Deepak Chopra has long been considered a guru of personal well-being, faith and the intersection of eastern and western medicine. In the past few years, Chopra has taken his expertise and brand beyond his many books and public services, to a more relatable place -- the Internet.
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He has earned 1.2 million followers on Twitter and more than 680,000 on Google+. He even recently launched his own YouTube channel, "TheChopraWell," where he discusses topics like love and career, has daily mediations involving music and poetry readings and gives his followers a place to seek advice.
Chopra tells Mashable that he hopes to help build a collective consciousness in the place where social media meets spirituality. But in a realm that is still fairly new and undeveloped, Chopra wants users to realize that social media not only has the power to better personal health, but also the potential to spark a global shift toward a more mindful future.
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Read his answers to learn more, and come to Mashable's Social Good Summit on Sept. 24 to hear him speak.
Q&A With Deepak Chopra
What excites you about social media and the impact it can have on spirituality?
I think that it’s the evolution in a way of human consciousness. What are social networks? They are the extensions of our mind. Right now, you and I are influencing each other’s neural networks because of our conversation, through the flow of info and energy. And when this info is put on a social network, it influences the minds, and therefore, the neural networks of everyone participating. So unbeknownst to us, society is moving in the direction of a planetary mind through the social networks.
“With social networks, there is no ethnic, racial or geographical boundary. We can bring people into humanity by transcending those boundaries."
Ultimately, will social media harm or help spirituality? Interconnectivity of the mind isn’t good or bad; it’s neutral. We can cause devastation worse than any war through making diabolical use of the social networks, or we could bring the world together in the direction of peace, harmony, sustainability and social justice. It’s up to us. If we can recognize the power of tech to heal ourselves through our connective intention, then we can.
How can people really keep in touch with "spirituality" in an age of technology?
Lets start with something very simple: After we hang up, I’ll go on Twitter and just make two people happy by giving them attention, affection and appreciation. Then those two people do the same, and by the end of six hours, we’ve have created a pandemic of happiness across the planet. That’s the power. We can create what I call "self-organizing dynamic networks" of whatever we want, while bringing inspiration, creativity and insight. It’s what gets people going. With social networks, there is no ethnic, racial or geographical boundary. We can bring people into humanity by transcending those boundaries.
You’ve said social media can be destructive by taking us out of the moment. How can you make sure that doesn’t happen?
You divide your time in the day. You have sleep time, exercise time, meditation time, and then, there is social media time. You create a period of time and focus on it. This is the only way to not let it take over your life. You have to live a mindful life.
What do you wish happened more on social media?
I would wish there was more collective creativity, collective problem solving, collective well-being and collective intention as to what we want. We need that critical mass or tipping point of people coming together as a planetary brain. We cannot stop the progress of our technology -- it is an unstoppable force -- so what we do is we harness it for good.
And what do you wish there was less of on social media?
What’s discouraging is the number of people who come to create hostility. Social media reflects the human condition, so there is no way we should be censoring that. You cannot fight the darkness, you can only bring in the light. If you want the world to change, think, "How can I be an example of that?" And be the change. With social media, use it to create change; help people with it, raise money, start a business.
“We cannot stop the progress of our technology -- it is an unstoppable force -- so what we do is we harness it for good."
Do you think social media can be as fulfilling or helpful as being in person and connecting with someone on that level?
Social media is not a substitute in any means. It’s an ally, but it is never going to be a substitute for conscious communication.
How do you deepen your relationships using social media?
People connect when there is an emotional exchange, not through facts. And by helping. I was in Australia three years ago: There was somebody who said on the Internet that they were depressed and contemplating suicide. Somebody else found that and managed to rescue them. They started a program on the Internet that acted as a suicide watch for teenagers. It became a huge program there and saved lots of lives. The power of the Internet is we can ask for help, we can give help and get it back.
How do you use social media to connect spiritually, and do you agree that social media can change the world for the better? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Image courtesy of Todd MacMillan, Not Far Now Studios.
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This story originally published on Mashable here.