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Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra takes pointers from Oprah on 'Lifeclass' tour

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TORONTO - After decades spent handing down his New Age wisdom through best-selling books and packed lectures, Deepak Chopra is eager to engage his legions of disciples on a more even footing.

A week after opening for Oprah Winfrey in the sold-out Toronto stops of her self-help roadshow, the spiritual guru said he's taking a page from the queen of talk's playbook when it comes to connecting with his followers.

"Normally I lecture to people... but this is a two-way conversation," he said in describing "Oprah's Lifeclass: The Tour," which saw him and a handful of experts dole out real-time advice from the stage as fans detailed their dilemmas.

"What is very gratifying is that people find it useful," he said during a telephone interview from a hotel in Toronto over the weekend, while he was in town to accept the $50,000 Chanchlani Global Indian Award from the Canada India Foundation.

"Nobody's problems are unique," he said, noting the rare few with the courage to be vulnerable in public often give voice to issues that plague many.

An overwhelmingly positive response to those live counselling sessions has prompted Chopra, 65, to consider revisiting the show's "very engaging, very dynamic" approach in the future, he said.

Already prolific on social media such as Twitter, the physician and alternative medicine advocate is also stepping up his online presence to deepen his interaction with the public.

A new dedicated video channel funded by YouTube is set to launch this summer and Chopra's team is soliciting questions from the public in advance.

The answers will be delivered on the site, which will replace his existing YouTube channel, "DeepakChopraGlobal."

Chopra's longstanding alliance with the beloved doyenne of daytime television has helped bolster his New Age empire, which includes more than 64 books, several newspaper columns, a radio show and the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in California.

Regular appearances on Oprah's nationally syndicated program _ the highest-rated talk show in American TV history when it wrapped last year after 25 seasons _ delivered his message of mind-body healing to a vast and sympathetic audience.

"She takes my stuff, which is pretty abstract, and makes it more relatable," said Chopra, whose methods are steeped in the ancient spiritual practice of Ayurveda and mantra-based meditation.

"She makes it practical and reachable."

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