It's a challenge to face the news of the day without occasionally experiencing anger, a sense of being overwhelmed, compassion fatigue or just plain old-fashioned burnout. And if you doubt that, just click from this article to Huffington's front page. Arguably, day in and day out, few people pay as close attention to the troubling news of our times as Arianna Huffington.
As it turns out, the straight talk that has set the pace on The Huffington Post also has a personal side, as Arianna revealed this past weekend at "How to Co-Create A Spiritually Empowered Future," an afternoon event with Deepak Chopra and Andrew Cohen, which she moderated. Donna Karan, a long-time friend of all three, hosted the event, which was organized by Gerard Senehi, a "transformative philanthropist." (See photos from the event below.)
"We're in a time of transition. One culture is dying. Another is being born. How do we move from struggle to grace?" Arianna posed the question to Chopra and Cohen as an audience of several hundred people gathered in Karan's welcoming Urban Zen Center in downtown Manhattan, with other participants watching via live stream. "Let's focus on what brings us together rather than what tears us apart," she urged.
Arianna revealed that she had her own moment of truth when long work hours and too little sleep blended into a state of bone-deep exhaustion that lead her to nod off and fall face forward on her own desk, smashing her face. After the broken bone mended and the stitches healed, Arianna recognized the wake-up call and turned to yoga, longer hours of sleep, and mindfulness in order to help her to "get enough rest and enjoy life while achieving."
Arianna recalled the words of her late mother, who once took her to task for opening her mail while speaking with her children, emphatically saying, "I hate multitasking."
Deepak Chopra pointed out that all of us are multitasking all the time, navigating the four levels of ourselves: being, feeling, thinking and doing. Doing it consciously makes all the difference.
Andrew Cohen, the founder of EnlightenNext took up the question of how to live in the midst of great change, saying, "Our shared values all too often propel us towards competition, aggression and narcissism. The rate of change is not slowing down. The traditional solution offered by spirituality and meditative practices, offered a safe haven of calm and primordial peace." (Cohen teaches meditation.)
"But that's not enough," he contended, explaining that in observing his students, he saw that once they came out of meditation and stepped into what he called "the world of chaos," they were unable to retain their calm. "They were always looking for a way out of here because the world is imperfect."
The goal, he felt, was not to use meditation to escape from the world but to connect with it wholeheartedly. In contemplating this, he reported that he came to recognize that "saying we want to retreat reveals that we have a core ambivalence about life on earth."
He invited the audience to contemplate the question, "Is life on earth good enough?"
Cohen pointed out that there are three possible answers: yes, no, and I'm not sure. He encouraged the participants to contemplate, get to the roots of their doubt and ambivalence, and discover the way to say a "big 'yes' to life."
Deepak Chopra affirmed that it's not only beneficial to the one who centers him- or herself, because an individual's spiritual practices also affect everyone, through a process called "entanglement." He asserted that the findings of quantum physics reveal that particles once connected are inextricably linked such that they continuously affect each other, even over great distances. Studies performed by Dean Radin have also repeatedly demonstrated that minds are similarly connected, he said.
"Our minds are entangled," Chopra affirmed. "There is no such thing as an isolated mind. Our mind regulates our brain and our bodies. Consciousness is key to bioregulation, neuroplasticity and gene modulation" -- all key biophysical mechanisms that govern our being, awareness, emotions, mind and health.
"Our mind exists in relationship to other minds. Through the flow of energy and information, we monitor and regulate, and are monitored and regulated by, other minds. Our well-being depends on the well-being of others. We are dependent on the well-being of others, including our perceived enemies."
Due to the flow of both information and interconnection via social media, Chopra sees technology as a key opportunity for personal and social transformation.
"Driven by divine discontent, let us peacefully and urgently work towards a peaceful, just, sustainable, healthy world," he urged. "Love without action is irrelevant. Action without love is nothing."
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