By writing down even a passing experience of love, hope, and inspiration, you record your connection to higher consciousness in an easy and natural way, says DEEPAK CHOPRA answering seekers’ questions
I am aware that writing a journal is a powerful tool to achieve one’s dreams and find happiness. To address negative emotions and situations, is it okay to write down the shortcomings, and record current negative feelings? And then act on them one by one maybe? Please advise. — Nishant, 45 years ■
There are no hard and fast rules about journaling, so you should use the activity in the way that most appeals to you. You mention quite a few ways, and perhaps you might enjoy experimenting with each. But two things come to mind. First, it isn’t advisable to use your journal to pour out negative comments about yourself. Selfjudgement is the problem, not the answer. Invite negative thoughts to go away rather than inviting them in.
Second, you can use a journal very effectively to record uplifting experiences that otherwise you would simply forget.
By writing down and recording even a passing experience of love, beauty, compassion, hope, discovery, and inspiration, you guide your mind and brain to begin to notice such experiences even more in the future.
Instead of coming home and remembering only a person at work or in a store who irritated you, how much better it is to write down that you noticed a child at play or the quiet dignity of an older person. Perhaps you felt light and expansive for a few moments or even blissful. By writing down these experiences, you record your connection to higher consciousness in an easy and natural way.
How to differentiate between God and my soul? The Bhagwad Gita says God resides in my heart — then where am ‘I’, the Atman? Are the two one and the same? — Rashmi Ved ■
I sympathise that you want to straighten out these confusing terms and have a clear idea of them, but let me say that there is not much to be gained intellectually in this regard. You will gain much more by noticing your own personal experience. Start where you are, and begin to notice passing moments that inspire and uplift you. Pause and notice how good you feel during these moments. In this way you will answer the deeper questions, not from poring over books but by saying, ‘Oh yes, I find that this is true in myself.’
But to answer your question about jiva and Atman, God and the soul, the old analogies still hold true. There is water, the ocean, and a wave. All three are the same, but the mind turns them into different things. An ocean is bigger than a wave, and water is the essence of both.
Likewise, jiva is a wave, a single ego in the world. Brahmn is the whole of existence, and atman is the portion of pure consciousness given to each of us forever. In this way, even though they have different definitions according to the intellect, jiva is atman, and atman is Brahmn. I hope this helps.
I have been meditating for the past one year. Every time I sit down to meditate, so many thoughts flood my mind and my mind jumps from one thought to another. People say meditation is the state where your mind should be blank/ empty and you should be doing nothing. How to achieve this? — Rahul Bhati, 26 years ■
Your issue is very common and causes confusion, sometimes distress. The active mind is the mind we were all trained to rely upon since childhood. We use it for everything, both positive and negative.
What we do not see is that at any given moment, you can notice your active mind or the quiet mind that lies beneath the activity, the way that still water lies at the bottom of a rushing river.
It takes time, an experience, to notice the quiet level of the mind, and for a while you get only glimpses. Do not let this bother you — a glimpse is enough. Active mind will always return in meditation; it just happens. But the mind is attracted by its own peaceful, blissful nature.
Whenever you experience joy, this is the nature of your mind showing itself.
The experience can happen in or out of meditation. So appreciate both sides of your life, in and out of meditation, without worrying what your meditation is like.
If you meditate easily, without forcing, your mind will quiet down by itself. If this doesn’t happen, seek a teacher or guide to help you out. Any kind of forcing, worrying, or expecting too much leads to disappointment. A good teacher will get you back into an open frame of mind that helps the meditation process to unfold naturally. ■
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