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Deepaks Guide to

HOLISTIC HEALTH

THE

CHOPRA CENTER
2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | learn@chopra.com 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009

Deepaks Guide to Holistic Health

DEEPAKS GUIDE TO HOLISTIC HEALTH


Learn Daily Practices for Health and Wholeness
by Deepak Chopra, M.D. The word holistic has come to refer to everything from organic food and massage therapy to herbal supplements and Eastern healing practices, all of which are undeniably valuable and evidence of a growing consciousness that earlier generations only dreamed of. At the Chopra Center, we define holistic in its original sense as related to wholeness. Wholeness is the union of mind, body, and spirit. It means that you are a totality, not the sum of countless moving parts. In wholeness, you arent divided against yourself and the choices you make benefit you at every level. Just as the quality of your food, water, and exercise directly affects the health of your body and mind, so the energy and information you take in through your mind and sensory organs influences your body and spirit. Your body is not a structure; it is a river that never stays the same. In every moment, your body is changing, exchanging its atoms and molecules with the rest of the universe. Right now your hundreds of thousands of chemical changes are taking place at the cellular level, changing your body faster than you can change your clothes. These changes arent random but are focused on serving the purpose of moving life forward and preserving whats best from the past. Yet change is also a choice. Your body has an infinite number of unknown possibilities, but it looks to you for direction. When you introduce an intention, your body finds a way, on its own, to adapt to anything you want even experiences that most people would describe as spiritual. For example, researchers have known for the past twenty years that the brain is plastic that it isnt fixed at birth as previously believed but adapt to change. They have found that simple daily activity can quickly create new neural networks. Even more remarkably, studies are now showing that mental activity alone can alter the brain. A group of brain researchers studying advanced Tibetan Buddhist monks conducted a study with the cooperation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In a laboratory, the monks were hooked up to a functional MRI, a brain scan that can monitor changes in real time. When the monks meditated on compassion, the scans showed that their brains generated the most intense gamma waves ever seen in a normal brain. Gamma waves are associated with keeping the brain functioning as a whole and with higher cognitive processes. The monks displayed the most intense area of activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area associated with happiness and positive thoughts. This study was remarkable because it was the first time that anyone had been able to conclusively show that mental activity alone can alter the brain. We now have evidence that a mere intention or desire (in this case, the desire to be compassionate) can train the brain to adapt.

2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing | chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009

Deepaks Guide to Holistic Health

There is a growing body of research establishing the inextricable connection of the mind, body, and spirit and the value of health practices that encompass all three aspects. The following guide to holistic health wont tell you what kind of diet to follow or whether you need to take vitamins. It instead offers practices to help you experience your own innate wholeness and your own inextricable connection to the universe as you nurture your mind, body, and spirit.

1. DISCOVER YOUR TRUE NATURE


Our authentic true self is unconditioned pure consciousness, but until we remember that, we accept the illusion that we are actually our ego. The egos only necessary job is to provide a means for us to experience the world as individual or as one observer. It is like the focal point of a lens that brings the disparate light of an image into focus. The problems arise when our self-awareness is not strong enough and we mistake our ego for who we really are. You dont need to look far to understand how you have internalized this idea it is everywhere all around us. If we dont know who we really are as spiritual beings, then we mistakenly identify ourselves by our actions and circumstances. By that measurement, we typically find ourselves weak and victimized by forces beyond our understanding and control. That leads to a conception of life as suffering, pain, and struggle. Instead of simply trying to get rid of the ego, which only puts it on the defensive and makes it more active, apply yourself to discovering your real essence, your foundation of being. This is most effectively experienced through meditation. As you meditate, the presence of your deepest self will radiate its own truth to every cell in your body. It may display its quality as peace or joyfulness. For others it may have more of a flavor of universal love and compassion. Still others may experience the presence as divine light, creativity, or intelligence.

2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODYS WISDOM


Without a sense of the rhythms and intelligence inherent in our physiology and our consciousness, we ignore the critical signals that our body has been cultured over eons to express in order to maintain balance. We neglect to sleep and exercise, indulge beyond our capacities, retire too late and then arise when the sun is well aloft, wondering why we feel out of synch. We sabotage the delicate harmony and order encoded in our chromosomes, our genetic gift of longevity that comes from keeping our tissues free from plaque and debris. A little imbalance in time becomes a disorder and then a disease, bringing on more stress and neglect. On the other hand, when we flow in harmony with our bodys natural rhythms, getting restful sleep, feeding our senses with experiences, tastes, touch, aromas sounds, and sights that uplift and nourish us, we usually experience a greater state of health and wellbeing. Such a life promotes an integrated interaction of our brains one trillion neurons, allowing us to be present to the multitude of perceptions we are incessantly bombarded with, to enjoy them for their beauty, to process them into creative action, and to intuit the future and our role within it.

2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing | chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009

Deepaks Guide to Holistic Health

How do you make choices that keep you in harmony with your inner intelligence and rhythms? By tuning into your bodys messages. Your body always expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain path or behavior, ask your body, How do you feel about this? If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, pay attention and consider a different choice. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed. Whereas the mind lives in the past and the future, the body resides in the now and never doubts itself. It knows the truth and will guide you toward the most evolutionary choices.

3. TAKE TIME TO BE SILENT


The silent witness within us is the light of our pure consciousness present at all timesin every experience. Interestingly, Agni, the Vedic god of fire is also known as the eternal witness and as the devourer. Just as in Ayurvedic physiology, the eight Agnis are the fires of digestion, which must all be functioning properly for the full essence of the food to be extracted. If food is not fully digested, it creates ama, a metabolic toxin that impairs our health. When the light of your consciousness is fully awakened, then your silent witness is present in every moment of experience. That light of witnessing completely metabolizes whatever experience you are having, whether it be pain or pleasure, and it prevents the experience from becoming a future source of attachment, suffering, or delusion. The silent witness character of your higher self keeps you in the present, unencumbered from your past conditioning or fear of the future. When you meditate, your internal dialogue becomes quiet. In silence, you realize that youre connecting to your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed views or interpretations of what is or isnt good for you.

4. CULTIVATE SELF-REFERRAL
When you become aware of the observer in the midst of the observation, then you go into choiceless awareness. Your reference point shifts from your ego to choiceless awareness, and you experience a state known as self-referral, which has certain characteristics. You feel neither superior nor inferior; you are detached from outcome; you are defenseless; you are in touch with your feelings and you feel what you feel; youre not obsessed with power, money, or control; and youre not easily offended. In this state of consciousness, there is automatically freedom, because all the things that imprison us are the very things that youre not. You know youre not attached to outcome; youre not obsessed with power or control; youre not denying your feelings; youre not feeling superior or inferior. In self-referral you have infinite freedom and are able to make spontaneous evolutionary choices. Its the same as being in the flow of dharma. Youre not anticipating a response and youre not victimized by memory. Youre literally in the flow of the evolutionary impulse of the universe.

2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing | chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009

Deepaks Guide to Holistic Health

The Fire in Your Eyes


Conscious inner dialogue is a powerful tool for expanding the state of self-referral. Whenever you look in the mirror, even if just for a few seconds, make eye contact with yourself and silently repeat the three principles of self-referral: Im totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others. Im beneath no one, and no one is beneath me. Im fearless in the face of any all challenges. Look into your eyes to see these attitudes reflected back at you. Look just your eyes, not at your facial expression. Look for the shine in your eyes that reflects the fire in your soul. If you do this exercise a few minutes every day, it can create profound shifts in your life.

5. BE GENEROUS OF SPIRIT
Wholeness is generous because it feels no lack. No matter how much you give, if you give freely more will come to you. On the other hand, if you feel a pinch of lack underneath, it wont be easy to give and you wont experience the joy of giving and receiving. Generosity begins at the level of the soul, which has an inexhaustible source of the two things that are vital to life: energy and awareness. When you know at the deepest levels that you can never run short of these two things, you will become generous of spirit and giving on any level will feel natural and easy. Here are the major gifts we all can give when were generous of spirit: Offering yourself first. This refers means sharing the real you instead of the false self that most people offer the world. The false self is something we develop to fit into societys expectations and win external approval, while the real self is open and vulnerable. It doesnt feel a division between one soul and another. While social conditioning can make it feel frightening to offer the real you, as is so often the case, fear gives false counsel. When you offer the real you, you become stronger, stripping yourself of the flimsy suit of armor that was an illusion all along. When you share your true self, you offer the wholeness of spirit. Dont withhold the truth. Whatever is false blocks spirit and prevents the flow of energy and awareness. Every time you speak your truth, you establish your own wholeness and evolution. This isnt about standing up for absolute truths but about being authentic and honest on the most intimate scale. In families where someone has an alcohol or drug addiction and the other family members keep silent, they feel a sense of helplessness and the problems fester. Speaking the truth opens up options and empowers you. It shows caring.

2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing | chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009

Deepaks Guide to Holistic Health

Be a force for harmony and coherence. Wholeness is a state of harmony, while fragmentation is a state of conflict. The soul is a harmonizing influence that can transform any situation if you stay aware and focus your intentions. In the face of conflict, you can act as a peaceful influence, whether silently of speaking up if that is needed. Place your trust in abundance. Since wholeness contains everything, it draws on the infinite resources of spirit. Trust that there will always be enough of what your soul has to give enough love, compassion, caring, intelligence, creativity, and attention. Abundance is about trusting the flow, knowing that wholeness doesnt have holes in it and never leaves a void. You can be generous with all the gifts of the soul and more will flow in.

6. RELEASE GRIEVANCES AND FORGIVE


The best way to understand forgiveness is to realize that to forgive and to ask for forgiveness is the best use of ones energy and also one of the most important paths to self-healing. The absence of forgiveness is holding a grievance or resentment and also a subtle desire to seek vengeance. In short, it is hostility. Many studies have shown that although anger can be a healthy release of pent-up energy, hostility is not healthy, and it is the number one emotional risk factor for premature death from cardiovascular incidents (stroke and heart attack). Learning how to let go of toxic emotions such as hostility is the essence of learning how to forgive, because forgiveness is basically releasing your attachment or identification with the conditioned response. There are a few well-developed psychological techniques for releasing toxic emotions that are based on the premise of gaining objectivity and clarity on the emotion before one can release and forgive. If you are holding on to a grievance or resentment and feel hostility toward someone and are unable to let go, I encourage you to have a look at my colleague David Simons book Free to Love, Free to Heal or, if you want to be personally guided in an emotional detoxification and forgiveness process, consider attending the Healing the Heart workshop. Ultimately forgiving another is forgiving oneself. In forgiving we release the false sense of identity with which we have attached to a story about an event. When we release an attachment to a toxic emotion, we are freeing our self from that false sense of self. As we free our self from the illusion, we are really forgiving our self in the deepest sense. What we think we are forgiving in another is an act of freedom for our own soul. Every situation that calls for forgiveness is a step in our own evolution to higher consciousness.

2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing | chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009

Deepaks Guide to Holistic Health

7. PRACTICE THE LAW OF LEAST EFFORT


This involves a shift in awareness more than anything else. Sometimes hard work, exacting plans, and driving ambitions will allow you to accomplish goals in the material domain, yet at a huge cost, because theres a lot of stress involved. Youre relying on your own individual mind and efforts, which are tiny in comparison with the infinite intelligence of the universe. By tapping into pure potentiality rather than relying on your egos limited strength, life becomes much easier. Spiritual flow is effortless, spontaneous; it is full of flexibility and creativity. Its a realm where you learn to let go detach from the outcome, and experience life-centered present moment awareness. And its so joyful that it cant even be described. It seems like you and the universe are dancing together. Theres a song in your heart and you dont really care whos listening or what they think. You just want to sing that song and you want to move in tandem with the impulse of evolution, which we call dharma. You do need to pay attention, and you have to know how to set your priorities. However, the more time you spend in silence and meditation, the easier this becomes.

8. NURTURE YOUR INTENTIONS EVERY DAY


Daily life presents many unexpected demands and challenges, and its easy to fall into the grip of our egos fears, demands, and confusion. Its important to remind yourself of your intentions and spiritual purpose. Some people find it helpful to write down their intentions and review them each day; for others, periods of regular meditation and prayer are invaluable. Spend time in silence, connect to your infinite nature, and center your intention inside yourself. Intend for everything to work out as it should, and then let go and allow opportunities and openings to come your way. Practicing the steps above will help you experience your innate wholeness. When that happens, you will feel subtle changes in the feelings and thoughts, including a sense that all is well. You will feel a lightness in your body, deeper peace, and the realization that your internal dialogue has become quieter. You may experience healing on a physical or emotional level. You may also notice that youre acting out of complete integrity and that synchronicities and unexpected opportunities are becoming more abundant in your life. These are all signs that you are connecting to your true nature, which is whole, infinite, and unbounded.

2012, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing | chopra.com | 888.736.6895 | 2013 Costa del Mar Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92009