By Eva Bloomfield, Vegan Editor
On February 27th, we sat within the Moorish revival interiors of Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium, surrounded by six thousand others, each of us on the edge of our seats waiting to be enlightened. Three of the most influential living spiritual sages were waiting offstage in the wings. The night promised to awe and inspire.
Taken under the wing of Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and Gabby Bernstein, we were transported away from the distraction of our smartphones, work deadlines, and our laundry lists of to-dos and “one-day’s”, guided inward to the present. We were blissfully reminded of the power of now, of higher consciousness: in breathing deeply, quieting our minds and surrendering to the moment before us. That meditation need not be restricted to a 20 minute AM session, but can be our constant state of being. When asked how often he meditates, Mr. Chopra responded candidly: “I’m meditating right now.”
The evening was a colossus of mindful teachings and spiritual awakening, and the realized vision of The Chopra Center and Eckhart Teachings with support from their community partner for the evening, Peak Mind.
Peak Mind launched in July with the Peak Mind Summit, honoring the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. For Michael Trainer, founder of Peak Mind, that vision took shape through a 20 year devotion to meditation, an immeasurable love for his father, and an epiphany during an impromptu late-night dip in the Pacific on the final evening of a 30 day meditation challenge. This social movement innovator, who previously co-created Global Citizen, found himself diving into the ocean confronted with a mission: to grow a new conscious movement around health and wellness.
Earlier that year, Michael’s father – the center of his world – had been diagnosed with dementia. He was confronted with a long goodbye, a reality filled with extreme pain and profound beauty. He delved into research, uncovering that the practice of meditation went beyond clarity and relaxation; it has been scientifically proven to strengthen mental aptitude and slow cognitive deterioration. That night, floating in the frozen waters, he determined to cultivate a new generation of meditators, of peak minds in health, wellness and consciousness.
The product of that night’s epiphany, Peak Mind, is about more than meditation. Several years prior, when Michael was in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright, he marveled at the people’s commitment to the collective. There was no word for ‘privacy’ or ‘possession,’ and individual identity was inextricably linked to community. Coming from a world that valued the self and material possession, he strove to merge the two world views.
Fittingly, Peak Mind premiered in 2015 with a birthday celebration for the Dalai Lama. Along with activist-artists Forest Whittaker and Aloe Blacc, an intimate crowd gathered in a collaborative meditation as a tribute to his Holiness, reverberating around the message “Love is the answer.” The foundation propelled the generated momentum forward by bringing the resonant teachings of Chopra and Tolle to crowds of Angelenos that night at the Shrine. When asked what new heights Peak Mind will scale, Michael described a worldwide digital experience, forming communities across the globe.
At its core, Peak Mind is about reconciling our own duality, that line between enlightened self-interest and an inherent need to connect: About the nurturing of a higher inner self and the congregation of community, and about hope and inspiration. In the words of philosopher and civil rights leader Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” In uncovering our ‘peak selves’ and joining others in solidarity, we can move toward an experiential economy and transform ideation into action.
Leaving the Shrine that night, we were acutely aware of a shift. We had entered the auditorium as audience members, consumed by our phones and worries. We left a collective, bound together by a unified surrender to the now; an acceptance that all we have, all that matters, is the present moment. That we, individually and communally, are all capable of reaching the highest peak of our consciousness . . . And what a gift that is.
Photo Credit: Jacqueline M. Koh