Over the past 30 years, Deepak Chopra has captivated the Western world with his teachings about the mind-body connection, Ayurvedic medicine, and meditation. Growing up as the son of a prominent Indian cardiologist in New Delhi, he was not only exposed to ancient Hindu wisdom but also Western medicine philosophy. Chopra has been able to uniquely unite these two distinct disciplines in a way that is appealing to individuals in every ethnic and religious demographic.
Deepak Chopra Profile:
Name: Deepak Chopra
Birth: October 22nd, 1947
Occupation: Ayurvedic Medical Practitioner, Spiritual Teacher, Author
Focuses On: Vedic Wisdom, Ayurveda Medicine
Deepak Chopra Overview:
Deepak Chopra was born in New Delhi, India, in 1947 to a wealthy Indian family and would go on to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a world-renowned medical professional. Chopra initially planned on becoming a journalist but soon realized that he was better suited for working in the field of medicine. His Dad, Dr. Krishan Chopra, was one of the most well-respected cardiologists of his generation and, similar to Deepak, combined Western medicine with ancient Hindu wisdom to help his patients live longer and healthier lives. Deepak has regularly said that the wisdom his father instilled in him has largely shaped his life.
Chopra studied internal medicine, specifically endocrinology, at the All India Institute of Medical Services. The highly regarded University teaches students the science of Western medicine, and after graduating in 1969, Chorpa, who had recently married his wife, Rita, moved to the United States where he planned to treat patients solely with advanced Western medical treatment options. He had great success early in his career and quickly rose to become the Chief of Staff at New England Memorial Hospital.
Although Chopra had a bright future in Western medicine, he rapidly became dissatisfied with the work. He felt that he wasn’t making the impact on his patients’ lives as he once hoped. He is quoted as saying,
When all you do is prescribe medication, you start to feel like a legalized drug pusher.”
It was during this time, Chopra became irritated with the fact that he, like many of his colleagues, relied on excessive amounts of coffee and cigarettes to get through each day.
For the now-immortalized spirituality teacher, a turning point would come in 1981 when he began exploring the ancient Indian Ayurveda health techniques that he is associated with today. In hopes of helping him overcome his addiction to nicotine, Chopra was advised to begin practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) and soon became captivated by ancient Vedic wisdom. In 1985, after studying Ayurvedic practices and meditation in greater depth, Chopra made the decision that would change the direction of his life forever. He left his position at the New England Memorial Hospital and partnered with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the TM movement, to create the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine.
The partnership with Maharishi, who had gained popularity in the West after working with the Beatles, went well for 8 years, but in 1993 Chopra decided to venture out on his own. There are various accounts as to why this split occurred, but many believe that Maharishi’s cult-like following would prohibit Chopra’s ability to treat people with Ayurvedic techniques. In 1996, Chopra and fellow physician David Simon co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. Chopra still considers his time at the center to be of primary importance, but his work is hardly limited to this.
According to the Chopra Center website, he has written 80 books, including 22 New York Times Best Sellers. Some of his most recognizable titles include, ‘Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,’ ‘Quantum Healing,’ ‘Ageless Body- Timeless Mind,’ and ‘The Path to Love.’ Today, he regularly speaks at prominent conferences throughout the world, works closely with Oprah Winfrey on a variety of projects, and continues to write about Eastern spiritual practices.
3 Messages to Take from his Teachings:
Find Happiness in Acceptance:
All of Chopra’s work is aimed at giving the greater global community holistic ways to increase their levels of happiness and health, while also improving their relationships with all. To increase our levels of happiness, it is vital that we develop complete acceptance of ourselves, others, and our current circumstances. True happiness is only found in the present moment, and we can only live in the present moment by accepting where we are today. To develop unwavering acceptance, you will first have to resolve internal issues, find a way to love yourself unconditionally and let go of the idea that your life isn’t perfect the way that it is. Chopra is quoted as saying,
Happiness and joy result from total acceptance of living in the present moment.”
The Health Benefits of Meditation:
When Deepak Chopra used Transcendental Meditation to overcome his addiction to nicotine, he saw just how powerful the health benefits of meditation can be. At the level of our physical, emotional, and psychological selves, meditation can act as an antidote for a wide variety of issues.
At the physical level, meditation has been shown to boost the immune system, slow the aging process, and improve biological functions such as blood pressure levels. At the emotional level, meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. And at the psychological level, the practice can improve practitioners’ memory and focus.
Since Chopra’s background is in Western medicine, he regularly shows how the Eastern spiritual practice of meditation greatly improves our health from a Western scientific perspective. In his book, ‘Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide,’ he talks about the relationships between meditation and blood pressure levels:
Insurance companies use blood pressure as the most significant indicator of life expectancy. A middle-aged man with normal blood pressure (120/80) is expected to live sixteen years longer than someone with moderate hypertension (150/100). Just by practicing meditation, most people under the age of 40 could expect to fall below the limit set for borderline hypertension, which is 130/90.”
Finding Your True Self:
Hindu philosophy tells us that there is a connection to the supreme divine reality, Brahman, that is found within each of us. In Hinduism, this part of yourself is referred to as the Atman (translates to Soul in English) and Chopra likes to refer to it as the True Self.
At this level, you have the ability to objectively watch how your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations come and go like ocean waves. As we age, however, we become conditioned to live from our mind-created self-image, or ego, where our decisions are based upon ideas of fear, hate, and competition. At the ego level, we also feel great separation from others and the world around us.
Our deepest nature becomes covered by our internal dialogue patterns, mental processes, and habitual behaviors similar to a blue sky that is hidden by the clouds of a thunderstorm.
By living from a level of pure consciousness, which is the level of the True Self, you can experience unwavering bliss and joy because everything is perfect just the way it is. In this short video, Chopra talks about the distinctions between the Ego and the True Self. He also outlines a path that allows us to get in touch with our most innate nature:
Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because the reason can be taken from you.”
If You Live the Questions, Life will move you into answers.”
Even though we experience fear and desire every day as natural reactions to the world, we do not have to be ruled by them.”