She's been described as aloof in interviews, and she is that. But perhaps it's because she saves true intimacy for one person alone.
"The greatest relationship we have is with ourselves," says Phylicia Rashad, more widely known as Clair Huxtable of "The Cosby Show."
The elegant, long-legged actress was at the College of Notre Dame last night to speak not so much about herself as about the Self, "with a capital S." A decade-long adherent of a form of meditation known as Siddha -- which translates to "perfect self" -- Ms. Rashad could be a poster child for the benefits of this practice.
Poised and calm in the flurry of attention that celebrities inevitably draw, Ms. Rashad, 42, spoke to reporters of the daily meditation she engages in no matter how busy her schedule gets.
"I do it every morning," she says of the mantra that Siddha followers chant. "When you do filming, your days are very, very long sometimes. Sometimes you work very late at night and have just three hours to sleep before you go again, so in a case like that, when there's just a space of five minutes for a break or for lunch, that's when I'll do it.
"A day without meditation is like a day without sunshine," she added. "It doesn't feel right. It just doesn't feel like a day. Meditation makes you whole."
Ms. Rashad, who spoke at the College of Notre Dame on behalf of a local Siddha group, happened onto the meditation in 1980, when she was a struggling actress and living with her sister and fellow performer, Debbie Allen. Another actress invited her to attend a conference being given by Siddha's leader, Swami Muktananda. Like magic, she said, the money and transportation to attend the workshop in the Catskills appeared in the form of a friend and the payback of a loan.
"There were many obstacles in getting there," said Ms. Rashad, dressed this evening in a gold studded red jacket and black skirt. "I hadn't worked in 2 1/2 years. But when I saw [the swami], I knew I saw the truth. It was a knowledge within my heart."
Although Ms. Rashad is known to millions of viewers as "Bill Cosby's wife," Mr. Cosby actually introduced her to her real-life husband, former NFL football player and NBC announcer Ahmad Rashad. Mr. Rashad stunned the nation and his future wife by proposing to her on national television during a Thanksgiving 1985 football game.
As the "Cosby Show" moves into its seventh and perhaps final season, the actress said she's not sure what kind of work lies ahead for her.
"You never really know," she said. "You just have to keep yourself ready and do what you must do."