When I was a child, my father, Deepak Chopra guided my brother, Gotham, and me to ask three questions: Who am I? What do I want? How can I serve?
‘Who am I?’ was about exploring who we were beyond the labels of daughter, sister, student, friend, Indian and American. By teaching us meditation, my father guided Gotham and I to experience our essence – that quiet space inside ourselves where our thoughts settled down and we became familiar with our presence, our soul. As life evolved and we added more labels – wife, grad student, entrepreneur, author, mother – we had that experiential anchor of being in touch with our soul to know that we were more than just the role we played in each moment. This gave both my brother and I a sense of security through the joys, sorrows, successes and failures that life undoubtedly presented. As a child, meditation was the most important gift my parents gave me. As a parent, I have shared meditation and mindfulness techniques with my daughters and their friends (and now in).
‘What do I want?’ began with material wants – tickets to the Celtics, a trip to Hawaii, new clothes. My father would further guide us to the think about the qualities we wanted in our life. How about asking for love, connection, inspiration, and a sense of purpose? We learned to set intentions and aspire to think about who we wanted to be as individuals, members of our families and communities, and citizens of Mother Earth.
And, the last question, ‘how can I serve?’, often, quite honestly, presented stress and confusion for me for many years. My parents taught us about the concept of dharma and that each of us has a unique purpose to contribute to this planet. Ambitious and eager to create a name for myself, I found that asking this question caused anxiety and insecurity for me. I did not know how I could serve – or I thought I wasn’t serving in a way that was effective enough.
It was in becoming a mother and finding my own unique voice that I realized that ‘how can I serve?’ is a nurturing and empowering question that we should ask every day of our lives. Every one of us has the capacity to serve — as parents, co-workers, friends, leaders and members of our community. Infrom a few years ago, I shared how Eckhart Tolle reminded me that means doing your part, authentically and joyfully, to raise the frequency of this planet in whatever way you can. This may be through volunteering, contributing to causes you believe in, building a company, participating in something you are passionate about, or taking care of loved ones.
I feel lucky that I have been able to share many of the practical exercises of meditation and mindfulness in my latest book,. The book, written for children, hopefully can also provide a guide to parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors about how to help kids answer and experience these sacred questions.
As the year comes to an end, and the Indiaspora community reflects consciously on our contribution to the US and the world, we should take great pride in how each one of us serves in our unique way. I hope that we keep asking these questions so that we can continue to grow as individuals, as Americans, and as a global community.
Mallika Chopra is a mom, media entrepreneur, public speaker and published author. Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement and More, her latest project, is an accessible, fun, how-to book filled with full-color illustrations written for 8-12 year olds. In Living With Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy, Mallika shares personal stories and insights she gained while seeking balance as a mom and entrepreneur who felt she was overwhelmed by work, family and too many responsibilities. Mallika has taught meditations to thousands of people, and enjoys speaking to audiences around the world about intention, balance and living a life of purpose.
You can see her appearance on Good Morning America earlier this fall.
She is also an Indiaspora Patron and delighted to be part of the Indiaspora community.