In his Indian accent, still quite prominent even after more than 40 years in the United States, Deepak calmly instructs us to close our eyes and simply breathe and focus on silently repeating our personal mantra.
Within a minute or so, my body feels less rigid and my breathing is slower. I sense my body sinking deeper into the chair with every mantra recitation.
Deepak then instructs us to “picture a screen of your consciousness and see yourself today and recapitulate everything that has happened so far.”
Within a few seconds of his prompt, I picture waking up and writing in my diary in the hotel room, walking to get coffee as it’s still dark, doing a Yoga class outside on the lawn by the golf course as the sun is rising, sitting in the ballroom for morning meditation session for a half an hour, having lunch with other attendees out on the hotel terrace.
Deepak then says to become aware of any flashes of memories, not in order but just as they come, of the day each of us left home to come here. I see the images of packing my suitcase, of saying goodbye to the kids, of Brooke mentioning that she liked this “new, calmer Ken” who was about to drive down to San Diego for a spiritual retreat, of me arriving at the resort and feeling nervous about what I’d just committed to doing for the next six days.
Moving into the past
As I swim in the images, Deepak says to recall a significant event from “the last 10 years or so” that was emotionally important in some way—good or bad.
I round off to 13 years ago and think of my son Jackson being born. The image is so vivid of my pale baby son with a big head and big blue eyes, of touching his tiny hand in the delivery room and him squeezing it, cementing a bond that’s unbreakably beautiful.
By now, I’m in a trancelike state as Deepak says to imagine a time in my teens. My mental picture shows a white banner strung across my house that my Mom made, reading CONGRATULATIONS, KENNY! after I’d won a World Cup hockey tournament. I smile as I relive the moment as clearly as if it were yesterday.
Perhaps I’m in “the gap”; maybe I’ve found the amorphous space in which the soul resides. I’m just being.
Deepak asks us to remember when we were under 12 and I see me playing baseball with my brothers on a field near our house. The scene plays out like a movie. I’m both viewer and participant. My father is coaching us, laughing and hitting ground balls to all of us.
I feel my eyes welling with tears. I miss Dad. I want to reach out and touch him, squeeze his hand like Jackson did to mine in that delivery room. I’m emotionally and physically immersed in the regression exercise. I’m not asleep, but also not quite conscious. This is the closest I’ve ever come to having an out-of-body experience. Perhaps I’m in “the gap”; maybe I’ve found the amorphous space in which the soul resides. I’m just being.
Deepak then tells us to think of when we were babies, under two years old. At first, I’m having trouble, but I soften my mind’s eye and eventually an image of me staring up from my crib at a colourful mobile comes before me. It’s joyful, innocent, and simple—much in the way that I’ve been learning this week is our true, natural state of being, before our ego invades and distracts and our nurture of parents, of culture, of traumas overshadows our nature.Then, in his soothing drone, Deepak asks for us to see ourselves in the womb. My chest is rising and falling on its own, a soothing force of life, as if the universe is passing through me like my Yoga teacher likes to describe the sensation. Every muscle in my body feels relaxed.
I’m in a fully meditative state when a totally black picture emerges before me. I’m floating in water and can only hear the pulse of my heartbeat and primordial squishing sounds amid the fluids of the womb.
Under Deepak’s spell, I’ve lost track of time and space. This exercise could’ve been going on for 10 minutes or an hour—I have no clue.
Fully immersed in the moment, I hear Deepak ask us to regress further and see ourselves in “previous lives.” A series of images immediately pop into my head. First, I see me in what looks like the 1800s or maybe early 1900s and I’m a pretty woman with big breasts wearing a fancy dress, as if I’m in high society. I don’t look very nice or warm. Then I see me as a peasant in some period of time long ago, like several hundred years ago, draped in drab gray clothing. It seems as if I’m begging in the streets of some ancient-type place. Then I see myself as a black woman in Africa; I’m topless, with big, floppy breasts.
Back to the present moment
After some period of time, Deepak invokes us to slowly open our eyes and “come back into the present.”
My gaze comes into focus as the lights slowly turn back on in the ballroom. It’s the evening of July 13, 2016, and my body is in Carlsbad, California. After seemingly having just travelled back in time, I’ve never felt more in the present. And I came to this sensation, this awareness, by turning off my thoughts, creating a space in which I could just experience my being. By losing my mind, I connected with my soul.
I’ve found a way to create space for me, a bigger space of self-awareness and peace than the one I’ve been able to find with my Headspace apps. I’d just transcended my physical self. And in that space, in between the breaths and the thoughts and distractions of my life, I found a tranquillity that I’ve never found praying to Jesus, getting my Tarot cards read, studying the Bible, or staring at a sunset. It’s a place where my stomach doesn’t hurt, my mind isn’t consumed with worry, and I don’t feel shame or guilt that I’m not a good enough father or husband or son or brother or E! News correspondent.
In this space, I’m a soul. And I’m perfect.