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."