LIVING WITH INTENT

BY KELLY WOYAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY JESSICA ISAAC

LIVING WITH INTENT

“First question I always get asked is “what was it like growing up as Deepak Chopra’s daughter?” Mallika Chopra laughs as she answers. “To be honest, that’s all I knew so it seems like a silly question – because for us it’s so normal.”

For the rest of the world, however, her father is famous for bringing mediation and mindfulness to the mainstream. Time Magazine dubbed Deepak Chopra in 1999 as the “The Poet-Prophet of Alternative Medicine” and “one of the top 100 heroes of the century”. But for the 45-year-old wife and mother of two daughters, Chopra is very much accomplished in her own right. She has written three books, spoken at events such as TedXBerkley, The California Women’s Conference, Ideality, is the founder of a wellness website and YouTube Channel, and has degrees from Brown, Northwestern’s Kellogg Business school and is currently working on a psychology degree from Columbia. Successful and driven like her father, yet the person Chopra most wants to be is like her mother. “My mother is a very anchored, silent, and strong person. She is the nucleus of the family, our extended family, our Indian family and my dad’s entire world as well. I love that she has never, ever apologized for being a stay-at-home mom.”

Incubating at home with her family is the greatest joy and biggest priority in Chopra’s life right now. In her most recent book “Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace and Joy,” Chopra says her life was a “complete mess” a few years ago because of her busy schedule as a mom and entrepreneur, and that the book was an exploration of what balance and happiness really mean.” As the founder of www.intent.com, a global wellness website, Chopra created a platform connecting people from all over the world through their intentions to lead more meaningful lives

Intents are really about what we aspire to be, as individuals, as members of our families, our communities and as citizens of mother earth. That platform has allowed me to explore that more in depth. It was really an explanation of what does balance and happiness mean? What does it mean to live a life of purpose. And it is very much a narrative around that,” she says.

Though Chopra was raised in Boston, she was born in India because her parents couldn’t afford to have her in the United States, but her brother was born on the East coast. They were a young family with no health insurance. Chopra says she remembers her father as a young doctor working 24/7. But when he began studying discovery mediation and exploring the mind and body connection, he was labeled the east Asian witch doctor. “My entire childhood (memory) was of my dad being attacked by people,” says Chopra. The medical community resisted his theories as it was considered revolutionary at the time. And now the idea of daily mediation practice is becoming commonplace as the data and science behind it prove its wide-reaching benefits.

“In my college years my dad was not that well known. He became more so much later. Meditation was a gift, a practice that my parents gave us. They never forced us to do it but it was something that was always there. And their lives changed dramatically with these kinds of practices. And so we saw our family was just happier. Our parents were happier. We were more connected,” reflects Chopra.

Becoming a mother was a catalyst for Chopra as she began to look at her life through a new lens. Her first book “100 Promises To My Baby” and the follow up “100 Questions From My Child” was about setting intentions not just as a human being but also as a parent. It was a transitional time for her family. “Both my brother and I have never thought of ourselves as part of a “self-help” world. In fact we really resisted that world. But I think with me, in becoming a parent I had a lot of thinking about where I came from, what are the values I hold dear, what do I want to share with my children? That was really when I I started to reflect on all these gifts I was given in my life,” she says.

Chopra may not have been born into the Hollywood lifestyle but she was surrounded by it through her father’s work. She remembers the slew of celebrities and how they always seemed to seek the advice of her father after some sort of trauma or in need of spiritual guidance. “We had so many celebrities come through our world, whether it was Michael Jackson or Elizabeth Taylor, and we had the most famous people there. But with my father they were always very real. Also, my dad did not tolerate stuff from them. There was no difference between (them) and the local students, or other patients,” she says.

Early in her marriage, Chopra decided it would be important to of their extended family. Her husband was raised in India and an immigrant here, and they both share the same desires in bringing up children who have pride in both their Indian and American heritage.

It’s especially important to Chopra now that they are rooted in Santa Monica. She reflects “I did struggle for a while about bringing up my kids in sort of this Hollywood world. Over time, what I realized is that it doesn’t really matter for us. As long as my kids feel a real grounding in terms of not where they are but who they are inside. And to be able to express their deepest desires to serve – then I think they will be fine no matter where they grow up.”

For Chopra, she finally feels at home in Santa Monica, but that wasn’t always the plan. When she moved with her husband, Sumant Mandal, to Los Angeles in 2000 they never intended to stay there. “It was very much going to be a temporary thing. And now I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love it, and with this house it’s interesting because I don’t feel like I ever have to move again,” she says.

Their family home was designed and built in 2010 by Stacy Jacobsen of SJ Studio, and her husband, Jeff Jacobsen. The house was under construction when Chopra first saw it, and she fell in love immediately. Several of the main rooms are flooded with pale natural light, accented by massive raw wooden beams. The contemporary and open floor plan is sleek with a sense of naturalness throughout.

Organic accents and lush gardens make this residence an almost utopian retreat for rest, reflection and rejuvenation. Every structural and design detail was handled by Jeff and Stacy, leaving Chopra to move right in and get to know their neighborhood bring their children back to India often, in order to feel connected.

“That has been the biggest surprise. It’s such a magical little pocket. There are such lovely people here, its quiet and close to everything. The location ended up being as great as the house,” says Chopra. They’re minutes from the beach but Chopra laughs off its importance and jokes that they really aren’t beach people in the first place. But this is the place that anchors them. “I have to say that when I drive, because we travel a lot, whenever we return home, and we drive down PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), immediately my heart feels settled and I know that I am home, says Chopra “Which is a really, really lovely feeling.”

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