by Deepak Chopra: Here’s a quiz with only one question: To have a healthy body, which is more desirable, being in shape physically or being free of depression?
The correct answer is being free of depression. Depression is linked to poor sleep, fatigue, lowered immunity, susceptibility to infections, premature heart attacks, and more. But most people are in the habit of approaching their bodies only physically.
Consciousness and Well-being
Seen from the Vedic viewpoint, consciousness is the top priority for physical well-being. If modern medicine discovered a way to produce lifelong physical health through drugs, exercise, or diet, it would still fall short of the Vedic ideal, which includes mind and body.
A secondary issue with the Western approach has to do with risk. Standard Prevention is based on avoiding risks, which for most people is relatively easy when it comes to not smoking, for example, and whole-food diets are on the rise, largely thanks to the wide publicity given to the Mediterranean diet, which was clinically shown to be heart healthy.
Risk avoidance works well when you look at the statistics in trial studies, but not so well in everyday life. This is because risk avoidance is fear-based, and fear of sickness, aging, and death is a poor motivator over the long run. Feeling that your body is always under threat turns life into a risky gamble. In addition, the mind starts to look upon the body as a potential enemy should it fall sick and begin to age.
Let’s try another approach entirely. In the Vedic tradition, which includes the complete system of Yoga, a healthy body exists under the following condition: You experience bliss, which indicates that bliss-consciousness is also flowing through every cell. Bliss is the experience of vibrant well-being. This in turn strengthens every system, including the immune system. Mentally you are in a state of restful alertness, which remains with you for a lifetime, and continues to sustain a strong healing response.
The Multidimensional Body
Once you recognize that a healthy body is actually multidimensional, embracing mind, body, and spirit, thoughts as well as cells, emotions as well as exercise and diet, it is obvious that no amount of vigilance about risks can produce all the desired facets of lifelong well-being.
What you need instead is an enjoyable, uplifting lifestyle that automatically and effortlessly promotes physical and mental health. This has been the centuries-old goal of meditation, Yoga, and Ayurveda, which are just as valid today as when they originated in ancient India.
Ayurveda takes care of the everyday practicalities of remaining in balance, but ultimately the ideal life is only produced by living from your source in pure awareness. Ayurveda is a helper Veda, we can say, while yoga and meditation are pure Veda, opening up a direct path to bliss consciousness. From a Western perspective bliss is simply a synonym for a burst of joy, which is welcome but soon fades. A sustained level of bliss is something almost no one achieves or even aims for, although at least there is the inspiration of the axiom, “Follow your bliss.”
This is another concept that needs to be replaced. In the Vedic system, bliss consciousness is our source and our essential nature. It flows from the source to be transformed into every value that every generation has held most highly: love, compassion, creativity, truth, beauty, empathy, and inner spiritual growth. If you have experienced any of these things, you have been in touch with bliss consciousness.
Bliss Is Our Essential Nature
Now that you know how important blissful experiences are, you can change your whole perspective of life. Every day you can devote time and energy to the most valuable things in your life, things that you know will generate joy and bliss. At the same time, you can avoid their opposite, the things that promote stress, anxiety, conflict, resistance, sadness, and depression. Those two things, promoting bliss and diminishing the obstacles to bliss, aren’t hypothetical. You can begin to follow this vision immediately, even if you begin in small ways, like making sure you smile every day, having meaningful contact with someone who inspires you, or taking the time to read something you find spiritually uplifting.
One of the greatest causes of unhappiness is low expectations. If you adopt a higher vision, your expectations will rise at the same time, and there will be more openings for gaining everything most valuable in life. This holds true for physical well-being as well. By discarding the notion that your body is a machine designed to wear out, get sick, and perish, see it instead as the vehicle for bliss consciousness as it flows through every part of the bodymind.