Letter from Deepak Chopra – on Meditation
(received August 2004)
If you were to ask me what was the most important experience of my life, I would say it was learning to meditate. Meditation has been the key to the creativity, success and happiness I have enjoyed in my own life and it continues to be the most powerful healing tool we offer here at the Chopra Center.
So what is meditation? Meditation is anything we do with awareness of the present moment. If we live our life with awareness, our whole life can be a meditation. For example, if when we are walking, we are aware that we are walking, that becomes a ‘walking’ meditation. Of course, usually we are thinking about where we’re walking to and what we are going to do when we get there, very little awareness is on the walking. Or when we’re eating, if we are totally involved with the process of eating (seeing, tasting, smelling, feeling the texture of the food) it becomes an ‘eating’ meditation. However,when we eat, we are often watching television, reading the newspaper, involved in a conversation or driving our car, doing everything possible to keep us out of the present moment. Our thoughts are always taking us into the future or the past, away from the present. But it is in the Present Moment that we find Spirit, our essential Being and the force that animates all life. If we miss this moment we are, in essence, missing our whole life.
So how do we stop thinking and stay Present? Have you ever tried to stop thinking? It’s impossible and the harder we try, the more the thoughts and noises keep crowding in. In fact the only way to go beyond thought is by not trying, by letting go. Meditation is a time for ‘being’ not a time for ‘doing’ and, if you’ve ever wondered why we’re called ‘human beings’ and not ‘human doings’, it’s because ‘being’ is our true nature. Most of us spend our lives looking outside ourselves for answers. We buy books and tapes, go to workshops and look for someone to tell us how to be happy, healthy, or more successful. By connecting with the Present we turn our attention inward, away from all the chaos and activity, and contact the expert inside. This is our soul, our Spirit, the perfect being in each one of us, waiting to be invited back into our lives, waiting to restore us to perfection.
Although, as I’ve said, meditation is a spiritual journey reconnecting us with our true essential nature, in the West it has come to be thought of as a technique for stress-management. We are constantly being bombarded with stress from work or family pressures, environmental conditions, poor diet and lifestyle choices and a variety of other directions, therefore releasing stress is essential for a healthy life. Meditation takes us from activity into silence, giving our body a very deep level of rest. Rest is how the body heals itself, which it does by throwing off the stress, fatigue and the toxins accumulated during our life. Thus meditation serves a twofold purpose, it gives us direct experience of our Spirit and in the process dissolves the impurities which are preventing Spirit from shining forth in our lives.
Because it’s impossible to stop our thoughts from taking us out of the Present Moment, we sit down, close our eyes and ‘formalize’ our meditation pratice by using anchors. These anchors can be our breath or a mantra, something that brings us effortlessly back to the Present, whenever we realize we’ve drifted away. Here Chopra Center meditation is the foundation of all our programs and connection to Spirit provides the basis for any area of self-improvement. We recommend Primordial Sound Meditation, a mantra based technique, which has its roots in the ancient Vedic tradition of India. This is a gentle, natural technique that can be easily learned and practiced by anyone. The word mantra means ‘vehicle of the mind’ so it is the anchor we use to bring us back into the Present Moment and lead us on our inward journey.
Several years ago, I worked with Vedic scholars to revive this technique from the ancient Indian texts. Each mantra is selected individually for the student based on the vibration in the universe at the time of his or her birth, the moment of transition from consciousness to matter.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Lisa Guyman, one of the instructors who has studied with me and been personally trained to share this knowledge in her local community. Lisa Guyman offers courses regularly in your area.
Whether for your own growth and evolution or to compliment treatments you are already offering your patients, I encourage you to contact her for more information.
With best wishes,