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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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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The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

naive-realism The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

It would be ideal if reality and our model of reality merged into the same thing. A model of reality explains how the universe was created and how it operates. You might think that this is a definition of reality itself, but it isn’t, which can be illustrated by looking at the most popular model, known as naïve realism.

In a nutshell, naïve realism says that what you see is what you get. In other words, the reality presented by the five senses is reliable. Such a view appeals to common sense. It rests on experiences we take for granted. There is a physical world “out there” separate from our subjective experience “in here.” The physical world predates human beings by 13.8 billion years, going back to the Big Bang. If both of those things are true, then obviously what we think, feel, and desire “in here” has no effect on reality “out there.”

As unimaginably sophisticated as modern science has become, most scientists accept naïve realism, usually without question, even though each of the common-sense facts just mentioned is known to be false.

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The Surest Way to an “Aha” Moment

ahamoment The Surest Way to an “Aha” Moment

An invitation to Sages and Scientists Symposium, Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville Arkansas

One of the fastest ways to make a breakthrough occurs in an “aha” moment, a flash of insight that delivers an answer all at once. “Aha” moments are very desirable. Isaac Newton had one about gravity when he saw an apple fall from a tree (even though this popular story was never told by him), and Alexander Fleming had one about penicillin when he saw that a common green mold had spoiled his carefully cultured dishes of bacteria.

Yet “Aha” moments are unpredictable by their very nature, and no one knows—or even has a clue—why or how they occur. This doesn’t decrease the urgent need for breakthroughs in all kinds of fields where conventional answers, and the method for reaching them, has failed. More than 200 promising Alzheimer’s drugs have failed, for example, leading some drug companies to give up the effort to find one that works. We have no proven answer for aging despite dozens of theories. We don’t have a viable technology to reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Leaving these problems to science is the typical way, and for many the only way, to achieve solutions. But a growing number of theorists believe that every department of human knowledge should be allowed to contribute. If you divide the world into the objective domain “out there” and the subjective domain “in here,” science is very good at the one and drastically lagging in the other. If you want to understand all kinds of inner experiences—love, beauty, curiosity, creativity, pain, wonder, suffering ecstasy, or even what a thought is—there is little science can tell you compared with what centuries of personal experience can tell you.

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The Future of Personal and Planetary Well Being : An invitation to Sages and Scientists Symposium, Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville Arkansas

sagesandscientists The Future of Personal and Planetary Well Being : An invitation to Sages and Scientists Symposium, Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville Arkansas

Despite a steady increase in life expectancy, medical science is facing diminishing returns. It has been estimated that every increase in lifespan since 1990 has resulted in only ten months of increased healthy life; the rest is only prolonged suffering and the decline of aging. Globally more people now die of so-called “lifestyle diseases” than from infectious diseases. Doctors cannot make choices about lifestyle; only the patient can. Finally, half of all heart attacks before old age occur in people who live a good lifestyle, managing their weight, eating right, and exercising regularly.

What lies beyond lifestyle? That’s a matter of much speculation. Will human existence be improved in the future through technology, genetic manipulation, nano-robots in the bloodstream serving as cancer hunters? Or will it take a new philosophical conception, one that entices people away from a life of speed, constant activity, and stress?

By all odds it will take both, because innovations in technology can’t succeed if we continue to define well-being in old, outworn ways. Consider the following statements, which almost everyone, including doctors, take as fact:

  • The body is a machine, and like all machines it breaks down.
  • Aging is a pre-determined process, probably controlled by our genes.
  • The body is a mindless lump of matter except for the brain, which has evolved to produce mind or consciousness.]
  • The causes of most diseases are now known. What remains is to find effective drugs to target each malady.
  • You are healthy until something goes wrong, which is signaled by the appearance of symptoms.

In reality none of these statements is correct. The body isn’t a machine; machines cannot heal themselves. The body isn’t mindless; every cell is imbued with vast knowledge that far surpasses anything found in medical textbooks. The brain doesn’t produce the mind; that’s merely an assumption that has never been proved.

The most urgent need facing each of us is how to envision our bodies without the burden of outworn assumptions, which is why, starting in two weeks, an annual symposium known as Sages & Scientists Symposium will bring together the best thinkers with views both humanistic and scientific. This year’s theme is “The Future of Well-Being,” and the public is invited to attend. There is nothing on the planet as open to the free exchange of ideas, from every kind of thinker and researcher, all aiming to find a way forward into a viable future.

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Personal Transformation - What It Really Means

woman-celebrating-on-top-of-offroad-car-picture-id851252520 Personal Transformation - What It Really Means

Most people have mixed feelings about how their lives are going, which seems inevitable. Taking the bitter with the sweet is an old saying dating back to the 13th century, but it expresses a universal experience. In the face of life’s mixed blessings, however, there runs a deep yearning for transformation. It is expressed through visons of heaven where eternal bliss is gained, in romantic literature where a perfect life is attained here on earth, and in utopian visions of every kind, including worldwide myths of a lost Eden or a Golden Age.

Is this yearning for transformation mere wish fulfillment, like dreaming of what you’d do if you won the lottery? If you are totally pragmatic, the answer is yes, and having abandoned such fantasies you can productively direct your energies to becoming better off by inches and degrees. Even then, modest goals aren’t always achievable. We settle for half a loaf, or less, because common sense tells us to.

But I think the issue runs deeper than pragmatism. In my new book Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, I propose that the desire for transformation is not only realistic but totally necessary. Transformation is like the total change of state when two invisible combustible gases, oxygen and hydrogen, combine to form a liquid, water, that puts out fires. The essential nature of the two gases give no hint that they could be transformed so completely. But that is what transformation means, as opposed to gradual stepwise change.

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Are Human Beings the Ultimate Creator?

creators Are Human Beings the Ultimate Creator?

It’s rare to find someone with an optimistic view of humanity’s future. The prevailing mood globally is dark, and yet David Deutsch, a far-seeing British physicist, argues that humans are responsible for everything new—we are the ultimate creators in the cosmos.

I was excited to view his April 2019 TED talk headlined “After billions of years of monotony, the universe is waking up” By monotony Deutsch means the mechanistic processes that have been in place ever since stars and galaxies began to form, and by waking up, he means us. We are a unique source of creative novelty in the universe, so far as we know.

To support this very original idea, Deutsch points out that humans have told themselves a story for centuries that is mistaken. We have seen ourselves caught in the middle of struggle between cosmic good and evil, which was expressed in religious terms for a long time but has been updated by science into the struggle between order (the good side of the war) and chaos (the destructive side of the war, and therefore bad).

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Getting Serious about Nothing

nothing Getting Serious about Nothing

Nothing in the creation myths told in ancient cultures match our current model of creation for strangeness and improbability. We tend to smile indulgently at those old myths, although the average person probably hasn’t gone very far past the Book of Genesis, if they are religious, or a vague sense of the big bang as a kind of cosmic dynamite explosion. Like our ancestors, we have wrapped creation in a story. The difference is supposed to be that our story, backed by modern physics, is rational, scientific, and therefore on the money.

The problem is that the current creation story doesn’t match reality, having long ago drifted beyond anything conceivable, provable, or accessible. I talk at length about this in my new book Metahuman, where I propose something quite radical: The cosmos is a construct of the human mind, a backdrop for the virtual reality we have all bought into. The purpose of the book is to get the reader to wake up to the “real” reality, but this cannot happen if you accept without question that the physical universe is the foundation of everything that exists.

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How to Solve Life’s Problems - A Fresh Idea

livesproblems How to Solve Life’s Problems - A Fresh Idea

Einstein wasn’t the first person to state one of the basic facts of life when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” But most people attempt, time and again, to think at the level of the problem rather than finding the level of the solution. They continue to do what wasn’t working in the first place. They repeat the same actions expecting that this will lead to different results, when it almost never does.

In a new book, Metahuman, I confront this dilemma head on, starting with the notion that repeating the same futile action is endemic to our way of life. The vast majority of people are trapped inside routine, habits, old conditioning, secondhand beliefs, and the like. They repeat the past without being able to free themselves of the most painful memories. They are afraid of new, unknown things even though every creative idea or solution to a problem comes out of the new and unknown.

The whole complex of old thinking and habits burdens each of us in different ways, from stale relationships and boring jobs to ingrained prejudice and xenophobic nationalism. The rhythm of “same old, same old” beats incessantly, and yet somehow solutions are found, creativity flourishes, new ideas emerge, and “Aha!” moments occur unexpectedly.

Big money in Silicon Valley has been spent by corporations like Google, whose life blood is creativity and innovation, to unlock the secret of creative people and how they think. In their 2017 book Stealing Fire authors Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal describe various attempts to turn creativity into a skill set, all of which essentially failed. It turned out that creativity is a state of consciousness, not a skill.

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The Mystery of Reality Is the Mystery of You

mystery of reality The Mystery of Reality Is the Mystery of You

Solving the mystery of reality is left to experts, which is nothing new. The explanations of the cosmos is assigned to physicists today as it was assigned to theologians in an age of faith. In some ways modern people are even less interested in the topic. Your soul isn’t likely to be in jeopardy if you don’t accept the Big Bang.

In a new book titled Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, I hope to change this indifferent attitude by showing that the mystery of reality is actually personal. You are the same mystery as the cosmos. My argument isn’t religious or scientific, however. It is based on consciousness, and it begins with a common experience: eating a meal.

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How to Change Human Nature

everyone-has-a-dark-and-a-bright-side-picture-id1129002589 How to Change Human Nature

Everyone is good at avoiding the elephant in the room, which refers to something everyone is aware of but cannot bring themselves to discuss. In some ways the ultimate elephant in the room is human nature. We all exhibit human nature, but we rarely discuss it for a simple reason: no one knows what to do with it.

Lions suffer no inner conflict when they prey upon the weak, but we do, or should. Mating season doesn’t send dolphins into an emotional tailspin, but human sexuality is fraught with psychological implications, and for some people these are unresolved for a lifetime. The essential problem, however, is that human nature is torn between opposites. We see ourselves as good and bad together, rational and irrational, peaceful and violent.

The divided self is a central topic in a new book I’ve written titled Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. In it I counter the general helplessness that people feel about human nature. It’s a helplessness born of being human, quite literally. Just to exist as a human being involves an inheritance of opposites. As children we learn to curb the dark side of these opposites, but psychology hasn’t gotten much beyond Freud’s sad conclusion that civilization barely keeps a lid on our innate tendency to violence, sexual jealousy, hatred of others, and similar inherited woes.

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Do We Really Have Infinite Potential?

infinitepotential Do We Really Have Infinite Potential?

The human potential movement has existed for several decades, and in many ways is an alternative name for self-improvement. The urge to improve oneself exists naturally in everyone, unless outside forces like poverty damp it down. But the human potential movement is far more ambitious. It aims to open up a vast area of unexplored potential.

I argue in a new book titled Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential that the true foundation of human potential is infinite. At first that seems like a drastic overreach. Everyone experiences personal limitations that stop far, far short of the infinite. But let me make the case by first turning the whole premise of self-improvement on its head.

The typical way that human potential is approached starts with the limited individual and seeks to lessen these limitations. There’s a school of thought that believes in achieving a 10% increase in happiness, which is seen as a major step. The notion is that happiness is so difficult to understand that any improvement would have to be small. In an area like IQ, the goal is even smaller, because intelligence is accepted among experts to be fixed, budging very little from childhood. A third example is creativity, which would seem to allow for enormous improvement, but finding out what makes creative people creative has proved to be a frustrating and baffling business.

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It’s Much Better to Be Conscious than Smart

awarenesssmart It’s Much Better to Be Conscious than Smart

If you had the choice, would you rather be smarter than you are or more aware? Go a step further. If a wizard came to you and said you could be either the smartest person in the world or the most aware, which would you choose?

It’s a symptom of the times, I think, that most people would choose to be smarter. We live in a world based on technology, wealth, and entrepreneurship. You have to be smart to succeed in those areas, and if you feel you are only average in intelligence, you are not likely to expect enormous success. The argument for being more aware is rarely made, yet by far choosing to be more aware is the better choice—and unlike IQ, you can increase your awareness.

I made this the theme of a new book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, so let me encapsulate the argument. Being smart, even very, very smart, doesn’t immunize you from living unconsciously. An unconscious life is driven by habits, fixed beliefs, second-hand opinions, social pressure, peer-group values, and old conditioning. To realize this, and then to escape its grip, requires awareness, not IQ.

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The Balanced Mind: A Better Model

balancedmind The Balanced Mind: A Better Model

Now that meditation has caught on widely, it’s time to understand why it works. The physical findings measured by neuroscience gives intriguing hints about changes in brain wave activity, but that’s an effect, not a cause. The same holds true for physiological changes outside the brain, such as lowered heart rate and blood pressure. The how and why of meditation must be sought “in here,” in the meditator’s subjective experience.

This isn’t a mysterious route to take. Pain studies are based on how much pain a subject feels; there is no objective way to measure this. In the case of meditation, I believe the correct model is that the mind in meditation is rebalancing itself. Medical studies have known for a long time that the body tends toward a state of dynamic balance known as homeostasis. If you push your body out of balance by shoveling snow off the driveway or running a marathon, as soon as you stop that activity, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen use in the muscles, and even digestion and the immune system return to homeostatic balance.

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30 Simple Ways to Create Balance and Connection

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