Legendary spiritual and self-help speaker, Dr. Deepak Chopra is making his first-ever appearance at #EssenceFest in just a few days. Before he hits our Empowerment Experience stage, he took some time to talk about overcoming grief during tragic times, manifesting grace through gratitude, and how utilizing conflict-resolution techniques can lead you to a more peaceful lifestyle.
ESSENCE: This is your first time at #EssenceFest and your main topic of the panel is conflict-resolution. Why is it so important for you to have this conversation with the attendees at ESSENCE Festival?
I think for the first time, we do have the tools to have this conversation. We have the tools to make peace as a lifestyle. We have the tools for understanding true leadership. We have examples, also, as we are bringing together some people that have been working in the urban New York area, in Queens, from the African-American community, who used to be apart of gangs. Now, they are actually leaders and people of higher consciousness. Teaching people how peace can be a lifestyle. They are also yoga instructors and meditation teachers. So, I think we have the opportunity to create a national movement. My hope is African-American youth can take a leadership role in the future of our country.
ESSENCE: Speaking of “peace as a lifestyle,” what’s the most important tip that you could give to ESSENCE readers on how to live a peaceful, conflict-free lifestyle?
First, they have to make a commitment to peace in their own lives. They have to say, “I am going to take a vow of non-violence.” Not reacting violently to anybody and then there are certain peace practices that I’ll be talking about—Being peace, feeling peace, creating peace, celebrating peace, speaking peace and everything that we can practice in our daily lives. So, we become the embodiment of peace consciousness. Peace can only be created by those who are peaceful. Otherwise, you just become an angry peace activist.
ESSENCE: There’s so much tragedy going on in this country and in the news, especially with the shooting in Charleston. In the wake of tragedy, how would you recommend communities find peace of mind?
This is a very sad time. The tragedy is so enormous that no matter what I say, people will still have to grieve. Grief is part of the experience of healing. The only way through the pain IS through the pain. If we do not feel our pain, then we will be suppressing it into rage that will come out at a later time. At this moment, the most important thing is not to be reactive. We have to feel the grief and then figure out what we can do together as communities, to not allow these same things to happen. It’s totally a projection of the madness in our society that anybody can walk in to a store, buy a gun and then go into a church- a place of peace- and randomly shoot people.
ESSENCE: Speaking of feeling that grief, how do you think communities can channel the grief, frustration and anger they may feel in a positive manner?
Three things: Number 1, coming together for some sort of spiritual practice including meditation and prayer. Number 2 is service, volunteering for the community and number 3, is actually doing things together and coming together as a community towards a shared goal or vision.
ESSENCE: Speaking of that spiritual practice, you and Oprah are actually rolling out an online meditation experience in July, which we’re very excited about. Tell us more about what that experience will be.
This will be a 21-day experience in meditation that will open the door to compassion and to gratitude. These are the two most divine experiences we can have. Compassion automatically leads to love. Love always leads to some kind of meaningful service or action. Gratitude opens the door to abundance consciousness. When you feel grateful for all the things that you already have, your body, in fact, biologically starts to heal. You also open the door to opportunities of abundance.
ESSENCE: The premise of the experience you are rolling out with Oprah is “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude”. What does it mean to “manifest grace through gratitude”?
Grace is when people say, “God is on my side,” or “I was lucky” or “I was at the right place at the right time.” Grace is the universe supporting you in some way. When you manifest grace, you literally manifest good luck. That is really what we mean here by saying that we manifest grace through gratitude.
ESSENCE: #EssenceFest is a massive, multi-layered event. What are you most looking forward to outside of your speaking engagement?
I’m very curious to what the celebrations are going to be. The food, the music and everything else—the people connecting with each other and networking and all of that.
ESSENCE: You’ve been labeled a spiritual or self help guru but you reject that term, a lot. Why do you feel you shouldn’t be labeled as a guru?
I think it’s an old-fashioned idea. The best guru is inside you. I say, “Gee, you are you [spells guru].” That’s the best guru. It’s your inner teacher. It’s your higher self. It’s your intuition. So, why pick another guru? I can offer some tools but you should be your own guru.
ESSENCE: Was there was a particular experience in your life that made you want to connect with people on this level and share your gift of helping them heal and to lead them to more peaceful and balanced lives?
I’m a doctor and I was always interested in healing. I realized that physical healing was not enough. We had to address emotional and spiritual healing, and ultimately community healing. It was basically a slow evolution, I should say.
ESSENCE: You spoke earlier about “manifesting abundance” in one’s life and that’s something a lot of people will be interested in because we don’t often realize that our thoughts manifest what happens in our lives. Is there a tip that you can give to set one’s mind on the path to manifesting that abundance?
A lot of people will learn techniques in the 21-day [online meditation experience] so, I don’t want to give it all away but you have to sit in stillness and know what you want. So, even if you sit in stillness and ask what do I want, you will see that you will spontaneously have wants and creativity and intention will be triggered.