This is a little irregular for a Psychology Today posting, but I think it's always interesting and fun to do things differently every now and again.
Earlier this month, I was graciously invited to attend Oprah Winfrey's LifeClass taping with Deepak Chopra at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Since it’s a Life-Class, I decided to take LifeClass Notes. Those notes are below. (Yes, I was one of those girls whose notes you borrowed in high school and college). The video above is at the very end of the show when Oprah gave us her closing address. I don’t know if this will be in the final show on OWN, but thought it might be fun for you to see what it felt like for us listening in the audience. (They wanted us to take photos and video to Tweet and Share, so feel free to share away!) The show's first airing is on Monday, April 23, on OWN at 8/7c so you can tune in yourself, see the show, and take your own “class notes!”
Here are my thoughts and notes about the epiphanies witnessed and the revelations that were sparked for me in the process.
LifeClass Journal & Notes ( April 2, 2012, Radio City Music Hall, New York City)
My friend and colleague, Eric Handler of Positively Positive, invited me to attend LifeClass and I had the opportunity to meet and sit with the magnanimous fellow blogger, Jennifer Pastiloff. I’ve been an admirer of Jen’s work through Positively Positive, so it was a blast to finally meet her in person and experience this event with her. It was like some kind of huge love fest of learning and, of course — Oprah! It reminded me of going to a concert of a beloved band except it was rather early in the morning and everyone was sober (I think), and instead of coming to celebrate and rock out to music, we were all there to celebrate learning and growth - Rockin' Out, Oprah-style!
Deepak Chopra was the guest star of the show and as you may or may not know, Deepak is in my book so I have had the opportunity to interview him. One of the things I love about Deepak is that he is a man that minces not a word. Not one. He is straight to the point and gives no excess. He is so not into any b.s., and really does seem to walk his talk.
During the show Perez Hilton, the notorious celebrity blogger, was one of the guests. I had read that Perez had drastically changed his ways and was no longer so ruthlessly mean on his blog (he’s even outed people), but many people had no idea he had changed and were surprised that he was on the show. Some of the audience members questioned him being there. One woman was upset because she felt the only reason he was on was because he was famous, and the only reason he was famous was because of his harsh negativity and mean-spiritedness. She had a point. I felt this was a very interesting conversation to have had, and everyone was straightforward and frank. I don’t feel that Deepak or Oprah let Perez off easy interview-wise, nor did they condemn him. Perez held his own and basically said that some people say you can’t look back and regret, but he didn’t believe that – he did have big regrets of how he acted and treated people in the past. However, he said he knew he couldn’t change the past and was committed to moving forward in his life much differently and in a much more positive and loving way.
The next guest was a woman who couldn’t get over her fear of something bad happening because her 3 daughters had been in a terrible car accident years before. I had a slight problem with her whole perceived predicament, perhaps because I know people whose children have died or have been killed. It just really threw me that this woman had no gratitude at all that her children were alive and thriving and could only focus on the accident and the fear that something bad may happen again. Has she not met one person who has actually lost their child? How could she not stay in gratitude that her children not only had survived but were doing extremely well in life and focus on that? The accident happened YEARS ago. It’s baffling to me. My feeling is that if she would have stayed in gratitude for her children's well-being, it would have eventually healed her paralyzing fear. My friends felt differently though. They understood her not being able to overcome her fear, and we all agreed that she is a great example of someone being SUPER stuck in life because they won’t let go of their story. In fact, Oprah and Deepak worked with her, and they had her family there weighing in. Obviously, this woman was ready to move on and eventually we all watched her have – yes, you knew I had to say it – an epiphany! (Or as Perez puts it, an “aha orgasm!” – see below.)
We all have done and/or still do this to one degree or another: We hang on to our stories whether they serve us or not. I have a few notes from the discussion about the stories we tell ourselves that I have found extremely valuable. Since attending this “class,” I’ve been catching myself when I am creating or hanging on to a story that is causing me stress or pain. Most of the time, if we really look at these kinds of stories, they aren’t necessarily true or they’re from the past so they’re irrelevant now. Just realizing that I create and have stories that I don’t have to buy into any more is working wonders in my life. But just as we can let go of our stories that don't serve us any longer, we can always hold on to and use the good, positive stories of our lives to inspire us and give us hope and renewed energy - like our epiphany stories.
Now my notes get note-taking-ish, so be forewarned. I've divided them into: Quotes (as you probably know if you’ve read Epiphany and poked around enough, quotes are some of my very favorite things) and Exercises.
14 QUOTES FROM OPRAH'S LIFECLASS
- "We are Spiritual Beings have a Human Experience. Not the other way around." ~ Oprah Winfrey
- “You are a soul. You have a body.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
- “The goal is to be the observer of your thoughts and not let your thoughts control you.” ~Deepak Chopra
- “The world is a mirror for us – whatever you say about others is really how you feel about yourself.” ~ Deepak Chopra (He said this to Perez Hilton about why he was always ripping others down.)
- “When you judge others, you are judging yourself.” ~ Deepak Chopra
- "My epiphanies are like “aha orgasms!” ~ Perez Hilton (Gotta love it. Oprah did.)
- “If he can’t be redeemed, then neither can I.” ~ Oprah Winfrey (This was said regarding the doubt professed by audience members about Perez Hilton truly changing his ways.)
- “Different people are on different frequencies.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
- “I use memories, but I will not allow memories to use me.” ~ Indian proverb via Deepak Chopra
- “You can believe the diagnosis, not the prognosis.” ~ Deepak Chopra, on what he used to tell his patients about healing because he knew we can heal ourselves. (See Epiphany.)
- “Separate the story - your story - from facts.” ~ Deepak Chopra
- “Now is the moment that never ends.” ~ Deepak Chopra
- “The past is gone, the future is not here, now I am free of both. Right now, I choose joy.” ~ Deepak Chopra
- “If you are living a life of love and giving and receiving the best you know how – you are living a spiritual life.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
4 EXERCISES FROM LIFECLASS BY DEEPAK CHOPRA
1.) "When you’re feeling upset or out of control of your thoughts, STOP (as in S.T.O.P.)."
S – Stop
T – Take 3 Deep Breaths and Smile Everywhere in Your Body
O – Observe How Your Body Feels
P – Proceed with Kindness and Compassion
2.) Our Ego Profile is our Bio: Our Roles/ Accomplishments/ How We Think World Views Us. Deepak asks us to create our Soul Profile by asking ourselves the following questions:
a.) Who are you? (not your roles in life, but who you truly are.)
b.) What do you want?
c.) What is my purpose?
d.) What do I want to contribute?
(Oprah said it took her 2 days to answer those questions when she went to India to study with Deepak – especially the first 2. Deepak rattled off about 10 questions to ask yourself but you’ll have to watch the class to get them all – he was going too fast for me to get them all down!)
3.) When making a decision, always ask yourself, “Will it make me happy and will it make others happy as well?”
4.) Write out your story or any story you want to happen from now to next 5 years. Where are you or what is the story in 5 years?
I've discovered and teach and talk about that in my work as well. The exercise of writing our stories, any stories - our wildest dreams and hoped for stories, our past stories, our epiphany stories - can have amazing results.
If you watch the video at the top of this article, you’ll experience how the uplifting event closed and if you want to go see more photos and fun from LifeClass, you can go check out my Photo Album HERE, and you can also go see Positively Positive Co-Founder, Eric Handler’s blogs about being on the road with with Oprah’s LifeClass Tour HERE.
So those are my "Class Notes!" I had forgotten some of these details until I re-read my notes. It's reminded me of how valuable taking notes can be wherever you are -- whether as a member of a LifeClass audience, while reading a book, listening to a friend, or in any "class" life tends to offer -- and how fun it can be to share and compare your notes with others.
Please always feel free to “compare notes” or comment and share here or on Facebook, Twitter or on my website, www.EpiphanyChannel.com, and if you’d like to study epiphanies in-depth and learn how to cultivate and utilize them as a constant tool in your life, you can join me in my online EPIPHANY! workshop beginning in May. The sessions are downloadable and always available beginning the day after the class and there are pay-what-you-can and scholarships options, so anyone who wants to learn can join us! Click here to learn more.
Elise Ballard is the author of the new book, Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage and Transform and the creator of EpiphanyChannel.com.