Letters to Deepak

Dear Deepak,

Q: I was talking to someone who mentioned that they primarily exist within pure consciousness. They no longer experience inner plane teachings and rarely dream or meditate anymore. They are simply “inspired” daily as to what to do in their daily existence. Is this state attainable? Is it desirable? What is this state?


Your friend's description of living in pure consciousness certainly sounds desirable, but there is no way to determine from his description what his actual interior experience really is, or what state of consciousness he is in. Allowing pure consciousness to flow though your life and finding inspiration on a daily basis for activity is most definitely an attainable and desirable state and is a perfectly fine way to describe a life in balance and joy.

Dear Deepak,

I saw your interview on CNN a few months ago where you said to be content in life spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally you should ask your self two questions everyday: “Who am I,” and “What do I want?” Deepak, What should I hear?

What you should hear is what your higher self answers. There is no correct answer, I cannot tell what you are supposed to hear. It is an ongoing dialogue of self-discovery that unfolds more and more each day. What you should learn about yourself over time is that who you are is less and less defined by your physical characteristics and personal beliefs, and more and more by the unchanging, universal attributes of your higher self. You will also find as you go deeper and deeper into your nature, that what you want is less about having money and objects and more about becoming abundance, bliss and fulfillment itself. But don't try to jump ahead to the ideal, just listen and follow what you really hear. It is more productive to follow that authentic voice of what you are and what you want right now, because that is what unlocks the transformation to deeper wisdom.

Dear Deepak,

I've heard that in Ayurveda a coated tongue is considered a sign of too much “Ama” and unhealthy. After spending a week at Seduction of Spirit, meditating, clearing my body of old emotions, eating fresh food, and being in such an uplifting atmosphere I noticed that my tongue was in great shape. I was pinker than I ever remember it. I've been trying to maintain my healthy eating habits and remain balanced emotionally, etc. Last weekend I participated in an inner cleansing, which involved fasting the day before and then drinking (a lot of) hot salty lemon water, doing some exercises designed to clean out the body internally and then drinking juice for the rest of the day. Ayurveda recommends a procedure like this during the change of the seasons. I've done it once before and I felt it was good for me; but this time I noticed that my tongue now looks terrible. Does this mean it was not something healthy for me to do at this time? Or could that just be a part of getting rid of some of the toxins?

Ama is formed from undigested food which produces toxic waste. This Ama clogs the Shrotas, or channels of intelligence in the body and causes disease. Sometimes when we purify these wastes out of our body, we may temporarily experience some extra manifestation of this ama as it is flushed out. This is likely what you are noticing with your seasonal cleanse as a deeper layer of toxicity is being released. It should clear up fairly quickly and your body will be that much cleaner.

The Chopra Center is dedicated to awakening balance, healing, and transformation in individuals and communities. Join us for our Perfect Health program and awaken your true inner essence. Visit chopra.com or call 1-888-424-6772 for more information .


Tools for Transformation

The holiday season is one of connecting more deeply with family, and God or Spirit.

When the New Year rolls around, many people begin to lose the powerful sense of connectedness they may have experienced in December. This article teaches tools for maintaining and enhancing our sense of connection, and deepening it throughout the entire year. Becoming whole and healthy involves reconnecting on all levels: re-connecting to Self/Soul, God/Higher Power, and Nature. Mental fitness techniques (MFT), the tools for transformation I use, are powerful in helping us re-connect at all levels.

The main MFT's are mental imagery, meditation, use of the breath, mood words, and affirmations. People often think that mental imagery is the same as visualization, but there is a difference. Mental imagery is a practice that you do while in a meditative state. In visualization, you might be asked to “see” yourself healthy and successful. Mental imagery makes use of all of your senses: vision, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. In addition mental imagery will include the kinesthetic sense, the way things “feel.”

The brain/mind has three major functions, namely: thinking, feeling, and imaging. I am sure you understand “thinking” and “feeling” as normal functions. Mental imagery is just as natural. Take a moment and think about your house.

Now picture your favorite place in nature.

That was quite easy to do, right? And “that” is mental imagery. Our minds are imaging all day long. The most common form of imagery is “worry,” in which we are continually picturing in our minds all the things that can go wrong (but usually don't).

It is useful to use metaphors to explain how the mind works, and how it gets us into trouble. For now, imagine that your mind is a garden. First we need to weed the garden by using meditation. Then, we can use mental imagery techniques. If you “water” the soil of your mind without weeding, then both weeds and beautiful flowers will come up when you begin practicing mental imagery. Instead, you want to plant new seeds in the fresh and clean garden of your mind.

These Tools for Transformation will be organized under four categories: 1) Connecting to Self, 2) Connecting to God/Higher Power, 3) Connecting to Breath, and 4) Connecting to Nature.

Connecting to Self

I will use the terms “Self” and “Soul” to mean the same thing. In the Far East , the term is “Atma.” I will generally use the word “Self.” Self is the Big Self, and is not the small “ego-mind.” Here is a model that will help you understand the relationship between body, mind, and spirit. Imagine that we human beings are made up of 5 layers, like an onion. At the center of these layers is the Self. The outer-most layer, the 5 th layer is the physical body. The 4 th layer is the energy body and the 3 rd is the mind or mental body. The 2 nd layer is the intellect, and it is involved in wisdom and discrimination. The 1 st layer surrounding the core, the Self, is the layer of bliss. You can think of the Self and the 5 layers as concentric circles if you were to draw this on a piece of paper.

Most of us think we “are” our bodies, minds, and personalities. We identify with those layers. But you know you are really not the body, for if you were in an accident and lost a leg, you would still be You. You could lose vast portions of your body and still be the “real” YOU.

Similarly, you “have” a mind, but you are not your mind. In meditation, prayer, or contemplation, YOU can watch the activity of the mind. Most people have about 5,000 random thoughts per day and 1,825,000 per year. Most of these thoughts are repeats, serving no purpose at all. Many of them are worries, fears, and concerns. It is your intellect (not your mind) that discriminates right from wrong, and which is involved in higher mental functioning.

During meditation or prayer, your intellect can observe the churning of thoughts. Therefore you are not your thoughts or your mind. At the very least, who you really are is the Witness of all this mental activity.

The Self is equally bright in all of us, but some of us have much easier access to our Self. The Self is like the sun. It is always there, but on a cloudy day, you could imagine that there is no such thing as a sun. Only because of past experience do you KNOW that the clouds will pass and you will see the sun once again. The Self can also be covered with “clouds,” but these clouds are not made up of water particles. They are made up of a gigantic web of thoughts.

In order to find yourSELF, you need to discover a way to remove the clouds, which requires slowing down the mind, so that the light of the Self can shine through. Meditation helps slow down the mind, and when that happens, you stop believing that you ARE the mind and realize that You are the Witness of the mind. Over time, the light of the Self will shine through. You don't need to go to a high mountain retreat to find your SELF. You just need to set your mind aside, and then, automatically, you will move closer to your Self. Of course the Self does not move. Rather you simply need to remove the “clouds” that cover the Self.

Mantra Meditation

The simplest form of meditation is mantra meditation. A mantra is a word, or a few words, that you repeat over and over again in your mind. The most powerful mantras are those that are the name you use for God or a Higher Power. A mantra should be between 2 and 9 syllables. Let's say that “Higher Power” are the words you have chosen.

As you inhale, silently say, “Higher” and as you exhale, silently say, “Power.” Christian mantras include: “Jesus Christ,” “Mother Mary,” and “Heavenly Father.” Jewish names of God include: “Elohaynu” and “Baruch Ha-shem.” Whatever you call God or a higher power, turn that name into a mantra, and say the first half of the name as you inhale and the second half as you exhale. Start by practicing with your eyes closed twice a day.

Your mind WILL wander or drift during this practice. When your mind drifts, slowly bring it back to the focus, to your mantra. Do not over-react and force your mind to shut out the drift, to shut out thoughts and fight your way back to your mantra. The focus AND the drift are both part of meditation. Once you realize that, you will not be able to fail in this practice. Over time you will simply be able to return to your mantra quicker and quicker.

If you want to dramatically accelerate your mental and spiritual progress, practice your mantra, with your eyes open, throughout the day, when your mind is not engaged in anything. For example, while doing the dishes, walking down the hall at work, or grocery shopping, you can silently be reciting your mantra. Do not do this while driving!

Over time the speed of your mind will slow down. The fewer thoughts you experience, the greater will be your peace of mind. A couple of analogies are useful to further explain. Your mind is like a train going 100 miles per hour, pulling 100 cars. There is no technique that will stop that train, but when you begin to use a mantra, you move the train onto a much better track. In addition you WILL slow down the train somewhat. Over the course of years you can stop the train.

Our mind is a two-cylinder engine, driven by pleasure and pain. Pleasure and pain are what give rise to thoughts. We think about and desire what we want, and worry about things we don't want. At the end of the day we have worn ourselves out with mental chatter.

The mind works in name and form. If you see a rose, your mind will immediately be identifying the word, “r-o-s-e.” Similarly, when you see or hear a name or word, such as “rose,” in your mind you will picture a rose, whether it be red, white, yellow or any combination. Because the mind works in words and names, mantra meditation is well suited to us. The mind “needs” to work. By giving our mind a mantra to work with, we are giving our mind the most positive word imaginable to repeat.

Over time, your mantra will become mental home base, the inner place you return to over and over again. No matter what is going on, after awhile you will be able to return to your mantra in a matter of seconds, quickly returning to a calm, centered, inner state.

Mantras have been used in all religions for thousands of years. By quieting the mind, you begin to remove some of those “clouds” that block the light of your Self. This is a powerful way to re-connect to your Self. The power of the ego-mind will slowly weaken and you will become more the witness of the activity of your mind than the victim of your own mind. There is little question that, for most of us, our mind is our worst enemy. We say things to ourselves that our worst enemies would never say to us.

Connecting to Breath

Most of us in the West have become disconnected from natural breathing. Instead of taking slow, deep abdominal breaths, most of us are shallow, upper-chest breathers. You can consciously use your breath to re-connect that part of your physiology to your Self. Breath is the fastest mediator of the mind-body connection and the quickest way to relax.

Imagine that your lungs are like balloons that fill from the bottom first…and then the top fills. Take deep breaths into your abdomen. You should see your belt or waistline move or expand by about an inch. Place your hand over your abdomen and take a deep breath. Practice until you see your hand moving significantly. Throughout the day take a number of conscious, deep breaths. It will bring relaxation almost instantly, keep the mind and body connected, bring deep relaxation, help you “find your center” and discover an inner silence where you can experience your connection with Spirit. There is a good reason why the word “inspire” means “to breathe,” and also “to grow close to Spirit.”

You have learned 2 meditation techniques. In order for any mental fitness technique to help transform your life, it requires practice and patience. Now a word about prayer is in order. Prayer is “talking to God.” Meditation is “listening.” You may be listening to God or to your Self. Prayer and meditation, therefore, are flip sides of the same coin. They are so intimately connected that the distinction is somewhat one of semantics.

Connecting to God

Connecting to God is not unlike connecting to Self. God is like the sun, shining everywhere, but when there are clouds, it appears that there is no God. Similarly, it is the clouds of our own thoughts and ego-mind that prevent us from experiencing a connection with God. So, meditation, which helps us set the mind aside, thereby removing mental clouds, allows us to experience both Self and God more easily.

The Maypole Imagery is a technique that helps provide direct contact with God or Higher power:

Picture a maypole and imagine that God, a Higher Power, or Universal Intelligence is sitting on top of the maypole. Dangling from God's hands are many ribbons with different colors. Go up to the maypole, select one of the ribbons, and (in your mind) go sit back down, holding the ribbon in your hand. Allow God's love, joy, protection, and healing energy to flow into you. Anything else that you want or need, such as courage or faith, ask God to send those qualities down the ribbon into you. Feel those qualities entering your body. Tug on the ribbon so you can feel the tension on the other end. That tension is caused by God holding the other end. Feel the connection. In this simple imagery, you have immediate access to God or Higher Power.

Connecting to Nature

Our connection to Mother Earth is one of the most neglected areas in our lives. We live in concrete jungles, drive in metal cars, walk on hard sidewalks, work inside steel and glass buildings, then get in our cars and come home. It is not our fault. This is just how society has evolved.

If you consider that Mother Earth is part of God, you will quickly see why connecting to Nature is important. Even if you are an atheist, connecting to Nature is important. Start by making a conscious effort to find time to be outside on a regular basis. Find a place where you can walk barefoot, so that your feet are making contact with the ground.

You connect with Nature by becoming more and more aware of Her. When you walk outside, don't run to your car. Stop and notice everything beautiful that comes from the earth, even if it is a single flower in a pot. Notice the sky, the trees, and give thanks for all you see. Then listen. Notice all the sounds, some of them artificial and some of them from birds and other animals. Next notice the air temperature on your skin and observe if the wind is blowing. How fast is the wind blowing? Smell the air. You might smell pine trees or barbequed chicken. The point is that most of us have stopped using our senses. By awakening our senses, we greet Nature, we acknowledge Nature, we can express gratitude to the Earth . . . and, in the process, we re-connect with Nature. A strong connection to the Earth brings peace and a kind of simplicity and naturalness rarely seen in the Western world.

In order to become fully connected and awake, we must make efforts to re-connect to ourSELF, God, and Nature. By connecting in all three ways, the grip of the mind grows weaker, and the power of your core, your essence, your source, grows stronger. Power is an aspect of Self. Force is a manifestation of the mind. All forces (magnetic, electro-magnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear forces) diminish over time and distance and are met by counter-force. Anything you do with force will be met with counter-force. Anything that you “do” within your mind will be met with counter-force.

But Power arises from the Self and does not diminish over time or distance. Power can be very quiet and still. When you learn to quiet your mind, your connection to Self becomes stronger and what you DO will come from power and not force. By getting re-connected on all levels, you will experience a sense of personal power that you may not dream exists. But, it does exist. Some of the most powerful people in recent history - Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandella- were internally quiet. They moved about in the world, motivated by Self and therefore, their actions went out into the world with power. Power cannot be defeated. Their impact on the world is proof of that. Imagine what Self-generated power can do for you! Helping you get re-connected is the best gift I can offer as we begin a new year.

David Gersten, M.D. practices nutritional medicine and trans-personal psychiatry out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Please feel free to access 1,000 on-line pages about holistic health, amino acids, and nutritional therapy at www.aminoacidpower.com. Access 800 pages about mental imagery at www.imagerynet.com.


Dear Louise

Dear Louise,

I've been reading your books since I started learning Reiki more than four years ago in India. I'm now going to medical school in Alabama. In the last couple of weeks, and despite having worked on certain issues with my mother, I've developed a slight upset stomach. I've taken regression therapy before this and am interested in continuing the work further, but I think I need to let go and forgive a little more . . . especially because of the past few months. Can you give me advice on this matter?

Z.L., Alabama

Dear Z.L.,

Forgiveness always feels good. It has nothing to do with the other person or situation. Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves. I don't care how justified we feel we are, non-forgiveness creates a prison around our own hearts. The door to the heart opens with love and forgiveness. Your gut feelings are telling you that you can't digest your current thoughts of bitterness. So, yes, do forgive your mother. You'll feel so much better. See yourself stepping out of prison into the sunshine of joyous living.

Dear Louise,

When I walk into a room, sometimes I can literally “feel” the negative energy. I know this may sound odd, but it happens to me so often that I'm wondering what I can do to stop or at least defuse it. I can feel positive energy, too, it's not all negative! But obviously the negative energy has a draining effect on me.

S.A., Brazil

Dear S.A.,

When it comes to negative energies and the overwhelming effect they can have on you, I suggest the use of visualizations and affirmations to protect yourself. For example, if you feel unwanted energy pressing in, immediately visualize a giant pair of scissors cutting the cords of energy around you. Use whatever mechanism works for you: an eraser, broom, whatever. In this way, you're creating your own energy to deflect that which you don't want to experience. Then concentrate on putting out positive thoughts and vibrations. Think of things, people, and pets you adore, and visualize that energy emanating from you. In this way you will be attracting to you people and situations that resonate on the same positive frequency. Affirm: As I love myself and honor my intuition, I automatically attract positive experiences into my life! I am grateful, and all is well in my world.

Dear Louise,

I read your books, and I'm working on being positive. Everything is turning around, and I've started feeling better than ever. But what should I do with very negative people whom I can't stop having relationships with? They are in-laws and my parents. I have to have relationships with them. It seems that it will work out if I affirm my relationship with them in a positive way. But my three-year old gets so much influence from my negative in-laws and my parents. She acts very strange when she's with them. I can feel that she's getting negative energy. What can I do?

D.H., Miami, Florida

Dear D.H.,

You're on the right track, and I congratulate you for making these positive changes. Now you must take the next step and be the parent. You must set boundaries with the grandparents with respect to how and when they can be with your child. Keep her away from them for a while. And in the meantime, read positive stories to her (you might look into my book for children, The Adventures of Lulu, written especially for young ones) and say positive affirmations: My daughter is always safe and surrounded by loving, supportive people. Everyone in her life brings joy into her world.

Louise L. Hay is a metaphysical teacher and the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life , Empowering Women, and I Can Do It! . Subscribe to the Louise Hay Newsletter! Call for a Free Issue: (800) 654-5126. Questions for Louise? Write to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100 (letters may be edited for length and clarity). Visit Louise and Hay House at: www.LouiseHay.com or www.hayhouse.com.