The Most Popular Model of Reality Is Wrong

By Deepak Chopra, MD

It would be ideal if reality and our model of reality merged into the same thing. A model of reality explains how the universe was created and how it operates. You might think that this is a definition of reality itself, but it isn’t, which can be illustrated by looking at the most popular model, known as naïve realism.

In a nutshell, naïve realism says that what you see is what you get. In other words, the reality presented by the five senses is reliable. Such a view appeals to common sense. It rests on experiences we take for granted. There is a physical world “out there” separate from our subjective experience “in here.” The physical world predates human beings by 13.8 billion years, going back to the Big Bang. If both of those things are true, then obviously what we think, feel, and desire “in here” has no effect on reality “out there.”

As unimaginably sophisticated as modern science has become, most scientists accept naïve realism, usually without question, even though each of the common-sense facts just mentioned is known to be false.

  • The division of reality into mind and matter has never worked, because it fails to tell us where mind came from or how it relates to the brain.
  • The passage of time, whether in milliseconds or the eons since the Big Bang, has no fixed validity. The quantum field, considered the finest level of Nature by physicists, doesn’t exhibit linear clock time, and the source of the quantum field is timeless.
  • A longstanding problem in physics, known as the measurement problem, indicates that an observer is needed in order to produce the basic outcomes that create particles. In other words, physical reality has a psychological component that is inseparable from it—we live in a participatory universe.

Leave aside the obvious ways we cannot trust our five senses, which tell us mistakenly that the sun rises in the East, that a thunderclap happens after a flash of lightning, and that there could be no such things as small as bacteria and viruses, since they are invisible to our eyesight. Naïve realism is wrong at a much deeper level, which has been grappled with by the most eminent physicists. It is wrong about mind; it cannot connect mind and brain; it has nothing to tell us about the origins of space, time, matter, and energy’ it is contradicted by the strange behavior of the quantum field; and it has no chance of linking the microscopic world with the macroscopic world—in other words, the so-called building blocks of reality live in a separate, totally closed-off domain from everyday reality.

These multiple failures are widely known among physicists but just as widely ignored. A great deal of science and most of technology can advance without a theoretical model of reality. Before he died Stephen Hawking published a book, The Grand Design, in which he conceded the high probability that scientific models will not succeed in matching the reality they are supposed to describe.

If science rolls along without a viable model of reality, that lack isn’t incidental. We celebrate Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, and Einstein for getting something right, not simply for issuing metaphysical suppositions. So it is important to get things right now. If the present model of reality is, in fact, an abstruse collection of mathematical formulas suspended in a theoretical mathematical space, clearly something is amiss. In medieval times the world had to conform to divine law; now it must conform to mathematical law, yet the fallacy remains the same.

There is a way out. First, we acknowledge a simple truth: Models are right about what they include and wrong about what they exclude. Naïve realism is dead wrong about consciousness because it excludes mind in favor of physical explanations. Secondly, we must accept that reality cannot be modeled. The whole enterprise of reducing the physical world into tinier and tinier building blocks has reached its useful limit. Leading theorists suggest that quarks and superstrings might not actually exist. More to the point, we live with space, time, matter, and energy and yet have no origins story for where any of them came from.

Without a model, what’s left? Still standing is the one thing that permeates reality, brings the five senses to life, allows thoughts to arise in our heads, gives the world color and form, and tells us that we are alive: consciousness. The very thing that naïve realism leaves out is the thing that holds all the answers.

There was a lamentable decline after the earliest decades of the quantum revolution, when all the greatest physicists tackled the problem of mind. In place of great thinkers physics turned to number crunching and atom smashing, which remains its chief occupation, now on a billion-dollar scale. There were exceptions like John von Neumann, John Archibald Wheeler, and David Bohm, who continued the search for a link between mind and matter.

Respected but sidelined in favor of bigger particle accelerators and telescopes, all of these thinkers now enjoy a latter-day revenge, so to speak. Having exhausted the models of reality that discounted and ignored consciousness, forward-looking physicists now realize that mind must be accounted for, which seems like a simple realization except that it was clouded behind a screen, the biggest factor being naïve realism. Satisfied with the common-sense view of reality in their everyday life, physicists were happy to think of mind as “not my job.”

A huge hurdle remains, however, which is the enormous seduction of physical explanations. What is science without them? What is life if we get rid of relying on the five senses? These aren’t rhetorical questions. Life would be transformed if we abandoned the lure of the physical world and the mistaken data of the five senses. The human mind is uniquely able to go beyond appearances, and when we do, the destination is always consciousness. There’s no need to call it “higher” consciousness. A better term is “total” consciousness, the ground state of everything in existence.

Account for consciousness and you explain everything. No models are needed. The everyday mind is the arena of consciousness. Stick with it, experience it deeply, and be self-aware. Only then will reality be fully comprehended, absent any model at all.

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. 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.”

The Future of Personal and Planetary Well Being : An invitation to Sages and Scientists Symposium, Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville Arkansas

By Deepak Chopra, MD

Despite a steady increase in life expectancy, medical science is facing diminishing returns. It has been estimated that every increase in lifespan since 1990 has resulted in only ten months of increased healthy life; the rest is only prolonged suffering and the decline of aging. Globally more people now die of so-called “lifestyle diseases” than from infectious diseases. Doctors cannot make choices about lifestyle; only the patient can. Finally, half of all heart attacks before old age occur in people who live a good lifestyle, managing their weight, eating right, and exercising regularly.

What lies beyond lifestyle? That’s a matter of much speculation. Will human existence be improved in the future through technology, genetic manipulation, nano-robots in the bloodstream serving as cancer hunters? Or will it take a new philosophical conception, one that entices people away from a life of speed, constant activity, and stress?

By all odds it will take both, because innovations in technology can’t succeed if we continue to define well-being in old, outworn ways. Consider the following statements, which almost everyone, including doctors, take as fact:

  • The body is a machine, and like all machines it breaks down.
  • Aging is a pre-determined process, probably controlled by our genes.
  • The body is a mindless lump of matter except for the brain, which has evolved to produce mind or consciousness.]
  • The causes of most diseases are now known. What remains is to find effective drugs to target each malady.
  • You are healthy until something goes wrong, which is signaled by the appearance of symptoms.

In reality none of these statements is correct. The body isn’t a machine; machines cannot heal themselves. The body isn’t mindless; every cell is imbued with vast knowledge that far surpasses anything found in medical textbooks. The brain doesn’t produce the mind; that’s merely an assumption that has never been proved.

The most urgent need facing each of us is how to envision our bodies without the burden of outworn assumptions, which is why, starting in two weeks, an annual symposium known as Sages & Scientists Symposium will bring together the best thinkers with views both humanistic and scientific. This year’s theme is “The Future of Well-Being,” and the public is invited to attend. There is nothing on the planet as open to the free exchange of ideas, from every kind of thinker and researcher, all aiming to find a way forward into a viable future.

In my view a total rethink of the human body is long past due. To begin with, the division between mind and body is totally arbitrary. The body is a super-highway of information traveling to every cell, and thousands of different molecules inside a cell know exactly what their precise function is. The body’s ability to heal, along with the immune system’s encyclopedic knowledge of all the disease organisms our ancestors encountered (and defeated), far exceeds current medicine.

To get real about your body, you need to see it as a bodymind, a wholeness whose capacity for survival is only exceeded by its capacity to evolve. As the British physicist David Deutsch pointed out in a TED talk this past April, human beings have freed ourselves from the laws of nature that govern the physical universe, and this freedom has allowed us to define entirely how our future will look. That’s a startling reinvention of what it means to be human, because everyone assumes that the laws of nature are vastly more powerful than human beings.

In reality the possibilities created in our consciousness are infinite, but we will remain limited, insecure, and fearful until a new vision tells us who we really are. The body is as conscious as any thought, which is why bodymind is the right conception of our wholeness. Consciousness creates, governs, and organizes every process in the bodymind, and the source of this unlimited knowledge is you. There is no higher power or law of nature dictating your future. The limitations we ascribe to illness, aging, and death are largely mind-made, and the worst of these limitations is our belief that we must be limited.

In reality there is no “must” about it. The reason science talks about biology as destiny and evolutionists talk about humans as higher apes rests upon a deeply rooted mistake, that we are physical creations glommed together from bits and pieces of matter. This is the same as saying that a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci or Picasso is just daubs of oil paint. The entire point of a great painting is the consciousness that goes into it, fashioning beauty and meaning first and foremost.

Likewise, human beings are conscious agents whose existence, first and foremost, is rooted in beauty and meaning also, to which can be added everything else we most value: love, compassion discovery, curiosity, creativity, and evolution. These are aspects of consciousness, and the bodymind is our vehicle for exploring them. The future will be viable only if we have the confidence to see ourselves as expressions of higher consciousness.

I inaugurated Sages & Scientists Symposium so that the best thinkers would feel comfortable in each other’s company. Instead of compartmentalization, which is the norm in the academic world, there is a free and open field in which anything, from artificial intelligence to Vedanta, from virtual reality to epigenetics, is given time and space to be expressed. The concept has borne fruit beyond anything I originally envisioned. Now it can be truly said that well-being has a future and not simply a repeat of the past. The only way to know if human potential is unlimited is to test it through unlimited imagination, discovery, and deep understanding. The sooner every individual grasps this, the more we can live in hope and optimism.


Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and founder of Chopra Global and co-founder of Jiyo, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest book is Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or

By Deepak Chopra, MD
It feels to many people as if we’re living in a Humpty-Dumpty time, when everything has gone smash. A sense of chaos and disorder permeates everything, and as you look around, there’s no longer any consensus about the most basic facts. Reality has become the clash of opposing viewpoints. When the phrase “alternative facts” first hit the media, it was met with jeers. Now it’s the definition of our troubling times.

What’s missing isn’t what people usually point to—order, tradition, solid values, and cooperation. Those things depend entirely on the real missing element, which T.S. Eliot poetically called “the still point of the turning world.” For the fact is that chaos isn’t new; disorder has threatened humanity throughout recorded history. The only way for chaos to be defeated is to have a firm foundation, something so solid, immovable, and permanent that we can build upon it. Otherwise, anything we try to build stands on sand.

A phrase like “solid foundation” sounds physical and rock-like, but Eliot understood that nothing more is needed than a fixed point. In his mind that point was God, and civilization has agreed with him. Organized religion issues articles of faith and dogma, on which an entire culture can rise. All of these proclamations of truth stem from truth with a capital T, the almighty. God is like a point because in an age of faith, God is always at the center of everything, the way a merry-go-round might have, at its very center, an invisible dot that doesn’t turn.

The trend in modern society for two generations at least has been the steady dissolution of faith in organized religion. Its replacement was science, whose foundation isn’t a still point but a methodology: the search for objective facts. Whatever you think about science, its methodology has been supremely successful in discovering the mechanics behind the universe, but it has done nothing to cure our unease over disorder and chaos. Quite the opposite—with every passing year the universe can feel more unstable, unknowable, and mysterious.

This, however, is not the business of the average person going about the routines of daily life. Even if the New York Times announced tomorrow that physics has achieved its holy grail, a Theory of Everything that can predict the movement of every single particle in the universe since the big bang, this epic achievement would do nothing about our unease over climate change, refugees, Putin’s Russia, or anything else in the Humpty-Dumpty world.

If religion has lost its authority and science is occupied with cosmic issues, who or what will heal this chaos?

The answer is at once reassuring and bothersome. The only still point of the turning world is you. Until you discover your own center, a place immune to change, the world will be an out of control merry-go-round. This isn’t a glib metaphor. Imagine a carnival carousel in your mind’s eye. Once you see it, shift your viewpoint to the following different perspectives:

  • See the carousel spinning as you stand outside it on the ground.
  • Take a bird’s eye view and see the carousel rotating from above.
  • Get on a horse and see the world as you go around and around, up and down.
  • Find the center post of the carousel and lean against it, watching the world spin while you appear to be stationary.

What you’ve done is an exercise in non-Einstein relativity. You have shifted viewpoints in any direction you want to—this isn’t limited to the viewpoints listed above. You could if you wanted to view the carousel from the moon, or Alpha Centauri, or any place in the cosmos. The ability of the human mind to change viewpoints makes us unique among living creatures (we assume).

This isn’t just a special talent—it is who we are. Take any situation in world history, and it is open to countless viewpoints. It is mind-blowing enough to realize that reality is different for each person, but inside each person there are as many viewpoints as you happen to want. Think of any historical figure: Buddha, Napoleon, Mozart, Rudolf Valentino, anybody.

With no effort at all, you can imagine this person from the viewpoint of:

  • A historian describing the march of history.
  • The person’s mother or father.
  • A doctor listening to his heart.
  • A tailor measuring him for clothes.
  • A beggar watching him go by on the street.

These are only the tiniest quotient of viewpoints. You could take any figure in history—or in your private life—and have a different reaction to him or her at every moment in your life.

Now we are at the heart of the issue. Chaos and disorder are mental points of view. We construct them out of thoughts, beliefs, opinions, prejudices, expectations, and fears. There is nothing about reality that is not structured “in here” in our own consciousness. The fact that there are infinite viewpoints isn’t the problem. Without shifting viewpoints, we’d never have art, music, literature, science, medicine, and so on.

The problem arises when we forget that these constructs are mind-made and can be unmade. Once you decide that chaos is real, you become the victim of your own forgetfulness. Truth with a capital T isn’t God, not anymore in the modern secular world. Truth with a capital T is the immutable, changeless, eternal, ever-present awareness that is the still point of the restless mind.

Therefore, there is nothing outside us that needs to be discovered in order to turn chaos into orderliness. Chaos and orderliness are like a stream that flows without end that also has standing eddies. The river sends water downstream without apparent design, yet the eddies remain constant even as they are in motion. Which do you prefer to see, the river or the eddies?

The fact that you even have this choice proves that you are beyond order and chaos. I hope that this conclusion surprises or even shocks you. What would it be like to live as the still point of the turning world? We will discuss this unique possibility next.

(To be cont.)


Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are The Healing Self co-authored with Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or Spotify 

Ending Our Fear of Death

By Deepak Chopra, MD

Fear is a powerful force, nowhere more so than when it comes to death and dying. By comparison, the solutions for solving other fears seem useless. You cannot test your fear; you cannot feel it and move on anyway. There is little reason to trust other people who seem to have no such fear. They have no more valid experience of dying than any other person who is alive.

It is reported that near-death experiences leave survivors without any fear of death, because they have seen the other side and found it unfearful. But near-death experiences, although highly publicized, are rare, even among patients who have died on the table in the emergency room, generally from a heart attack, and been resuscitated. You can take hope from their anecdotal stories—and millions do—but the information remains second-hand.

Fear of death is unique in the hold it has over us, and we spend our lives hiding or suppressing it. The prospect of not existing seems too overwhelming to face. But in one respect, despite its uniqueness, the fear of death can be faced and dismantled. There is a cure that is available to anyone. It consists of exposing death as an illusion,

This is the last solution people seek, in all probability, because death looks so real, and the sight of a corpse is frightening and disturbing to most of us. Instead of bringing our fear of death to light, we feel too emotional to begin. But overcoming your emotions puts the cart before the horse. Our fear and revulsion didn’t arise by themselves; they are the coating, as it were, that surrounds the core of illusion, an after-effect rather than the cause.

We can trace the cause backwards by dissecting the illusion in stages, beginning with the top layer and working toward the source of the fear that gave rise to everything else, as follows:

  • When my body dies, I die.
  • I am my body.
  • I reside inside my body and need it to survive.
  • Death is the opposite of life.
  • Death is non-existence.
  • Nothing is worse than non-existence.

As you can see, fear of death is a layered belief system; it isn’t a simple belief. To overcome this fear each layer must be dismantled, which means exposing the belief as false and processing the emotions tangled up in the belief. Taken one step at a time, the process of dismantling isn’t difficult. The difficulty arises when we try to attack fear of death all at once. That tactic is doomed, given how many false ideas are woven together inside our fear.

Let me show how the dismantling process works by briefly confronting each layer of fear.

  1. When my body dies, I die. This idea has only an emotional basis, generally rooted in childhood when a pet dies and our parents are at a loss to console us. This lack of consolation goes viral, we might say, as the years bring more experience of death. The rational mind knows that there is no data from the brain of a dead person, no credible witnessing beyond the grave, and so on. So this idea can be put on the shelf as unproven and unprovable.
  2. I am my body. This idea is actually just an assumption. One can just as easily say, “I am my mind.” Since the whole difficulty concerns the question of whether the mind dies with the body, it does no good to claim as a fact that you are your body. The current belief in neuroscience is that the mind arises from the brain, so if the brain dies, the mind is extinguished. But there is no proof that the brain produces the mind, and much evidence that it doesn’t, since no one has been able to show that the quite ordinary atoms and molecules that constitute a brain cell ever learned to think.
  3. I reside inside my body and need it to survive. This idea is somewhat different from the first two ideas, because it isn’t an assumption but a misperception. We learned as children to perceive the world “out there” from a position “in here.” But perception is unreliable until it is examined. When you cut your finger, the pain is perceived in the finger when we know logically that the sensation is actually processed in the brain. You can scan your body up and down quite easily, and you can scan the world around you just as easily. This implies that perception isn’t trapped “in here.” The possibility that perception has no fixed location helps to dismantle the misperception that “in here” and “out there” are opposites.
  4. Death is the opposite of life. It is clear that all created forms come and go. Thoughts arise and fade. The body you have includes trillions of cells that were not present when you were two years old. This all points to a simple reality: creation is in flux. Change is constant, and therefore a continuum. What we term death is a concept by which we attempt to fix arbitrary boundaries in a continuum that has no such boundaries. It is false to say that a heart or brain cell is alive while the atoms inside it are dead. The whole thing is purely a mental construct that we created and therefore can uncreate.
  5. Death is non-existence. Now we are getting close to the seed or source of the whole illusion. To say and feel that someone who has died no longer exists is a frightening prospect. But we don’t actually know what non-existence is. Our only connection to not existing is by thinking about it, and thinking by definition exists. Likewise, if we equate non-existence with the extinguishing of consciousness, our only connection is to think about having no consciousness, which is a conscious thought. It is impossible to frame any acceptable reality to non-existence except within the domain of existence, and for a human being, existence must be conscious.
  6. Nothing is worse than non-existence. Finally we get at the core illusion, the one thing fear depends upon when it comes to death. Being aware that we exist and are conscious, we don’t want those things to vanish. In fact, such a vanishing act seems to occur every night when we go to sleep, but all that really happens is that we lose our personal point of view when we sleep. A personal point of view is the product of a separate “I” that identifies with everyday experience, and everyday experience is filtered through mental activity.

But clearly mental activity isn’t the mind, just as the miles on a speedometer isn’t a car. The car and the mind both move, but they don’t have to in order to exist. Silent mind can easily be experienced. There is a silent gap between any two thoughts or sensations.

The experience of silent mind, sleep, and simply tuning out for a moment isn’t fearful in the slightest. These experiences are not even close to non-existence. In fact, non-existence cannot be experienced, since by definition you have to exist to have any experience.

Once you realize that non-existence cannot be experienced, with or without a physical body, there is nothing to fear. However vividly you imagine a fire-breathing dragon, it can’t arouse true fear. An elaborate fiction can be built around dragons, but entering their imaginative domain is a choice, and ultimately we know the choice is pure imagination. The same holds true when we choose to enter the domain where death is the ultimate fear. Once you pierce the mask of illusion, you can choose to exit the domain where this fear exists, and then you are free.


Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are The Healing Self co-authored with Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or Spotify 

The Best Way to Change Your Life: Getting Unstuck

By Deepak Chopra, MD

There are lots of reasons to consider the human mind is unfathomable, beginning with simple evidence like the thousands of psychology books on the market and the years of training required to become a licensed psychiatrist. But it is possible to create huge changes in how your mind is working, here and now, that do not require in-depth knowledge.

Instead, all that is needed is the habit of watching yourself. Life is about action and reaction. Very complex and tangled influences may be at work—and almost certainly are—but they mostly remain undercover. What we experience is action and reaction, which leads to each person’s unique pattern of behaving.

Looking at your behavior on the scale of months and years, or even days and weeks, is impossible, because everyone has thousands of thoughts that lead to thousands of actions and reactions. But it is very different, and much easier, to simply look at what happens next. If you look at your next reaction to anything—an incident at work, a phone call, your child running in with a scraped knee—the same thing happens next: you do something based on the past.

You possess a backlog, a virtual library, of memories that imprinted how you acted and reacted. Some people are more predictable than others in how they act and react—a frontline soldier confronts very limited options compared with a philosopher. But everyone consults a library of set responses when the next thing happens.

If these set responses work out reasonably well, most people are satisfied. They react and move on. But if you take a moment to observe your next reaction, some disturbing clues emerge about what is actually going on inside you. These observations include the following:

  • Your reactions are knee-jerk and not actually thought through.
  • Being the product of memory, your reaction is repeating the past rather than meeting the present moment.
  • Set responses make you a robot of the past.
  • If you think you are living in the present, you are the victim of an illusion.

These observations describe someone who is stuck. Stuckness doesn’t need a technical definition. Look around, and you will see people repeating themselves all the time, engaging in mindless daily routines, arguing over the same old things in relationship, feeling uncomfortable with change, and suffering pain and frustration because their lives never seem to improve.

None of that sounds desirable, so why do we content ourselves with being stuck? Again observation provides an answer. If you look at your next reaction, there is a push-and-pull between the positive and negative aspects of being stuck.

Positive: Routine makes life predictable and reassuring. Repetition is the path of least resistance. It feels safe to know where you stand. Fixed reactions remove the threat of the unknown.

Negatives: Routine is stifling and boring. Repetition is stultifying. It feels empty to think of yourself as a known quantity, with nothing new to offer. By not welcoming the unknown, all avenues of creativity, discovery, and curiosity are cut off.

If you consider the positives and negatives for a moment, there’s no contest. Everyone would want to get unstuck. Tolerating a routine, repetitive existence leads nowhere. We all know this inside, even if we have to dig deep to admit the truth. Money, skill, and status don’t make a difference, which is why doctors have a high burnout rate.

The real problem isn’t stuckness but not knowing how to get unstuck. The simple step already mentioned—observing your own reactions—is the key. Stuckness represents a surrender to unconscious habits, beliefs, and old conditioning. To undo their hold on you, you must first observe how these influences work. You cannot change what you aren’t aware of.

What should you start noticing? Very simple things, really.

  • Notice when you say something you said before.
  • Notice when you react the same way you reacted in the past.
  • Notice when other people tune you out.
  • Notice how you actually feel, here and now.
  • Notice when you resort to anxiety or anger.

Many times, all you have to do is to observe these repeated reactions and they will start to dissolve and dissipate. You are exchanging an unconscious existence for a conscious one, and living consciously is both the remedy and the goal of getting unstuck. But there is also a simple action you can take. When you notice any of the reactions on the list—in other words, any obvious repetition of old conditioning—stop at once.

By stopping you tell your unconscious mind that you don’t want to operate on autopilot. What happens next? Wait and see. Most of the time, especially at first, the old conditioning will force its way back. Autopilot has had years of reinforcement. It thinks it knows what to do in any situation. Only you have the power to wake up from this fixed notion, because only your conscious mind can turn the autopilot off.

Getting unstuck requires nothing more than what I’ve described. Everyone has conscious moments, many of them in fact. No one is ever completely robotic. We sense the upwelling of love, joy, curiosity, altruism, sympathy, insight, and intuition. These are non-reactive responses. Diminish your automatic reactions and expand your responses to life here and now. Again, that is both the remedy and the goal. The fully conscious life is the best life. To discover that this is so, the place to begin is by getting unstuck.


Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His latest books are The Healing Self co-authored with Rudy Tanzi, Ph.D. and Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine. Chopra hosts a new podcast Infinite Potential and Daily Breath available on iTunes or Spotify