About two years ago, I approached my father (Deepak Chopra) with a confession. I told him I was generally exhausted, over caffeinated and my sugar addiction was out of control. I realized I was overscheduled trying to balance my role as a wife, mom, and entrepreneur with Intent.com, my start-up social media company.
I felt bloated and had a lot of body pain. I hadn’t been meditating or exercising much, and at night I was having trouble sleeping. My father looked shell shocked, and it took a few moments for him to transition from concerned father to Deepak Chopra, the person that thousands go to for health advice.
Yes, even a Chopra can find herself out of balance, unhealthy, and wondering if my daily actions have any meaning or purpose. In the weeks before I confessed to my father, I had set the intent to make changes to feel better, more energetic and happier in my days. I decided to recommit to meditation (which I had learned when I was nine) and to rediscover the many lessons that my parents had taught us. But, this was just the beginning of the journey, and thus, I turned to my father for help.
As we sat together, my father and I brainstormed an exercise that would help me think about the areas in my life that needed attention. We came up with the following Balance Wheel — thinking about whether I was struggling, surviving or thriving in each area.
The exercise helped me break down the areas I needed to focus on, ask myself what I wanted, and set the intents to make change.
So began my journey to live with more intent — the experience I share in my new book, Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy.
I did some thought-provoking activities, from going on a health retreat to visiting Amma, the hugging guru, and to find more meaning and purpose, I spent time with my grandparents in India, paid attention to my eating and internal dialogue in a way I have never done before, and discovered unexpected joy in my role as a soccer mom.
I also interviewed brilliant thinkers like Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Arianna Huffington, Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Dan Siegel, and Caryl Stern, the President of the US Fund for UNICEF. In the book I share some of the laughter, frustration and lessons I learned along the way. I also developed a road map to live with INTENT:
Quiet your mind to tap into your deepest intentions; see where this leads.
Become mindful of your thoughts and actions and pay attention to what they tell you about what gives you meaning and a sense of purpose — and look for signs that can point you toward your true path.
Have confidence in your inner knowing — and in the messages the universe sends you — and allow that knowledge to guide you forward.
Write down your intentions; say them out loud or share them with others to fully embrace them and help you move ahead in your journey.
Be gentle with yourself as you try to find your way. Intention isn’t always a straightforward path, just like life, and giving yourself opportunities to try — and fail — is often part of, and even crucial to, the process.
Once you’ve identified an intent, or even multiple ones, don’t sit and wait for it to magically manifest; instead take the practical steps that can make each become a reality. It may be easiest to choose one intent first and set short-term goals to help you get started.
Adapted from the Living With Intent by Mallika Chopra. Copyright © 2015. Published by Harmony, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.
Photo courtesy of the author