Talking with Deepak Chopra
Mike Ragogna: Hi Deepak, let’s talk about your six-part course Timeless You. Can you take us on a little tour through those six courses?
Deepak Chopra: Originally there were ten, which were condensed into six. The first part is changing perceptions of aging, of your body as an activity rather than a structure and experiencing time in a different way. When you do that, your biological clock responds. The second is the value of sleep and mind-body techniques and meditation. The third is nutrition, which restores self-repair mechanisms, nutritions that is high in vital chemicals, which are basically self-repairing chemicals found in a plant-based diet, and also spices and herbs. Then we talk about what is a youthful mind and we talk about exercise that is joyful. These are based on very good studies and form the basis of a new science called epigenetics, which means that how you think, how you feel, your behavior, your nutrition and the way you manage stress and emotions can actually change the expression of your genes and alter your cellular biology including the genetic expression of aging. It’s based on really solid research that has been done by institutions and that we are also engaged in, me and my coworker at SUPER BRAIN Rudy Tanzi who is a professor of neurology at Harvard and is also the director of aging and genetics at Massachusetts hospital. So that’s, in essence, the program.
MR: How do you approach the studies? Do you have a theory of what it should be in the end and then conduct the research, or is this research that’s coming to these conclusions?
DC: No, the studies look at people who are aging in a different manner than the average person first. You see demographics, you see healthy elderly people who are not taking medications, who have normal blood pressure, who are free of disease and say, “What are they doing that’s different?” Then you accumulate that data and then based on that data you can do biological studies, which are in progress right now. We already have one study that we did and many other studies that people would love to know about, which show that even something like meditation and mindfulness will change the level of an enzyme called telomerase, which controls the genetic clock. We have studies from all over the place, all you have to do is a search and then make your analysis.
MR: There have been studies over the years that have concluded that there can be a reversal of the aging process. What are your thoughts on that these days?
DC: One hundred percent true. You can reverse your biological age by fifteen to twenty years through lifestyle changes. Those are the things that we talk about in this program.
MR: Do you have any personal stories about this?
DC: Well, the best personal story is me. I am sixty-seven years old, I have never been in a hospital and I don’t take any medications. If you measure my biological markers I could compete with anyone who is thirty-five years old.
MR: Congratulations! Do you find yourself athletic these days as well?
DC: In terms of endurance, yes. I have taken care of myself. Every day I train with a trainer for one hour and every other day I do yoga, I meditate regularly, I have high-quality sleep and I am very good with my diet.
MR: You also have been a proponent for being aware of the relationship between the quantum field and the body, et cetera. Is there any new research you’ve come across lately regarding that?
DC: When I wrote my book Quantum Healing in 1988, the book was very popular but it was also criticized by a lot of scientists because there was no such thing as “quantum biology.” But today there is this field called quantum biology which means that your body, particularly your brain, doesn’t operate in a linear fashion. Your brain and your body respond to your brain and your thoughts and your feelings, which I knew intuitively, everybody knows that intuitively, but now we have the science of how it changes genetic activity. So it’s an extension of what I’ve been saying in the past.
MR: Ah. You offer a great step into this way of thinking, but people are prone to resist a healthy lifestyle. What is an easy way to lead people into this kind of thinking?
DC: Well, for anyone who lives in the city, ten thousands steps a day has been shown to affect the biological real age. That comes from the Cleveland Clinic, from Dr. Roizen. So that may be the best thing you can do, get ten thousand steps a day.
MR: Is this something you try to do?
DC: Oh yes, I have been doing ten to twenty thousand every day. It’s very easy if you’re in New York. You just walk wherever you have to go. Or you take the subway and you stop two stations before your destination. Or you don’t take escalators, you walk. Even at the airport I do that. That easily happens to end up in ten thousand steps.
MR: Nice. Over the years you’ve also been a proponent of everybody realizing consciousness being at the basis of everything. Is there any new research in that field?
DC: This program, Timeless You, says that your fundamental core consciousness, your spirit, is indeed timeless. Your mind is time-bound, your body is time-bound, but your spirit is timeless. So consciousness is at the core, every thought, every emotion, every behavior first arises in consciousness. So consciousness is what ultimately results in cognition, in motion, in speech, in personal relationships, in social interactions and in the environments which you create for yourself. The consciousness is the most fundamental part of our program as well.
MR: If there was one Deepak Chopra book that you want everybody to read, what would it be?
DC: That’s a very tough question because my latest book is always my favorite one. So right now, I would say Super Brain.
MR: What about some of the fiction that you’ve written?
DC: Yes, the fiction is all about the lives of people who changed the ways we think about ourselves, the way we think about the spirit, the way we think about human potential. So even though it’s fiction it’s based on history.
MR: Nice. The concept of enlightenment that you’ve talked about in the books, it seems, is different for each person. Do you feel that you’ve seen elements of enlightenment?
DC: Yes. There are now many studies that have looked at people who have enlightenment experiences and they have some common features. The first has to do with cognition or how they think. They become spectators of their own thoughts. They are not victimized by their thoughts. The second thing that happens is that people who have enlightenment experiences are not victimized by emotions and they don’t get drawn into the melodrama that you see around yourself in society. They have healthy emotions like love, kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. So the first aspect is thinking, the second is emotion, the third is memory. The people who have enlightenment experiences are not burdened by memory, and yet they have a very clear memory when they want to recall it. The fourth is how they experience perception. They have a very vivid present moment perception. Colors are more vivid, sounds are more acute, everything is like a beautiful multi-dimensional, multi-sensory delightful experience. Other people say that the experiences they may have had on something like LSD or a hallucinogen. It’s very invigoration. Those are the very important features that are very common. Other features include synchronicity and the loss of fear of death. This kind of study is in progress and I personally have these experiences myself. As we look into more of these experiences we see there are stages of so-called enlightenment. Waking, sleeping and dreaming are the ordinary states of consciousness, but beyond that you have soul consciousness, divine consciousness, unity consciousness and I can bet you that the brain behaves differently in these states of consciousness. Part of my own research is the look at brain waves and brain activity in people who come to our courses and are actually saying they’ve had these experiences.
MR: What do you think people will ultimately take away from taking the Timeless You program?
DC: Well, I think they’ll feel very empowered in that they can influence how they age, the quality of their life and possibly the quality of the last few years of life where there is so much suffering that we see. In many parts of the world people don’t die in hospitals and they don’t necessarily die with the kind of suffering that we see with very invasive procedures. They die peacefully at home. I think that’s something that we all want to look forward to; that our senior years are full of joy, energy, mental clarity and peace and equanimity and comfort in the last few months of life.
MR: How do you see humanity twenty or thirty years from now if it follows programs like this?
DC: Unless we blow ourselves up through a nuclear accident or climate change accidentally causes hundreds of millions of refugees, which some people accidentally predict I think if we take responsibility of some of the things I suggest and take action I think not only would it improve individual well-being but also community well-being. We may have a chance to reach critical mass to create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthy and happy world.
For more information about the program: http://www.grandparents.com
Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne