Can you be a social media addict and still be incredibly productive and mindful at the same time? Deepak Chopra says he's proof it can be done and it's all about compartmentalizing — rather than multitasking — your life.
"Somewhere in my mind I have compartmentalized my time into sleep time, exercise time, meditation time, down time, creative time, play time, focused work time and technology time...so if I’m talking to you that’s what I’m doing. I won’t be thinking about my iPhone," says the Indian-born doctor and prolific best-selling author, dubbed by TIME magazine as "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine."
Just don't call him a spiritual guru. "I don’t really think of myself as an authority and I don’t take myself that seriously and nor does my family," he quips during a recent interview in Toronto.
Chopra, who was visiting Canada to promote his new yoga center and book Super Brain, says he's learned from California-based neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel that multitasking is the one thing that makes your brain deteriorate, a theory that has gained a lot of high-profile support of late.
"It’s the one skill that gets worse, so if you practice multitasking it will get worse progressively. It also damages your brain. It’s like any other addiction."
Social media can also be an addiction, according to Chopra. With more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter, he openly admits it's a habit he's not immune to, but that ultimately it should be embraced for the greater good.
"Social media is an aspect of our evolving technological world — it has good and bad aspects to it. Technology is neutral. It’s neutral, you can use your handheld device to send somebody an emoticon and say 'I love you'...or if you know how to do it, you can cause a nuclear plan to leak, cut off electricity. You can kill people with it."
While social media is liberating people in parts of the world ruled by dictatorships — particularly in the Middle East — Chopra says being overwhelmed by technology becomes a "first-world problem" elsewhere where people are drained by everything, especially the perceived "lack of time" in day-to-day life.
"People have time sickness, their blood pressure goes up, their heart rate speeds up, their platelets get jittery, they have high levels of cortisol, adrenaline...this is a real disease today, time sickness. So never say 'I don’t have time,' ever. We have eternity."
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Kickstart your meditation practice with a 10-day starter program from <a href="http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/" target="_blank">Headspace</a>, a free guided meditation app. The comprehensive guided meditation sessions offer clear and straight-forward mindfulness instruction for beginners, who can continue to access hours of videos and audio meditations by subscribing for a low monthly fee.
The Mindfulness App
Sometimes, just remembering to be mindful is the hardest part of sticking to a practice. If you need a little nudge to help you stick with your meditation routine, try <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-mindfulness-app/id417071430?mt=8" target="_blank">The Mindfulness App</a>. The biggest perk of this $1.99 program is that you can set location alerts to remind you to stop and meditate at a particular time or day of the week, or even when you enter a certain location.
This<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/buddhify/id474005305?ls=1&mt=8" target="_blank"> $2.99 app</a> describes itself as "the urban meditation app for modern life," and was named the number-one health app by UK news outlet The Sun. App Store reviewers rave about the app's clear, simple design and relaxing guided meditations. Customize your meditation to your location: It offers tailored guides for when you're at home, walking or at the gym.
Designed specifically for young people, <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/id560442518" target="_blank">Smiling Mind </a>makes meditation fun, easy and accessible. Created by a team of psychologists who specialize in adolescent therapy, the app offers programs catered to different age groups, from 7-11 years old to adult, and also includes reminders.
Mindfulness Meditation By Mental Workout
This best-selling <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/mindfulness-meditation/id312327144" target="_blank">iPhone app by Mental Workout</a>, designed by renowned meditation teacher and psychotherapist Stephan Bodian, provides guided meditations for both beginners and more experienced mindfulness practitioners. The app features an eight-week program, inspiration talks, body scans and relaxation instructions. According to one App Store <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/app/mindfulness-meditation/id312327144" target="_blank">reviewer</a>, the app is the best way to learn mindfulness "short of finding your own personal meditation teacher."
Short guided meditations, with or without music and nature sounds, for relaxation and presence are the focus of this <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/simply-being-guided-meditation/id347418999?mt=8" target="_blank">$0.99 app</a>. Perfect for beginners looking for something simple, Simply Being is highly rated for being user-friendly and customizable.
Meditate -- Meditation Timer
If guided meditation isn't your thing, try going your own way with a basic <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/meditate-meditation-timer/id322538701?mt=8" target="_blank">meditation timer app</a> that allows you to follow your own practice, either silently or accompanied by bells. The statistics feature also allows users to track their practice and chart progress.
This <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/walking-meditations/id412648679?mt=8" target="_blank">app by Meditation Oasis</a>, the makers of Simply Being, is geared toward mediation on-the-go. With three different guided walking meditations, users can plug in their headphones and unwind in transit. The app comes with a diary for users to keep track of their progress.
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