Deepak Chopra

Bipolar disorder and meditation

Kat Dawkins, PsychCentral: These days, many people are turning to natural health aids to help compliment the use of medication and therapies.

When someone is being treated for bipolar disorder, their psychiatrists often recommend a strict diet and regular exercise to help combat the depression, anxiety, and mood swings that come with the illness.

The use of meditation is another way that many people deal with the troubling symptoms of depression and mania.

History of Meditation

Meditation has been used for thousands of years to renew the spirit and calm the mind.

Buddhist meditation and yoga have helped evolve other modern relaxation techniques.,,

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Turn On, Tune In, Zone Out: A review of Deepak Chopra’s new game, Leela

Blanca Myers: Leela, Deepak Chopra’s debut game for Xbox 360 Kinect and Wii, is part relaxation mechanism, part new-age stoner candy.

The game, which comes out next week, playfully steers you toward the gap between the conscious and the subconscious. There are different levels of gameplay — some help you tune each of your seven chakras, others guide you through meditation and relaxation exercises.

Chopra, a renowned figure in mind-body medicine, says Leela was inspired partly by his studies of spirituality, and partly by his own experimentation with psychedelics decades ago as a medical student. He teamed up with the game publisher THQ and a …

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Chakra and awe: A bizarre trip through Deepak Chopra’s “Leela”

Alex Navarro (Giant Bomb): THQ’s meditative software…thing is not really a game, but supposedly it’ll help you get in greater tune with your chakras. So there’s that.

One title in THQ’s lineup of casual games left me scratching my head. It’s a title that that, in theory, certainly would seem to have an audience, but the question of whether that audience would actually own and/or use a gaming console is, at this point in time, a relatively untested theory. THQ seems to believe there is an audience for it, otherwise they wouldn’t be producing the game. And yet, as I went through the motions of this peculiar game…

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Managing life, reducing stress with meditation

Melissa Shattuck recently was stranded for three days at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport while on her way back to Sioux Falls from a workshop in Puerto Rico with The Chopra Center.

Instead of becoming overly worried and stressed, Shattuck took the setback in stride. A friend remarked to her how calm Shattuck was during the event.

Shattuck credits her meditation practice for helping her keep anxiety and stress in check. Shattuck, who is co-owner of The Dharma Room, started meditating about four and half years ago after an experience at the The Chopra Center in Carlsbad, Calif.

She started meditating to deal with stress. “This was the most life-changing thing for me in dealing with depression and anxiety,” Shattuck says. She is a certified meditation instructor with The Chopra Center, started by teacher and author Deepak Chopra and David Simon. She also teaches Ayurveda and yoga.

During her regular practice, Shattuck meditates twice a day for 20 to 30 minutes. She notices the effects when she doesn’t meditate.

“I would say there’s so many subtle…

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benefits of meditation. … I noticed out of the blue I would respond to a situation in a different way,” Shattuck says.

A team of researchers led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that people who meditated for about 30 minutes a day for eight weeks had measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Their findings appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The study’s senior author, Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, says the study explains why people who meditate feel better, according to the website ScienceDaily.

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” Lazar says.

“This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”

Meditation can be as simple as just closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Those who meditate say it helps to calm their mind and to pay attention to what is going on in their body.

More people are looking for ways to cope with stress, says Cena Keller, owner of East Bank Yoga. “I think people are stressed. … They need some sort of outlet that isn’t another device or another outlet.”

The studio currently doesn’t offer a regular meditation class, but Keller says she has been getting more requests for classes.

Veronika Ludewig is teaching a series of meditation classes using a crystal singing bowl at The Dharma Room. When played, the bowls send out sound and vibrations. “It will affect everyone differently. It allows people to tune in to their own body. It literally will resonate where people need it most within their physical self,” Ludewig says.

Ludewig combines breathing meditations and color meditations, which is a visualization technique, in the class.

The Butterfly Rainbow Center has hosted a monthly workshop with Buddhist monks for the past five months. The monks discuss Buddhist principles and give guidance on how to meditate.

Co-owner Randy Smith says 20 to 30 people have attended each session. “We get requests (for meditation) on a fairly regular basis. The interest is growing, I would say,” Smith says.

Reach reporter BryAnn Becker at 977-3908.

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Playboy exposes Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

Self-help guru Deepak Chopra is the subject of an interview in the March edition of Playboy.

Chopra is an Indian-American author and alternative medicine advocate. A prominent figure in the New Age movement, his books and videos have made him one of the best-known and wealthiest figures in alternative medicine. His discussions of quantum healing have been characterized as technobabble – “incoherent babbling strewn with scientific terms” which drives those who actually understand physics “crazy” and as “redefining Wrong.”

On his love of blogging, and what it’s doing on a meta-level to consciousness in our society: “First of all, I love blogging. I love the immediacy. I love the reach. I love the instant connection with so many people. It’s vast and it’s fast. But the impact remains to be seen. If it blunts our emotional intelligence or our face-to-face, eye-to-eye, body-to-body contact—and we’re certainly heading in the direction—it will be extremely detrimental. On the other hand, if you can integrate with it, it’s an amazing technology to reach a critical mass of consciousness. I personally love participating in it.”

On partying with George Harrison in the past: “George was a sweet person. And yes, we did some stuff together, like bhang. You know what bhang is? It’s ganja. It’s similar to cannabis. We drank it together in India. He was a lovely man. We listened to music together. We would discuss everything from creativity to spirituality to the divine. He had his own visions of other realms of existence and was more of a literalist than I was, but he was a lot of fun to be with.”

On his thoughts on cannabis and other recreational drugs: “Drugs are not part of my life, but I have tried them all. I’ve done LSD. At 17 it led me to my first spiritual awakening. I’ve done mushrooms—everything. But all at a young age. I certainly don’t regret it. It gave me a glimpse into a different reality. I recognized that I can actually navigate these realms in my consciousness. I’d go so far as to say that drugs were a source of great joy to me, great nourishment and the source of all my writing. So much of what I’ve written comes from my being able to go into other states of consciousness.”

On the challenges his native India now faces as a growing world economy: “Overcoming hubris is a big one. India is getting a false sense of pride because it made a nuclear bomb—because the middle class is expanding dramatically. Globally, yes, it’s an economic superpower, but Indians are totally ignoring the fact that 30% of their children go to bed hungry — starving. They are ignoring the fact that 300 million people still live in abysmal poverty and there’s still a lot of communal tension and violence. India has huge problems.”

On his enormous success and how he does not save nor invest any of his money: “I’ve hit the jackpot as far as selling books is concerned. That’s where my income comes from. But I put it back into the business, and what’s left I put into my foundation—I don’t invest and I don’t save. I carry maybe $200 and a credit card in my pocket. If you ask me to read a bank statement, I can’t. I believe that when I die there won’t be anything for anyone. In the meanwhile, until I’m dead, my wife is totally taken care of from my royalties. My children are self-sufficient, so I don’t need to give them any money. I keep about $30,000 in my account and the rest goes to keeping the operation running.”

On if he believes that science has proven some of his theories correct: “In many instances, yes—The EEGs of people in meditative states repeatedly show increases in alpha waves [indicating wakeful relaxation], which proves we have the power to change our bodies with our minds. More recently it’s been proved that prolonged periods of meditation, like you see with monks in monasteries, can change the brain permanently. The fight-or-flight centers in the brain that normally light up to trigger alarm and anxiety are quieted—.That doesn’t mean they’re duller to the world. It means they’re more quietly alert in a way that’s permanently hardwired in their consciousness—If we teach patients in hospitals how to relax, to breathe properly, to meditate, to do some passive movements or even bedside yoga—we can get rid of what most drugs are prescribed for, which is insomnia, nausea, constipation, anxiety and pain. That’s 80% of what’s prescribed in a hospital, and it’s unnecessary.”

On his many skeptics in the scientific and academic communities: “The skeptics are all angry people. They’re mostly high school teachers with old science behind them. And now they have a few champions such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Leonard Mlodinow is co-author with Stephen Hawking of a recent book that refutes the existence of God. They all love to call me the woo-woo master, or Dr. Woo, and I admit, they did anger me. But I decided to reach out to them and engage with these issues. I wrote to Leonard and said, ‘It seems like you know your mathematics, but conceptually you and I have a lot of disagreements. You definitely don’t understand consciousness. So why don’t we get together and hang out, and you teach me physics and I’ll teach you consciousness?’ We’re [now] doing a book together. It’s about the things that physics and spirituality can agree on and what physics and spirituality cannot agree on. It’s called War of the Worlds. It’s a big book. We’ve got a multimillion-dollar contract for it. It’s going to be huge.”

On if he thinks the Catholic Church will survive its many sex scandals: “It’s the hypocrisy I worry about. If it were just saying sexuality or homosexuality is fine, there would be no problems. But condemning certain types of sexuality as sinful while its own clergy is hiding pedophiles, that’s the height of hypocrisy.”

On his thoughts about organized religions: “All religions are hypocritical—Organized religion is all corrupt. It’s just a cult with a large following. Get a large enough following and you can call yourself a religion, and then it becomes all about control and power mongering, corruption and money. We don’t need mediators to experience God.”

On the happiest person he knows: “The Dalai Lama is the real deal. He loves everything. He’s authentically who he is. He never gets upset. He’s not even mad at the Chinese. If you ask him he says, ‘No. What they do is very upsetting, but I’m not mad at them.’—I remember we were with him in London and he ordered bacon and eggs for breakfast and everybody went crazy because they don’t realize that Tibetans are not vegetarians. He looked around because he knew he was being a bit provocative, but we all just started to laugh.”

On his advice for finding happiness, and avoiding conformity: “The highest form of intelligence you can have is to observe yourself. Let it go at that. You don’t need to judge, you don’t need to analyze, you don’t even need to change. This is the key to life: the ability to reflect, the ability to know yourself, the ability to pause for a second before reacting automatically. If you can truly know yourself, you will begin the journey of transformation—As human beings we have unlimited potential and imagination. The worst thing you can do is be a conformist and buy into conformity. It’s the worst possible thing. It’s better to be outrageous—better to hang out with the sages, the people open to possibilities, even the psychotics. You never know where you’ll find the geniuses of our society.”

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The science behind spirituality

Author and practising endocrinologist Deepak Chopra believes meditation is the way to a better, healthier you.

I first read a Deepak Chopra book a couple of years ago in a hotel where there was a small selection of books provided for guests. I picked one at random (he would no doubt call that synchronicity – a coincidence offered to me by the universe) and got acquainted with a book of his called Synchrodestiny .

Although I felt I had discovered a hidden gem, I was in fact coming late to the party. Chopra is author of 55 books that have sold tens of millions of copies, has admirers including Oprah, Prince Charles, Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, and was named one of the top 100 icons of the 20th century by Time magazine.

For those who may be a little concerned about the rather light evidence base of books by Eckhart Tolle ( The Power of Now ) or Rhonda Byrne ( The Secret ), Chopra offers something more plausible.

A former chief of staff at the Boston Regional Medical Center and a practising endocrinologist, he seems to represent a link between spirituality and science, between eastern and western approaches to healing, between the ancient and the modern.

Not surprisingly then, his detractors come from both sides of the aisle. Christian fundamentalists were upset with his book, The Third Jesus, which claimed that Jesus was talking about shifts in consciousness when he referred to the kingdom of heaven.

Richard Dawkins derided him as one of his “Enemies of Reason” in the titular documentary series.

Scientists and academics dislike his tendency (typical of the mind/body genre) to reduce philosophy to neat packages – the 10 rules of this, the seven principles of that.

Chopra, however, challenges the rigid parameters of the spirituality versus materialism argument and the idea that there are only two possible ways to look at the world – through faith and superstition, or through the rigours of logic and evidence.

In my interview with him, he cites the work of Dr Stuart Hameroff, Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona, and Oxford physicist Sir Roger Penrose, as examples of scientists who believe there is a link between spirituality and quantum physics.

Is it really feasible that science and religion could one day sing off the same hymn sheet?

“Well, it would have to be more like a secular spirituality,” he says. “It would have to be religions that do not contradict evolution, because these things are scientific fact.

“Science knows that there is an underlying intelligence that permeates the entire universe. It is just that in religion we call that God. I think that science is getting there.”

Born in 1947 in New Delhi, Chopra had intended to study English literature or journalism, but eventually followed in his father’s footsteps into medicine.

Having graduated from medical school in India, he moved to the United States in 1970, eventually becoming chief of staff at Boston Regional Medical Center.

He has referred to his life at the time as “crushing” – he chain-smoked, drank scotch to cope with the stress, and became increasingly fed up of treating patients as “machines with parts wearing out”.

He has said in previous interviews that he felt like a licensed drug-pusher.

And yet, he writes in Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul , “every one of these people lived lives that had nothing to do with machines breaking down and needing repair”.

“These lives were full of meaning and hope, emotions and aspirations, love and suffering.

“Machines don’t lead such lives. Before long I began to see that the body as seen through the lens of science was inadequate and artificial.”

Ultimately Chopra merged his medical knowledge with studies of physics, metaphysics, psychology and ancient Ayurvedic medicine to come up with a more holistic approach to healing. The central themes?

Thoughts and emotions cannot be separated from the body which produces them and are, therefore, inextricably related to illness, and controversially, that we are not human beings that have occasional spiritual experiences, but rather spiritual beings having a human experience.

“In Christian theology,” he says, “it talks about being in the world but not of it. Our spiritual nature is eternal and transcendent. It exists outside of space time.”

As a physician, he was fascinated by healing and, specifically, the idea of spontaneous remission.

“What I discovered is that a shift in consciousness can lead to a shift in biology.

“If you are stressed, the cells in your body reflect that. We ignored the impact on the body of the states of consciousness we call holiness, love, compassion, joy or just plain happiness.

“It’s only in the past 10 to 15 years that research has shown that when a person is in love, their biology is different.”

Healing, he says, is a return to a memory of who you really are.

“If you look at the word healing it has the same root as the word holy – in many spiritual traditions holiness is the return of the memory of holiness.

“We are able to re-engineer our bodies by changing the self which ultimately means we can live healthier, more fruitful lives and reach God consciousness, which is what this journey is all about.”

A thread that runs through all of Chopra’s books is the importance of meditation. Even though he spends half his year on the road (he’s in Dublin to deliver a lecture in the National Concert Hall tomorrow evening), he still finds time to meditate for up to two hours a day.

As far as Chopra is concerned, there need not be any conflict between the practice of meditation and an individual’s religious belief.

“Meditation is part of every spiritual tradition including Christianity, although it would be called contemplation in that tradition. It was part of the lives of all the great saints.

“Meditation allows you to go past your mind and get in touch with your spirit. Eventually, it means the loss of fear and a gradual discovery of your true self.”

[Michael Kelly: Irish Times]
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Stressed? There’s a Deepak Chopra app for that

These days, there are smart phone applications that allow you to track airplane departures and landings and steer you to new restaurants. Apps can imitate bagpipes, flutes and bird calls and even translate a baby’s cries. Now, there’s an app to relax.

Deepak Chopra is taking his message of mind-body healing to the iPhone with an app of interactive stress-reducing exercises called Stress Free. It will cost just under $10 to download.

“Most people when they think of iPhones or BlackBerries or just everything that’s digital these days, they associate it with stress,” Chopra says. “So the thought came to me, why not use the very technology that is supposedly distracting you to bring you to the present, to help you focus on the moment, to help you get rid of stress. There is no stopping technology, and what we do with it depends on us.”

The Stress Free app reminds you throughout the day to “stop and pause and reflect,” he says. The reminders come in the form of music or meditation messages like “Take a deep breath.”

The app also offers feedback, Chopra says. “You can actually touch a portion of the app and it might tell if you’re at this moment stressed or relaxed … and tell you exactly what to do to counterbalance your stress.” He says there are many ways to gauge stress, such as temperature of the skin and galvanic skin response, a measure of its electrical resistance.

To combat stress, the options include following a guided meditation or even listening to a joke.

But why not just turn off your phone?

“Well, it would be wonderful to do that, except most people won’t do it,” Chopra says. “I have to be very practical. I see some remarkable benefits that will come of this technology.”

NPR

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Happiness, Inc: Deepak Chopra’s Path to Inner Peace

ABC: Thoroughly Modern Guru Says Daily Meditation Helps Him Avoid Stress

Deepak Chopra, the thoroughly modern guru, walks through Manhattan tweeting, delivering inspirational messages in 140 characters or less. “The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness,” he tweets to the more than 106,000 people who follow his updates.

Between his tweets, Chopra blogs, has a satellite radio show, and writes books on everything from spirituality, to health, to cooking and even golf. Aside from that, he sells CDs, DVDs and has a pair of holistic centers complete with his own line of dietary supplements.

In the span of one week, Chopra shuttles between meetings with publishers, philanthropists, video game programmers and a promotional taping for his new book, and those are just some of the projects he’s working on.

Chopra is also in talks to produce a television and Broadway show, and is developing an iPhone application to deliver inspirational messages to subscribers.

While Chopra’s schedule sounds hectic, he maintains that he does it all, with no stress whatsoever. It’s a life he describes as one of “effortless spontaneity.”

According to Chopra, one of the keys of achieving “effortless spontaneity” is to get up early every day to meditate. While meditating, Chopra pictures his mind as a rushing river of thoughts. Those thoughts include fears, resentments, hopes, dreams and to-do lists. The goal, he says, is to step out of that river and find some space between the thoughts so that they no longer control you.

While meditating, Chopra suggests focusing on a simple saying, such as “I am.”

“Whenever you become aware that you have drifted away from, ‘I am,’ then very gently bring your attention back to, ‘I am,'” Chopra says.

Chopra says he believes that after only 20 minutes of meditation, you can become keenly aware of your mind.

“The average person on the street is not aware of their mind,” he says. “They’re just acting out their thoughts like bundles of reflexes.”

Chopra says simply being aware of the constant stream of thoughts in your head is the first step. He says that awareness is what keeps him from losing his temper.

“The next time someone cuts me off on the highway, instead of showing them the finger or blowing my horn, I don’t react,” he says. “I witness the whole thing.”

From there, Chopra says he can stop the anger from welling up inside him.

However, there are times when the cool-headed guru engages in heated debate. In early 2009 ABC moderated a panel discussion during which Chopra argued vigorously with evangelical Christians, a group he spars with frequently.

Chopra says that his reaction was not one of anger, but of passion.

“To be passionate, to have discontent is not to be predictably reactive. I think without passion you’d be a walking dead person,” Chopra says.

Chopra was not always able to balance detachment and dynamism. As a young physician he smoked, drank and worked too hard.

“I suddenly one day got up and it was dramatic,” he says of his epiphany. “I said, ‘I been there, done that. It’s over.'”

After his realization, Chopra became a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine. He has written 50 books, several of which have become bestsellers, spreading his message to 15 million people.

Chopra’s arguments have been met with some skepticism. Some experts in the medical and scientific communities take issue of his blending of science and spirituality.

“What he does bothers a lot of scientists, including me,” said Michael Shermer, executive director of the Skeptics Society. “It isn’t his summary of recent scientific findings that is the problem. It is in the extrapolation from recent data and tentative conclusions that scientists cautiously draw from those data where Deepak goes too far.”

During the week ABC News trails Chopra, he meets with a mentalist who can bend forks and a physicist who predicts imminent time travel and invisibility. Chopra also argues that one can reverse the aging process.

“I’m going to be 63 in less than a few weeks,” Chopra says. “Biologically I think I have the capacity of a 35-year-old.”

Chopra knows his logic draws its share of skeptics, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.

Deepak Chopra Says Purpose of Life Is ‘Expansion of Happiness’

“They don’t understand what I’m talking about and probably won’t. Paradigm shifts happen one funeral at a time. We have to wait for those guys to leave,” Chopra says.

While some scientists don’t like Chopra, plenty of celebrities love him. He has had close relationships with people like Michael Jackson, Hugh Jackman, Madonna, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and comedian Mike Meyers, who parodied him in the 2008 comedy “The Love Guru.”

Chopra made clear that while he values those friendships, he doesn’t let it go to his head.

“I’ve never sought any friendship with these people,” he says. “I think they have so much power and so much influence that if you could harness the collective intent and collective creativity you could address all the problems in the world.”

If anything, Chopra says his celebrity pals help him draw attention to important causes, and he describes them as powerful allies. Although he says he appreciates the value of having friends in high places, Chopra’s family keeps him grounded.

“In my case, my kids and wife make sure that my ego’s in check because they don’t take me seriously,” he says.

While some consider Chopra a man of contradiction and controversy, to some, he’s something else — thought-provoking.

In one e-mail message Chopra writes, “Remember infinity is around you all the time.”

“If this universe is infinite then wherever you are, you are the center of the universe right?” he says. “I think just to have the notion that every side that I look at is infinity sparks a sense of wondrousness inside me that makes life so magical that I cannot be offended by or bogged by triviality anymore.”

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