This week on Small Talk, we sat down with Roger Gabriel, Chief Meditation Officer at Chopra Global, to chat meditation, modern-day wellness, and moving into stillness.
Path to Purpose;
“Well, for me, it was kind of by chance more than anything else.”
In the ’60s, long before he knew the meaning of meditation, Roger Gabriel enrolled in engineering school. With endless mathematical equations and deadlines, Roger soon discovered that what he truly longed for wouldn’t be found within the pages of a textbook.
“I went to college to study engineering because that’s what my father was. My father traveled the world on engineering projects, and I thought that it would be a great life to travel the world for work. But it just wasn’t for me. It was the ’60s, and all we wanted to do was read poetry and listen to music.”
Knowing in his heart that following in his father’s footsteps wasn’t his purpose, Roger walked away from Engineering and stumbled into meditation.
“I guess you don’t really stumble into anything. I suppose it was really there waiting for me, and I hadn’t realized it yet.”
Roger spent the following months learning to meditate and found that the role of a meditation teacher suited him better than that of a university student.
“Before I knew it, I had my dream of working and traveling the world. It happened, but it wasn’t how I had originally intended.”
Due to Roger's openness and understanding when something wasn’t working in his life, he was able to find his true purpose, fulfilling the same desires he had dreamed, in a way different than he had anticipated.
“I think you have to realize when it’s time to change direction and be open to the infinite possibilities. Although, I wasn’t doing it consciously those days.”
That’s what it comes down to, looking, seeking, and listening to our hearts.
Your heart is your voice of truth, a beautiful energy center that provides solace and guidance.
On the other hand, your head, the thinking brain, is what instills fear, doubt, and insecurity; ‘be careful,’ ‘what will he or she think,’ ‘pay the bills.’
“Of course, you have to pay the bills, but listen to your heart, and let that be your guidance. That’s been pretty much my Golden Rule throughout my whole life, to get out of the head and listen to the heart.”
We have our dreams; we have our desires; we have our intentions. But what Roger, along with Deepak Chopra and the Chopra Center teach is, to have your desires, have your dreams, and have your intentions, but don’t be attached to the outcome.
“If you’re attached to how it’s going to happen, how you’d like it to happen, then you limit yourself to one possibility.”
We must learn to keep our longings close to our hearts, without trying to control how they’ll come to be. We do this by practicing the art of being at peace with, ‘this is what I want, but if there’s something better, then I’m open to that possibility.”
Whispers of the Heart;
“I believe that everyone has access to it. Whether you hear it or not, that’s another question, but it’s there.”
Everything possible and wonderous is there; it already exists, floating around, waiting for us to access it.
By learning to listen, we can get out of the head and into the heart and body. It may start by listening to what our body likes and dislikes. Once we’ve learned to listen, we can then begin to introduce the questions of what we truly want and what our true purpose is.
Our only job then, listen to the answers.
“Learning to listen is a very important part of our spiritual journey. We spend so much time making the noise, becoming consumed with the chaos and confusion. By just taking a few minutes every day, we can learn to quiet the mind and listen to our hearts.”
The first step is to quiet down, quiet our minds down, quiet the noise down. The second, to listen. Making the third step, trusting.
We’re all familiar with the old saying, ‘trust your gut.’
Nothing could be truer. Trusting our gut means to trust our intuition and insight.
“Learn to trust your gut. The gut feeling is more powerful than the intellect because the gut hasn’t learned to doubt itself.”
The first impulse that we have as human beings is insight and inspiration. The second impulse is the ego, which brings forth all of the doubts and concerns.
Have you ever had an impulse to act on an amazing idea, reach out to a particular person, fly to a foreign country, or leave a relationship behind? Yet upon review, feelings of doubt and uncertainty arose?
‘I should really……..no, what will they think of me?’
‘I’d love to……..actually, it's probably not a good idea.’
‘I think I’ll……meh, it won’t work anyways.’
These are just a few examples of ego in action.
To this, Roger says.
“Always remember that first initial impulse. It’s coming from your source, the source of pure consciousness.”
Leading through Silence;
Roger Gabriel trained in meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his first guru, and Maharaji, his second guru, thus spreading the message of meditation and Ayurveda teachings to thousands.
In one of Roger's interviews on the Chopra site, he states that he learned just as much through Maharaji’s silence as he did through many verbal and written teachings.
“I’ve learned a lot from books, and I’ve learned a lot from teachings. But there’s a deeper level to learning through silence.”
Another one of the great Guru’s that this world has known is Ramana Maharshi, who, upon being asked why he didn’t talk more, stated, ‘The only reason I speak at all, is for the sake of those who don’t understand the message in my silence.”
“It’s all there; it’s all in the silence.”
Maharaji didn’t speak much English, just enough for himself and Roger to have a simple conversation.
“There wasn’t much that we could talk about, so I figured I would just observe him, and that’s what I did. I learned by watching his simplicity, his humour, and his unconditional love.”
Learning through silent observation is best done when he or she who is teaching, has reached a heightened level of consciousness.
‘I surely couldn’t teach through silence’, stated Roger. ‘If I were to walk onto a stage and just sit there, the audience would probably throw their shoes at me or something.’
What happens is the higher vibration of the silent teacher automatically starts to raise the observers' vibrations.
“But you have to settle into that silence. If you’re running around, making noise and disrupting the silence, then the silence is gone, and you’ve missed it all.”
No matter how noisy, busy, or faced paced, we believe our lives to be, silence is always present. The silence between each breath, each thought, and each action are always ours to access and enter into.
“The objects themselves, our thoughts, they’re limited possibilities, fixed and rigid in space and time. The space in between, that’s where we want to create, that’s the magic.”
By spending time each day to sit in silence, we strengthen our chattering minds. After some time and a bit of practice, we come to find that we hold the silence we sought after all along.
Trust the Universe;
In the ’80s, through their Ayurvedic training, Roger Gabriel met Deepak Chopra. Roger, being a meditation teacher, and Deepak, who at the time was a medical practitioner, joined their forces together to create what we now know as Chopra Global.
After many years of turning their dreams into reality, and bringing their vision to life, in 2006 Roger felt it was a good time to step away.
Not knowing where he would go or what he would do, Roger decided to ‘Trust the Universe.’
“I got to a point where I didn’t feel like I was making any personal progress. I was kind of doing the same thing over and over again.”
Although Roger enjoyed his role at Chopra Global, a role that allowed him to make a valuable contribution to others' lives, the sensation of stagnancy sent him and his soul off to do some unfinished business.
“I just felt like I kind of plateaued, that I needed to go and find something. I had no idea what I was looking for, but I thought, ‘I’m just going to go out there, trust, and see what happens.”
Taking time to explore his studies, the world, and himself, Roger grew his practice and relationships. And in 2013, when Deepak called, Roger was ready to return to Chopra.
“One day, Deepak called me and asked if I would be interested in going back. I had gone through what I felt I needed to, so I said, ‘yes, why not!”
It all comes down to trusting our intuition, that gut feeling that we mentioned before.
We don’t need to make drastic changes and follow our intuition around the world; there are plenty of practices that allow us to lean into those gut feelings.
"You can still do it, but on a more limited level. Just begin trusting that guidance.”
It can be as simple as taking a different route to work, eating out at a new restaurant, or learning a new language. Whatever takes away that sense of repetition and brings new possibilities, is a doorway to opportunity and wonder.
“Being comfortable is nice, but it’s also limiting. Just try something new and different; you never know what you might find.”
“Meditation is awareness; it’s really about being aware. Yet, most of the time, we’re not aware because we’re caught up in so many distractions.”
Today, Chopra Global offers countless mindfulness practices and teachings. With courses and classes, and online access to dig into ancient teachings, the Chopra app is like a portable palm Guru.
‘But it starts in each moment,’ says Roger. ‘It starts right where you are.’
“The highest form of meditation, they say, is how you live your life. So, if you live your life in full awareness, your life becomes a form of meditation.”
Of course, this isn’t always easy, as we have more distractions now than ever.
But the good news is that the easiest, and most direct way to bring ourselves back into awareness, is something we all have access to, the breath.
“One of the best tools is the breath. Our thoughts and emotions take us into the future or the past, consequently, where we live most of our lives. Your breath can never be in the future or the past; your breath is always in the moment.”
Too often, we find ourselves living everywhere else except for the present moment, the only moment that exists. We may find our minds consumed with the stresses of tomorrow or the pains and aches of yesterday.
Because of this, Roger encourages his students that if you can do nothing else, ‘just take a few moments during the day to be aware of your breath.’
“Breath is the most under-utilized tool that we have. It’s there, yet we don’t use it consciously most of the time. When we become more aware of the breath, we begin to expand our practices and our awareness into different areas of our lives.”
Everything can become a form of meditation.
When we sit down to eat a meal, simply by taking a few breaths beforehand, awareness is brought into the experience. We can then be aware of the texture in our mouths, the taste, and so on.
The same applies to each of our daily actions; a walk in nature can become a walking meditation; a drive to work can become an awareness filled journey.
The world is our playground, only as long as we exist in it presently from each moment to the next.
“To be fair, if you really want to move forward with your practice, then you need to develop something a little more structured. It is true, always start where you are, but you need to dig a little bit deeper if you really want to make progress.”
Strength in Stumbling;
“It doesn’t matter what we do or how we live our lives; there’s always going to be bumps and detours. But I think what’s important is to look for the opportunity in every situation.”
We can look at anything in our lives, either as a problem or as an opportunity. If we look at what we are faced with as a problem, then we aren’t making any progress; we get stuck.
“When we get stuck, it doesn’t serve us because we become stuck in the past and in the discomfort. Whereas if we were to say, ‘well, this has happened, it wasn’t what I intended, but it happened,’ we can then make light of the circumstances.”
When we look at everything as an opportunity, we open ourselves to lessons that can be learned. When we ask, ‘what can I learn from this?’ we provide the chance to grow and expand, no matter the conditions.
“Maharishi Mahesh Yogi always used to say, ‘see the job, do the job, stay out of the mud.’ Yet unfortunately, so many people choose to wallow in the mud.”
Nowadays, with the pandemic continuing to sweep the world and uncertainty at an all-time high, the only thing left to do is ask ourselves, ‘what can be learned from this whole experience?’
Where this question is asked, possibility of creating a new world is found.
“We need to stop sitting in the mud, wishing that we could go back to how it was last year, or how things were once upon a time. The past is what’s brought us here. Let’s create something new; now is the opportunity.”
A Few Moments a Day;
For the past several months, Roger has been conducting live morning meditations through Chopra’s Instagram page. A morning ritual that brings together hundreds of people from all over the world, sitting in silence and sending love.
A simple enough practice taking only a few moments, yet one that holds great importance and tremendous repercussions.
If everyone in the world were to take those few moments and bring that awareness into their lives, nothing would be the same.
“I mean, it could be magnificent. Of course, it depends what they do for the other 23 hours and 55 minutes, but assuming they bring their practice into their daily lives, then yes, we could create a wonderful, beautiful world.”
In the Vedic tradition, it talks of four time-periods, levels referred to as Yugas.
The first is Satya Yuga, the Golden age, where we all started. This time period symbolizes beauty, perfection, health, and divinity.
And the fourth is Kali Yuga, the dark age, sometimes referred to as God's nightmare, where we’ve found ourselves.
“The thing is, the Golden Age is still there. It’s just our awareness that’s in the mud. Oscar Wilde, a famous poet, once said, ‘we all live in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the stars,’ that’s the difference.”
Collective consciousness, a concept that refers to shared beliefs, attitudes, and knowledge in a society, is very powerful.
If the collective consciousness is experiencing anger, jealousy, fear, and greed, that’s the frequency we will fall to, as a whole.
Yet, if we were to raise ourselves, raise our vibrations, turning anger and jealousy into unconditional love, choosing to trust and have faith over fear and greed, we would rise, collectively.
“If everyone in the world just took five minutes, you don’t even have to meditate, but took five minutes to give authentic love to another, we could shift the whole world and move into that Golden Age again.”
It starts with you, and it starts with me, right where we are. We must lift ourselves, lift each other, and the rest will follow on its own.
“Don’t take anything too seriously. And that doesn’t mean being irresponsible. Responsible simply means the ability to respond to a situation, and the best way to respond to a situation is by not taking it too seriously.”
The seriousness that we experience is the ego. Taking ourselves too seriously never does us any good.
Enlightenment means exactly that, to lighten up.
“Be responsible, be respectful, but lighten up.”
No Longer Pursue;
“If one thing had happened differently, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
Everything in our lives has its reason and season. If one thing were to have gone differently, or a single decision was made in place of another, we would not be where we are today.
“Things come and go in life; we change and evolve. I think what’s important is to be open to the new, and not so attached to what no longer serves us, just let it go.”
It’s like our breath.
If we hold onto the breath, we suffocate. We have to breathe out the old, so the new can flow in.
Like a river, we must move and become fluid with the changes.
“That’s the exciting part of life, that’s the magic and the mystery of life.”
We asked Roger Gabriel what he knows 100% to be true, his answer;
“There’s a saying which goes, ‘your current situation is not your final destination,’ and that’s something that I believe. In the world we live in, everything is changing; there is no permanence.”
To flow and change with the tides of time is what’s required of us. To detach, surrender, and accept what is, is to grow, evolve, and become all we can be.
“But there is this field underneath all the chaos, all the confusion, all the activity, all the noise; that’s the unchanging field, and that’s the truth. And that’s the basis of everything. All religions, all philosophies, all traditions; that’s where they all come from. They’ve interpreted it in their own way, which is why we have this religion and that religion, but they all have that core truth at their foundation. And that’s the only real truth that I adhere to.”
At TrooMe, we believe that goodness lies at the core of each of us, waiting to be discovered, tapped into, and shared.