Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Happiness Phantom of the Oprah

Ok, I’ve tried. I’ve really, really tried. 
On July 23rd, when Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra invited me to discover the key to happiness through meditation, I was less than enthusiastic about the idea. Twenty one days is a long time in contemplation, and I just wasn’t sure that I would be able to concentrate, knowing that if I had a tenth of their money, I am pretty sure I would be a lot happier.
“Dear Oprah and Deepak,” I thought about writing. “Much as I recognise the benefits of meditation, I feel that if you were to send me some cash, I would cheer up in an instant and I could spend the next three weeks happily spending, rather than sitting silently, pondering where it all went wrong.”
In the end, I decided to go for it. Although I learned how to do Transcendental Meditation some years ago (and nearly got myself killed rushing to buy a handkerchief for the initiation ceremony), this one sounded more specific. I like the idea of happiness, even though it is sometimes elusive; maybe they knew something that I didn’t about how to hold on to it for longer periods of time, even if, in Oprah’s case, that usually meant hitting the cookie jar a little too often.
So, on day one, I sat comfortably and listened to the pair’s soothing voices, informing me of the great transformation that was about to take place in my life. I’ve always been a big fan of Deepak, and am an advocate of the Ayurvedic principles on which much of his work is based. I’m just not very good at sticking to them. I have a “Pitta” personality – sharp/clear voice, light sleeper, intelligent, clear memory, jealous, ambitious, sexually passionate, lover of luxury, and a dislike of hot weather – and my daily dose of the hottest chilli papers I can find is the worst thing to inflame a Pitta dosha. But when you put Ayurveda into practice, it produces results and balance. Or so Deepak’s book, Perfect Health, tells me.
As I’ve had a stressful and less than happy time of late, it seemed a good idea to give Deepak another try, especially as the 21 day meditation was free. The pair have done many other transformational DVDs, which you can buy online; the down side to this is that you will then spend the next three weeks meditating on the fact that Oprah and Deepak are now even richer than they were before you sent them your credit card details.
And so, to happiness. The basic message is that happiness is a natural state of being and lies within us. If you thought that this person, that bottle of vintage wine, your new house/holiday etc. etc. were things that contributed to your happiness, you were wrong. Happiness does not lie externally.
That’s the gist of it. Okay, I got that bit. On to the meditation, which each day has a different mantra to repeat silently, while sitting quietly thinking about Oprah and Deepaks’s millions . . . I mean, the spirit of happiness. After an intro by Oprah, next comes Deepak to lead you through the meditation, at the end of which he tells you to let the mantra go but carry its message throughout the rest of the day. I am peace. I am love. I am playful. That kind of thing.
Let me tell you now: that just doesn’t go down well on the streets of New York, where I am currently based. “I am peace, I am peace, I am peace”, I sweetly uttered as I left my apartment block and headed for 10th Avenue – a mere 30 seconds walk away, which is all the time it took for “I am peace” to turn into “You stupid moron, can’t you see you’re jumping a red light?”
Maybe I would have better luck with I am love. “I am love, I am love, I am love”, I kept saying, between bouts of yelling down the phone at Fresh Direct, who had taken double payments from my bank account.
I am hope. That was on day six, by which time I had no hope whatsoever that any of this was going to work.
I missed day seven because I was having a housewarming and, then after five days, the meditation disappears and you can retrieve it only by coughing up and ordering it. Once I’d missed one, I lost the impetus and now, on day 11, I don’t feel ready for today’s message: “Kindness expresses the gentleness of the soul.”
If that’s true, Oprah and Deepak, I’m going to return to my original point: if you would be so kind as to send me some money, that would bring you gentleness of soul.
Maybe yogic flying might be more up my street. 

In the meantime, I’m heading out to my local bar. 

I am thirsty. I am thirsty. I am thirsty.


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