Pop culture and mindful living don’t often intersect, but Lady O lives at the cross section. Here are some of our favorite wisdom bombs… a la Oprah.
As America’s queen of talk TV, Oprah Winfrey reigned for more than three decades over legions of fans by encouraging viewers to live your best life, to experience the epiphany of aha moments, to buy her favorite things and to know for sure how to make the connection that blew open the doors to transformation.
Oprah brought us teachers and TV personalities we’d come to love (or loathe, in some cases); she produced a slew of movies to mixed reviews; she introduced us to brilliant books—old ones and new—and a few that were better left on shelves. Her suggestions weren’t always winners, but when she hit home, she hit hard.
In the areas of self-reflection and integrity, Oprah has penned more than a few essays that I’ve read, revisited and dogeared for future reference. Over the years her insights into the importance of intentionality, courage and passion have resonated deeply with my own perspective.
What follows is a sampling of those moments when Oprah’s take on mindful living helped me show up, present and accountable, to life in ways I might have otherwise missed.
In his pioneering book on the topic, Mindfulness, Joseph Goldstein writes that asking what mindfulness is is similar to asking, “What is art?” In the broadest sense, mindfulness is a direct path to awakening. It is the attention and presence we bring to life as it arises.
Mindfulness is not the absence of our so-called ‘negative’ experiences or the willful denial of pain; rather, it is the ability to ‘be’ with life from moment to moment without running or turning our gaze away from what’s in front of us.
Whether or not Oprah subscribes to any particular spiritual practice, here are ten instances when her approach to wholeness, the awakened state, personal accountability and greater consciousness had mindfulness woven into every word.
On Forgiveness & Presence
Forgiveness liberates us from the bitterness of pain, fear, rage and any emotion or experience that distances us from the healing flow of life and the energy of love and connection.
As Oprah put it, forgiveness itself is our call to arms: “A call to be gentle, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”
— “True forgiveness is when you can say, ‘Thank you for that experience.'”
— “It does not matter how you came into the world, what matters is that you are here.”
—” Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
On Power & Choice
The toughest journey we may ever experience is the one that leads to wholeness and the full embrace of our deepest selves.
Despite a childhood of dysfunction and abuse, Oprah emerged with an understanding that turning her wounds into wisdom was not only a way to reclaim the power of her life, but that practice would ultimately empower millions more to follow suit. “Begin noticing how every day brings a new opportunity for your growth,” she wrote. “Every choice gives you a chance to pave your own road. Keep moving. Full speed ahead.”
— “Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.”
— “I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.”
— “It isn’t until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are—not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within—that you can begin to take control.”
On Life & Courage
“Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death,” she said. “Your life is speaking to you every day, all the time—and your job is to listen up and find the clues.” Passion, she added, announces itself through our feelings, leading us closer to our highest version of ourselves.
To begin the practice of listening deeply to our lives, and answering what calls to us, means we have to demonstrate courage, willingness to be led and to be vulnerable in the face of fear and change.
— “The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.”
— “The struggle of my life created empathy; I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.”
— “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
— “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
Mindfulness tells us: “When we go beyond the superficial and conventional understandings of our habitual patterns, when we look deeper and enlarge the scope of our vision, we develop a wiser relationship with all aspects of our experience.”
This is the practice and ongoing result of mindfulness in our daily lives. It’s at once profound and simple: noticing the breath, acknowledging emotions, ceasing to cling to our expectations and ideas, communicating with heart.
“Meditate. Breathe consciously. Listen. Pay attention. Treasure every moment. Make the connection.” The intersection of Buddhist philosophy and the sound bytes of a pop culture icon aren’t as surprising as they initially seemed. Because truth is timeless and it can make its way into our consciousness from unexpected sources.
That quote just now—the one about conscious breathing and meditation—it comes from Oprah, and it officially puts me over the ‘10 Moments’ limit. But it was too good to leave in the cutting room. This I know for sure.
[image: via youtube.com]