How Aware Do We Want to Be?
—Book Review of "Total Meditation"
Are We Awake?
We’ve turned the page on 2020. But really? We know it’s only a calendar number.
2021 still looks very much like 2020.
Surely almost every person on the globe has been affected in some way or another by the pandemic we’ve been living through.
It can make us want to hide our heads under the covers until it’s over.
But we know that denial is not healthy.
Staying aware is the better choice.
Using Meditation to Become Aware
Deepak Chopra focuses on waking up through meditation in his new book, Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life. Chopra says we don’t realize how critically important awareness is.
“To be aware is to notice something you didn’t notice before: You become aware that the room is getting too warm, so you turn down the thermostat. . . . Nothing can be changed in your life unless you first become aware of it.”
But what is awareness?
“Awareness is the most basic experience possible. [It] is more basic than sights, sounds, tastes, textures, or smells. Our senses fill the mind with content, but awareness needs no content. Simply being here is the ground state of awareness. . . . You have a sense of self that exists no matter what is happening or not happening. That sense of self is awareness.”
How do we become aware?
On a purely physical level, our bodies already know. They stay aware of their functions. The heart pumps our blood; the lungs breathe the air; the stomach digests our food.
And our brains? While they are always working, we don’t always stay mindful.
But to become mindful, we need to become aware. We clear our minds by coming back to the present moment, where every cell in our body already lives.
Jesus stated this truth in Matthew 6:34 when he told his followers not to be anxious about tomorrow, but to stay in today.
Tools for Awareness
Chopra suggests we use these tools to recover our minds:
- Quiet Mind
- Controlled Breathing
To be aware means we return to center. For Christians believers, that center is Jesus. While that’s not the specific focus of this book, you can read it from that viewpoint.
While staying aware might not sound enticing on the surface (who wants to be aware of everything?), consciousness is vital to our healing. It unites our heart and mind. It brings life to memory, recognition, learning, and creativity.
When we remain aware, we can live better. Chopra says peaceful behaviors look like this:
- You actively seek a solution from people who can genuinely help.
- You don’t act on impulse but wait until you are centered.
- You take responsibility for your feelings without lashing out or blaming someone else.
- You trust that a solution is always possible.
- You don’t become the cause of stress.
- You respect others as your equal.
By living awake, we get unstuck from the “toxic merry-go-round” that we often live in.
While I don’t agree with everything that Chopra writes, I do agree with his basic premise:
“The best way to live right now is to live as if you are awake.”
Awake to truth. Awake to love. Awake to God and each other.
Even when it’s hard.
It’s not always easy to stay awake, to stay aware, but it’s always worth it.
My thanks to Net Galley for the
review copy of Total Meditation
- Happy New Year and the Grace & Truth Linkup
- Step into Uncertainty—My One Word for 2021
This sounds like an intriguing read, Lisa, but I certainly would approach it with a Christian perspective. Thanks for the review!
Mindful meditation does contribute to the healing of attitudes and emotions–IF we include God in the process with praise, prayer, and gratitude. ‘Interesting that we can read secular material with a Christian frame of mind, and see truth even the author may have missed!
I know you wrote this before the terrible events in Washington but it looks like 2021 may actually be darker than 2020. That makes my tummy churn to even think about. Meditation in the form of contemplative prayer has been my lifeline this past year so this type of practice is powerful physically, emotionally and spiritual. Thanks for highlighting this.