Today, our guest is Mallika Chopra whose fifth book, Just Feel, launches today, October 22nd. Just Feel is a full-color guide for pre-teen children that empowers them to problem solve, harness their inner strength and gain emotional awareness.
We’re thrilled to welcome her as a Source of Inspiration to learn more about her book, her inspirations and how we can all be stronger, happier and healthier.
Gabriela Serna: Welcome, Mallika. And we’re so excited for you. Congratulations on the launch of your newest book. We’re thrilled to be chatting with you on this exciting day.
Mallika Chopra: Thank you so much.
Gabriela Serna: Please tell us about “Just Feel” and the inspiration behind it.
Mallika Chopra: Yes. So Just Feel: How to be Stronger, Happier, Healthier and more comes out today. I’m so excited and it’s a book focused on social and emotional intelligence for kids. So basically helping them be aware of their feelings, the range of emotions that are natural for us all feel. And using them different tools to communicate better, to understand things like empathy, how to listen mindfully, how to organize times so they can just generally be more efficient and have more happiness and joy in their life.
Gabriela Serna: Wow. Sounds so exciting. I have a 12 year old, I’m looking forward to reading it with him.
Gabriela Serna: Your father, Deepak Chopra, taught you have to meditate at a young age. How did learning this practice early on shape the way your experience life?
Mallika Chopra: Yes. So I learned how to meditate when I was nine years old, and that specifically is why I’ve written books for eight to 12 year olds. So this book Just Feel, and my earlier book Just Breathe were written because I realized myself that at that age range, so around nine is a time when kids themselves can grasp concepts and are also open to exploring different techniques and exercises — at times to have fun and to discover often before the skepticism of teenage years comes by. But it’s also a time when kids can grasp these materials on their own. So I really see these books as tools for kids and the parents and other adults in their life. And for me, learning how to meditate at a young age gave me a tool that wasn’t just about stress reduction, but was about knowing who I am. Feeling peaceful inside, having more confidence and getting more perspective. And that I think is the greatest gift my parents could give me.
Gabriela Serna: Beautiful. So some children might have difficult difficulty calming their minds to get into a meditative state. What’s your advice to ease children into meditation and being more mindful?
Mallika Chopra: So I think these techniques should be age appropriate and yes, for many kids to have the idea of sitting still and quieting their mind is this too much to ask. So that’s why my books are really simple. Whether it’s just simple breathing techniques like I have in Just Breathe that were being aware of their bodies or moving meditation. So mindful – being aware of the tastes, textures, smells of food that they’re eating, or simple exercises like gratitude exercises or setting intentions and of course movement… yoga. So in the books within trying to do this, I give a list, a menu of options of different things that kids can try either at home, in the classroom, or by themselves. And so there’s not just one kind of made a teaching technique per se, but it’s really you have different things that they can do.
Gabriela Serna: Yes, yes. Even for adults. But yes, you’re right. You have two teen daughters in a time where there seems to be a lot of negativity and animosity in the world. How do you counsel them to stay positive and tune out negativity?
Mallika Chopra: So the reason I wrote these books is because I’m a mom, my girls are now 15 and almost 18. I really witnessed all of the pressures that they and their friends and those in their communities and schools are facing. So, unfortunately we have too many kids today, over 2 million kids today, who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression of some sort. Again, sadly suicide is a reality in high schools and colleges and I think kids are really struggling. And so for me, what I tried to do is share some of the techniques that we’ve used in my family both when I was a kid but then also as a parent, which are, you know, these mindfulness and meditation techniques, which I focused on in Just Breathe, but in Just Feel, the new book, really looking at emotions, the range of emotions that we all experience.
Mallika Chopra: And I think it’s important for kids to know that it’s normal, feel sad, it’s normal to feel lonely or scared at times just as it’s wonderful to feel happy and excited about things. But life will always have a range of emotions. And so the book is really focused on understanding feelings, understanding how we experience feelings in our body, and then giving techniques whether it’s through how we use our words or through movement or taking responsibility and making choices about how we want to live our life. That kids have a lot of power actually to shape their own everyday life.
Gabriela Serna: Well, so many of us are striving to create balance and calmness and find our stronger, happier, healthier selves. Tell us about a day in Mallika Chopra’s life.
Mallika Chopra: So I feel very lucky and very fortunate that, you know, I have flexibility these days. So I have, because I’ve been writing and I’m speaking, what I, I’m able to do is find a balance between, you know, parenting role and sharing ideas with other parents and educators and work with kids. So, you know, my days vary every single day… it’s taken me a while to get to a place where I feel more balanced and I think a big part of that is my kids are older now, so just the pace of life is different. And I’ve realized that life is a messy journey. The subtitle of my book for adults is Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy… So I think at different times in our life we find we need to find and make an effort to find different tools that work for us. So these days you know, my mornings start off getting my kids off to school…although they’re pretty independent now. And then I like to do my meditation and yoga practice. I’ve only been doing yoga actually for a year. I’ve been meditating for 30, 40 years. I spend my day either on the phone like this or writing or speaking these days to kids, which is really nice and fulfilling.
Gabriela Serna: Beautiful. So inspiring. Tell us about exercise and food. You mentioned yoga. Do you like to get out in nature?
Mallika Chopra: Yeah. So I live in, I live in Los Angeles and I live near the water, which is really nice. Although I wish I had more time to go and go for my walks and hikes. I love walking honestly. And I make a real effort to not to distract myself with my phone or music. I’m a big believer in silence, just silence in general. So even when I do my yoga practice, I do it in silence. And you mentioned food and you know, I have to be honest and I’ve written a lot about this in my books…I’m constantly struggling with sugar and you know, trying to find a good balance. Overall my diet’s pretty good, but I definitely love chocolate chip cookies and ice cream and things like that!
Gabriela Serna: We’re all human beings! Mallika, thank you so much for your time. We know you must have a busy day with your book launching today but before you go, we’d love to know what’s on the horizon for you now.
Mallika Chopra: So I’m just thinking of one step at a time. I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to do these two books for children. The first book is really focused on the body. Just Feel – the book that came out today – is focused on the mind and mental health and right now I’m working on the third book in the series which tentatively is called Just Be You and that will focus on self reflection and intention so you can think of it as body, mind and spirit. Ultimately these three books together. So I’m really excited about that.
Gabriela Serna is the CEO and founder of The Source Summit, a motivational wellness brand recognized for its leading role in creating impactful conversations that connect and inspire people of different cultures.