Deepak Chopra’s #1 Meditation for Happiness
Research suggests meditation can drive a 40% increase in your baseline happiness level. Check out this Deepak Chopra meditation to feel happier—the mindfulness teacher tells us it's "simple."
An exciting Deepak Chopra meditation insight
What’s your “happiness set point”? In the field of psychology, there’s a longstanding theory that goes by this term and suggests that how happy you are is shaped 50% by your genetics. From there, your baseline happiness level can adjust 10% from circumstantial factors (like a stressful work day, or a refreshing outdoor walk on a sunny winter day).
Proponents of this theory suggest that if it’s true, then a remarkable 40% of your happiness set point can be influenced through your commitment to intentional choices like eating a healthy diet, exercising, making time for a favorite hobby, volunteering, spending time with a loved one…or meditating. Here, we’ve got a Deepak Chopra meditation that Dr. Chopra has recommended to The Healthy @Reader’s Digest readers to increase your happiness in major ways.
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The Deepak Chopra meditation & mental health connection
Modern MRI studies, such as one from 2018, have shown that people with higher happiness scores exhibit stronger activity in certain parts of their brains. Says Deepak Chopra, MD—alternative medicine advocate, co-founder of NeverAlone, and author of the January 2023 book, Living in the Light: Yoga for Self-Realization—while meditation is an ancient tool to promote well-being, for centuries it was impossible to explain why that was. “But with modern brain scans,” Dr. Chopra tells us, “we can see that almost immediately after starting to meditate, brain waves associated with relaxation and creativity are stronger.”
When you’re consistent with a meditation practice, studies have shown that the areas of the brain associated with relaxation, joy, and pleasure grow stronger—and the part of the brain that activates stress, fear, and anxiety shrinks. Research, like a 2022 study at the University of Wisconsin, suggests even just a regular, short meditation session has the potential for remarkable effects—like reducing stress, sharpening focus, improving sleep, and keeping thought and memory sharp into old age. Evidence suggests that the most noticeable physiological benefits of meditation can start to be measured after about eight weeks of consistency.
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The #1 Deepak Chopra meditation for happiness
To increase happiness, this Deepak Chopra meditation is gentle in practice but powerful in result. “I’d recommend a simple heart meditation,” Dr. Chopra says. “You sit with your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths until you feel centered, then place attention on your heart.” Once you’re settled in, breathe normally—and if you notice that your attention has wandered, gently bring it back to your heart.
Katie Bressack, INHC, AADP, a Los-Angeles based yoga instructor and board-certified holistic nutritionist, says you can maximize the heart-centered happiness effects of this Deepak Chopra meditation with a technique she uses to kick off each of her client sessions: “Place both hands on the heart, with one on top of the other,” Bressack says. “Focus on the heart beating in your chest, and connect to that rhythm of your body as you breathe in, and breathe out. Send all your energy there, as if you’re giving your heart a hug.”
Dr. Chopra recommends starting with just five minutes, preferably twice a day, and ultimately working your way up to 20 minutes.
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Deepak Chopra’s advice to meditate for the long-term
“To be candid, the dropout rate from meditation is high,” Dr. Chopra says. “People lose their motivation.”
The key, he says, is to be mindful about using meditation as a tool. Just like you eat when you feel hungry, feed your brain with some meditation any time you feel stressed, distracted, or overwhelmed. (Remember, even just a five-minute meditation can deliver major benefits.) “If you do this several times a day and see how much better you feel, your motivation to keep meditating will be reinforced constantly,” Dr. Chopra says.
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Is meditation good for depression?
Research, such as a 2019 Frontiers in Psychology study, consistently confirms that meditation can alleviate symptoms of depression and reduce the risk of developing clinical depression. Meditation not only helps to lower cortisol levels—the hormone that initiates stress—but can help break the connection between your brain’s fear center that reacts to perceived “threats” fueled by conditions like anxiety and depression.
Harvard University researchers also note that people who experience recurrent depression tend to have a smaller hippocampus—a part of the brain that is particularly vulnerable to psychological disorders. Meditation may help strengthen this region of your brain, like exercise for your brain.
Still, Dr. Chopra advises that if you suffer from clinical depression or anxiety, it can be helpful to find a meditation group led by a skilled teacher. “Then you can get emotional support, while also meditating with the group,” he says. “This will stabilize your practice, which isn’t easy to do when you feel traumatized, anxious, or depressed.”
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Deepak Chopra, MD, alternative medicine advocate, co-founder of NeverAlone, and author of the new book Living in the Light
The Journal of Positive Psychology: "Revisiting the Sustainable Happiness Model and Pie Chart: Can Happiness Be Successfully Pursued?"
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience: "Brain networks of happiness: dynamic functional connectivity among the default, cognitive and salience networks relates to subjective well-being"
Psychiatry Research: "Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density"
Brain Imaging and Behavior: "Meditation and yoga practice are associated with smaller right amygdala volume: the Rotterdam study"
Science Advances: "Absence of structural brain changes from mindfulness-based stress reduction: Two combined randomized controlled trials"
Frontiers in Psychology: "Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression"
Harvard Health Publishing: "How meditation helps with depression"