Deepak Chopra speaks in a calm and steady voice, answering questions you didn't know you had. Steeped in knowledge, and emanating the assurance that everything is all right, he's a good person to know in times like these.
He has now written over 60 books, making him one of the most prolific authors of our time. Earlier this week, Deepak was at DeepakHomeBase, the permanent New York City setting for Deepak's series of dialogues with thought leaders, advocates, and celebrities. But this time, following a warm introduction by Paulette Cole, the creative CEO of ABC Carpet, (the home base for DeepakHomeBase), Deepak alone occupies the living room-like television stage. He is there to discuss and sign copies of his new book, Spiritual Solutions: Answers to Life's Greatest Challenges. Even when he's speaking off the cuff, his natural eloquence emerges in long, perfect paragraphs, that a writer, like me, can't fail to admire. And there is always a hint of mirth.
But is everything as all right as his reassuring calm leads one to feel in his presence? Well, yes, no, and maybe is the answer, says Deepak in his new book.
It's not when people try to solve a problem from a state of what Deepak calls "contracted awareness." Think of someone who has just learned his job is being downsized. Biologically, such bad news triggers the reptilian part of the brain, which can instantly prompt fight or flight reactions. According to Deepak, when so triggered, people will react from fear, scarcity, and anger. To help people recognize when they themselves (or others) are experiencing this state of contracted awareness, Deepak asks us to visualize someone who scowls, can't meet your gaze, and looks constipated.
But when people can gently expand their awareness, as the fists open and the breath calms, they're more able to connect with others, even in the midst of a crisis. That's when solutions begin to appear, Deepak claims. Now they can recognize a way out, or see the upside even in a downside situation. For example, the fellow who got the pink slip realizes he'd outgrown the job long ago.
Next Deepak posits a third stage, in which there are no 'ifs,' 'nos,' or 'maybes.' In the state of what he calls "pure awareness," people are aligned with the flow of the universe at every moment. Every decision, every reaction, comes out of that attunement. This is the place of yes. The suspicions, the pressures, the fears dissolve in this deeper wisdom. In the traditional Eastern teachings, this is when people recognize that the snake was really just a rope.
Using vivid examples, Spiritual Solutions walks people through examples of what makes us "flinch" in discomfort, to help readers go beyond their beliefs, assumptions, expectations, and feelings to a place of inner freedom. Even those fighting for tangible gains in freedom and righteousness in the real world, may be relieved to discover a new ally: Ready access to an inner freedom that is always available right here in the present.
For upcoming blogs linking personal health to the health of our culture, society, and ecology, and for upcoming Connect the Dots radio programs with speakers from Green Festival, please sign up for my free e-zine in the sign up box at www.healthjournalistblog.com And follow me on The Huffington Post, FB and Twitter @AlisonRoseLevy