Deepak Chopra MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

He is one of the most inspirational and influential spiritual scholars, authors, and thinkers of our time. He has successfully blended ancient Hindu Philosophy with his unique perspective and training in modern medicine to provide millions of people with solutions for our modern world.

He became a household name after appearing as a guest on Oprah in 1993 with the release of his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old.  The Chopra Center, which he co-founded with Dr. David Simon, is built on three pillars of timeless wisdom: meditationAyurveda, and yoga.

Chopra is the author of more than 80 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His ground breaking bestseller, Super Genes, coauthored with Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi (Harmony, November 2015) focuses on the new genetics and is revolutionizing how we understand ourselves and the health of those around us. Dr. Chopra is esteemed by Watkins’ Books and Magazine’s 2016 list of the “100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People – spiritual teachers, activists, authors and thinkers that change the world.”

Chopra speaks and writes regularly about metaphysics, he and the other physicians at the Chopra Center practice integrative medicine.

Deepak has committed his life to uncovering knowledge that helps us connect to our highest good, mind, body and soul.   This is a must read from one of the most influential thought leaders of our time.

What inspired your journey into the mind, body and soul connection? 

I was puzzled by the fact that two patients that had the same illness, saw the same doctor, and received the same treatment could have different outcomes. One person could die and one person could recover. So I knew that looking at a human being as a physical machine was not enough. Our experiences of life—whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual—are a result of our interactions with the environment that influence our biology in every moment. They can either go in the direction of self regulation and healing or in the direction of inappropriate inflammation and therefore in the direction of illness.

What is your well-being aha moment?

My well-being aha moment is the experience of a joyful energetic body, a loving compassionate heart, a reflective alert mind, and lightness of spirit.

What research have you uncovered or conducted that supports the idea that holistic health creates optimal health?

We have been looking at gene expression and genetic aging during our Perfect Health program. A six-day experience at the Chopra Center focuses on restful sleep, meditation and stress management, movement, yoga, and breathing techniques, as well as healthy emotions like love, compassion, joy and peace, and good nutrition. Results include an increased activity of genes responsible for homeostasis, or self-regulation, and decreased activity of genes that are associated with inflammation, Alzheimers, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

What does spirituality mean to you?

To me spirituality is self awareness and awareness of the needs of others. In its highest expression, it is love and compassion.

Describe your perfect day of being well.

My perfect day starts at 4:00am when I begin my meditation for approximately two hours. (I don’t necessarily recommend that to others—20 minutes is enough.) Following that I go for a one-hour yoga class. Afterwards I have a healthy breakfast that usually consists of some organic fruit and yogurt. I do focused work without distractions from 9:00am -12 noon, and eat my main meal around 12 noon. I then take a short walk after the meal. When I return, I focus on work again. Around 4:00pm I practice twenty minutes of meditation. I spend the rest of the evening with family and friends in recreation. I go to sleep before 10pm every night. This is my daily routine. I also manage to walk anywhere from five to ten miles, especially when I’m in a big city as I do not take taxi cabs but prefer to use the subway if it’s a long distance, stopping one or two stations before my final destination.

What can we find in your fridge most days of the week?

You will find lots of organic fruit and vegetables, some yogurt, kimchi, Kombucha, and some cage-free eggs. Although recently I have decreased my intake of cage-free eggs as well. I focus primarily on a plant-based diet incorporating probiotics and prebiotics.

How often do you exercise and what do you do?

I walk a minimum of 10k to 20k steps a day in addition to doing a yoga class daily.

In your opinion what is the difference between religion and spirituality?

Religion is institutionalized dogma and ideology often based on spiritual experience. Spiritual experience consists of an experience, which involves:

Transcendence – Going beyond subject/object duality and experiencing oneness with all that exists. As a result of that experience, you see the emergence of what I usually refer to as platonic values—truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, love, compassion, joy and the peace that passes understanding.

Loss of the fear of death – This peace is a result of being in touch with the consciousness within you such as not in time.

Most founders of religion had one or more of the above experiences. They explain them to their followers, who may or may not have understood the experience and ended up worshipping the founder and creating institutions around imposed morality. In my view, religions are medieval mythologies and humanity should grow out of them as different interpretations of spiritual experience are now creating ideologies and dogma that make people go to war and indulge in terrorist activities in the name of God.

Why do you think spirituality, in particular meditation, is becoming more widely accepted?

Meditation started out as being a good way to alleviate stress. Which it does very effectively. Side effects were that people got a glimpse of their spirit as well. (Self-awareness) It’s a great trend no matter what the reason for starting the practice of meditation. It ultimately leads to spiritual awareness.

How can people use meditation to transform their lives and address trouble spots like anxiety, stress relief weight loss and aging?

The key is to meditate regularly and make it a part of your daily routine. Everything else happens naturally.

There are numerous research-backed benefits to meditation, such as lowered levels of stress and anxiety, improved immune system, lower blood pressure, etc. One of the most interesting ideas to emerge is the concept that meditation slows down the aging process – can you explain briefly how this happens?

Meditation alters gene activity and our research shows that it increases the level of telomeres and enzymes that control the length your chromosomes. This is how it slows down and even reverses the aging process up to a certain extent. Other biological markers of aging are affected such as: blood pressure, metabolic rate, cholesterol levels, hormones, sugar, metabolism, immune function, and even hearing and vision.

What are your thoughts on meditation helping us to manifest our positive desires?

Meditation allows you to get in touch with the inner core of your being. When intention is generated at this level instead of the level of the ego, it organizes its own fulfillment.

In your new book Supergenes, you discuss how our daily habits determine our genetics. This is a groundbreaking concept, as traditionally we have been taught that our genetics are fixed. How much can we influence the genetic set point we’re born with?

Only 5% of disease-related mutations (variations or errors) are fully penetrant. This means there is a 1:1 ratio between the gene mutation and the disease. In most other cases gene mutation increases susceptibility but does not guarantee the disease. By living a healthy lifestyle you can drastically decrease your susceptibility to disease even though your family history may increase your risk for it.

What are the top five things we should focus on for longevity and quality of life?

Eight hours of sleep.

A diet rich in food that is organic and mostly plant based, along with probiotics and prebiotic supplements.

Meditation and stress management.

Exercise/movement/yoga/proper breathing.

Healthy emotions and relationships.

Is there a secret to happiness?

Look at problems as challenges and opportunities.

Make sure you have financial security. (Money doesn’t make you happy, but lack of money to fulfill your needs can make you miserable.)

Find meaning and purpose in life.

Have an outlet for creative expression.

Make other people happy.

In your opinion, what’s the future of well-being?

The future of well-being is:

Preventable

Predictable

Personalized

Participatory

Process oriented (5 Ps’ of well-being)

In short, by taking responsibility for our well-being and using the best information, knowledge and technology, we can look forward to an era of both personal and social well-being.

What superpower would you like to have for a day?

In order to live a life of contentment and joy, possessing a sense of connection to all sentient beings is more important than any superpower, and you can have it all the time instead of just for one day.

What’s the one vice you will never give up?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have any vices.

Who or what inspires you?

My parents inspired me all of my life, and now my grandchildren inspire me. They share the same traits of curiosity, wonder, and a life of love, joy and ease.

How do you live your Vie (life/passion)?

You live your life/passion by being your most natural self and by being immune to both criticism and flattery.

What do you want to be remembered for?

A fluttering breeze in a slice of cosmic time. Now here, now gone but the fragrance lingers.

Tell us about your foundation.

The Chopra Foundation’s mission is to participate with individuals and organizations in creating a critical mass for a peaceful, just, sustainable, and healthy world through scientifically and experientially exploring non-dual consciousness as the ground of existence and applying this understanding in the enhancement of health, business, leadership, and conflict resolution. The Chopra Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being, cultivating spiritual knowledge, expanding consciousness, and promoting world peace to all members of humanity.

What words of wisdom do you have to offer?

Take it easy.