listened to The Gypsy Kings and stuff like that. And I got my introduction to “real music” and the music I fell in love with at a young age from the woman that would help take care of all of us. Her name was Dolores and she was about 65-years old and when she’d pick me up from school would have Frank Sinatra on. We’d get it into her car and we’d blow up the speakers with Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone. And Dolores had this taste… I started listening to this at about 7-years-old and listening to how it felt and she definitely got me into that era. And that’s when I really fell in love with music.
What a gift. What about you, Brandon?
B: I initially grew up listening to a lot of the very the beginnings of hip hop. Bands like A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian…things that were hip hop based and funky at the same time. I also loved Al Green. I remember when I first heard his music and it was just so great. I can still listen to that all day and I’ve heard it a million billion times. And, Bob Marley has to be mentioned, of course. I always loved Marley but then I just saw the documentary Marleyrecently and it was just awesome. I also listened to a lot of blues stuff like John Lee Hooker. Sublime was a big influence.
What was the last great book you read? Why?
B: I’ve been reading this awesome book called How to Train a Wild Elephant. It’s strictly about how to be present and gives you simple tasks that build mindfulness.
L: A book that I just finished, but keep re-reading and re-reading is Leonard Cohen’s Fifteen Poems. I have absolutely fallen in love with it. The book I read all the time and keep next to my bed is Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Another book that has expanded my perspective is Eckhardt Tolle’s A New Earth.
What does a typical day look like for the two of you and what sorts of things do you do to stay balanced and present?
L: I meditate two times a day, 20 minutes in the morning and at night. That helps. And hanging out with my dog.
B: Yeah, actually the dog is a big deal. There’s surfing and exercise. But more than anything is keeping a certain perspective about things whether they’re good or bad. I remind myself that things may seem one way one second, but they may seem a completely different way another second. It’s about being flexible and accepting.
L: “Blessed are the flexible for they will not be bent out of shape.” And a typical day, if we don’t have any meetings or anything, is waking up, taking a shower, taking the dog out, meditating and then driving to the studio and spending the day there. Whether we’re starting songs, finishing songs, or recording songs, we’re just working. It’s about being in the environment and having our energy present in that room so when little bits of creativity come, we’re right there to pounce on them. It’s important to us to have that repetition and a rhythm.
B: I’m a big believer that if you have any job that is sedentary and the studio very much is so…there’s a lot of computer work, that you have to switch it up and take little breaks. So we take little breaks here and there. We throw the ball for Gus or jump in the ocean.
L: Jumping in the ocean really helps with lyric writing.
I bet. It literally and figuratively washes you clean.
There is no way to say for certain what tomorrow will bring.
I’ve heard that dozens of times, and yet, I am still always hoping that I’m living all of this the “right” way: That I am making some sort of impact, that I am loving people as they deserve it, that I am staying authentic and true to myself. But at the same time, that I am not taking it all too seriously—that I am finding the balance and enjoying the journey along the way.
It has been teachers like Deepak Chopra who have shown me, time and time again, just how important this balance is in life and how you can actually impact others just by being the most true version of yourself.
A new film that really gets to the heart of authenticity is Decoding Deepak. Journalist and filmmaker Gotham Chopra spent a year traveling the world decoding his father Deepak Chopra, resolving the spiritual icon he is to the world versus the real man known to his family.
This film had a very positive personal impact on me. I’ve spent some time with Deepak on the road for Oprah’s Lifeclass Tour, and I’ve also had some really awesome live discussions with the Chopra family. But today, I am ready to bring a new spotlight into the mix with this Q&A with Gotham Chopra―the creator of Decoding Deepak―to have a deeper conversation about making the film and the lessons he gathered from the yearlong journey of documenting his father.
Check out the interview, watch the short clip or the full length film, and leave your thoughts in the comments section below! I always love hearing from you.
Eric Handler (EH): What was the original “deal” you made with your father regarding issues like creative control and point of view on the project? Did you have to “pitch” the idea to him, and, if so, what was your pitch?
Gotham Chopra (GC): Not really. I’m very close to my father and always have been. There’s never been a formality to our relationship and so there was no negotiation or even articulation of process around access, creative control, or any of that.
At the beginning, I don’t think he was entirely clear what we were doing. I probably wasn’t either.
I had this vague idea that I wanted to try and separate the icon whom the world has made my dad to be from the man I thought I knew. I shared that idea with him, and he shrugged and said “okay.”
I appreciated then—and even more so now—his trust in me but also in himself to not draw any real lines. He’s very comfortable with whom he is—his own contradictions and his relationships—that he just rolled with it as we rolled tape on it.
EH: There is a long, not-so-nice tradition of tell-alls, confessionals, and exposes by the children of celebrities. Though your film doesn’t not fall into this category, were you concerned about falling into that category? And, how critical could you allow yourself to be without venturing into “Daddy Dearest” territory?
GC: I was aware of it, but not imprisoned by it. At the outset, I knew in my head that I didn’t want to do an exploitative film of my dad that destroyed all of the credibility and status he has built over his career nor did I want to do some celebratory ode to him. In the end, I don’t think either of those types of films would have serviced a wider audience, which I was after.
I do think what comes across in the film is a certain questioning—even skepticism—from me while the camera follows my father.
More than anything, that’s probably the natural tenor of our relationship. I question everything I see. My father and his world wouldn’t be immune to that. If anything, a small group of Deepak loyalists have reacted to that, sensing more cynicism than skepticism, and that perhaps I was being too snide toward what he has built over his career, how many people he has touched, etc. Ironically, he hasn’t expressed any of those feelings.
EH: Early in the film, you say that you sometimes find it hard to tell where your father ends and you begin. Yet, the film carries themes of forging one’s own identity and finding one’s own path. Can you comment on the importance of this theme to you, your father, and to your respective (and shared) audiences?
GC: It’s funny, at the beginning of this process, I set out to make a film about my dad. Early on, as I contemplated what I was really doing, I realized that the film was actually about me. When I was done and started showing it to people and getting reactions like “that reminds me a lot about my relationship with my father” or “yeah, your dad and you express a lot of the questions I find myself asking about my life,” I realized that really this film is about people.
That’s a long way of saying that the film is about a lot of things: It’s about the icons we build in a culture that’s constantly searching for meaning. It’s about deconstructing that celebrity. It’s about families, father and sons, and trying to resolve love with longing to self-determination. And it’s about making sense of a world that is somewhat collapsing in on itself.
I think my father has become a symbol of this “flattening world”—Eastern wisdom traditions merging with western insights, the nexus of science and spirituality. I think the audience he has built, and that I have attracted, are trying to resolve these forces in the world and in their own lives. I know I am—trying to figure out meaning and purpose and significance while making a living, paying a mortgage, and having a political opinion but also having a spiritual existence. Onward.
EH: Well, one thing you make clear in the film is just how much your father broke with tradition at a few pivotal points in his life—abandoning traditional medicine for alternative medicine, breaking with his guru to go out on his own, etc. To what extent do you see yourself as having done the same thing? Did your father encourage and inspire your own breaks with tradition?
GC: I guess it’s ironic that while my dad is considered a teacher to millions, he’s never truly tried to teach me (or my sister) any rigid lessons. I do think he’s taught by example—his willingness to take bold steps in his career into uncharted territories, to break from comfort and safety, and to challenge established institutions and ideas—which has definitely been inspiring and empowering.
As for me, perhaps at some subconscious level, I have tried to break the norms as well. Or at the very least, be relatively detached from people’s expectations and reactions to what I do. But I also find myself rather frustrated and uncertain often times as to whether or not the constant desire to create and push undermines the discipline that comes with more traditional paths. Alas, I am who I am, and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with that over time, especially after documenting my dad through the course of the film and realizing that, ultimately, I just want to sing in the shower and not care much who is listening or what they think.
EH: You say more than once in the film that if your father didn’t have one, it would be a problem for him. Can you speak a little more to the conflicts facing someone who speaks to wide audiences for a living but who also has to speak to the individuals in his personal life?
GC: My late friend Michael Jackson used to tell me that he just had music inside of him and all he was doing was letting it out. Whoever listened, listened. Later in his life, when he became embroiled in more controversy and scandals and wanted to use his music as a way to express his rage or articulate his response to some of his critics, he told me that it just didn’t feel the same. That same detached inspiration that was once the bedrock of his art was lost. I’ve never forgotten that, and when I reflect on gifted creators—like MJ, or my dad, or many others—I often think that they’re at their best when they are totally indifferent and detached from who is listening to them or paying attention. They are singing in the shower, and whoever happens to be listening, listens. Whatever they think, whether criticizing or celebrating, often has a lot more to do with them and their state of awareness rather than the person doing the singing.
In general, I do think there are fundamental challenges for people like this, who are able to detach themselves from those around them. The consequence of detachment can be emotional distance, which is probably something that, for years, I struggled with my dad. Why I felt he may be able to solve the world’s problems, but he wouldn’t necessarily be the guy I go to solve mine.
Over time, though, as I have personally matured, I think I’ve realized that the only person who can really help me solve my own problems is me. And that’s something my dad has been telling the world his whole career.
EH: The concept of legacy is important to your film, especially when you travel to India with your son. How important, in general, do you see the idea of legacy in people’s lives?
GC: I think the idea of a legacy is fascinating. Because when it’s all said in done, when this ego encapsulated bag of skin and bones withers and fades, all we are really left with is the wisp of something prior, a memory that modifies and gets idealized over time. In fact, where someone’s legacy really resides is in the people most affected by that someone. So for my dad, it will inevitably be me and my sister and our kids. We’ll take the good, forget the bad for the most part, and construct some recall of him that will hopefully make a positive mark on the world. I do think about this more now than before. I’m not sure why.
EH: One of the warmest and most revealing moments in the film is when your father is just lying on a large bed, with his grandson in his lap, watching TV. Is your father just “grandpa” to your son? Is your son aware of his grandfather’s public persona?
GC: Having a child is the most spiritual experience I think I’ll ever have. As a parent, your point of view often shifts to your child, and, in the reflection of your child’s eyes, you get to see the cosmos in a fresh way. No experience, no person, nothing comes with any predisposed baggage—at least at the beginning. The Universe literally imprints itself on the consciousness of an infant until they start to transition into childhood. My son is right at that stage—he’s becoming very aware (for better and for worse) of the world around him.
Initially, I think his grandfather was just that to him, but, over time, he’s become aware of the larger persona that exists. He’s most certainly less snarky about it than his dad, at least for now. In fact, recently, I had a moment when watching my movie that I thought to myself for a moment, “Wow, will my son judge me this way someday?” And the answer is that he probably will. Hopefully, he’ll be gentle.
EH: Acknowledging that your father has an enormous following, how did you craft your film with “Deepak devotees” in mind, or did you? What did you want people who are not necessarily fans to find out about him, both as a person and as a personality?
GC: I was conscious of it but not held to it. I couldn’t be. I think that would have suffocated me if I tried to make a film that was in service to his devotees or if I just took potshots at him because I could.
In the end, I think his fan base will get to see a side of him that may surprise them—simple stuff that comes with the territory when you poke a camera behind the curtain. But beyond that—and perhaps for the people that only know him because of his ubiquitous twitter handle or social media iconography—I think they’ll see that, for all of the spiritual and scientific certainty that is his “brand,” there’s an underlying humanity to which is underpinned. There’s a fallibility and curiosity and tenuous need to be accepted and to belong, and that’s very familiar and relatable. Life is fragile, and life is precious. It’s not be taken for granted nor to be taken too seriously, and, at the end of it, hopefully we’ll have made some sort of positive impact in the world. I think my dad has, and I’m happy for him.
Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.
I love writing – but my heart belongs to film. So I’ve decided to combine the two. I’ve started a series called “Life Unscripted” where in addition to my blogs I’ll be including a video piece. I hope you’ll enjoy them!
Recently I got to hang out with my favorite theoretical physicist Dr. Amit Goswami. Ph.D. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for “BLEEP”. I love this guy because he makes Quantum Physics so accessible to us non-scientific folks. Why should you, mom, chef, postal worker, or whatever you are, want to really understand quantum physics and how it impacts your life? Don’t you want to know how you work? Quantum physics is in every aspect of our reality, known or unknown. So it’s probably a good idea to know what you’re playing in. I mean we all walk around with a huge quantum computer bobbing about in our heads!
Quantum Physics tell us that everything is energy. So, if everything is energy, why not go where there is lots of it! So this August, together with Dr. Goswami, I went to the Beloved Festival in Oregon.
Beloved is a music festival where about 2000 people come together to commune, dance, eat and just be together. It was an amazing experience; I could literally feel the energy.
I wanted to know if that energy I felt was actually measurable or if I was slipped a mickey in my kale juice. Are we emitting a measurable energy and if so what impact does it have?
Well quantum physics says we are. Some say you can photograph your energy (Vital Energy) or your aura with Kirlian photography and it’s possible to measure the effects your energy is having by using a random number generator. There have been multiple studies done- just Google it. You’ll find an interesting array of believers and skeptics.
I’m a believer. Not because of the mountain of scientific data surrounding the effects of meditation, focus, emotions on RNG’s, but because I’ve experienced it first hand.
Just being surrounded by 2000 people all sending out pure love, kindness, compassion, all good vibes made it almost impossible for me to feel anything else. I think I hugged everyone in sight (even Amit), and there was nothing but kale in my kale juice.
You’ve heard about miraculous healings after a group meditation, or what happened on 9/11. Random Number Generators around the world actually detected a disturbance, before, during and after the event!
Random Number Generators have been around since — like forever — one of the first probably being I Ching. So why all the skepticism? Probably because science needed to catch up with what many of the mystics have know for years. Your emotions, your energy impacts reality. How? Because, as quantum says, everything, including us, IS energy, so of course everything you do is emitting something, affecting the quantum foam, so to speak.
This is why Amit talks so much about do be do be do. Creating a good balance between emitting focused energy by doing and listening to what energy is coming your way, by being. What better way to affect your reality than consciously, right?
By understanding how everything works on a micro level, we can make things work on a macro level a little better. For me, understanding the nature of reality and how I am a part of it, shows me a few things- the most important being that nothing is constant and everything is malleable, which means I can change it. I’m not necessarily talking about moving furniture with my mind or transporting myself to Maui (I haven’t quite mastered that- but boy wouldn’t it be nice!). It really is true how we perceive our reality usually is how it is. So if by understanding that reality if effected by your energy and your putting out some not so yummy energy- well then I think you get the point.
Some cool things to check out:
Lynn McTaggart’s The Intention Experiment is an amazing book and project where they are measuring the effects of intentions that have been set. Check out: http://theintentionexperiment.com/
Dean Radin and Ions – Ions is doing lots of really cool experiments with Random Number generators and the effects of energy on reality. Check out: http://noetic.org/
Dr. Amit Goswami Ph.D has a really awesome online video course on Quantum Physics. I just took it! Even if you think you’ve got it down, it’s a pretty amazing course that will take you farther down the rabbit hole! Check out: http://www.quantumactivist.com/coursework/