Why Well-Being Needs a Fresh Look
Well-Being Needs a Fresh Look ~ At the beginning of the pandemic, I warned anyone who would listen that being isolated in fear would create its own problems. Taking proper medical precautions is one thing, but operating from a place of fear and anxiety is another. We are social beings—meaning we are designed to function in groups—not alone. If you isolate an individual long enough, you will create psychosis. Dr. Chopra does an immensely remarkable job of addressing the idea of well-being under the microscope of a new social era and isolation fatigue.
What is vital to understand when reading this is that the thing that motivates you to do something good must come from a good source. When doing the right thing comes from fear, it originates from a place of harm. Also, people tend to grow weary of fear and will, at some point, rebel against it. Well-being is essential; however, its motivation must also be pure, or the entire dynamic becomes contaminated with toxicity.
I have developed a lucid perspicacity of “basic social dynamics,” and we are at a pivotal point in history. There will be far-reaching effects if we fail to address the pandemic’s mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical conundrum. ~ Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D.
By Deepak Chopra, MD
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, the prospects of increased well-being are a problem. The last two years exposed people to disruptions that led to increases in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and frayed relationships. At worst, there was a rise in domestic abuse and suicide attempts. In fact, only a few risk factors did not increase, which calls into question how well-being should be approached in the first place.
We can break the whole problem down into a few critical issues, as follows:
· Well-being isn’t the same as avoiding risks. Standard prevention is based on reducing your risk of illness, which is medically reasonable. But the motivation behind risk prevention is fear of something going wrong, and fear is a bad motivator. When they forget to be fearful or grow tired of seeing life through anxious eyes, people stop complying with what they know is good for them.
· A piecemeal approach has practical drawbacks. There are so many parts to a wellness program that you could spend the whole day attending simply to diet and exercise for yourself and your family while attending to the demands of work and everyday duties. Millions of people race against the clock every day and are lucky if they can squeeze in time for yoga, meditation, relaxing, and finding a source of enjoyment that feels fulfilling.
· Confused priorities. Once wellness becomes complicated, it is hard to adopt the right priorities—there is too much to choose from. Between trying to do the right thing and backsliding, countless people turn to pharmaceutical drugs for sleeplessness, worry, and depression. Fast food chains continue to thrive, as do packaged and processed convenience foods at the supermarket.
This picture of a lifestyle rife with confusion and fragmentation can be turned around, beginning with a new starting point. If you see yourself first as infinite consciousness expressing itself as a mind, body, and spirit, you are in a new position. You can base wellness on the totality of your awareness. From this starting point, practical benefits derive not by struggling to lead the “perfect” lifestyle but by discovering for yourself that consciousness can take care of you.
Right now your mind is taking care of you, and mind isn’t the same as consciousness. The mind is filled with activity, while consciousness is unmoving and unchanging. The mind experiences good and bad ideas, emotions, memories, and desires. Consciousness simply is. The mind is personal, shaped to fit your story and no one else’s. Consciousness is universal. It allows you to be free of our story and all the problems it has created, which include many kinds of limitations.
To get down to particulars, a wellness strategy based on the totality of consciousness puts its highest priority on being conscious. I’ve devoted a recently published book, Total Meditation, to this issue. The main thesis is that if a person is aligned with the infinite field of pure awareness, life will begin to display the most important values that have their origin in pure awareness, namely, love, compassion, beauty, creativity, intelligence, inner peace, and personal evolution. By putting these values first in your life, you will be coming closer to your source.
The secret of total well-being is to live as close to your source as possible. This represents a major change of direction in almost everyone’s life. Constantly immersed in mental activity, a typical life attempts two impossible things, first, to create wholeness out of bits and pieces. The state of fragmentation and separation cannot be cobbled together into wholeness. Second, people attempt to find fulfillment by thinking and desiring. Thoughts and desires are constant companions. They come and go, having no stability in which you can place your trust.
You can, however, place your trust in consciousness. In everyone’s life there are glimpses of consciousness through the values just mentioned, beginning with love, compassion, and beauty. But a large quotient of our days are spent in unconscious living. We are bound up in habits, conditioning, fixed beliefs, self-defeating attitudes, the practice of avoidance, delay, and denial, and the struggle to get ahead. Well-being consists of reversing the quotient so that your daily life is more conscious than unconscious.
To achieve this reversal, it helps to set time aside for meditation, but that alone isn’t sufficient. A hit-and-miss approach to meditation provides a small oasis of calm during the day, but that’s not your real goal. Your real goal is to being present, aware, alert, and restful without stress. In that light, I am recommending something new, total meditation. Its basic principle is that the mind wants to be calm, centered, open, alert, present, and free of stress.
Therefore, your daily life should be focused on noticing whenever you are distracted, stressed, fatigued, worried, or in any way displaced from a sense of feeling centered and content. This new focus represents a big change, but there’s an axiom to keep in mind: You cannot change what you aren’t aware of. Awareness brings you back to yourself with calm clarity. Being centered is possible at any moment. You simple sit by yourself quietly, close your eyes, and take a few long, deep slow breaths. Place your attention in the center of your chest and relax. Usually this centering exercise works in a few minutes.
Repetition is critical. You need to center yourself as soon as you notice that you have lapsed into unconsciousness. Each time you center yourself, you are calling upon pure awareness to rebalance the whole bodymind system. In essence you are reminding yourself, and all your cells, that you are first and foremost a conscious being. In time this will become your truth more and more. Total well-being is possible only through total awareness, yet every moment of waking up has its short-term benefit, too. That’s the beauty and promise of wellness as a total project that anyone can undertake here and now.
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth (Harmony Books) offers the keys to a life of success, fulfillment, wholeness and plenty. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com