My Mindful Week + Free Meditation Challenge

mind fullI had a very mindful week. I went to a class on Spirituality and Behavioral Economics at the University of Chicago Booth Business School with Don (a distinguished alumni) and to see Deepak Chopra on his “What are You Hungry For?” book tour.

The first lecture was presented by Navaid Abidi, President of OPEN Chicago. In addition to being a successful alumni of Booth, he is also really, really interested in the concepts of spirituality and behavioral economics.

The discussion could have been a semester long class. There were so many interesting references. I will highlight a few:

  • Abidi works on programs for 401K investing. He started by talking about how most Americans have $50,000 or less saved by the time they are 40. Ouch. Studies show that people make bad financial decisions because they are anxious, overwhelmed and stressed which leads to health issues. It also leads to a lowering of moral standards (cheating!) and other self-justification of misdeeds.
  • He mentioned an interesting study on the perception of stress by Keller. If you think stress is bad and you have a lot of stress, you are 43% more likely to dies than if you are stressed but you think that stress is good for you. The perception of stress (according to this study) is more deadly than pancreatic cancer.
  • He asserted that mindfulness can improve health, outlook, creativity, etc. The components of mindfulness he discussed were visualization, vocalization, breath, awareness, priming and framing.
  • He mentioned a technique called “peripheral vision meditation” to maintain composure under stress.  He talked about posture and power positions and showed the Amy Cuddy video that I have posted before.
  • He discussed the impact of framing in decision making as well as many theories on decision making in Economics from Descartes to Godel to Haynes. He made an interesting point on how the default choice (i.e., opt in versus opt out) can influence people’s choices. Also, the frame in which a decision is presented – like the time horizon – can influence what people do. Check out the references for MUCH more on these topics.
  • He spoke about the impact bias of happiness and how anchors change. If a person wins the lottery, he is likely to be happy initially and then be back to his baseline of happiness within 6 months. The happiest people “let go of anchors” and practice “groundlessness.”

dalai lama

  • He suggests that abundance meditation helps to overcome some of these issues. Also meditation improves creativity and increases the generation of new ideas.  Check out some free meditations from Deepak Chopra including an abundance meditation HERE.
  • There was A LOT more in this lecture. Learn more on this subject and Abidi’s research at his website Mindful Decision Making

The next night, I went to a lecture by Deepak Chopra on his What are you Hungry For? book tour. The main topic was “the mind body approach to permanent weight loss.” That said, he covered WAY more than that.

deepak book

I will admit that the first hour was a bit esoteric and hard for me to conceptualize. He was talking about the universe and matter and how we are all made up of atomic matter, etc. The main take away was that we are constantly regenerating our bodies and we can change. He then got to the portion on well being that I found extremely interesting.

He spoke about five buckets of well being:

  1. Career – do you like what you do? Only 20% of people say yes and how difficult that is on health and wellbeing
  2. Social – do you have other people who care about you? People need attention (deep listening), appreciation and affection for social wellbeing.
  3. Financial – do you have the money you need to live comfortably? He discussed how dangerous the economic pressures of today’s world are to people’s health. We have an economy where “we buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like”. He encouraged us to spend on experiences not things.
  4. Community – do you have a safe neighborhood where you are involved and engaged?
  5. Physical – that is the topic of the remainder of the session.

He mentioned that he was not interested in writing about weight management until he realized that obesity is considered the epidemic of our time.

deepakSome of the keys to your physical well being:

  1. Sleep – we need sleep for renewal. Lack of sleep influences your metabolism and hormones in a negative way.
  2. Movement – the more you move, the healthier your body is. This is more than just daily exercise but moving throughout the day. (They say, “sitting is the new smoking”)
  3. Healthy food –we need food that is free of toxins and pesticides. Food should be from nature and have all of the colors of the rainbow
  4. Healthy emotions – physical well being is influenced by connections to other people. He discussed his “happiness formula” which is H=S + C + B. Happiness equals Set Point plus Conditions of Living. Which means 50% is based on your set point – Are you an optimist or pessimist? How do you view the world? and 50% is based on the choices and actions you make. Click the link and listen to the description. Something he said here really resonated with me, “the fastest way to be happy is to make others happy.” True. True.

One of the barriers to happiness he mentioned is “existential unhappiness” which means that we are happy, but concerned that happiness is fleeting and we may not be happy in the future. He also discussed how humans are limited by their resentments and grievances.

He recommends meditation and includes important components of self reflection, self awareness, transcendence and perception. With regards to hunger/diet, he proposes that many people’s hunger is related to other wants and needs and not physical hunger. He led us through a meditation. A large part of his book includes ways to improve self reflection and consciousness around the decisions you make in your life including your diet. I can’t wait to read it.

Here is more on the book from Amazon

“What are you hungry for? Food? Love? Self-esteem?  Peace? In this manual for “higher health,” based on the latest findings in both mainstream and alternative medicine, Deepak Chopra creates a vision of weight loss based on a deeper awareness of why people overeat – because they are trying to find satisfaction and wind up using food as a substitute for real fulfillment.  Repudiating the failed approaches of crash dieting and all forms of deprivation, Chopra’s new book aims directly at the problem of finding fulfillment.  When that problem is solved, he argues, normal eating falls into place automatically, and the entire system of mind and body achieves what it really desires.”

The net-net of both of these lectures was that mindfulness and meditation can help you to make better decisions and to better manage your mental and physical wellbeing. Great news, there is still time to join the free  21-Day Meditation Experience from Deepak Chopra and Oprah. Register HERE. This program offers:

  • Daily teachings and guided meditations to inspire and activate abundance in your life.
  • Practical tips and wisdom to assist you as you open to and create the life you are meant to live.
  • Support each day as you find your purpose and begin to transform your life.
  • A worldwide community of like-minded individuals exploring the gifts of meditation together.

Do you meditate? Mindfulness is everywhere these days. Do you have tips?



  1. Deb says:

    Wow — thank you for sharing all of that info — definitely much to consider!

  2. Marcia says:

    How cool is this? I love me some Deepak. And some mindfulness. I’ve been doing walking meditation and I have to say it’s so much better ‘easier’ for me than the sit still kind.

  3. Libbie Agran says:

    I found this very helpful – especially the information on the impact of financial well-being on your health. I think meditation is a great way of slowing down and selecting what is really important in your life to concentrate on. We are all doing too much and that is raising our stress levels and adding too much fragmentation to our lives.

  4. meryl says:

    Super interesting. Thanks, Erica. Such an interesting concept “What ARE you hungry for”?

  5. Faisal Abidi says:

    Hello Erica! This is a wonderful article. Thank you:). I wish you had the chance to attend the 2nd workshop on
    “Mindful Leadership – Connecting Management Science to Contemplative Neuroscience”. Here’s what you missed.

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