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Spiritual guru Deepak Chopra leads Guinness World Record meditation attempt

A large video screen displays spiritual health advocate Deepak Chopra as he leads thousands in meditation in Toronto on Friday, August 8, 2014 in an attempt to break the world record for the largest synchronized online meditation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

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A large video screen displays spiritual health advocate Deepak Chopra as he leads thousands in meditation in Toronto on Friday, August 8, 2014 in an attempt to break the world record for the largest synchronized online meditation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

TORONTO - Famed spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra sought to unite a mass global audience in quiet moments of personal reflection as he led a Guinness World Record group meditation attempt.

Chopra was joined by hundreds at the Westin Harbour Castle in downtown Toronto on Friday and countless more logging online to take part in A Global Meditation for Peace. The event coincided with the tail end of Seduction of Spirit, Chopra's signature meditation retreat.

A publicist said there were four Guinness observers on hand as they attempted to achieve the largest synchronized online meditation. To successfully take the Guinness title, the meditation would have to draw 15,000 participants, according to a release sent out in advance of the event. As of Thursday night, there were about 93,000 participants registered.

Motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein led a Q&A session with Chopra in the leadup to the global meditation, while Grammy-winning singer-songwriter India Arie performed for the captive crowd.

While many see meditation as an act of solitude, Chopra said there are benefits to engaging in the quiet, introspective practice as part of a larger collective.

"There is a lot of good information and scientific evidence that when you have a large group of people doing meditation that the effect is magnified," the bestselling author said in a brief interview prior to the event.

"They feel subjectively that the effect is much more powerful. And if you believe some of the new theories around consciousness as a field that transcends space and time, then that can have an effect on the rest of the world as well."

Chopra said he usually recommends meditation at least once daily, and that taking on the practice early in the morning is great as it helps set the tone for the rest of the day.

For those who don't feel they have the time to meditate, he recommends double the dose — twice daily — "because they're the ones that need it most."

"Even five minutes of sitting down quietly, watching your breath and setting your intention for a joyful, energetic body, a reflective, inert mind, lightness of being that'll organize the day around those intentions."

On Monday, Chopra is reteaming with longtime collaborator Oprah Winfrey with the launch of their new 21-Day Meditation Experience called "Expanding Your Happiness," which offers daily guided audio meditations through an online interactive program.

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