Tag Archives: anxiety

How to live with certainty in uncertain times

How to Live with Certainty in Uncertain Times

Spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra reveals how to live more confidently.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/how-to-go-from-hoping-to-knowing#ixzz6D5ixNr6a

What makes a relationship right, or an important decision? How can you tell if deep spiritual questions have an answer? As children, we all asked these questions. They came naturally. Is there a God? Do I have a soul? What happens after I die? Children are too young to understand that their parents are just as confused as they are. But the answers are given, and for a time they suffice. If Grandma went to heaven to be with Grandpa, a child will sleep better and feel less sad.

When you grow up, however, the same questions return. You can postpone the deeper ones, perhaps, but not in matters of love, relationships, and personal decisions. Everyone wants to know the answers to those kinds of dilemmas. And thus you discover that your parents, however well intentioned, never showed you the way (unless you happen to be one child in a million who had very mature parents who could truly love and understand you).

I know I seem to be painting a very large, open-ended picture. But getting into a healthy relationship, discovering whether you have a soul and even picking the right job have something in common.

In all these cases you either hope, believe or know what the answer is. “I hope he loves me enough.” “I believe my spouse is faithful.” “I know this marriage is solid.” These are very different statements, and we find ourselves awash in confusion because “I hope,” “I believe” and “I know” are never the same thing. We just wish they were.

If you will indulge me in sounding so abstract, there’s a useful lesson here. The spiritual path actually has only these three elements. You move from a state of uncertainty—”I hope?”—to a somewhat firmer state of security—”I believe”—and eventually end up with true understanding—”I know.” It doesn’t matter whether the specific issue is about relationships, God or the soul, about the higher self, heaven or the far reaches of the supernatural. Either you hope, you believe or you know.

You have already made that journey—many times, in fact. As a child, you hoped you would be a grown-up. In your 20s, you believed that it was possible. Now you know you are an adult. You hoped someone would love you; you believed in time that somebody did; and now you know that they do. If this natural progression hasn’t happened, something has gone wrong, because the unfoldment of life is designed to follow from wish to fulfillment. Of course, we all know the pitfalls. Divorce generally means you didn’t know if someone truly loved you. Children who grow up resenting their parents usually don’t know who to trust. A hundred other examples could be offered.

But the important thing is to get you back on the path.

Step 1: Realize that your life is meant to progress.

Step 2: Reflect on how good it is to truly know something rather than just hoping and believing. Don’t settle for less.

Step 3: Write down, on three separate lists, the things you hope are true, the things you believe are true and the things you know are true.

Step 4: Ask yourself why you know the things you know.

Step 5: Apply what you know to those areas where you have doubts, where only hope and belief exist today.

I believe that when you truly know something, the following things pertain:

You didn’t accept other people’s opinions. You found out on your own.

You didn’t give up too soon. You kept exploring despite blind alleys and false starts.

You trusted that you have the power, determination and curiosity to find out the real truth. Half-truths left you dissatisfied.

What you truly know grew from the inside. It made you a different person, as different as two people, one of whom has deeply loved and the other hasn’t.

You trusted the process of personal growth.

You aren’t afraid of your emotions. The truth always feels a certain way; uncertainty is queasy and gives off a bad smell.

You went beyond logic into those areas where intuition, insight and wisdom actually count. They became real for you.

I would say that these elements are universal. They apply to the Buddha but also any young person learning how to be in a relationship or finding the right purpose in life. By dividing the project into its components, the huge questions about life, love, God and the soul become manageable. You can work on each ingredient at a time. Are you prone to accepting secondhand opinions? Do you have a habit of distrusting your own decisions? Is love too painful and confusing to explore deeply? These aren’t impossible obstacles. They are part of you, and therefore nothing can be nearer or more intimate. Moving from “I hope” to “I believe” to “I know” is nothing less than the journey of life. You don’t have to buy a ticket. You were born with one in your hand.

Deepak Chopra, MD, is the author of Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/how-to-go-from-hoping-to-knowing#ixzz6D5j4H1kr


Overcoming Chaos – A Free Workshop

At times it feels as though our minds are on auto-pilot and thoughts swirl in chaotic whirlwinds. Meditation can help us calm the storms, centering and connecting us with the present moment.

Deepak Chopra is currently offering a free, four-week workshop called, “Overcoming Chaos” starting in 21 days. In this programme, Dr. Chopra will show you how to reconnect with your essential self, melt away stress and anxiety, and learn how to navigate through the inner chaos of your mind.

Need a little shelter from the inner storms? Try “Overcoming Chaos” with Deepak Chopra!


Honouring Your Emotions – Or Wallowing In Them?

In our meditation classes, Dr John and I have discussed the need to recognize negative emotions when they arise, accept and experience them without “fanning the flames” by re-telling ourselves the stories behind them, and then letting them go.

One of the tricky parts of this, is allowing ourselves to experience the raw emotion without getting bogged down in the story lines. Our chatter to ourselves only serves to re-kindle the pain and prolong our suffering.

martha-beckMartha Beck, PhD, addresses this dilemma, and offers us a solution in her article, “The Key To Healing Emotional Wounds.”

Recently I met a new client (let’s call her Greta) who had been feeling worse and worse—depressed, defeated, devoid of energy and joy. After visiting doctors, therapists, astrologers and psychics, she scheduled me for three days of intensive coaching, proclaiming that I was her last hope. She began by showing me her diary of poetry and illustrations, which seemed to describe every bad thing that had ever happened to her, from childhood bed-wetting to split ends. You could call it Greta’s Little Book of Hurt, except it wasn’t little.

“Why do I still feel so horrible?” Greta sobbed. “I work so hard on myself.” True, she’d worked diligently—but not in any way that would help her feel better. Instead of honoring her emotions and healing, Greta had chosen to wallow in them.

African buffalo {Syncerus caffer} walking, East Africa

African buffalo {Syncerus caffer} walking, East Africa

Everybody does this sometimes, including me. At my yearly retreat in South Africa, I often see my worst self in Cape buffalo, which are like cows, if cows were a gazillion times stronger and appeared to be full of seething rage. When they’re not trampling hunters, Cape buffalo spend their time wallowing in mud, ruminating, and probably dreaming of ways to kill. They’re metaphors for the way I can loll about in emotional negativity, rechewing stories from my own Little Book of Hurt. But wallowing only mires us deeper in the pit of despair.

The reasons we wallow are part nature, part nurture. Like all animals, we’re biologically programmed to focus on injury; doing so helps us stave off threats to our survival. But we humans aren’t usually defending ourselves against hunters, so our painful memories don’t serve the same practical purpose. Humans also have a unique way of recovering from trauma: We need to share our hurts. Fortunately, pretty much everyone now knows that talking to a compassionate, nonjudgmental person can heal emotional wounds. But when our cultural focus on “the talking cure” joins forces with our natural inclination toward negativity, we can get stuck. That’s what had happened to Greta, who didn’t know that repeatedly telling a sorrowful story only lights up your brain’s pathways of suffering, so you’re essentially experiencing the tragedy over and over. At least buffalo wallow in soothing mud and rechew tasty grass. Humans wallow in emotional acid and ruminate on the bitterest moments of our lives.

If you wonder whether you’re honoring your feelings or stewing in them, see if these statements ring true:

  • Your thoughts often drift toward the same story of loss or injustice—and each time, you’re left unhappier.
  • You can feel mildly peevish or gloomy, then brood until your feelings intensify into fury or depression.
  • The agony feels perversely comfortable, like a pair of well-worn sweatpants.
  • Your loved ones glaze over when you talk about your problems.
  • You’re starting to bore yourself.

    Sound familiar? Chances are you’re up to your eyeballs in muck. Luckily, you can pry yourself out. Here’s the key: Change the way your story ends.

    A South African friend says that Cape buffalo look at you as if you owe them money. Emotional wallowers are also obsessed with unpaid debts: Someone has done them wrong, and they deserve reparations. That payback never comes, so the tale of woe isn’t resolved. In his book What Happy People Know, psychologist Dan Baker, PhD, says that joyful people finish their life stories on a very different note: appreciation. Instead of going over and over what they’ve lost, they focus on what they’ve gained. He recalls a woman who reminisced fondly about her deceased husband: “I said something along the lines of what a good man he must have been. ‘No way,’ she said. ‘He was a womanizer and a drunk. A real pain in the butt. But we had more love than most people ever dream of.'” That’s a heroic ending if I’ve ever heard one.

If you’ve suffered deeply and no one knows, by all means, find an accepting, empathetic person to talk to. You’ll feel a wave of pain, followed by ease, lightness, and freedom. After two or three tellings, those emotional waves will begin to subside. That’s the time to walk out of your wallow and see yourself as a hero. Yes, you went broke, but people who loved you stepped up to help. True, you totaled your car—but in the moment you thought you were about to die, you experienced a peace beyond fear that you’ve been able to access ever since.

These aren’t stories of self-pity. They’re epic sagas that end with beauty, courage or wisdom. You don’t have to feel that way immediately, but you’ll get there eventually if you can find a way to honor your own story without sinking beneath it. Alas, Greta’s pain did not abate during the days she spent reading to me from her Little Book of Hurt. You can’t pull a buffalo from the mud; it has to climb out under its own steam. When you can pull yourself out of your own muck, by giving your same old stories happier endings, you’ll find that rage turns to peace, pain to power, fear to courage. Now, that’s something to chew on.



Guided Meditation to soothe anxiety and restlessness

The snow is melting, the breeze is warming and the sun is shining. Spring is gradually on its way!  I love this time of year – soon we will  be able to smell the earth as the frost leaves the ground, and before you know it, the tree frogs will be chirping their night song.

If you are feeling a little anxious or restless, try this guided meditation by the Chopra Center to help soothe and calm your inner spirit. It is geared towards quieting the Vata Dosha (a term in Ayurvedic Medicine for a certain bio-psychological personality) but it works well for anyone who is looking for something to relax and center a restless mind.


Why are we restless and anxious?

Matt Killingsworth

Are our brains “wired” for anxiety and restlessness, rather than happiness and contentment?

Dr. Matt Killingsworth examines this question and comes up with some surprising answers, at a 2012 TED talk, “Want to be happier? Stay in the moment”

Watch this short, thought-provoking video and see if it changes your mind about mind-wandering !