Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor at UCSD Medi...cal School, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine. Chopra is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. More

Your Body Is Trapped in Stale Information

DNA Your Body Is Trapped in Stale Information

One of the mysteries about our bodies is how they manage to change and yet remain the same. DNA is routinely called the blueprint of life, yet no other blueprint actually builds the house or skyscraper it models. Once DNA builds a body, the body grows and disintegrates at the same time. This is apparent from the skin and stomach lining, which rapidly form new cells as old ones die. But every cell has a given lifespan and willingly dies, so to speak, when it's time is up. 

How did the body develop this ability to be born and die at the same time, to balance creation and destruction? If we dive to the molecular level, the mystery only deepens. Cells need food, air, and water, and the molecules of each are in constant transport, passing through the cell wall and out again. In addition, the messages that the brain sends to every cell in the body course through the bloodstream with precise messaging that doesn't get confused--in effect, the bloodstream is an information superhighway in which there are no traffic accidents even though the cars have no drivers.

To date, the best way to understand what's going on is through genetics, and now the whole field of genetics has entered the information age. As summarized in a recent TED talk by biologist Dean Gibson provocatively titled "How to Build Synthetic DNA and Send It Across the Internet " there are now machines that biologically print DNA once they are fed instructions in the form of data easily transmitted on the Web. This conversion of information into actual DNA builds upon previous technology that enables bits of stored genetic material (the basic four-letter alphabet of ACGT) to be combined in any conceivable way.

Gibson's lab has pioneered sending information and turning it into genetic material, which in 2013 allowed them to take the code for an alarming new strain of bird flu in China and in a matter of hours turn it into a viable vaccine to fight the disease, a process that normally takes up to six months. The promise of similar applications is set to revolutionize how new drugs are made.

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Expanded Awareness and Success

passionate-free-and-successful-people-picture-id964608530

Only about half of Americans tell pollsters that they still believe the American Dream is attainable. If the dream is the same as achieving success, perhaps there's a more optimistic way to think about the whole issue.

To have worldly success, do you have to be worldly yourself? Most people assume that the answer is yes. The poet Wordsworth may complain that "the world is too much with us late and soon," but modern life seems to demand total immersion in the race to the top. If you stop looking out for number one, no one else is likely to, and in a highly competitive workplace, there's only room for winners.

In earlier posts I've pointed out that the world's wisdom traditions don't agree with this viewpoint. The path to happiness isn't through obeying the demands of the ego-personality, with its constant focus on "I, me, and mine." But one must be realistic.

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Waking Up Is Impossible, But It Happens Anyway

cantgethere Waking Up Is Impossible, But It Happens Anyway

The punchline from a joke has gotten embedded in popular language: You can't get there from here. The original joke has a lost traveler stopping his car to ask a farmer how to get to a certain town. The farmer scratches his head and says, "You can't get there from here." the humor, of course, is rooted in the fact that you can get anywhere on the map from anywhere else.

 

One place where the punchline isn't funny refers to our minds. Everything the mind does is active. It takes the fluctuations of air molecules to create sound, which travels from the vibrating eardrum until the impulse is converted into electrical and chemical signals in the brain. All other information about the world "out there" depends on variations of the same model. Sight is possible through the interaction of photons with specialized cells in the retina. These in turn send electrical and chemical signals to the visual cortex. Without this activity, nothing in the universe is visible; photons by their nature are invisible.

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How Reality Is Made: The Play of Consciousness

How Reality Is Made: The Play of Consciousness How Reality Is Made: The Play of Consciousness

It’s a peculiar part of being human that we have both a mind and consciousness but cannot tell them apart. The difference is that the mind is constantly in motion, producing sensations, thoughts, images, and feelings, while consciousness is the basic “stuff” of the mind, which remains unchanged no matter how active the mind is. By analogy, paintings are produced by endlessly combining colors in new ways, while “color” itself is unaffected. A painting can neither create nor destroy color.

 

This inability to know the difference between mind and consciousness has created a trap that we all fall into. We create something from the “stuff” of consciousness and then forget that we created it. The trap becomes obvious with something like a dictatorship, when an ordinary human being becomes a figure of total belief and worship. From outside the ideology, you can see the deception—the very people who feel powerless before the dictator in fact created him and then felt powerless before him. But similar deceptions in everyday life escape our notice, and in that way, we trap ourselves.

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If a Machine Could Make You Happy, Would You Do It?

graphic-face-on-abstract-technology-background-picture-id875078656 If a Machine Could Make You Happy, Would You Do It?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes many claims, some quite futuristic, others just around the corner. Somewhere in the middle lies the prediction of human behavior, with the attendant claim that if people are predictable, this could be the future of well-being.

 

To predict when someone is going to get angry, sad, afraid, or tense is already well within reach. AI is developing readouts of muscle activity and related bodily responses that indicate what the brain is going to do. Going a step further, at the MIT Media Lab they’ve taken enormous steps into translating thoughts—i.e., words in our heads—into signature brain signals. These signals can be digitized, and suddenly, a thought in your head can be sent to Google’s search engine via Wi-Fi, allowing you to search the Internet simply by thinking.

 

If you put these breakthroughs together, a new model of human behavior emerges, one based on predictability and reading the signals originating in the brain that attend predictable behaviors. AI experimenters get very excited about the notion that the brain, and the behavior it triggers, can be mathematically reduced to equations that in essence turn people into a complex of algorithms. The excitement is justified, because anything that can be expressed logically is understandable in computer language.

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The True Meaning of Meditation

relaxation-at-home-picture-id498455562 The True Meaning of Meditation

The American way of meditation is now firmly a part of our lifestyle, and millions of people who have taken up yoga and learned about mindfulness feel quite comfortable meditating. I’m saying “the American way,” because it took scientific research and the promise of improved health to convince the average person that meditation wasn’t mystical, in a society where mystical implies religion, or in this case Hinduism.

 

The acceptance of meditation has been a good thing, but I wonder if its true meaning has taken hold. The situation today feels much like it was thirty years ago, when being serious about meditation meant you were a committed Buddhist or otherwise found the time to devote hours a day to sitting in lotus position. Meditation still has a split personality, one side promising nice benefits like relaxation and lower stress levels, the other side requiring you to get serious about renouncing everyday life and its demands.

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The Microbiome: How to Talk to Your 2 Million Genes

The Microbiome: How to Talk to Your 2 Million Genes The Microbiome: How to Talk to Your 2 Million Genes

The term “microbiome” has become popular in the last decade, and most people now realize that their bodies are populated by an enormous quantity of microbes. Taking every location from the skin to the mouth to the intestinal tract into consideration, the microbiome weighs around 3 lbs., roughly the same as the human brain.

The radical importance of keeping your microbiome balanced and healthy is just beginning to dawn on medical science and biology. If you took a snapshot of a tiny portion of your digestive tract, it would be teeming with an array of life forms almost beyond comprehension (including bacteria, viruses, bacteriophages, archaea, fungi, yeast, etc. Since it has long been known that we can’t digest food without the aid of the so-called “flora” in our intestines, the microbiome didn’t spring out of nowhere. What wasn’t realized until recently, however, is its staggering extent.

 

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Is There One Best Path in Life?

book-of-life Is There One Best Path in Life?

Without using the term, everyone has marked out a path in life--a path can be defined as a road map that guides you to a goal. Because every day presents some kind of goal, however small, being on a path is inevitable. It doesn't have to be a conscious choice. Yet at a certain point it dawns on most people that they have larger goals, even lifetime goals, that require long-term planning. At this point choosing a path does become a conscious decision.  

On the surface, it would appear that life presents many paths, because so many goals present themselves: finding the right partner, raising a family, settling on a career, pursuing success, earning more money, saving a nest egg for retirement. These are socially shared goals, to which more can be added, such as finding God or writing a novel. But if you look deeper, everything on this list boils down to one path only.    

This is the path of desire, which is the most natural path, since we all have desires. The impetus that keeps people on the path of desire is universal but also logical. If you want to eat breakfast, make friends, do something you enjoy, or have any other everyday desire, it's logical that expanding your desires and following a bigger dream should serve as a reliable path in life. In fact, because 99% of the human race follows the path of desire, this should prove how defective it is. The problems of poverty, crime, war, hunger, disease, and mental anguish haven't been solved around the world, and one or more of these problems reaches into everyone's life.

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3 Mantras That Can Help You Get Through Any Crisis

3mantras 3 Mantras That Can Help You Get Through Any Crisis

In the face of a crisis—whether the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, a betrayal or a financial setback—the human mind has a tendency to react in conditioned, limited ways that usually only intensify our pain. We may ruminate on the past, getting stuck in feelings of resentment, regret or self-pity. Or we may project into the future, getting caught up in fears and worst-case scenarios. Instead of becoming trapped in the mind’s repetitive and ultimately self-defeating thought loops, you can use the following three mantras to move through a difficult situation and return to your innate state of balance and well-being.

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Looking Deep into the Problem of Fear

Looking Deep into the Problem of Fear Looking Deep into the Problem of Fear

Everyday life proceeds along no matter how terrible circumstances become. But when traumatic events occur, everyday life doesn't solve them. Time alone cannot heal deep wounds. One after-effect of having something bad happen, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a bitter divorce, the outbreak of war, or being the victim of a crime, is anxiety. Millions of people suffer from anxiety and seek help from the billion-dollar market for tranquilizers or, less legitimately, opioids.

Anxiety often feels mysterious to those who suffer from it. Instead of being linked to a cause, such as being anxious to get to work on time when your car dies in traffic, modern anxiety is often free-floating. It's like a chronic condition that needs no immediate cause or is triggered by tiny causes that normally don't justify a feeling of anxiety.

To get at anxiety, there has to be an understanding of fear, because anxiety is residual fear. Despite the seemingly normal, untroubled activities of everyday life, something deeper down is generating the response of fear. So what is the role of fear as a human emotion? There is more than one function that fear plays, as follows:

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How Real Is the Soul?

How Real Is the Soul? How Real Is the Soul?

Depending on which polls you consult, more than half of Americans and up to 67% believe that a person's soul goes to heaven or hell after death. This belief seems unusually strong considering that more and more Americans no longer identify with a fixed religion. "I'm not religious, but I’m spiritual" has become a common sentiment, and yet the idea of the soul continues to hold its place. One might even say it outstrips God as a matter of belief.

Look at how deeply embedded the word "soul" is in our culture, from soul music to soul searching. Once a word takes old, so does the concept it represents. To a pure rationalist, there's no reason to say that the gospels sung in African American churches are more soulful than a Beethoven symphony. When someone searches his soul, the psychological reality is that he is usually just consulting his conscience or weighing issues of right and wrong that came from childhood upbringing.

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Why Did We Create God?

Why Did We Create God? Why Did We Create God?

There is no denying that the different versions of God in world religions has led to historical violence and conflict, which humanitarians have tried to end by saying that there is only one God, implying that such conflicts are pointless. But is there only one God? The conflicting versions of God all attempt to grasp God in reality, so every version actually is God for that religion.

Atheists claim that all of these versions are fictional to begin with, but this misses the point. Human beings have experienced the spiritual dimension of life for as long as history can tell. The need for God grew out of the same need as modern science: to explain a fundamental aspect of Nature. The problem is that there is a gap between this need for explanations and the answers arrived at.

In this gap creativity went to work. The gods and God are human creations, constructs of the mind. Faced with unanswerable dilemmas the human mind went to work to fashion a supernatural dimension presided over by a ruler, or rulers, who stand in for rulers here on Earth, being human, emotional, unpredictable, beautiful, terrible, merciful, vengeful--pick any human trait and you can match it to some version of God worshipped now or in the past. The rational God of Thomas Jefferson's enlightened God is a projection of his ideal human portrayed on a superhuman scale, just as Jehovah, the complete opposite of Jefferson's God, was an idealized projection by ancient rabbis.

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How to Really Be Yourself

How to Really Be Yourself How to Really Be Yourself

If you think about being yourself, what does that mean? If asked, "Do you like being who you are?" not everyone would say yes--some people dislike themselves. This can be the product of low self-esteem or perhaps a deep sense of guilt. Liking yourself doesn't have to occur all the time, however. There are times when you behave in ways you aren't proud of and say things you wish you could take back. Yet being yourself is more mysterious than like or dislike.


To be yourself, you have to know who you are. "I" isn't simple and in many ways is very elusive. A two-year-old writing on the walls with crayon is being herself, and so is a middle-school bully tormenting a classmate on social media. Running wild, acting on your worst impulses, and flouting all the normal rules are behaviors worth suppressing. But if you are candid about yourself, such impulses exist inside you.


If you take a look at how your mind operates, you'll quickly realize that many agendas compete for your attention. In certain situations you call upon a wide range of emotions that want to be expressed. You act differently at work than at home. Habit, memory, and old conditioning compete over your attention. these agendas have their own claims, and there has to be a decision-maker and overseer who chooses which persona to adopt, which feelings to suppress, which behavior is appropriate at any given moment.

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As We Evolve, Do We Need God?

As We Evolve, Do We Need God? As We Evolve, Do We Need God?

By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD

We recently participated in a public debate on the proposition "The more we evolve, the less we need God." The results were clearly in favor of the proposition against the stance we took. This was so amongst both the live audience and the online audience.

The cerebral cortex, the most recent part of the human brain to evolve, hasn't changed for more than ten thousand years. The writers of the world's ancient spiritual texts used the same brain as modern people, and since the world's religions revere these ancient texts, we accept that the Ten Commandments and the Four Noble truths of Buddhism came from minds whose processes we'd recognize today, however dissimilar the cultures of ancient Judea and India.

It must be cultural evolution that is relevant, and of course our modern secular culture has moved away from the age of faith. Rationalism seems to dominate our lives, and when we read of religious fanaticism, we feel that such issues belong to people living outside the reach of a modern secular society. Few people seeing news on TV of an attack in Paris or London feel an impulse to fight back by re-energizing their own religious beliefs. Being secular can easily feed the belief that one has evolved beyond God, religion, dogma, and the whole rigmarole.

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Is Wholeness the Secret of Well-Being?

deepak-chopra-is-wholeness-the-secret-of-wellbeing Is Wholeness the Secret of Well-Being?

Part of being human is that happiness is difficult. We are too complex for a cut-and-dried answer to work. There have been broad trends, however, over the course of time. Devotion to God, the pursuit of reason, getting rich, going to a therapist—all the possible avenues for achieving happiness have been explored, and in modern society each solution remains open. No one is locked into another person’s way to find happiness.


But that’s not the same as claiming that all of these various approaches have worked—there is a good possibility, in fact, that none has. That’s the position taken by a wide swath of teachers and guides, most of them classified as “spiritual,” who declare that living in the state of separation is the root cause of suffering. Separation is also known as duality, and so in recent years a new rubric, nondualism, has been used to embrace philosophers, therapists, spiritual teachers, and general writers who promote wholeness as the secret of true, lasting well-being.


In this post we’ll look at the nondual argument through an overview of how things stand in the wellness movement and particularly the evidence in biomedical literature that might offer scientific evidence for nondual claims.

 
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It's Time for Science to Accept Consciousness

Deepak-Chopra-Its-Time-For-Science-to-Accept-Consciousness

Although it takes place outside the headlines, even those that deal with science, a heated debate is occurring about mind and matter. On onside is a camp of so-called physicalists, formerly known as materialists, who hold fast to the assumption that any and all phenomena in nature can be reduced to physical processes and the interaction of objects (atoms, subatomic particles, etc.) --these for the building blocks of the universe. On the other side is no single camp but a mixed assortment of skeptics who hold that at least one natural phenomenon--the human mind--cannot be explained physically.


When one explanation (the physicalist) is supported by the weight of highly successful theories in physics, biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, and the other side has no accepted theory on its side, the debate seems totally unequal. But in David versus Goliath battles, be careful of rooting for Goliath. The possibility of a science of consciousness, which would involve a thorough explanation of mind and how it relates to matter, can't begin until the obstacles in its path are removed and old accepted assumptions are overturned.


That has already begun, on all fronts. In physics, the essential problem of how something came out of nothing (i.e., the big bang coming out of the quantum vacuum state) stymies cosmologists, while at the microscopic level the same mystery, this time involving subatomic particles emerge from the virtual state, is equally baffling. In biology the prevailing Darwinism cannot explain the quantum leap made, with astonishing rapidity, by Homo sapiens in terms of reasoning, creativity, language, our use of concepts as opposed to instincts, tool-making, and racial characteristics.


We are the offspring of the newest part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, and yet there is no causal connection between its evolution and the primal Darwinian need to survive. This is evident by the survival of a hundred primate species lacking a higher brain, reasoning, tool-making, concepts, etc. Finally, in neuroscience and biochemistry, there is zero connection between nerve cells, and their chemical components, and mind. Unless someone can locate the point in time when molecules learned to think, the current assumption that the brain is doing the thinking has no solid footing.

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The Eternal Feminine Brings Wholeness

The Eternal Feminine Brings Wholeness

A genuine social upheaval has begun, its theme is the empowerment of women. Old attitudes that have resulted in many kinds of unfairness are being challenged. The long-suppressed outrage of sexual harassment has been exposed to the light of day. No one with a heart and a conscience can do anything but respond with encouragement. It’s about time.

Rising from a position of weakness to become stronger, turning old wounds into a source of healing—these are important changes in anyone’s life. The eternal feminine has been a running thread in human culture for thousands of years, but each generation has to reinterpret it, and at the moment, embedded in a secular society where daily demands and distractions are the rule, envisioning the eternal feminine requires going deeper into our self-awareness.

 


Everyone’s source is pure awareness, which has no gender. When pure awareness manifests into creation, gender isn’t in evidence, either. When you wake up from deep sleep and become aware of your existence, the experience has no labels. The issues of masculine and feminine enter in a social context, defined by your beliefs, attitudes, and mental conditioning. To be a woman is to be a creation of many factors, going far beyond the physiological.

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Bring Prevention Back from the Brink

deepak-chopra-Bringing-preventative-medicine-back-from-the-brink

A crucial fact about American medicine goes largely ignored, even by doctors. Dollar for dollar, more people will gain years of healthy lifespan from prevention than from drugs or surgery. We don’t tend to think that prevention costs money. Once you learn that cigarettes cause lung cancer, you can decide not to smoke. The choice is free if you were a non-smoker to begin with. If you get up off the couch and start a brisk walking program to help prevent heart disease, that choice also doesn’t cost a penny.

What isn’t free, however, is getting information out there. Poor and less educated Americans are known to have a higher prevalence of major lifestyle disorders like heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. The reverse is also true: better lifestyle choices are made by the affluent and well educated.

You can’t prevent what you don’t know about. That makes it essential that we keep funding the most dollar-wise education for physicians so that young residents can go on to spearhead prevention programs. America cannot continue to rely on a reactionary stance of simply treating health issues. It must refocus its efforts and investments in prevention. The surgery to treat a lung cancer patient is highly unlikely to succeed and will be very expensive. Informing a middle-school classroom about the risks of smoking potentially saves lives at a fraction of the cost.

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How to Be In Control of Your Wellness

deepak-chopra-how-to-be-in-control-of-your-wellness-final

Although most people still view being sick in terms of germs, catching a cold, and getting a flu shot, the question of who gets sick and who stays well is far more complex. Everyone is exposed to thousands of microbes a day, and some of these are disease-causing pathogens. But we have immunity to a wide range of pathogens, and although sickness is fended off by the cells of the immune system, staying well involves the whole person.

There is a medical concept known as “control by the host,” which focuses on how much of staying well is an internal process that calls upon both mind and body. The invisible roots of lifelong wellness turn out to be surprising. For example, researchers at the University of Texas Medical School looked at mortality rates among a group of men and women who had received open heart surgery, including heart bypass and replacement of the aortic valve. If you take the routine medical approach, the reason someone dies six months after open heart surgery while someone else doesn’t must come down to a physical difference. But the team headed by Dr. Thomas Oxman took an unorthodox approach. They asked these patients two questions about their social situation: Do you participate regularly in organized social groups? Do you draw strength and comfort from your religion or spiritual faith?

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The Best Strategy to Combat Aging

deepak-chopra-best-strategy-to-combat-aging

When people think about growing old, they blame the passage of time—the years roll by, and the body stops looking younger year by year. But the latest science disputes this view. A person ages because the cells in their body age, and cells live only in the present. This is one reason memory remains such a mystery. Brain cells function through electrochemical activity that occurs the instant a chemical reaction or electrical impulse is able to occur. There are no pauses to think about reacting; if the potential is there, the action must follow.

 

Whatever a brain cell does, it can’t go back to the past. So how do we seem to go back into the past when we remember a childhood birthday party or our first kiss? No one knows, but when the answer is found, it won’t involve time travel, either forward or backward. If you expand this to every cell in the body, they too must function instantly in the present moment when any two molecules interact. So the problem of aging can be stated as the gap between how a cell lives and how a person lives. As people, we repeat the past, get stuck in old habits, cling to stubborn beliefs, fear the future, and in general occupy mental states that are not in the now.


If you can return to the now, you close the gap between your life and the life of your cells, and by doing this, you can prevent aging or even reverse it. Aging isn’t one thing but a complex of possibilities. Which possibilities get triggered is infinitely complicated, but no one has ever shown that any symptoms of aging must occur.


Even though we can all tick off the disagreeable signs of growing old—creaky joints, wrinkled skin, loss of energy, erratic sleep, declining memory, and so on—there is someone who has actually improved as they aged in each of these areas, except perhaps for wrinkles. However unusual, there are individuals who retain limberness, energy, good sleep, mobility, and memory.
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