Today was so full I don't know where to begin. The workshop has been a lot more lecture than I expected, and less meditation, but that could be because I missed half of the afternoon group meditation because I ran back to my room. Tomorrow we have yoga at 6:30am, so I need to get to sleep soon.
I'll just give the highlights... Deepak (Chopra, of course) spoke at 715 this evening, about the fundamental nature of reality - is there a physical and spiritual realm, or is everything manifest in the physical realm (the view of many scientists) or alternately (Deepak's view) is everything spiritual or manifest in a non-physical realm. It was a pretty deep talk, and he isn't a super animated speaker. He had some profound thoughts and the discourse reminded me of the philosophers of old, like Descartes, etc. And what he said made clear sense in an abstract, obscure way. And that's the "other hand" - that the stuff he was speaking about was somewhat obscure and more philosophy than 'practical matters'. I have never seen him speak or heard him on his radio show or read his books (other than the one on world peace) and I have no idea whether he's normally in a somewhat low spirit (low energy) or whether it is due to the very recent death of the co-founder of the Chopra Center, David Simon. Both are MDs, and they founded the center many years ago and worked side by side. Simon got cancer a couple years ago and just passed away in January. At any rate, I didn't come here for Deepak, per se, but for the overall experience, and that has been great. My favorite part of what Deepak shared was a guided meditation on the different types of awareness (awareness of the physical body, of the senses, of mental space itself, and of relationships). It got me into this state of bliss and peace. It was weird because at first I had a sense of irritation and stress, and then I started to feel bliss. It wasn't a long meditation, only like 15 minutes or less. Then I was very tired!
The rest of the day was filled with lectures. I was actually super excited in the morning by Dr. Valencia Porter who is an MD with a Master's in Public Health with a speciality in environmental health, which as you may know i've been writing a lot about lately. She is about my age, has two kids, and I loved her overview of mind-body connections. She has an impressive background.
The other highlight was Davidji - he talked about Ayurveda and the three "doshas" or constitutions, vata, pitta, and kapha. I won't get into the descriptions but I found it really intriguing and fun. The best part was his presentation - he's hilarious and a lot of fun to listen to. I had previously tried to figure out my "dosha" at a website and couldn't but his descriptions of the types were so funny and made it very clear. There is also a "quiz" you can take. Now I have no idea what kind of scientific basis there is for any of that part of Ayurveda, but I was surprised that there's a lot more to it than the typing/doshas. Ayurvedic medicine is from India and includes many modern practices too like surgery and other things, particularly nutrition and eating vegetarian and mostly veggies, whole grains and herbs and spices that are nutritive and healing - stuff that is certainly backed by science. Yoga/exercise is another leg of the stool. And the big thing is the connection between the mind and the body. That does not mean that it's "all in your head" or that you can heal every ailment by just meditation and yoga by any means. But I don't think there's any doubt that a lot of people in modern society could sure as hell gain a lot from doing yoga and meditation... and as Valencia showed from reviewing many studies, there's a wealth of data backing up the evidence behind the benefits of meditation in particular in everything from breast cancer to heart disease to diabetes.
The lunch was all vegetarian, mostly vegan, abundant and delicious! There was quinoa, and vegan eggplant "parmesan" and a big salad, and fresh fruit. Yum!