Author of more than 50 books translated into thirty-five languages, Deepak Chopra, M.D., offers deep insights into the human mind, body and spirit, inspiring people all around the world. He is a leading expert in the field of mind-body medicine. In addition to his best-selling books, Chopra is a highly respected doctor, producer, teacher and speaker. Time magazine heralds him as “one of the top heroes and icons of the century.” We begin our journey of self-study by sitting down with Deepak Chopra on a beautiful fall afternoon in San Diego Chopra’s candid nature puts me instantly at ease. This is a man who has seemingly mastered the art of life. On a mission of love, peace and harmony, his ability to teach us about ourselves is a gift.
BHL: A wise person once said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. What was happening in your life when you found your way on the path of healing and higher consciousness?
DEEPAK: I was in my early thirties. I was working in the emergency room at the hospital in Boston. I was very busy. I was seeing 80 patients per day. I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and drinking on the weekends more than I should. It was bizarre. I would take care of a heart attack patient and then go outside and have a cigarette. I would know why he was dying, and yet I would come out and smoke a cigarette.
One day, suddenly, in an instant, I made a choice. And that one day everything snapped. Seeing my patients dying and killing myself at the same time – it’s like I was asleep and suddenly I was awake. I realized that I was free. I started to meditate, went to India and met teachers and gurus. I studied everything I could on the mind-body connection.
BHL: What helped you make your quantum leap of personal enlightenment?
DEEPAK: Ask yourself, “What is my life about?” “What is my sole purpose here?” “What is the meaning of my life?” “What do I want to accomplish?” This self-inquiry took me back to the source.
BHL: Tell us about your new book “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul.”
DEEPAK: I came across some scientific studies that proved that by training your mind, you can change the structure of your brain. You can increase the size of you brain. You can create more connections between neurons, based on certain mental techniques that monks use. Then I came across another study that showed you can change 500 genes in your body. You can influence things like heart disease, obesity inflammation and even some types of cancer. Genes are in every cell of your body – 100 trillion cells doing 100,000 things every second. This is a symphony orchestrated by the genes in your body and makes up your genetic material.
Genes are like microcomputers. If you can change your genes and your brain, you can reinvent yourself. I mean that literally, not metaphorically. A telomere is like a button at the end of a chromosome, which protects the chromosome from fraying. Our telomeres reduce in size as we grow older. When we die they disappear completely. Telomeres are a programmed cellular occurrence that cannot live more than 120 years. When they shrink, that is when the DNA starts to unravel and disease can occur.
If you do stress management, eat the right foods and exercise, if you are a happy person, if you have kindness inside of your heart, if you are joyful and make other people feel joyful, then your telomeres, instead of shrinking, start to enlarge. This means you can prolong your age genetically and live healthier longer. This is a way to actually reinvent your body based on good science. You have to change your brain in order to change your body.
BHL: What’s next for you?
DEEPAK: I want to create global communities of peace, compassion and happiness. We are all connected. I want to harness our collective creativity by inviting people to give their ideas and get people involved in this process of healing and abundance. If people are happy, compassionate, joyful and peaceful then they will be successful.
I am working with two grass roots programs. One is called “I Take the Vow.” I want to enroll 100 million people in the world to take a vow of peace, consciousness and non-violence in our hearts, in our speech, in our behaviour and in our actions. You can find them at www.itakethevow.com.
The second program is StartFund. It is an organization that helps people who are actually trying to help others by matching funds for their charitable endeavors. StartFund’s goal is to help people build a more functional global society where individuals and communities live in harmony with their environment, where abundance supplants scarcity and competition gives way to sharing, caring and a deep sense of personal responsibility for all existence. We are online at www. startfund.us. You can find links to both of these programs also on DeepakChopra.com.
I am also releasing my new book “The Ultimate Happiness Prescription.” I discovered what gives people lasting happiness. Research shows that happy people see opportunities and through this make successful choices for their lives.
I am also working on a television show in New York City at Dean Georges restaurant. It will be called “Dinner with Deepak.” I will be interviewing fascinating and inspiring people over a relaxed dinner environment.
BHL: What do you tell someone who has not been able to resurrect themselves from self-doubt and negativity? How can they immediately take steps to change their perspective?
DEEPAK: You should meditate every day for five minutes and ask yourself “what’s the meaning of my life, what’s my purpose, what are my relationships about, what makes me happy and how do I make other people happy?” Ask yourself: “If I had all the time and money in the world, how would I express my unique skill? How can I benefit the world?” If you express how you are unique and make a positive conscious contribution to mankind, abundance will come to you.