It's easy to forget that we are all perfect in our own design. Sometimes we muck it up with habits and choices that do not serve us. 

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Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor at UCSD...
Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor at UCSD Medical School, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers.

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What Is the Best Self-Care during the COVID-19 Crisis?

healthy-lifestyles What Is the Best Self-Care during the COVID-19 Crisis?

Self-care should be uppermost in our minds during the COVID-19 crisis, for several urgent reasons. Self-care returns a sense of control over your own life. It gives you an integrative approach to mind and body. It aligns you with the best knowledge currently available about who is more at risk for developing acute symptoms after being infected.

Your immune status is complex, and in mainstream medicine the chief determining factor is traditionally considered to be genetic. However, there are strong links to underlying low-level chronic inflammation connected to lifestyle that is found in most if not all common disorders including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and even obesity. COVID-19 has a mortality rate that increases with age and pre-existing conditions, as we all know by now.

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Only a Silent Mind Can Be a Healing Mind

Only a Silent Mind Can Be a Healing Mind Only a Silent Mind Can Be a Healing Mind

Crises call for action, and the COVID-19 crisis has triggered global action, much of it motivated by alarm, fear, and the dread of uncertainty. But what about the individual person who feels afraid and uncertain? I’d like to propose an answer based on the silent mind. I realize that this approach might sound a bit alien and “spiritual” in the wrong way, but building castles in the air or retreating into yourself isn’t what silent mind is about.

Silent mind is about reconnecting to your source. Everyone relies on the top layer of the mind, which is active, constantly thinking and feeling. But when these feelings get fixated on anxiety, alarm, dread, and uncertainty, the active mind cannot pull itself out of its own spiral. Mental activity becomes useless to heal itself, just as a runaway car cannot apply its own brakes.

What is needed is a reset. The reset isn’t just mental. Your thoughts are received by every cell in your body, and in turn all kinds of processes are affected—the immune response, hormonal cycles, sleep, and overall mind-body balance, or homeostasis. If the active mind becomes confused and chaotic, balance is disrupted everywhere. What to do? 

Centuries ago, in every culture, a deeper level of mind was discovered, and the usual expression surrounding this level, which is silent, calm, and undisturbed, became religious, as in the Old Testament injunction, “Be still and know that I am God.” If we replace God with “your source,” the message comes through to modern ears: Be still and know that I am your source. The most direct result of heeding this message would be to meditate, because meditation gives direct access to silent mind.

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The Virus Can Give Your Life More Meaning

breathe The Virus Can Give Your Life More Meaning

One way to respond in a crisis is to reduce its threat. The other way is to add to the threat. The coronavirus COVID-19 might be the first collective crisis that many people have faced, and it poses an uncertain future in every country that confronts it. But this doesn’t change the two choices just mentioned. Know that your individual actions will have an impact on countless other people.

 

No matter how the COVID-19 pandemic resolves itself—something no one can predict—you can personally choose right now to reduce its threat. If you consciously make that choice, three positive things will happen. You will feel more in control; you will be on the side of healing; and you will add to the meaning of your life.

 

How to be more in control:

This begins by acting responsibly, following what the experts in disease control advise. By now everyone is aware of the need to stay at home, self-quarantine if you show any symptoms, keep 6 to 10 ft. away from other people in public, don’t take long plane flights, and wash your hands frequently (the medical school routine for scrubbing up applies here: Wash your hands vigorously while singing “Happy birthday to you” twice—and don’t forget your thumbs and between your fingers). The active ingredient in effective hand sanitizers is isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, which you can also use by itself in at least a 60% solution with water.

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COVID-19 and a New Way to Be Happy

deckchair COVID-19 and a New Way to Be Happy

Diseases point the way to the future if we pay attention. This holds especially true of the global outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19. It is clear that some important lessons have emerged already.  Some of these are obvious because they are so visible: Uncertainty is a major cause of panic. No one could miss that lesson. Economies reflect mass psychology. This lesson follows from the first, because the plunge in worldwide markets has been driven by uncertainty.

But if you look a bit deeper, COVID-19 exposes a need to take human well-being more seriously. The great push to create a welfare state is around a century old, and certain countries like Sweden and Denmark went much further than the United States. But even in places where democratic socialism won the day, true human welfare wasn’t addressed. The basic right to have guaranteed housing medicine, and education—the cornerstones of the modern welfare state—treat people as economic units.

Actual well-being looks very different. Its hallmarks are community and mutual support, valuing happiness as essential to human life, affording lifelong good health, living in an environment with pure air and water, a lack of violence with a necessary emphasis on peace, equal acceptance for all, and the abolition of us-versus-them thinking of the kind that builds barriers of every kind.

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If You Aren’t You, Then Who Are You?

meditating If You Aren’t You, Then Who Are You?

Whether you call it your spiritual life, your inner journey, or a search for a higher power, there is a necessary process, known as waking up. It consists of no longer being unaware. By growing more conscious, you give up many things you once took for granted. You recognize that they were illusions, unproven assumptions, and second-hand opinions.
 

You can take a major step toward waking up right this minute. All you need to do is answer one questions: Who are you? This question is about your identity, which everyone takes for granted –so much so, in fact, that we lose ourselves in an illusion without ever realizing it.

Let’s start without any assumptions. Drop your assumption that you already know who you are, because what people really know is not who they really are but their story. Your story consists of everything you have amassed in the past through experience, belief, successes and failures, likes and dislikes. When you identify with these things, you mistake a dead relic of the past for who you really are. Your story might be good or bad, something to be proud of or not, filled with experiences you want to hold on to and others you would rather forget. None of this really matters when you want to know who you really are. You are more than your story.

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A Brave New World, and How to Get There

newworld

If you find yourself living in a troubled world, what should you do? The question is as old as recorded history, but over the millennia only three basic answers have emerged. If you find yourself living in a troubled world, you should A. Turn to God or the gods, B. Place your trust in science and rational thought, or C. Renounce the world and retreat inward.

These answers have practical outcomes, which is why we have cathedrals, space programs, and monasteries. But what if none of the three time-honored answers works anymore? That’s the general situation most modern people find themselves in, and so they retain a diluted loyalty to old answers in the absence of a better one.  For example, most Americans do not believe the creation story in the Book of Genesis, but neither do they completely believe Darwinism, telling pollsters that in some undefined way God enters into evolution despite the view among evolutionary scientists that Darwin’s theory is completely valid.

The third option, retreating from the world, is actually the one most of us have chosen more or less automatically. We lament the state of the world but spend every day occupied with our personal affairs. If you do nothing to improve the world, you are for all intents and purposes reliant on your own thoughts and actions. A higher authority or proven worldview is irrelevant.

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When the World Stops Working, We Will Know the Truth

cosmos When the World Stops Working, We Will Know the Truth

Everyone looks at the world, and their lives, assuming that they know the truth. This isn’t truth with a capital T but simply the truth about everyday things, like how to drive a car, buy groceries, and do one’s job. We know other basic things that are true, such as when we are awake as opposed to being asleep. In other words, the world works, more or less to our satisfaction.

Somewhere beyond everyday affairs there are experts, professionals, and thinkers who deal in deeper truths, still not with a capital T but getting closer. Scientists especially are trusted to give us the truth about Nature from the most microscopic regions of quanta to the most cosmic regions, where quasars and black holes exist. We trust that if the everyday world is working, science must have a handle on why it works, operating from its deeper perspective.

So it comes as something of a shock, even though it doesn’t touch us personally, that the scientific view of the world is so wobbly that it is on the verge of becoming either untrue or obsolete or both. At the farthest edges of exploration, the basic elements of physics—space, time, matter, and energy—vanish, either because they disappear into a black hole or because the scale of measurement reaches the limit, known as the Planck scale, where there is no way to calculate anything. At the same time there is the whole issue of dark matter and energy, which are barely known and may not be knowable by the human mind, since our brains are set up for regular matter and energy.

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The Most Important Choice to Make Today

The Most Important Choice to Make Today The Most Important Choice to Make Today

In every age there has been a dominant worldview that people tried to conform to. In an age of faith, everyone asked how they could better serve God. This was their daily concern. In the Industrial Age the question shifted to economics and improving one's lot in life. In an age dominated by science the question shifted again--people asked every day how they could keep up with progress and add to it. As times change, so do people's vision of what is important, and usually they thought they had a better vision than the one which preceded them.

Yet if you back away to see the bigger picture, each age had one thing in common, and it wasn't God, economics, or progress. It was the fundamental idea that life is well lived only if you have a vision. Without one, purpose and meaning are limited. 

It turns out that the one question you should ask every day is this: How can I fulfill my vision today? Whether they put it exactly in these words, this is the secret behind the greatest success stories. Someone dedicated his or her life to a plan, project, or set of values larger than any individual.  A worthy vision, I think, needs to fulfill certain criteria.

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The Incredible Vanishing Universe (And How to Bring It Back)

comet-picture-id172977928-1 The Incredible Vanishing Universe (And How to Bring It Back)

Looking up at the night sky reveals an uncountable richness of stars and galaxies, which gets augmented billions of times over through telescope images from deep space. The cosmos looks to be in no danger of disappearing, but this is just a comforting illusion.

Starting in 1933, with the first intimation that dark matter existed—an idea discarded at the time, waiting another 35 years to resurface—the visible universe has been so undermined by dark matter and energy that it now ranks in size about the same as the cherry atop an ice cream sundae. By current estimates dark matter accounts for 27% of the universe, dark energy for 68%, and everything else in the observable universe a mere 5%.

You might see the situation as a kind of “tip of the iceberg,” with the bulk of the berg hidden underwater, but the reality is more baffling.  No one knows how the hidden bulk of the universe relates to the visible tip. It isn’t even credible yet that “matter” and “energy” are the right words for it.

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Transformation Is Possible - It Is Already Here

transformation Transformation Is Possible - It Is Already Here

The one thing in life that never changes is change, or so people say. But in reality we all experience a struggle between accepting change and resisting it, trying to make things different and yet feeling an anxious need to keep things the same. This struggle is what makes personal change so difficult. We can’t make up our minds once and for all how we feel about changing.

 

If change is so difficult, how can there be personal transformation, upon which the whole movement of human potential is based?  It takes vision and commitment to believe that such a thing is even possible. Most people have mixed feelings about how their lives are going. “Taking the bitter with the sweet” is an old saying in English dating back to the 13th century, but it expresses a universal experience in every society.

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The Divine Feminine and the Power to Change the World

series-classical-greek-goddess-in-tunic-picture-id450207697 The Divine Feminine and the Power to Change the World

The time has come to think about women’s power and not just women’s rights. When the New York Times editorial board recently split over which Democratic presidential candidate to endorse, the debate was over two women, and eventually both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar were selected. This is a sign of our collective exhaustion with a president who expresses the most extreme and worst aspects of masculine behavior. The best hope for turning the tide is said to be the suburban women’s vote, which already showed its power in the 2018 mid-term elections.  
 

But something much deeper is going on. Masculine behavior has run its course as the model for power. The arms race, world wars, civil conflicts, and an insane buildup of atomic bombs symbolize masculine aggression reaching some kind of apex that is also a dead end.  The urge to fight and to turn competitors into enemies, nations into armed fortresses, and everyone into winners and losers won’t save a planet that needs emergency medicine.

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10 Ways to Resolve All Conflicts and End War

on-todays-menu-good-friends-and-good-times-picture-id915727756 10 Ways to Resolve All Conflicts and End War

The recent reckless skirmish between the U.S. and Iran held a deep irony. Neither side wanted to go to war, and yet neither side could talk to each other except in terms of war. Language and action go together. If you are stuck in the metaphor of war, with its winners and losers, revenge, enmities that last for generations, and the macho image of the warrior, you can never end war even though you want to.

There is no clean end to war once you are in a war mentality. Winners in one war become losers the next, and combat runs into a quagmire in which it is obvious that neither side will be able to claim victory, war thinking keeps stubbornly drilling home the same metaphor of war. As history teaches us from World War I to Vietnam and now Afghanistan, wars are at once pointless, relentless, and endless. War heroes on one side are war criminals on the other.

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Finding the Universe in a Coffee Cup

man-hand-taking-up-a-cup-of-coffee-with-heart-shape-froth-art-picture-id1158631503 Finding the Universe in a Coffee Cup

The universe is hard to explain, because there are so many moving parts and so many levels, probably infinite in both cases. It is a cherished goal in physics to unify these parts, but so far success has eluded even the most brilliant investigators. The average person might take an occasional interest in the latest theories about the cosmos, but we think the mystery of the universe faces everyone on a daily basis, as does the solution to the mystery.

The cosmic riddle is easy to state: Is the universe whole?  Do its parts all work together, and if so, how? Clearly the universe isn’t a machine, because machines are assembled from mechanical parts with visible connections like the gears in a car’s transmission. But the universe has a peculiar feature. The moving parts, meaning any physical object, whether as large as a galaxy or as tiny as an atom, depend on probabilities to show us their properties, and these suddenly vanish at the quantum level. Even large, or macroscopic, objects exhibit quantum behavior. To drive the point home, subatomic particles do not have a stable identity. They flicker in and out of one state, following  invisible probability waves. The same peculiarity holds true for the other basic ingredients of what we call everyday reality: time, space, and energy. All have an invisible source beyond the physical, even though we experience them in the physical world.

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Einstein, the Moon, and You

Einstein, the Moon, and You Einstein, the Moon, and You

At the present moment a lot of the basic principles of traditional physics are in a confused state of disarray. Occasionally the media carries a story about strange discoveries by modern science on the order of black holes or dark matter and energy, suggesting that such phenomena are as yet unexplained. What isn’t publicized is that many if not most of the most commonly cherished ideas in traditional physics are dead as dodos. They are either wrong, impossible to verify, or contradicted by other more modern ideas without the contradiction being resolved.

Here is a list of the dead dodos, although some might still be clinging to life tenuously.

  • The physical world perceived by the five senses is reliable. It serves as the basis for everything real, including mind and matter.
  • The Big Bang occurred once, in a specific time and place, and provided for the emergence of all the energy in the known universe.
  • Space, time, matter, and energy provide the unshakable framework of reality.
  • The subjective world “in here” is separate from the objective world “out there.” Science properly deals with the objective world, since it can be fully understood through facts, data, experimentation, and mathematical formulas. The subjective notions and impressions filling our heads have no such reliability.
  • Having triumphed for centuries and providing us with the modern technological world, science will eventually have a complete theory of everything. This is only a matter of time, needing only the continuation of rational thought to penetrate all of Nature’s secrets.
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Ten Keys to Happiness

lifting-the-sun-picture-id537458148 Ten Keys to Happiness
Here are my 10 keys to happiness:

1. Listen to your body’s wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.

2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment.Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.

3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn't good for you.
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Why Einstein Was Wrong About the Moon

gore-range-sunset-moonrise-picture-id901050010 Why Einstein Was Wrong About the Moon

Reality contains many mysteries, some so impenetrable that even the greatest minds are baffled. Albert Einstein was among them. Even though quantum physics had achieved a huge success, Einstein had doubts about its description of reality. These doubts were crystallized in an anecdote. As related the acclaimed modern physicist Lee Smolin, “He once walked back from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton with the late Abraham Pais. The moon was out and Einstein asked Pais, ‘Do you really believe the moon is not there when you are not looking at it?’”

Einstein was defending two of the most basic principles in everyday life, first, that physical objects exist “out there” as real things, second, that they exist independent of an observer. It would seem impossible that these two propositions aren’t true. Of course, we say, the moon exists as a real thing, and it was around for billions of years before the first human gazed at it. But this view, technically known as naive realism, is fatally flawed.

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There Is No chaos, There Is Only Creativity

creativenature There Is No chaos, There Is Only Creativity

The human mind is addicted to opposites, but it turns out that Nature isn’t. This statement becomes important in a deep way when it comes to chaos. In our minds chaos, or disorder, is the opposite of order. By thinking like this, we oblige the human tendency to prefer order over disorder. Leading an orderly life supports every kind of organized activity from making a meal out of raw ingredients assembled in an orderly way to making an iPhone or any other technological tool in an orderly way.

Chaos is the messiness that disrupts order and can cause it to fall apart. In Victorian times mental illness was often referred to as a disordered mind, and it is the mind that we rely upon to keep life organized and rational. But what if this whole discussion is simply wrong? As long as we believe in chaos, it serves as a potent threat. Cancer causes chaos in the regulation of the body; earthquakes shake up cities; riots in the street threaten civil society.

The threat of chaos changes when we shift our perspective. Expand your viewpoint, and chaos is the mask worn by creativity. To die of cancer returns your orderly body to a disorderly state known as decay, but the material of your body continues to contribute to the life of fungi, bacteria, and  other micro-organisms. Good for them, you might grumble, but without them, human DNA could not have evolved. Earthquakes topple buildings, but without seismic shifts, the present-day continents wouldn’t exist, or the life forms that inhabit Asia instead of Africa or North America instead of Europe.

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Making the Season of Peace Really Matter

seasonofpeace Making the Season of Peace Really Matter

A world ceaselessly in a state of unrest seems to mock this time of year as a season of peace. Most people are simply grateful that unrest hasn’t touched their lives, and hope fades for the victims of war and strife who will probably never enjoy peace except during brief truces. The link between holidays and holy days may be fragile in these times, but you can be a unit of peace consciousness starting now.

This  happens at the level of intention and attention.

First, intention. Holidays are about gatherings, first of family but also of events that embrace community and nation. It's therefore easy to feel, on the negative side, that you have little or no control over what's happening around you. Swept up in holiday rituals that are simply a given, surrounded by squabbling family members and old tensions, you can easily be overwhelmed.

The way out is by centering yourself and being clear, first on the inside, what you intend your holiday season to be.  A helpful exercise is to sit quietly with eyes closed and say to yourself, I want joy. I want peace. I want grace and love. As you say each phrase, pause and feel joy, peace, love, and grace as  the silence of your Being. Joy, peace, love and grace are your essential nature. It doesn't matter how you settle into this  feeling/knowing. Putting your attention on your heart is often helpful, or seeing a soft light in that region.

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Finding Your Way to Gratitude

findinggratitude Finding Your Way to Gratitude

Although Thanksgiving Day has become a time for turkey and football, its true purpose lingers, often as a wistful hope that one could be truly thankful. You cannot conjure up thanks if you are focused on the world’s troubles and a constant stream of bad news. So how is true gratitude found? 

As writer and teacher Dana Arcuri has said, “The more you are grateful for what you have, the more you can live fully in the present.”. Psychologically, research has shown that practicing gratitude measurably improves your well-being and on the physical side, your heart health.

 Gratitude begins when we change our relationship with life from an attitude of rejecting and defending to one of acceptance and appreciation. We all need reminding about a truth expressed by the Greek philosopher Epicurus, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

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Why Matter Is a (Useful) Fiction

3d-rendering-oasis-in-the-desert-picture-id942230430 Why Matter Is a (Useful) Fiction

Given a choice between physics and metaphysics, almost everyone chooses physics. This is a modern habit that is deeply ingrained, and it turns the tables on the religious approach to reality, which put a divine or supernatural entity, first and foremost in creation. But relying on the physical world as the foundation of reality has run into serious problems. Unable or unwilling to return to metaphysics, people are stuck without a viable model of reality. 

This becomes apparent if you go to the nub of the physical model, which is matter. For centuries, ever since the ancient Greek concept of the atom, there has been a constant search for the smallest building block in Nature, on the supposition that the world is like a sandcastle on the beach. If you reduce the sandcastle to grains of sand, you know where it comes from. Putting things on a firm foundation is one of humanity’s driving force, and in the physical world, this drive leads to atoms and beyond. 

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