Meditation guru Deepak Chopra reveals why we should be treating mindfulness like exercise

person meditating
"Everything I do is with awareness, making each day an adventure." Photo credit: Getty Images.

You've probably heard the name Deepak Chopra in celebrity interviews about newfound holistic meditation practices. 

The bestselling author and founder of Chopra Global is considered a pioneer of integrative medicine and, of course, is better known as Oprah's meditation guru. 

Now everyday Kiwis can access Chopra's wealth of knowledge thanks to the Mindful Method programme he's established in collaboration with Fitbit.

Members will have access to video sessions led by Chopra on topics like setting the tone for the day, reducing stress, getting a good night's sleep or even resetting a bad mood - we all have days where we need that one. 

Ahead of the launch, Chopra tells Newshub that in this period we're cautiously calling 'post-pandemic', the mind-body connection is more important than ever. 

In fact, he says it might outweigh the physical, even as we all anxiously monitor our health and how we're feeling. 

"I understand that trying to maintain your health today is hard, but it's also more important than ever in 2021 to take care of yourself, both emotionally and physically," he told Newshub. 

"Health is defined as so much more than being 'exercise fit'. Being healthy in today's ever-changing environment is also about managing all aspects of your body and mind - both are very important. 

"Everyone can incorporate mindfulness into their day, whether just starting out or looking to deepen an existing practice."

Deepak chopra
Now everyday Kiwis can access Chopra's wealth of knowledge. Photo credit: Supplied.

Mindfulness is of course a buzzword everywhere these days, including advertisements for cereal and recommendations by Dr Phil. 

So what does it actually mean? 

"Mindfulness is about looking at holistic wellness that includes time for meditation, exercise, yoga and breathing. It also includes mindful relationship time, mindful eating time, mindful recreation time, and mindful awareness when going to sleep," said Chopra. 

"Researchers have found that it can help to relieve stress, improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep and alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. It has been incorporated into treatment for mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder."

He recommends we "treat it as an exercise routine" as it's a learned habit "that's most effective when practised consistently". 

"Everything I do is with awareness, making each day an adventure," he said. 

But when we're lambasted with technology from every angle, is it a worry something like a health tracker, narrowing your daily bodily functions into mere numbers, might be adding to that? 

Not according to Chopra, who says he thinks it adds to the experience. 

"Meditation has been around for 5000 years, in the East and in the West, but of course, its benefits weren't easy to track. Technology has changed all that," he said. 

"It validates every health benefit long promised by the ancient tradition of meditation. With the Fitbit app, for instance, biomarkers show us - in real-time - the immediate benefits of meditation, like a lower heart rate, improved energy levels, better sleep patterns, etc. 

"Technology and meditation are a natural fit because people see those results and it motivates them to pick up the practice."