“I think we need the feminine qualities of leadership, which include attention to aesthetics and the environment, nurturing, affection, intuition and the qualities that make people feel safe and cared for.“ – Deepak Chopra
My friend and fellow Fierce 50 sister, Rae Marie Jaeger, surprised me recently with an invite to the very first “Women’s Retreat” at The Chopra Center. How could I say no to such an amazing opportunity! Rae and I met through another fabulous Chopra experience called “Seduction of Spirit” in Whistler, Canada. It was a life changing meditation retreat for me where I personally experienced immense inner growth. Dr. Deepak Chopra is a world renowned specialist in Ayurvedic Medicine. It’s an ancient practice established thousands of years ago, based on “Dosha,” that has helped many to tap into their innate inner healing wisdom. Having personally experienced the incredible healing effects of Ayurveda, I’ve been a fan of Deepak and The Chopra Center for many years.
Arriving at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA, just outside of San Diego, I felt a sense of immediate relaxation! Having stayed at La Costa over a decade ago, I was pleasantly surprised by the immense beauty and impeccable restoration of the property. Opening the door to a beautiful suite with the most relaxing aesthetics was the beginning of a beautiful weekend journey. This was my very first event at The Chopra Center and I was honored to be asked to share my personal experience of the retreat weekend.
On Friday afternoon, we gathered in a large conference center and tentatively began getting to know one another. It is an immensely popular event, with women coming from all over the world with one purpose: to meet other like minded women interested in spirituality, Ayurveda, meditation, and health and wellness. The opening afternoon featured two of the women who are active behind the scenes at the Chopra Center, Sara Harvey and Dallas Brown. Sara is an impressive woman and took over the helm after the passing of David Simon, one of the original founders of the center. Those were big shoes to fill and she has done a masterful job. Her presentation was both empowering and vulnerable. Her beautiful authenticity in sharing her personal journey, with many moving moments, was one that will inspire women of all ages. She’s a force in the world of natural healing and one to keep your eye on. Her partner in crime on stage, Dallas Brown, shared her own personal challenges with beauty, grace, and a refreshing vibrancy. You could tell that these are two women who “walk the talk” and aren’t afraid to share in the most authentic and heart filled manner.
That evening, Dr. Shefali Tsabary took the stage and captivated the audience. I’ve been studying spirituality for over 25 years and never had the pleasure to cross paths with Dr. Tsabary. Her presentation focused on what she refers to as “Conscious Parenting” with a bit of a spin on what I like to call “Conscious Adulting.” In Dr. Shefali’s words, she teaches that we aren’t in a “patriarchal” society as most of us believe. Rather, she places the responsibility for our culture firmly in our own hands, where as women, we must be accountable for the children we are raising. The “patriarchal” men were once young children whom we raised while many of us were selling our souls. She empowers women to think differently and to be mindful of our internal integrity. As women, we have programmed or “hypnotized” ourselves, to put that happy face on and to not be real with our inner pain. When someone asks you how you’re doing and you’re not doing well, the tendency for most women is to respond, “I’m great,” while we continually chip away at our integrity.
Dr. Tsabary encourages women to break free and begin to be real with themselves. How can we expect others to be authentic and vulnerable if we continue to keep the mask on? She encourages parents to take full responsibility in raising their children and not to continue to pass on our issues by living through our children. I’ll admit that I had many “Aha” moments during her talk as I’m preparing my own Ted Talk on this very subject. I realized the error of my ways long ago in the way that I raised my own children. My childhood was wrought with immense challenges, abuse and trauma and that was the lens that I raised my children through. I wanted to “save them” from any pain and to ensure that their lives were very different from my own. My focus wasn’t on being present, but rather being the perfect mother and savior that tried to prevent any pain or disappointment in my children’s lives. It wasn’t conscious by any means but it did have consequences of denying my children the opportunity to deal with some realities in a way that would have served them better as young adults. It was only later during a brutal wake up that I realized the many mistakes that I made. Being hyper conscious of every single word and intention is a powerful way to live. She’s a beautiful and powerful role model and I highly encourage you to follow this wonder woman.
The remainder of the weekend was one of bonding and celebrating women while turning within and taking an inventory of our own lives. Byron Katie was the Keynote Speaker for the weekend and many of you may be familiar with her brilliant thesis which she calls “The Work.” I had an opportunity to meet Byron back in Chicago in a tiny bookstore over a decade and a half ago when I was introduced to The Work. It’s not for everyone as Byron is known for her tough and no nonsense teachings. She brought a few brave volunteers up onto the stage while they worked through their various issues and traumas, using the powerful worksheets that Byron is known for. The Work has changed many lives throughout the world as Byron has shared her personal story which is much like that of an Eckhart Tolle. She was suffering severe depression and barely functioning when she had an enormous wakeup call and spiritual experience. In a momentary epiphany, she began to see clearly and to change the lens with which she viewed the world. She educates people about their own projections and encourages them to take responsibility for everything that is going on in their lives. The Work can be found online and Byron freely offers her worksheets and information on her website for free to help those looking to make powerful and lasting inner change.
Dr. Sheila Patel is the Medical Director for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. She is also a Certified Vedic Educator and has immersed herself in the Vedic philosophy. She gave a powerful talk that inspired many of the women to begin thinking differently about their health and taking full responsibility. I loved that she was so real having recently returned from a Mexican holiday where she enjoyed herself, the delicious food, and libations. She believes in finding a balance and truly enjoying life. That’s the beauty of Ayurveda. It’s a wonderful cornerstone that emphasizes balance in life. I’m well aware of my Vata/Pitta Dosha tendencies. As a creative, Vata types have a great deal of “air” which means that we can go through life very ungrounded. The Vedic teachings share many ways to ground through diet and spiritual practice. The Pitta part of my inherent nature is the fiery part or the fighter in me. It’s important to be aware of these parts of ourselves rather than judging and to find natural ways to heal and bring them into balance.
The Chopra Center is world renowned for it’s incredible healing practices. It’s a leader in meditation, teaching a mantra based meditation that’s very much like the Transcendental Meditation teachings that Dr. Chopra began studying decades ago. I’ve received my personal mantra in both Transcendental Meditation, as well as the Chopra method. They are both powerful means of transforming your life from the inside out and I can’t recommend their healing powers enough. I have to admit that when I returned from a weeklong Chopra Meditation Retreat, I was asked by several friends if I had slipped away and had some work done. Ha! I had to laugh as that may be the greatest anti-aging secret out there. As a woman at midlife and the Founder of the Fierce 50 Revolution, I do believe highly in disrupting the aging process as naturally as possible.
With creative activities such as finger painting, which I haven’t done since kindergarten, it was a fun way to get to know the other women and bond in a unique way. The event had fabulous vendors with one of my favorites, the grounding chairs that were in the lobby. As a vata, grounding can be a challenge as I have my own grounding mats and tools at home. If I could have brought home one of the grounding chairs, I would have in an instant! Another favorite tool was the meditation biofeedback sensor. I was under a fair amount of stress when I tried the device and was happily surprised that my meditation skills proved successful as I passed with flying colors. It’s a great way to have instant feedback that your inner work is actually making significant change in your life. Yoga was offered early each morning on the outdoor lawn. It was a relaxing way to begin the day! The Chopra Center has a wealth of healing treatments from massage to the more extensive Ayurvedic treatments such as Panchakarma. These are ancient healing practices with a great deal of science behind them. Having personally experienced many of these treatments, I would love to be invited back to share more with you!
To my beautiful friends at The Chopra Center, I’m honored to have been your guest and to share my wonderful experience. You can find my beautiful friend Rae Marie Jaeger at Interior Radiance or on Instagram. Visit with her and she’ll show you how to tap into your own inner vibrancy! I met many new friends and new faces and came away with beautiful memories and inspiration to live the best life possible. I can’t recommend the many offerings of The Chopra Center highly enough! From their annual women’s retreat to their many healing weekend programs and longer meditation retreats, there is something for everyone on your list. There’s nothing more important in life than self realization and raising your personal awareness of your patterns, thoughts and belief systems. Without awareness, there can’t be change. Meditation is the key to raising self awareness.