Back when my town actually had a bookstore, I used to browse regularly for new books. Many times I picked up books that I might not have considered if had I not had a chance to flip through the pages. I don’t remember at this point what made me pick up this book. Perhaps I read about it on Oprah.com, or something. I often browsed the cookbook aisle, and I think this was just across the way in the health department. Even flipping through it, I had no idea what it was about (and I’m not sure I can even describe it now, having read it!). I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
The basic premise is that every person is essentially made up of energy - the body and the soul are made manifest by energy. Understanding that statement is the key to how you relate to the world around you, how you approach your health and emotions, and so on. Chopra shares many anecdotes throughout the book. One of the more memorable ones involved a study about compassion and Buddhist monks. The monks were asked to meditate about compassion while their brains were being monitored by scientists. After several minutes of meditating, the portion of the brain that corresponds with compassion showed a sharp increase in activity. So just by meditating on compassion, the monks were triggering the compassionate response of their brains. The message here was that whatever you meditate upon, you can bring more fully into your life. My guess is that monks are rather good at meditating already, and also probably compassionate, too. However, the idea is interesting to me - that you can cue your brain to experience positive emotion.
So there’s a lot of vague theory but not a lot of concrete advice. But it didn’t matter. Reading this book is like feeling you’re on the cusp of a great new understanding. What understanding? I’m not sure, but it could be understanding life. Remember reading “Our Town” in high school? At the end Emily is realizing why death is so much different than being alive. She can see what she never knew while living her day-to-day life. This book feels like that: a glimpse at what you are trying to know, but is so easy to lose sight of. Maybe it’s possible, though, to live life consciously and with awareness. It just takes practice.