Only the Present Mind Is Without Fear

By Deepak Chopra, ™ MD

In stressful times many more people feel fear than in normal times. What this means is that an ability to be fearless becomes more essential than in normal times. How is that accomplished? Being fearful is a skill you can master. It doesn’t require any of the things society falls back on. You don’t have to be tougher, stronger, more of a man (if you happen to be a male) or call upon a strong man for help (if you happen to be female).

In reality you only have to be present, because in the present there is no fear. At first this sounds wrong, because when you experience worry and anxiety, the most common types of fear, they hit you here and now. But here and now isn’t the same as the Present. Here and now describes clock time. If you are waiting for a bus and it is five minutes late, once it arrives, it is here now. The present moment, however, has nothing to do with clock time. The present is a state of mind, and in fact is the most natural state of mind, the state your mind wants to be in.

One of the key concepts in my new book, Total Meditation, is that the mind will return to the present effortlessly if given a chance. Even though “living in the present” has become a popular phrase, most people still approach it as a kind of spiritual challenge that requires them to intensely focus to make sure they stay mindful and present. This is the mental equivalent of balancing a penny on the end of your finger. The penny naturally wants to topple over unless you exert an effort to keep it balanced.

The active mind can feel like that. When fear and anxiety are roaming the mind. Balance seems difficult. In reality it’s not. Fear, despite its unique power, is just another mental distraction. Distractions can also be pleasant, as we all know watching a movie, and the active mind finds them very useful, because when you are distracted, you get a vacation from the endless stream of thoughts and feelings that the active mind must deal with.

Meditation isn’t the same as a distraction. It too gives the active mind a vacation, but with a difference. When watching a movie, texting, playing a video game, or doing a household chore, your attention goes outward. As soon as the distraction is over, the underlying worry and anxiety you were trying to escape will return. Meditation, on the other hand, goes to a level of awareness that is beyond fear; this is present mind. It is mind meeting itself rather than being filled with thoughts and feelings.

The theme of Total Meditation is about the need to keep meeting yourself throughout the day. Rather than setting aside a fixed time for meditating, you let your awareness return to present mind the moment you notice that you are distracted, stressed, worried, or on any other state of imbalance. The reason that anxiety can dominate even a person who isn’t normally anxious is that the person gets trapped in conflict between warring parts of the mind.

We experience these warring parts as voices in our head or sometimes as inner impulses. Dieters know the experience as the tug-or-war between “I want to eat this” and “I really shouldn’t.” there might be times when the “good’ voice wins, but this only frustrates the “bad” mind even more. So it lies in wait for a weak moment, and then instead of being “good” for not eating a candy bar, you eat a pint of ice cream, which is “bad” for you.

The issue should never be about any kind of inner conflict, because once you get sucked into one, you become a combatant against yourself. Unfortunately, as a legacy of our past, we all have years of inner conflict behind us. All kinds of fragmented memories lie in wait, charged with unresolved feelings of fear, anger, frustration, failure, humiliation, grief, and self-doubt. They form a rich field of material for fighting against yourself. But present mind has nothing to fight against, because the residues of the past are just distractions when you stand back and see them as a whole.

I realize that there is great suffering in people’s lives. Some of it is happening now; some of it is remembered from the past. For countless people the only choices are to put up with suffering or fight against it, and sometimes the struggle is just too much. Then we simply give up. But there is another choice, and the way is opened by letting the mind return to a state of being present, not with the outside world but with itself.

The secret of present mind can be hard to grasp, because we are so used to the fragments of our mind fighting against each other. You need to have an “aha” moment in which you see that the problem is inner conflict that arises form a divided self that has gotten into the habit of fighting itself. You must see, once and for all, that the solution is to go beyond conflict, which can only happen in present mind. You don’t struggle to get there, which would be just another kind of fighting against yourself. You find present mind in meditation, learn to recognize the experience, and then return to that experience any time you want to. Only in present mind is there no fear. With that one lesson you can survive, and even thrive, in the most distressing times.


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books) helps us to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and a joyful life. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his next book, TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

How to Make Your Meditations Effortless

By Deepak Chopra,TM MD


Meditation has a built-in problem that needs solving, the problem of noncompliance. Countless people have taken up the practice, motivated by the benefits of meditation supported by literally thousands of studies. The first few sessions go well, which is encouraging, but it is only a matter of time before meditation becomes one more thing we don’t have time for.

Letting your meditation drop away seems to affect every kind of practice, no matter how simple, including mindfulness, mantra meditation, Buddhist Vipassana, and so on. Even sitting for 10 minutes following your breath, which is the simplest meditation of all, doesn’t manage to stick. The result is that the vast majority of people stop meditating and never go back, while a much smaller number meditate “when I feel I need it.”

The number one reason for noncompliance is that everyday life is too busy, too full of work, family, TV, texting, eating out, and all the rest. But if we reframe the situation, meditation can be effective and effortless at the same time. Let’s accept that occasional meditation, although it might bring a moment’s respite from a busy day, hasn’t worked out for you. Instead of feeling guilty, you can begin a radically different practice.

In place of occasional meditation, you can shift to “total meditation,” a useful term for bringing the mind into a meditative state anytime you want. The technique is simplicity itself. Whenever you notice that you are distracted, stressed, feeling burdened, anxious, or out of sorts, use this as a trigger to return to the mind’s natural state of inner peace and quiet. The steps are as follows:

  • Find a quiet place where you can be alone and undisturbed.
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Put your attention on the area of your heart.
  • Breathe easily until you feel relaxed and quiet inside.

Total meditation, being spontaneous, is effortless. And because you do it anytime you like for a few minutes, the practice fits into the busiest days. At first you might find yourself doing the practice six or more times a day. but over time your mind will become trained to seek the meditative state more quickly and easily.

I describe the implications of this practice in a new book, Total Meditation, whose basic principle will surprise many people. In medicine it has long been known that the body automatically seeks a balanced state known as homeostasis. If you go for a run or a session at the gym, your body adapts to the increased activity in many ways that include changes in heart rate, blood pressure, oxygenation of muscles, digestion, and much more. Homeostasis is dynamic and holistic.

But there has been a reluctance to grant the mind the same automatic return to a state of balance, even though the evidence is quite clear. Between every thought your mind goes into a silent gap from which the next thought emerges. If you experience a momentary emotional upset, your mind can stay there only so long before the upset is gone. Even long-term upsets like grief over losing a loved one will eventually, for the vast majority of people, return to the person’s emotional set point.

Without knowing it, perhaps, you are already experiencing how important the mind’s rebalancing ability is. The chief benefit is a healing one. Every school and type of meditation takes advantage of this healing effect.

Mindfulness is the way your mind recovers from distraction. You are brought back into the present moment.

Self-Inquiry is the way your mind recovers from habits. By asking yourself, “Why am I doing this?” you bring conscious attention to a situation where you have been ruled by habit, routine, obsessive behavior, knee-jerk reactions, and stagnant beliefs.

Reflection is the way your mind recovers from thoughtlessness. You regard your behavior, see what is self-defeating or troubling about it, and realize what is actually going on.

Contemplation is the way your mind recovers from confusion. When faced with multiple choices, each with its pros and cons, you sort everything out by contemplating the situation until you have a certain level of clarity.

Concentration is the way your mind recovers from pointlessness. It is pointless to do a careless job, having careless opinions, and relate to other people in an unconcerned or arbitrary way.

Prayer is the way your mind recovers from helplessness. By contacting a higher power, you are acknowledging a need for connection.

Quiet mind is the way your mind recovers from overwork. The mind is constantly processing daily life and its challenges, but when mental activity becomes burdensome, there is a risk of exhaustion, anxiety, and mental agitation. The mind naturally wants to be quiet when no activity is necessary.

There is no firm dividing line among these practices, and all arise naturally out of the mind’s natural tendency to rebalance itself whenever it detects a state of imbalance. Total meditation expand upon this natural tendency and consciously directs it as needed. It is effortless to center yourself during the day, and the more you make it a habit, the deeper your meditative state will be. More importantly, your life outside meditation will become more conscious, again without effort on your part. (In the book I address examples of stress, habits, and old conditioning that have become chronic. They can be serious conditions, but they are still open to the healing touch of meditation, if approached in the right way.)

I’ve come to feel that occasional meditation’s problems can be solved in this simple way. The problems won’t go away simply by promising yourself that you will try harder to keep up your practice. It’s good news, I think, that a better way exists.


DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 89 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential, unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

Elite Task Force Assembles to Urge Addition of Meditation and Yoga to Help Fight COVID-19

The Safe and Proven Practices Have Anti-Inflammatory, Immunity-Boosting and Anti-Stress Benefits, Even for Beginners, Says the World-Class Team Led by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Top Scientists

By Maureen Seaberg

At a time when every hospital bed counts, experts led by Dr. Deepak Chopra including Michelle Williams, S.D., dean of Harvard’s School of Public Health; noted biophysical anthropologist William Bushell, Ph.D., Paul Mills, Ph.D., chief of behavioral medicine at the University of California, San Diego; Ryan Castle, executive director of the Chopra Library; and Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Harvard professor of neurology, have joined forces to make the public aware of the many disease-fighting benefits of meditation and yoga.

They point out that these complimentary traditions can be added to our self-care and medical regimens and are safe, effective and easily done at home by the more than one billion people sheltering in place around the globe.

Most people know about the relaxation effects of the modalities, but not the many positive physiological changes they can create.

Many are also unaware that much of the damage done by infectious diseases, including even the most virulent ones, is the result of the person’s own immune or inflammatory response “over-reacting” to the infecting organism, says MIT-affiliated biophysical anthropologist William C. Bushell, who is the director of research and academic liaison for Chopra Library for Integrative Studies & Whole Health. Bushell is the original developer of this model based on work he has been doing for a decade in collaboration with Dr. Neil Theise and other scientists.

“There is also an extensive lack of knowledge that meditation and yoga possess significant anti-inflammatory properties, as well as anti-stress, and quite possibly anti-infectious properties as well,” he adds. “These positive properties of meditation and yoga result from directly influencing nervous system pathways, and also from stimulating circulating substances, which according to a small but impressive body of preliminary evidence, appears to include melatonin. Melatonin is another relative enigma to both the popular and scientific communities, but it has a wide range of powerful health-enhancing effects, including antiviral ones, and is actually now being intensively investigated by leading researchers as one medicine for COVID-19.”

Executive Director of the Chopra Library Ryan Castle explains that while meditation is widely considered to be an overall healthy activity, “its role in combating systemic inflammation is unique and powerful.” And that’s not all. He adds:

  • Meditation lowers levels of inflammatory markers, interrupting the vicious cycle of inflammation and allowing the body to down-regulate to stability.
  • Meditation has clinical efficacy at lowering the duration and/or severity of diseases.
  • Though any meditation is beneficial, active meditation that involves visualizations or guided imagery has significantly greater impact than simple mindfulness practice.
  • Meditation has beneficial effects on multiple immune functions and inflammatory processes, suggesting a truly systemic effect.
  • Meditation, especially when incorporating visualization and compassion components, has clinically significant effects on reducing the physiological and psychological damage of isolation and loneliness.
  • Visualization meditation has also been shown to improve production of the powerful immune modulator melatonin.

Bushell says that inflammation is the primary way COVID-19 kills. “Spread of the virus through the body leads to widespread and intensive activation of the inflammatory defenses throughout the body, though originally intended to combat the pathogen, but at this point instead resulting in widespread tissue damage, and fatally, to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which the lungs become flooded and respiratory failure ensues; the viral toxins themselves play a much lesser role in the tissue damage that ultimately can produce extreme critical disease states (pulmonary aspiration, septic shock), and potentially death (egs, Fu et al, 2020; Qin et al, 2020).”

For this reason, these experts say, meditation and yoga can provide a needed edge. At a time when people are experiencing extra time in isolation, the modalities have never been more needed or more easily done, says the team.

“In addition to its significant benefits of reducing inflammation and improving autonomic regulation, numerous scientific studies also demonstrate that regular meditation practice reduces stress and promotes the practitioner’s sense of equanimity, or centeredness,” says Paul Mills, Ph.D., of UCSD. “At these times of such heightened individual and social disruption, these psychosocial and spiritual benefits of meditation are invaluable.”

In coming days, the task force will make the practices even easier with free how-tos and guided videos. Check their website here.

Originally published by Medium

Only a Silent Mind Can Be a Healing Mind

By Deepak Chopra™, MD

Crises call for action, and the COVID-19 crisis has triggered global action, much of it motivated by alarm, fear, and the dread of uncertainty. But what about the individual person who feels afraid and uncertain? I’d like to propose an answer based on the silent mind. I realize that this approach might sound a bit alien and “spiritual” in the wrong way, but building castles in the air or retreating into yourself isn’t what silent mind is about.

Silent mind is about reconnecting to your source. Everyone relies on the top layer of the mind, which is active, constantly thinking and feeling. But when these feelings get fixated on anxiety, alarm, dread, and uncertainty, the active mind cannot pull itself out of its own spiral. Mental activity becomes useless to heal itself, just as a runaway car cannot apply its own brakes.

What is needed is a reset. The reset isn’t just mental. Your thoughts are received by every cell in your body, and in turn all kinds of processes are affected—the immune response, hormonal cycles, sleep, and overall mind-body balance, or homeostasis. If the active mind becomes confused and chaotic, balance is disrupted everywhere. What to do?

Centuries ago, in every culture, a deeper level of mind was discovered, and the usual expression surrounding this level, which is silent, calm, and undisturbed, became religious, as in the Old Testament injunction, “Be still and know that I am God.” If we replace God with “your source,” the message comes through to modern ears: Be still and know that I am your source. The most direct result of heeding this message would be to meditate, because meditation gives direct access to silent mind.

But countless modern people have tried meditation, and they do not experience the kind of reset that is needed in a crisis. Partly this is due to lack of commitment; the average person has tried meditation and left it behind, or only meditates when a sort of psychological Band-Aid is needed. Let me look a bit deeper to show what has been missed, because silent mind is truly the only healer.

In medical school homeostasis is described as basically physical. If you go for a run, your heart rate, respiration, blood flow to muscles, digestive process, etc. are thrown out of balance, but once you stop running, homeostasis is restored. At the negative end of experience, if you experience a great shock, the fight-or-flight response throws you into extreme imbalance, but when the shock ends, balance is restored. Unfortunately, under a constant threat like COVID-19, the shock doesn’t end. The usual stress response is designed to last no more than a few minutes. Extended to days and weeks, it turns on itself and begins to create damage.

The damage first appears psychologically. Under constant stress, people feel tired, grumpy, depressed, anxious, irritable, impatient, and so on. Keep up the pressure, and the next stage is fatigue, lethargy, dullness, and depression. If the stress still doesn’t abate, physical symptoms start to develop, often beginning with insomnia as the result of hormonal interactions being thrown out of whack. There is a lot more to say about this, but the bottom line is that a holistic reset is needed.

Without noticing it, you have been holistically resetting yourself for your entire life. Homeostasis isn’t just physical; it involves the whole person. The command center for resetting the whole person isn’t found in our cells, not even our brain cells, and it isn’t found in the active mind, which is just the top layer. The command center for holistic resetting is at the source. Be still and know that I am your source. The evidence for this has existed for decades. Meditation affects heart rate, respiration, brain activity, inflammation markers, and stress levels. Medical science studies each of these factors individually, but we shouldn’t miss the forest for the trees. Everything comes back to the same source.

Your source is still and silent; you come closest to it in deep, dreamless sleep. But in a crisis, everything doesn’t automatically go back into balance the way your heart rate will return to normal after you quit running. It turns out that there is useful silence and not-so-useful silence. As consciousness starts to move from its silent source, different paths open up, and the paths you have favored become your unique way of turning silence into something else.

Nobody handed you a user’s manual, but in broad terms, silent mind takes a path that is either/or. Let me map how these pathways diverge:

Fear or love
Separation or unity
Suffering or bliss
Renewal or habit
Self-esteem or self–doubt
Security or insecurity
Comfort or stress
Acceptance or resistance
Awareness or unconsciousness

These choices arise from silence; they have the same source but travel in opposite directions. If a person is fully conscious or awake, the pathways are directed toward the desirable experiences of love, security, bliss, creativity, renewal, and so on. But as things stand, we are all entangled in a web of choices that are mixed. We suffer but also feel bliss; we love but also fear; we feel self-worth but also self-doubt.

A crisis throws us into deeper confusion as it entangles us in too many wrong responses. Healing consists of allowing the silence to go in the right pathways. In every spiritual or wisdom tradition, pure consciousness unfolds, if let alone, in the direction of love, creativity, renewal, and evolution. There is no injunction that says, “Be still and let’s see what happens” or “Be still and who knows how that will work out for you?
Instead, the mindbody balance we all have relied upon since infancy is directed positively. Health and wholeness are the norm; creativity and renewal are the norm.

This is why I believe that the COVID-19 crisis can lead to healing, because without a doubt everyone feels the need for a rest. Follow this need toward your source, and it will be fulfilled. This is a time when the rest brings into play the infinite power of consciousness. All we have to do is align ourselves with that power at the level of silent mind.


DEEPAK CHOPRATM MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. He is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. Chopra is the author of over 89 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”