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  • Dispelling Five Myths About Your Brain

    by  Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D.

    How many of us grew up believing that the brain we are born with is the brain we get for the rest of our lives? How many of us still believe that the brain consists of a set number of nerve cells that we slowly lose as we get older, never to be replaced. And, how about the notion that we only use 5 to 10 percent of our brains? Most of us were raised believing these things. But, guess what? They are not true. The modern age of neuroscience research has taught us that the brain is a much more powerful and adaptable organ than we have ever imagined possible.

    Your brain consists of hundreds of billions of nerve cells making hundreds of trillions of connections (synapses) that make up your neural network. Placed end to end, the connections in the brain’s neural network extend over 100,000 miles– enough to wrap around the Earth over four times! As you experience and interact with the world, your brain is at once recording, interpreting, and creating your world. And with every new experience the connections of your neural network are rewiring themselves! The way you choose to experience your world determines how you rewire your own brain!

    Click on book image to read a free excerpt from Super Brain

    This incredibly powerful three-pound mass of gelatinous material we call the brain sits in the deep dark silence of your skull, yet brings you an incredible world of light, color, music, joy, and curiosity. Your brain creates your entire world, which is entirely different than the world created for a honeybee by its version of a brain. In the new book I have written with Deepak Chopra, Super Brain, we propose that relating to your brain in a new way is the way you can change your reality.

    The more neuroscientists learn, the more it seems that the brain has hidden powers. The brain processes the raw material of life, acting as a servant to any desire you have, any vision you can imagine. The solid physical world cannot resist this power, and yet unlocking it requires new beliefs. Your brain cannot do what it thinks it cannot do. But your mind can tell your brain what you want it to do. The brain changes every minute you experience life and you are in charge.

    Five myths in particular have proved limiting and obstructive to change. All were once accepted as fact, even a decade or two ago

    1.)  The injured brain cannot heal itself.

    Now we know that the brain has amazing powers of healing, unsuspected in the past.

    2.) The brain’s hardwiring cannot be changed.

    In fact, the line between hard-  and soft-wiring is shifting all the time, and our ability to rewire our brains remains intact from birth to the end of life.

    3.)  Aging in the brain is inevitable and irreversible.

    To counter this outmoded belief, new techniques for keeping the brain youthful and retaining mental acuity are arising every day.

    4.) The brain loses millions of cells a day, and lost brain cells cannot be replaced.

    In fact, the brain contains stem cells that are capable of maturing into new brain cells throughout life. How we lose or gain brain cells is a complex issue. Most of the findings are good news for everyone who is afraid of losing mental capacity as they age.

    5.)  Primitive reactions (fear, anger, jealousy, aggression) overrule the higher brain.

    Because our brains are imprinted with genetic memory over thousands of generations, the lower brain is still with us, generating primitive and often negative drives such as fear and anger. But the brain is constantly evolving, and we have gained the ability to master the lower brain through choice and free will. The new field of positive psychology is teaching us how best to use free will to promote happiness and overcome negativity.

    It’s great news that these five myths have been exploded. The old view made the brain seem fixed, mechanical, and steadily deteriorating. This turns out to be far from the case. You are creating reality at this very minute, and if that process remains alive and dynamic, your brain will be able to keep up with it, year after year. Think about it. Your entire world, all that you see, hear, taste, touch, and feel is conjured up for you by your brain. And this world is, of course, similar to that of others with similar brains. Every species experiences a world created for them within the limits of their brain and nervous system, from human to dog to mosquito to bacteria.

    Once you truly appreciate and realize that your brain brings your world, you can make choices about the type of world you wish to live in. Why? Because you, the “ true you” that is self-aware of having a brain, is in charge of your brain. As the master, leader, and user of your brain, you get to make conscious choices about the world your brain will produce for you. Even when the world outside is in total turmoil and chaos, your gift of self-awareness and a “super brain” always keeps you in charge of how the “outer world” becomes the “inner world” of your brain. And guess what? The outer and inner worlds are actually one and the same world, one of which only you are in charge.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    Dr. Rudolph Tanzi


    Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D.
    is a professor of neurology at Harvard University Medical School, Director of the Genetics and Aging Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and author of Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease. He also serves as the head of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project. Dr. Tanzi has been investigating the molecular and genetic basis of neurological disease since 1980, and during the past several decades he has collaborated on many studies identifying other disease genes, including those that contribute to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and autism. Dr. Tanzi  and Deepak Chopra have just published their new book, Super Brain, sharing the latest breakthroughs and practical tools for unleashing the power of your mind for greater health, creativity, age reversal, and other profound benefits.       Super Brain is available at Amazon and other booksellers.

    Order your copy of SuperBrain & receive a free online course by Deepak Chopra

    To celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s new book Super Brain, written with Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Random House is offering free access to  Deepak’s online course Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, when you order your copy of Super Brain, which will be released on November 6.

    Based on Deepak Chopra’s popular book Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, this online course will guide you through 5 breakthroughs of the body and soul that will forever transform how you view your own physical existence and your own relationship with the universe. There are a total of 14 lessons in this course, filled with powerful videos, audio excerpts, activities, in-depth information, and interactive quizzes.

    Details
    For a limited time only, o
    rder a copy of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being from any bookseller.  Email your scanned receipt, name, and mailing address to superbrain@randomhouse.com and Random House will give you free access to Deepak’s Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul Online Course (a $14.95 value) and a complimentary signed bookplate from Deepak & Rudy Tanzi. (Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for bookplate delivery.)

    Offer valid until 12:01 a.m.( EST) on December 1, 2012.

    Why Meditate?

    For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets  into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness. The variety of meditation techniques, traditions, and technologies is nearly infinite, but the essence of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness.

    These are the ultimate precious gifts of meditation, yet people are initially drawn to meditation for many different reasons. Some begin meditating because of a doctor’s recommendation, seeking the health benefits of lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, and restful sleep. Others come to meditation seeking relief from the fearful, angry, or painful thoughts that constantly flood their mind. Still others come to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate.

    It is accurate to say that the purpose of meditation depends on the meditator – but it is also true that anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Here are just a few of the benefits

    • Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)

    • Decreased blood pressure and hypertension

    • Lower cholesterol levels

    • More efficient oxygen use by the body

    • Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA

    • Restful sleep

    New research is also showing that meditation restores the brain. A landmark study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.

    How Can I Learn to Meditate?
    At the Chopra Center we believe that to receive the full benefits of meditation, it’s best to learn from a qualified teacher. Since meditation is one of the most valuable foundation tools that we teach, we offer instruction at every workshop, program, and event we offer, including Perfect Health, Journey into Healing, and Seduction of Spirit, our signature meditation retreat.  You can also learn to meditate through the Chopra Center’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge.

     

    The Wheel of Understanding, by Timothy Brieske, M.D.

    Dr. Tim Brieske

    A young mother recently brought her two-year-old son to see me in the emergency department of a small rural hospital. He had been playing with a toy truck with small removable wheels.  They were fun because they were made of a soft plastic that gripped surfaces like a speeding Baja Bug on the dusty desert road from Tijuana to La Paz.

    For reasons known only to a two-year-old, he decided to remove one of the wheels and insert it deeply into his right nostril.  Perhaps he wanted to inhale Sonoran scents like ocotillo, cardoon, mesquite, and yucca.  Perhaps he just wanted to stick something up his nose.  As anyone with young children knows, there was ample lubrication in the form of copious nasal secretions that allowed easy entry and made removal impossible.

    When we met we were calm.  The toddler’s mother held him closely with a wholesome, nurturing maternalness that reminded me of the importance of affection in healing.  We tried a variety of gentle approaches to remove the wheel. I tried every technique that I knew, short of anesthesia. I’ve always been able to remove things from noses and I felt my ego approaching that precipice of aggravation that has the potential for harm.  Each attempt I made pushed the wheel farther back until it was out of site.  There were tears and a little bleeding ― from him, not me. Part of a raspberry popsicle helped us maintain our bond, but the effort was to no avail.  I decided to send him to a bigger hospital that had the necessary equipment that would make removal easy and painless.

    Mom was frustrated, the boy was upset, and my ego was bruised.  Still, I felt that taking a break from trying so hard, and creating some space before the next effort, was the most nourishing decision. Off they went.

    I called the mother the next day to apologize for not being able to remove the wheel and for the inconvenient trip they had to take.  She said that she wasn’t upset and actually was very happy. When they arrived at the larger hospital and the doctor inserted a scope into the boy’s nose, the wheel was gone! Simply taking time to be and not trying so hard allowed his tissues to relax and he swallowed the wheel.  Sure, there was certainly a chance he could have choked on it, but fortunately the body has a wonderful tendency towards healing that left to its own accord usually results in the orchestration of balance.

    The Law of Least Effort

    Many of us grow up believing that solving problems involves doing work in a disciplined fashion. The harder the work and the more disciplined the effort, the greater the payoff. Commitment and right action are clearly invaluable ingredients in fulfilling a dream. The problem arises when we encounter a roadblock and instead of stepping back to get a greater perspective, we push harder. Doing more of what wasn’t working in the first place is rarely useful.

    When you’re feeling stuck and your intellect and ego tell you loudly and overwhelmingly to work harder at removing the obstacle to your desires, remember to allow yourself time to simply be.  Powerful ways to cultivate this be-ing include meditation, the practice of non-judgment, and spending time in nature.

    As our awareness deepens, we realize that being, rather than doing, not only allows us to more easily traverse obstacles, it also opens us to seeing them as invitations to more fully understand and enjoy the remarkable experience of living a human life.

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Dr. Tim Brieske is a board-certified family doctor, mind-body healing expert, and staff physician at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. He provides medical consultations for guests and patients and offers mind-body guidance at the Center’s events and programs, including the Perfect Health program.  Dr. Brieske also co-leads the Chopra Center’s Healing the Heart workshop. Learn more about Dr. Brieske here.

     

    7 Secrets to Grow Younger, Live Longer, by Deepak Chopra, M.D.

    Only a few decades ago, conventional medicine viewed the body as a machine whose parts would inevitably break down until it could no longer be repaired. As a medical student, I learned that random chemical reactions determined everything that happened in the body, the mind and body were separate and independent from each other, and genes largely determined our health and lifespan.

    Today scientific research is arriving at a radically different understanding: While the body appears to be material, it is really a field of energy and intelligence that is inextricably connected to the mind. We now know that what used to be considered the “normal” experience of aging – a progressive descent into physical and mental incapacity – is in large part a conditioned response. The mind influences every cell in the body and therefore human aging is fluid and changeable. It can speed up, slow down, and even reverse itself.

    There are many studies demonstrating the profound influence of the mind and beliefs on aging. For example, a landmark study by Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer, Ph.D., showed that the so-called irreversible signs of aging, including deterioration in hearing, vision, manual dexterity, muscle strength, and memory, could be reversed through psychological shifts in awareness and increases in physical and mental activity.

    Even though we all have genetic predispositions, our health and aging aren’t predetermined. By making conscious choices in our behavior and where we focus our attention, we can transform our experience of our body to decrease our biological age.

    The seven steps outlined below are practical ways to tap into your inner reservoir of unlimited energy, creativity, vitality, and love.

    1. Change Your Perceptions of Your Body and Aging

    Perception is a selective act of attention and interpretation. What you experience as “reality,” including your physical body and aging, is shaped by your habits of perception. While most people are conditioned to see the body as a static, biological machine, you can begin to view it as a field of energy, transformation, and intelligence that is constantly renewing itself.

    Begin to notice both your internal dialogue and how you speak about your body and aging. If you find yourself saying things like, “I’m hitting the age where I’ll need reading glasses,” “I’m too old to try yoga (or some other activity),” “I inherited my dad’s bad back,” or other such statements, make a conscious choice to shift your perspective and what you tell yourself about your body and age.

    Keep in mind that your cells are eavesdropping on what you say, so unless you want to have your father’s bad back or anything else that “runs in the family,” don’t nurture that seed of intention in your awareness.

    A powerful affirmation you can use is  Every day in every way, I am increasing my mental and physical capacity.

    2. Stress Reduction and Meditation

    Meditation is a simple yet powerful tool that takes us to a state of profound relaxation that dissolves fatigue and the accumulated stress that accelerates the aging process. During meditation, our breathing slows, our blood pressure and heart rate decrease, and stress hormone levels fall. By its very nature, meditation calms the mind, and when the mind is in a state of restful awareness, the body relaxes too.

    Research shows that people who meditate regularly develop less hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, and other stress-related illnesses that speed up aging. Furthermore, new studies are finding that meditation literally restores the brain. A recent groundbreaking study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital has made headlines by showing that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.

    This study adds to the expanding body of research about the brain’s amazing plasticity and capacity to grow and change at any stage of life. We can nurture our brain’s power and maintain a youthful mind by developing a regular meditation practice.

    Getting Started with Meditation

    I usually recommend that people learn a traditional meditation practice from a qualified instructor. That way, you know exactly what to do at any point in meditation and with any experience that comes along. Often when people try to learn on their own or from a book, they learn incorrectly and soon give up in frustration because they aren’t experiencing the expected benefits. For those who are interested, the Chopra Center offers instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation, a natural, easy practice that dates back thousands of years to India’s Vedic tradition. You can look for a certified teacher in your area here. Another way to get started with meditation is by participating in the Center’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge.

    3. Restful Sleep

    Getting regular restful sleep is an essential key to staying healthy and vital, yet it is so often neglected or underemphasized. There is even a tendency for people to boast about how little sleep they can get by on. In reality, a lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance, weakens our immune system, and speeds up the aging process.

    Human beings generally need between six and eight hours of restful sleep each night. Restful sleep means that you’re not using pharmaceuticals or alcohol to get to sleep but that you’re drifting off easily once you turn off the light and are sleeping soundly through the night. If you feel energetic and vibrant when you wake up, you had a night of restful sleep. If you feel tired and unenthusiastic, you haven’t had restful sleep.

    You can get the highest quality sleep by keeping your sleep cycles in tune with the rhythms of the universe, known as circadian rhythms. This means going to bed by about 10 p.m. and waking at 6 a.m.

    Ideally, eat only a light meal in the evening, before 7:30 if possible, so that your sleep isn’t hampered by the digestive processes. You can go for a leisurely walk after dinner and then be in bed by 10 p.m.

    It’s also very helpful to download your thoughts from the day in a journal before going to bed so that your mind doesn’t keep you awake.

    You can find a more detailed sleep routine here >>

    4. Nurture Your Body with Healthy Food

    There are “dead” foods that accelerate aging and entropy and others that renew and revitalize the body. Foods to eliminate or minimize include items that are canned, frozen, microwaved, or highly processed. Focus on eating a variety of fresh and freshly prepared food.

    A simple way to make sure that you are getting a balanced diet is to include the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent) in each meal. The typical American diet tends to be dominated by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes (the main flavors of a hamburger). We do need these tastes, but they can lower metabolism, especially if eaten in excess.

    The pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes, on the other hand, are anti-inflammatory and increase metabolism. These tastes are found in food such as radishes, ginger, mustard, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, tea, lentils, lettuce, and so on.

    You can find more information on the six tastes here >>

    Along with the six tastes, filling your plate with the colors of the rainbow
    promotes a long and healthy life. We can literally ingest the information of the universe into our biology. Foods that are deep blue, purple, red, green, or orange are leaders in antioxidants and contain many nutrients that boost immunity and enhance health.

    Examples of foods of the rainbow:

    Red: Red tomatoes (particularly cooked), red peppers, red/pink grapefruit, watermelon, red grapes, beets, red cabbage, apples, strawberries, cherries, raspberries,
    cranberries

    Orange/yellow: Squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mangoes, oranges, papaya, nectarines

    Green: Broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, peas, avocado, collard greens

    Deep blue/purple: Plums, blueberries, black raspberries, blackberries, purple grapes, eggplant (with skin)

    5. Exercise

    One of the most important ways to grow younger and live longer is regular exercise. Drs. William Evans and Irwin Rosenberg from Tufts University have documented the powerful effect of exercise on many of the biomarkers of aging, including muscle mass, strength, aerobic capacity, bone density, and cholesterol. Not only does exercise keep the body young, but it also keeps the mind vital and promotes emotional well-being. In his recent book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, Harvard University professor John Ratey, M.D. describes research showing how “physical activity sparks biological changes that encourage brain cells to bind to one another.” This spark, as he calls it, increases the brain’s ability to learn, adapt, and perform other cognitive tasks.

    A complete fitness program includes exercises to develop flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning, and strength training. Find an aerobic activity that you can do regularly – three to four sessions each week for twenty to thirty minutes is usually enough to give you substantial benefits. After your body is warmed up, spend five to ten minutes stretching. You will also want to include strength training in your program to systematically exercise the major muscle groups of your body.

    The important thing is to start off slowly, find physical activities you enjoy, and do them regularly. If the most you can do right now is walk around the block, do that, and you will be surprised how quickly you increase your endurance and enthusiasm for moving and breathing.

    6. Love and Friendship

    Isolation and loneliness create the conditions for rapid aging. Heart attack and death rates are known to increase among the recently widowed and among men who have been suddenly terminated from their jobs without warning and against their will. The emotional value of social bonding is immense, yet in some countries, including the U.S., we have moved in the opposite direction for decades. With high divorce rates, single-parent families, and a population constantly on the move, social bonding keeps declining. The trend will be exacerbated as the fastest-growing population, those eighty and over, move into retirement homes. It’s becoming increasingly rare for older people to be cared for at home, and there is still a stigma about seniors being a burden to the young and a drag on society.

    The key here is to stay connected and open to new relationships throughout your life. Resist the impulse to go quietly into semi-isolation because you assume that society expects that of you. Losing friends and spouses is an inevitable part of aging, and many people can’t find replacements or lack the motivation to. By “replacement,” I don’t mean a new spouse and family (though that is certainly a possibility), but emotional bonds that mean something to you and offer continued meaning to your existence. No amount of reading and television substitutes for human contact that nourishes on the level of love and caring. One of the most effective steps is for older people to become involved with mentoring programs, education, and youth programs.

    7. Maintain a Youthful Mind

    An ancient Vedic aphorism says, “Infinite flexibility is the secret to immortality.” When we cultivate flexibility in or consciousness, we renew ourselves in every moment and reverse the aging process. Children offer the finest expressions of openness and flexibility. They play and laugh freely, and find wonder in the smallest things. They are infinitely creative because they haven’t yet built up the layers of conditioning that create limitations and restrictions.

    To maintain a youthful mind, write down two or three things you can do that are totally childlike. Think of something that evokes childhood for you – eating an ice cream cone, going to a playground to swing, coloring a picture, jumping rope, building a sand castle. Find something that brings back the sense of fun you had as a child, even if you think you’ve outgrown it, and choose one of these activities to do today.

    As you carry out your childlike activity, let yourself embody the archetypal carefree and innocent child. The feeling you’re aiming for isn’t a return to childhood, but something more profound, as expressed by the brilliant therapist A.H. Almaas: “When we look at a child, we see that the sense of fullness, of intrinsic aliveness, of joy in being, is not the result of something else. There is value in just being oneself; it is not because of something one does or doesn’t do. It is there in the beginning, when we were children but slowly it gets lost.” By re-experiencing our childlike nature, we not only cultivate a youthful mind, but we also connect to the part of us that is never born and never dies – our eternal spiritual essence.

     

    Meditation Q&A with Deepak

    Question: I came across an article that you wrote about meditation in which you said that to to be content in life spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally, you should ask yourself three  questions everyday before you meditation and wait for the answer: “Who am I?” “What do I want?”  and “What is my dharma or purpose in life?”

    What should I hear when I ask these questions?

    Deepak Responds: What you should hear is what your higher self answers. There is no correct answer or one thing that you are supposed to hear. It is an ongoing dialogue of self-discovery that unfolds more and more each day. What you should learn about yourself over time is that who you are is less and less defined by your physical characteristics and personal beliefs, and more and more by the unchanging, universal attributes of your higher self.

    You will also find as you go deeper and deeper into your nature, that what you want is less about having money and objects and more about becoming abundance,  fulfillment, and bliss itself. But don’t try to jump ahead to the ideal;  just listen and follow what you really hear. It is more productive to follow that authentic voice of what you are and what you want right now, because that is what unlocks the transformation to deeper wisdom.

     

    Meditation Q&A with Deepak

    Question: I learned a mantra-based meditation practice more than thirty years ago. Meditation has been wonderful for me until several years ago. For some reason it does not work anymore, there is no joy and nothing happens  and when I try to meditate my mind just does not want to meditate. What has happened to me? I certainly would like to be able to enjoy meditation as I did for so many years.

    Deepak Responds: The meditation still works, it’s just that the contrast of feeling in meditation and out of meditation has been erased. This is because the meditation has done its job of establishing that sense of peace and stability of the Self in your everyday awareness.

    This doesn’t mean that your evolution is complete or that you no longer need to meditate, but it shows that you have developed enough familiarity with the inner Self that it no longer feels inner. It is just your Self — as much inner as it is outer. The experience of meditation that you enjoyed from the past and made you feel like it was working, relied upon a sense of transition from your active waking life  to a more quiet, joyful state that felt more permanent and unlimited.

    Now after thirty-plus years of transcending, you close your eyes, and you are already there. You open your eyes and you are still there. So from the perspective of needing meditation to get there, it no longer feels like meditation is doing anything.

    The value of meditation lies in how it effects your life outside of your practice sessions . . .
    I can’t tell you how many people I run into with your experience. It is very common.  We’ve become so trained to evaluate meditation based on the contrast of feelings we have  in vs.  out of meditation that we forget that the purpose of meditation is to give us constant access to that inner intelligence, energy, and love. When we have that connection fully open, it feels different and changes the quality of meditation.

    Meditation from this point forward is still important because spending focused time in that state of self-referral consciousness  will allow you to develop the full potential of your Self. It’s one thing to move out of your old house into a new house. It’s another thing to  set it up as a fully functioning home and really start living in it.  The same applies to your present stage of growth.

    It is important to use meditation now to simply be in that awareness and become fully conversant with the full stature of the Higher Self. Many masters will tell you that  this is where the journey begins in earnest.

     

     

     

    Meditation Q&A with Deepak

    Question: I’m relatively new to meditation and am still finding my feet. I  deeply want to discover my true spiritual self, yet I have so many material desires that I want fulfilled as soon as possible.  I’m looking for miracles that I trust will happen.

    My concern is that I don’t want to lose the real purpose of my spiritual quest while playing the tempting game of material acquisition. I know desires are never ending and I’m only human. I don’t want to find myself lying on my death bed and wondering why I wasted my “powers”  chasing things that I had to leave behind.

    How can I have the courage to look beyond creating abundance after a certain level?

    Deepak responds: Congratulations on starting your meditation practice. This will naturally cultivate your mind and desires to become more aligned with your highest spiritual purpose.

    You don’t have to try to only have non-material, universal desires in order to be spiritual. Too often, we fall back on archaic, misguided notions of spirituality that tell us that spirituality must come through a rejection of the world and the body. In that view, wealth and sex are considered unspiritual, while  spiritual ideals are associated with vows of poverty and celibacy.

    Spirituality must include the wholeness of life, the inner and outer, the sacred and the profane. So instead of fighting against the mind’s tendency to generate desires, which is impossible anyway, it makes more sense to use that irrepressible force of life within us to carry us forward to our highest spiritual aspirations.

    The desires that arise within us are part of that evolutionary force of universe that impels all creation forward toward its ultimate fulfillment. Maybe your desires don’t feel very cosmic and altruistic right now, but instead of trying to squash your natural impulses and try to manufacture spiritual desires in their place, just let yourself easily move toward the attainment of your desires as they are right now.

    As you continue with your meditation practice, you will find that the next desires that pop up in your mind will be more inclusive of the needs of others. You will also find that you can want something, but not feel desperate for it and not mind when circumstances change to bring you a different outcome from your original wish, because you can now trust that the new result serves your highest purpose more perfectly.

    This is how you can relax in the knowledge that  the natural flow of your desires in conjunction with your meditation practice will inexorably lead you to the highest state of spirituality.

     

     

     

     

    Meditation Q&A with Deepak Chopra

    Deepak Chopra, M.D.


    Question:
    How can meditation help me with releasing emotions?

    Deepak responds:
    The practice of meditation is a powerful ally when it comes to relieving emotional distress such as anxiety, depression, and anger. As many scientific studies reveal, when you meditate, breathing slows, blood pressure decreases, and stress hormone levels fall. Even as our body is resting deeply in meditation, our mind is awake, though quiet. In mantra meditation practices including Primordial Sound Meditation, a mantra or sound is used as an object of attention. The Sanskrit word mantra means “vehicle of the mind,” for mantras transport us beyond the mind’s inner dialogue and emotional turbulence into higher states of consciousness.

    As we silently repeat a mantra, we begin to gain some distance from our thoughts and emotions. We observe them and gently return our attention to the

    Meditation allows us to experience the peace underlying our thoughts and emotions.

    mantra. As we witness our mental activity, without attempting to resist or change it, there is a spontaneous calming of the inner commotion.

    Over time we begin to notice that some space has been created around the nturbulent emotional state. We start to see that there is more to who we are than our moods or thoughts, and we may also observe that the sensations associated with our emotional state dissolve altogether.

    How wonderful to know that we don’t have to repress what we feel in order to feel this inner peace! In fact, repressing emotions never leads to emotional freedom but only adds to the accumulation of emotional toxicity or ama in our body.

    By not repressing or fixating on emotions, they can move through and out of our bodies. With a regular meditation practice, we spend more and more time in the silence and peace of pure awareness. The sense of spaciousness and ease in our daily lives grows and it becomes easy to let go of old patterns of thinking and feeling.

     

    Ask Deepak: Is there an Ayurvedic view of plastic surgery?

    Deepak Chopra, M.D.

    Dear Deepak,

    Lately, out of my insecurities, I have been toying with the idea of doing plastic surgery for my nose.  Yet at the same time, I am aware that  I want to develop my spiritual life (I have been practicing yoga for 11 years and I’ve been teaching it for the past three years) in more depth.  I am starting to meditate again.  However, being so self-conscious physically (especially as I age) and being drawn to the spiritual life are creating a lot of chaos in my mind as I don’t know what the drive for either is, although obviously the drive to meditate seems to make more sense to me.

    Can you let me know what the yogic/Ayurvedic/and your perspective is about the subject of changing one’s physical appearance?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Deepak Responds . . .

    I don’t know if there is an official Ayurvedic position on plastic surgery, but the basic idea of yoga philosophy and Ayurveda is to restore balance and wholeness – physically, mentally, and spiritually.  A treatment such as plastic surgery would only be considered if it were essential for the overall wellbeing of the patient. Certainly in cases of disfigurement, reconstructive plastic surgery would make sense. In fact, in India  rhinoplasty has been practiced for well over two thousand years for severed noses.

    In your case, since you state that your motivation arises from insecurity and concerns over the effects of aging, you will probably gain more lasting benefits by addressing your underlying insecurities, fears, and beliefs than you would from plastic surgery.  Making an effort to draw your self-value and worth through your essence rather than your outer appearance will have a profound influence on all aspects of your wellbeing.

    Love,
    Deepak