Deepak Chopra outlines the highest forms of intelligence as follows:
Being – observing without judgement
Feeling – compassion, joy and empathy
Thinking – reflection on purpose and being an agent of transformation
Doing – serving evolution
We’re all challenged to be awakened to these core concepts at different points in our lives. Caregiving may be one of the hardest and yet most fertile times to integrate them. It’s easy in daily life to prioritize the mundane over deeper questions about purpose and joy. Do we really have time to just observe and reflect? Can we calculate an immediate return on these two activities?
Observing and reflecting are the two most important steps for anything, including business. Without taking these steps, we live in a world driven only by our limited view of how to make progress. Our own beliefs, experience and talent can only take us so far. It’s a willingness to observe without judgement that opens us to new possibilities, expanding our minds beyond our own box. This means we have to quiet our own minds to observe what’s happening outside of our needs, fears, agendas and deadlines.
When we take time to reflect, we can then begin to integrate what we’ve observed. How can we expand our consciousness, grow our abilities or think beyond what we know without this process? When we integrate what we observe in a non-judgmental way, our unique expression is renewed and revived. We’re no longer recycling yesterday’s input but engaging in a cooperative evolutionary process, contributing.
Caregiving is an exaggerated version of this process. Every day you must make the conscious decision to engage with a full heart or to be numb to it. Each day serves to expand your heart’s capacity or contracts it in fear. Under the circumstances of caregiving, one can make great changes by just observing and reflecting; the importance of life’s basic joys and the ways in which we conduct ourselves as humans is never more apparent, moment to moment. As caregivers nothing can be taken for granted or put off until tomorrow without a mindfulness of the cost of not living fully in the moment and practicing compassion, empathy and feeling joy for the most basic things that many ignore.
Caregiving is one of the greatest opportunities to go from what Deepak calls “contracted awareness” to “expanded awareness.” In an ultimate state of awareness we only see solutions, opportunities and purpose. During caregiving everything we call reality is challenged. As Deepak explains, we’re not born into this contracted state—it’s conditioned. And where does conditioning come from? Family. In the midst of the fear and loss a caregiver experiences, you have two choices: become even more contracted, or let go of the very things that have caused this contracted state. When you become a caregiver, your past arrives at your doorstep. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it.
Here, Deepak offers the lighthearted but accurate analogy of the caterpillar: What the caterpillar thought was the end turned out to be the beginning of a new existence.
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