Timeless You: A Youthful Mind

If there were ever a time for me to work on letting go of stress, it’s now. I can feel I’m not able to see clearly, to see what’s right in front of me. I can sense the disconnection between my higher knowing and the heavy pull of illusion. I know it’s there, but I have no clue what to do to release myself. Am I supposed to take a lunge forward, a step to the right, a leap to the left, look behind me and sneeze twice while patting my head? I don’t know.

This second course talks about the three hallmarks of a youthful mind: flexibility, curiosity, and creativity. I often hold the image of a tree bending to the gusts of a violent storm while remaining intact throughout because of its willingness to be flexible in the throws of changing directions. It’s helped me on many occasions to appreciate the gifts flexibility affords. Curiosity is something I wish I had more of, but I think mine is stunted by the fear of looking foolish and drawing attention to myself. I also don’t seem to have enough time to explore all the things I’m curious about; since I tend to take a meticulous approach to my exploration, I indulge my curiosity for what feels like just a moment before I have to return to a reality where it is more of an indulgence than a responsibility, of which the latter always takes priority. In that moment of blissful indulgence, I only grace the surface of an ocean of possibility with the back of a tired and scaly hand. And when it comes to creativity, well, it’s calling me; that I cannot deny. Lately, I’ve even been reminded of my love for painting and wonder when I’ll ever have the time and place to birth new pieces of three-dimensional acrylics folding and molding to the stories they so desperately want to tell. I have absolutely no doubt that creativity is the ultimate fountain of youth, since when we are in the act of creation time stills, the air stands, perception almost collapses onto itself as the inner world unfolds.

Each part of each course (the second course has 5 parts, for example) includes a video message from Deepak. He’s a world-renown, well-respected author, teacher, presenter, among many other things, so it’s easy to understand how exciting it is (if you’re a fan) to enjoy and anticipate watching these videos. As I watch them, I find myself thinking about the way videos are made in a higher education setting: professors are most often simply recorded as they give lectures to a room of sleepy students, which is fine to a certain extent but certainly not a novel method of integrating technology into learning and teaching that adds value to the experience for any party. One way that videos of teachers could stimulate and intrigue students is if those videos were a supplement to the course material rather than a regurgitation of what is already found in books and lectures. What if professors recorded themselves telling stories and recounting, on a personal level, how the lessons they’re presenting relate to and integrate into the real world?

“If your intention is on process, success is guaranteed. If your focus is on outcome, stress is guaranteed.”

I took a walk with my husband yesterday. When we walk, we talk. It seems we’re turning into the couple that has no time for indulgences like sharing a conversation or a cup of tea without involving the stresses of daily life, but when we walk we manage to talk about the bigger picture; we manage to dream a little.

During yesterday’s talk, he was bringing up a lot of his fears. He didn’t really expect answers from me; he was trying to process his thoughts out loud and many of them were focused on potential obstacles facing him if he chooses a particular path. Every few steps, I found myself trying to refocus him back to scenarios of success and possibility; I kept flipping the coin back to its shiny side.

At a certain point, he stopped me and asked whether I ever looked at things realistically or if I just always focused on an idealistic picture in hopes that things would work out. He wanted to know how, with such a delusional perspective on things, I was ever able to solve the issues that life lobbed at me. So, I told him. I told him about the voice in my head that makes itself heard when too many of my fears fill my mind. It says, “Take it a step at a time.” With its message, I am able to calm the thoughts, create enough space between them, and remember: we get the answer when we need it but until then, enjoy the moment; it’s all we have.

I’m not sure I changed his way of thinking, but I did remind myself of how to maintain a sense of peace in a world of chaos and doubt. I’m not sure if I helped him, but I did help myself to remember that as long as I stay in the moment, and perhaps even indulge in enjoying it, stress washes away and I make room for abundance.

Take a look at how many participants made it through to the middle of the Course 2. That’s almost a 95% dropout rate. Instead of pages and pages of comments at the end of these latest lessons, there are perhaps three to five now, all (predictably) written by the same few students.

One of the issues with self-paced online courses that don’t result in a certificate of completion from a legitimate or valued institution or professional body is that there’s very little external incentive to complete the whole program of study. Perhaps between 1% to 5% of the original cohort will follow through until the end of Course 5 of this program. Those people are not necessarily the best students in the group or the ones who were the most dedicated; they’re simply the ones for whom the online medium worked best.

Each student learns best in a certain way: Larry might learn best watching videos and films, Stan may prefer working through problems in face-to-face groups, and Sheila may learn most effectively while reading through material on her own and writing reflective responses to study questions that she later submits to her teacher. Students who successfully complete Timeless You are likely to be a mixture of students who genuinely wanted to learn about the subjects Chopra addresses while at the same time learning best in the online setting.

I thought I was generally an optimistic person, but after completing the worksheet on creativity (above), I’m not so sure anymore. Doesn’t it seem like a pretty unhappy person must have written that short snippet and caption? I don’t even know what to say about the doodle except that I don’t enjoy doodling and that’s obviously what came out in my attempt. Chopra talks about changing your “Set Point”: the way you fundamentally view life. I think I’ve got to work on mine because I’m not sure the happiness I’m calling into my life will want to spend time with the me that completed this activity.

Course 2 complete. Final thoughts: I intend to immerse myself in creative activities more. I hadn’t realize how much I missed the creative process. I’ve been living in a very technology-driven city for a handful of years and it’s drained me. During the first couple years, I heard myself saying things like, “I’m wilting here.” I didn’t realize what that meant or where the sentiment was coming from, but now I understand: if you don’t feel free to express your originality because you fear you’ll be judged and misunderstood for being too different, you suppress your creativity. Once creativity is suppressed, you might as well forget about feeling youthful, vibrant, and passionate about life. Creativity is the key to happiness.

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