Deepak Chopra Wants Us to 'Let Go and Flow' in 2022

By: Jennifer Walker-Journey  | 

Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and how to live a stress-free life. Ali Kaukas/Chopra Global

There's no doubt we have become a stressed-out society. According to the American Psychological Association (APA)'s Stress in America: Stress Snapshot, half of the Americans surveyed say they don't know how to manage the added stress the pandemic has placed on them and 63 percent say they fret about the months ahead.

All that long-term worry can take a toll on your mind, body and well-being and adversely impact virtually every system in your body. Stress is blamed for causing and worsening pain, triggering respiratory issues, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, disrupting the endocrine system, upsetting the gut and interfering with reproduction, to name a few.

We may not be able to control all the stressors in our lives, but we can learn to manage the stress and, in return, improve our mental and physical health. Doing so involves flipping the narrative that runs through our minds, explains Deepak Chopra, M.D., world-renowned speaker and author of numerous books on alternative medicine. In other words, teaching yourself to observe stressful thoughts or situations in a nonjudgmental way can help you find the good in them.

In a video chat, Chopra offers a personal example. When COVID-19 reached U.S. soil in early 2020 and stopped his book tour in its tracks, he didn't see it as a negative. "I always felt that when the world causes suffering, it is actually a challenge," he says. "And so, I wrote two books."

The first, "Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life," released September 2020, was his first book dedicated solely to the practice of meditation. It explores the physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual benefits of the ancient practice. He followed that book up with "Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth," which is due out in March. "Abundance" focuses on tapping into a deeper sense of awareness in order achieve a more abundant and fulfilling life.

The theme of both books is no coincidence. They're like lifelines to help us pull ourselves out of the COVID-19 mire. But before we can achieve that relief, Chopra says, we must start with something called "simple awareness."

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What's Simple Awareness?

Merriam-Webster defines awareness as "knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists." Simple awareness, Chopra says, "means awareness of experience in the moment without actually interpreting it." You can achieve a state of simple awareness by sitting quietly with your eyes closed and observing your breathing, the sounds around you or the sensations you feel. When you achieve simple awareness, you feel peaceful, content, relaxed, open and free of need, desire or fear. Translation: You feel less stressed-out in life in general.

Deepak Chopra
Chopra's latest book, "Abundance," includes a seven-step plan, as well as meditation techniques, to help readers focus their energy to be more insightful and creative.
Harmony Books

Is simple awareness the same as meditation? Not really. It's more like a launching pad. Reaching a state of simple awareness can lead to mindfulness, a level of meditation where the mind turns to observe its own thoughts in sort of a "no judgment" zone. Cognitive psychologists refer to this as metacognition, Chopra explains.

"Mindfulness spontaneously leads to insight and intuition and inspiration and creativity," he says — all different levels of meditation. If done properly and methodically, meditation can lead someone to the source of their thoughts. "Because everything we call stress is a thought," he says.

Meditation creates a safe, nonjudgmental place to observe those thoughts "like somebody would watch clouds moving across the sky," Chopra says. This is where you learn to take your hands off the wheel and stop trying to control the things you can't. Like trying to hold your breath.

"If you try to hold [your breath], you'll suffocate." Instead, Chopra suggests you, "just let go and flow." Eventually, there will be a shift — or transformation — in your perception that leads to less stress and abundant joy in the here and now.

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How Can Meditation Work for Me?

There are dozens of meditation techniques — guided, unguided, insight, focused attention, loving kindness and so on. And there are countless classes, studios, books, websites and apps available that teach them. And more are being added every day. The U.S. meditation market was valued at $1.2 billion in 2017 and is expected to exceed $2 billion in 2022 as its popularity continues to grow.

meditating and deep breathing
Chopra says to reap the benefits of meditation, you must do it regularly.
The Good Brigade/Getty Images

To reap the benefits of meditation you must do it regularly. Unfortunately, like many wellness practices — such as dieting and exercise — meditation has a high dropout rate. That's one reason Chopra says he wrote "Total Meditation." In it, he offers a "radical" new approach to meditation that he thinks can help people stick with it: He believes that the mind naturally seeks to be in a meditative state. That means, once someone has learned how to meditate, they can access that state anytime.

"You simply notice when you are distracted, upset or stressed and — in less than a minute — you can return to a calm, centered state once more," he says.

The rise in popularity of mind-body techniques like simple awareness, mindfulness and meditation, have given rise to numerous studies in recent years with many showing the ability for these practices to reduce symptoms of stress like anxiety and depression. Research also suggests meditation can also improve health by alleviating pain, reducing blood pressure and calming irritable bowel — coincidentally, also symptoms associated with stress. Meditation may even have anti-aging properties, too, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology, which found meditation effectively turned back the body's epigenetic clock.

Deepak Chopra
Chopra says he tries to take every negative and turn it into a positive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, he took the time to write two more books.
Fitbit

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