Louann Brizendine, M.D. is a practicing neuropsychiatrist, a New York Times best- selling author, and a media commentator specializing in sex differences and The Male and Female Brain. Earlier this month, she presented on the TEDxBerkeley stage at Zellerbach Hall, an event I curate with two others every year.
I first heard Louann speak at PopTech many years ago and was so inspired by her talk that I had to hear her speak again….this time locally at a TEDx and at a university she herself graduated from. She inspired as much as she did the first time and not just me, but over 1,000 attendees who showed up for the day long event.
Now an endowed professor at UCSF, Dr. Brizendine pursues active clinical, teaching, writing and research activities, where she founded the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic in 1994 and continues to serve as the clinic’s director. Her first book, “The Female Brain,” has been translated into 30 languages and its follow-up, “The Male Brain,” is now in15 languages.
Girls have a different kind of role play which is “relationship play” she says as she talks about how female and male brains work, operate and play out in the real world. Even in the beginning, children play differently she asserts, giving examples of how the process of growth is self segregating at a very early age. Mixing wit with stats, she took us on a journey from childhood to adulthood, helping us to better understand ourselves and our children.
Mallika Chopra also inspired the crowd as she talked about a world full of injustice, inequality and hatred. She says, “my intent is to give my kids the tools to compassionate and good citizens. As I look at my ancestors, I think about how each one had made sacrifices to ensure they committed to their own destiny.”
Then, she throws out something that sounded like a mantra: “I am responsible for what I see, I choose my own experiences. Everything I ask for is what I have asked for and this is what I have received.” Some of her mantras and lessons learned have obviously come from her father, the infamous Deepak Chopra.
She was taught to ask for intentions every day for what she wanted to achieve in her life. “Intents are not goals, they are who we inspire to be at the deepest level,” she says.
Mallika continued in a reflective and soft tone, one which drew the audience into her parlor for 18 minutes of insights and lessons.
“In meditation, we often ask ourselves, who am I. The more I ask that question, the more mysterious it becomes. I realize that I’m part of my environment and my own expeirences but I’m also about my own legacy of what brought me here today. My children are growing up in a multi-cultural environment. Their classmates are diverse – kids in their class is from China, India, Latin America and other countries from around the world. When you know what came before you, it inspires humility, and reverence for life. Reverence for life is of the utmost importance. This week, we experienced a horrible terrorist attack. We realized once again the tenuousness and the previousness of life. Hopefully while we are all dealing with a lot of fear, we also saw that humanity is loving and people want to help each other. We hopefully reaffirmed our values to become the catalysts for change so we can make a better world.”
She asked us to think about our parents, the parents parents and the children, and the children’s children — in other words, our heritage. When we think of ourselves in the context of the continuum….something bigger than ourselves, then we have a deeper sense of ourselves and what matters in life.
She asked people in the audience to go into a minute a half meditation, asking us to breathe in and say I and to breathe out say the word “am.” In that process as we all breathed in and out, she asked us questions which was woven into our inner thoughts: who am I? what do I want? How can I serve? At the end of this exercise, I felt a sense of peace and relief, even if for a moment in time. Given the stressful work load in my life over the past few months, that moment of serenity felt like an eternity. Mallika, thank you for that.
A toast here to two fabulous women who once again inspired me on April 20 and no doubt, will continue to do so for the rest of my life.