Gotham Chopra Tells Mommyish Why He Is Teaching His 5-Year-Old To Meditate
Gotham Chopra is teaching his 5-year-old to meditate in response to our fast-paced Internet-centric culture. It’s quite a feat in the age of rampant toddler iPad usage, but the father of one tells Mommyish how he keeps his TV off and the dinner conversation going. Such practices of stillness and witnessing are further advocated in the Chopra family’s newest endeavor, the Chopra Well Channel on YouTube with father Deepak Chopra, providing spiritual transformation programming from Monday to Sunday. Gotham himself hosts “Holy Facts,” a show about religion, every Wednesday.
Have you employed any of the Chopra Well Channel practices in your home as a father?
Yes. Parenting is kind of a never ending experiment and as soon as you think you’ve mastered any sort of technique, your child challenges it and changes it. I try giving my son structure but also at the same time empowering him and enabling him to dream and to be creative and to think and realize that there’s no right way necessarily. I know from my childhood that I learned how to meditate. I was taught how to meditate when I was five years old. And my son is just getting to that age right now, but at this point for a 5-year old boy it’s like “can you stay quiet, literally, and still for two minutes at a time?” We play games to time it. It’s almost like creating mindfulness for him more than any traditional sort of meditation. More than anything it’s teaching him to be quiet and to witness. And that not every waking moment you have to be doing something. My dad always used to tell us,Â we’re human beings not human doings, but we tend to forget that.
There’s so much out there now that keeps children perpetually “doing” for the sake of their parents. With endless iPad apps and things of that sort. What’s your opinion on that as a parent who is resisting “human doing” ?
The nice thing about having more than one child, especially on the weekends, is that they occupy each other and play together. But when you just have one, there’s this challenge because they constantly want to be or need to be engaged. So that’s where iPad apps and television and all of that becomes a crutch. We try our best to moderate that, because I do think that it’s just about over exposure toÂ information. And I’m not one of those parents who really worries about “Oh, what are the images he’s seeing?” My son is five years old so he hasn’t seen Star Wars or Spiderman. And yet he knows what they are. He’s never sat down and watched Star Wars, but it’s just the cultural immersion into those things. He knows more about Spiderman just by watching commercials and seeing it on his own pajamas. It’s amazing.
So how do you and your wife attempt to moderate that exposure?Â You mentioned meditation, but what else do you practice in the home?
There’s a little restriction on technology. But more than anything we talk to him a lot. There’s a lot of communication in my house whether it’s problem solving or if it’s just about what he does during the day and who his friends are and what are the activitiesÂ being prioritized. My son speaks English and Spanish (because his nanny’s from Guatemala). His mother is Chinese so he also speaks Mandarin, and I’m trying to teach him some Hindi as well. We encourage him to be very articulate with what he’s thinking and feeling and we encourage thatÂ during meals.