As one of the world's best-known spiritual advisers, Deepak Chopra has taken meditation mainstream. Here's his insight on the power of mindfulness and quiet time with yourself.
I was a physician with a lot of stress in my clinical practice. I was smoking a lot of cigarettes and drinking frequently. Then I chose another path and began meditating. Meditation improves your health, sleep and relationships, and relieves stress, so you can achieve your goals. Within two days of meditating, I noticed how different my life became. More than four decades later, I still meditate for two hours in the morning and about 20 minutes in the evening. My morning routine includes some breathing techniques with deep inhales and exhales. I then reflect on body awareness of the five senses; my mental space of feelings, thoughts and emotions; and my relationships, followed by a mantra for the day and, finally, silence.
DISCOVER THE POWER OF QUIET. Silence is when you connect with your core consciousness and your deepest self. That silence is the source of creativity, love, compassion, joy and peace. Who you are is not your assumed identity but consciousness that it is at all times a sea of infinite possibilities. Consciousness transcends time and, because it is not in time, cannot be destroyed. That's your true self. You cannot get in touch with your soul unless you get past the noise that your mind produces. Once you have overcome that noise, you're in touch with your source. Your source is also the source of the universe. Some people would call the source God or the infinite consciousness or the unlimited spirit. It doesn't matter which name you use. That connection can only come through in silence.
FIND FULFILLMENT. We have to broaden the definition of success. Success is the progressive realization of enjoying good health. Success is the ability to love and have compassion. Success is getting in touch with your creative source. All of these come from your creative source, which in spiritual traditions is the soul.
MAKE HEALING A PRIORITY. Healing is the return of the memory of wholeness. Healing, health, whole and holy all mean inclusiveness. Body, mind, spirit, environment, relationships and social interactions are all one wholeness, and you're a part of that one wholeness.
TRADE MULTITASKING FOR FOCUS. Mindfulness creates centered awareness. When you do one thing at a time, you're guaranteed excellent results. Keep separate times for daily meditation, exercise, relationships, work and relaxation. Don't mix them. Also don't get distracted by always being on your phone. Set a time to do that. If you do too many things simultaneously, it messes up your neural circuits. Your conscious brain should only focus on one thing at a time.
END THE DAY POSITIVELY. The main thing to do at the end of the day is to write in a gratitude journal all the things that you are grateful for that happened that day. You will invite even more abundance into your life.
CONSIDER THIS. You are the most important part of the family. Take care of yourself first. Then you'll be able to take care of everyone else even better.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., is the author of more than 80 books, with 23 New York Times best sellers, including his new novel, The 13th Disciple: A Spiritual Adventure. Visit deepakchopra.com/21day to sign up for his free 21-day meditation with Oprah Winfrey starting in July.
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This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now.