FAQ with Deepak: Sleep Versus Meditation and Willpower Over Chocolate

Question: Meditation Versus Sleep?

Dear Deepak,

I've been interested in the subject of meditating and finding relaxation through it, however, whenever I've tried one of the practices, I keep ending up asking myself: Wait! Isn't this exactly what sleeping does?! Closing my eyes and letting go of all thoughts is exactly what I go through when I am asleep. I might get one or two dreams every now and then, but then the whole idea of disconnection from my worries when I am awake is exactly what sleep gives me. What's all the hype about, and what am I missing? I'd be interested in understanding the difference between proper meditating and a proper sleep.

Response:

Meditation gives the body and mind a much deeper quality of rest than sleep. Obviously it is also a very different subjective experience, and it is a much different physiological experience as well. This can be seen through EEG measurements of the brain, hormone levels in the blood, and cellular metabolism. But the real value of meditation goes far beyond rest; it is how we awaken to our true selves and attain our full human potential. Sleep does not give you that.

Love,
Deepak

Question: Understanding My Profound Meditation?

Dear Deepak,

My experience some 30 years ago is somewhat different than what I read of other peoples’ experiences. After some months of determined, concentrated meditating, I came to a point where I felt I could go further from the state I was in. Fear and trepidation came over me as to what could be ahead reasoned, if God was supposedly so great then he would take care of me. I just let go and almost instantly I was in a complete state of bliss, everything was about love. I felt that I was part of the Cosmos. I could not see or feel my body. I was just Mind. My breathing was synchronized with my heart, which was beating so loudly as if I was listening with a stethoscope. Worldly stuff meant nothing. I understood everything. The rest of the world appeared asleep compared to that state. I never seriously meditated after that since reading that it’s very important to have a mentor to avoid any dangerous consequences. As I was almost forty years of age with a wife and young son, that was out of the question. My question is. Can you explain my particular experience?

Response:

This is a classic experience of glimpsing the totality of the universe within your individual awareness. That is the experience of one Mind, where everything within you is attuned to the cosmos, your body, mind, heart, and spirit. There is only one wholeness of Being and you know that is who and what you are, and that is all that there is. It’s a good experience. That experience has planted a seed of reality in you and it will grow exactly as it needs to.

Love,
Deepak

Question: Willpower Over Chocolate?

I have started reading your book "What Are You Hungry For?" and being of Indian heritage, it is easy for me to understand the principles of Ayurveda. I am starting to modify my lifestyle with patience and more awareness and it gives me comfort listening to what I really need. I am aware that everybody has a certain challenge to be able to adapt with a new system. My challenge is kind of tricky. I have a sweet tooth, and I seldom bought chocolate before, knowing, I would be "hooked" once I do. Now, I work in the Marketing Department of one of the world’s most famous chocolate companies. When I started the job I put myself under unnecessary pressure, which was quite stressful. Being a little overweight already then it came in handy that sugary products could be found with no effort. Needless to say that I gained more weight quickly this way. Job-wise I am successful and feel secure now and I do not need to "calm" myself with chocolate on a regular basis. The challenge remains though: I am always surrounded by chocolate bars, pralines etc. Every two months I HAVE TO (this is part of my job) try a range of products and rate them regarding their quality. Do you have a solution how I can prevent stepping into the trap again??

Thank you very much and regards from Switzerland.

Response:

You are not going to get too much reader sympathy for having a job where you have to eat the best Swiss chocolates! Since you are eating them because you have a sweet tooth and not out of an emotional lack, your challenge is not as big. The tool to change your habit is what you listed above: more awareness and listening to what your body really wants. The next time you are tempted to eat a chocolate, ask yourself if you are genuinely hungry or whether the taste simply seems like a pleasant experience. Check with your body and see whether your body wants the experience and consequences of metabolizing that chocolate. If you are not actually hungry, ask what it is you want instead of food. In time, your channels of communication with your mind, heart, and body will be clear and strong enough that habits and false cravings will lose their power.

And when you need to sample the new lines of chocolates, just take tiny bites, enough so that you can taste it. You don’t need to finish each piece. Think of wine tasters who only take enough wine in their mouth to get the flavor and then spit it out.

Love,
Deepak

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About the Author

Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Co-Founder
Deepak Chopra, M.D., F.A.C.P., is the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, the founder of the Chopra Foundation , and a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. He is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology, and metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and a clinical professor in the Family Medicine and Public Health Department at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New...Read more