Deepak Chopra focuses on the mind/body connection; the idea that the mind and body can work together to create optimum health or perilous disease and that by utilizing the forces of both, one can remain youthful, energetic and happy. Chopra declares that health is our natural state of being, but that many of us have lost sight of the importance of keeping ourselves well both physically, and spiritually.
Chopra initiates his work by focusing on the common ailments that he encounters daily. These include cancer, addictions, obesity, chronic fatigue, depression and sexual inadequacy. Though many of these ailments have probably existed since the dawn of time, Chopra explains that our modern day lifestyles, though advanced and evolved, have detached us from our animalistic, intuitive understanding of our well being. A world of immediate gratification and hedonism means that we can indulge ourselves in various bad habits, which in turn for many become addictions or ways of being, rather than pleasurable recreational escapes.
He then explores various case histories, which illustrates the mind/body connection in becoming well, including patients that have given up mentally (and so have their bodies) and others who have decided to fight and miraculously recovered.
Finally, he explains how all of us can create our own well of free-flowing health by incorporating certain strategies into our behaviour.
Many self-help/health books tend to focus on the same factors, but perhaps this is because, like clichéd lines, they are echoed because of the truth they contain. Their repetition is merely a matter of us allowing them to be engrained within our consciousness so that we may alter our own behaviours.
He stresses the importance of awareness of the self, focusing on the positives that we wish to bring into our life’s and not concentrating so much on the ‘tigers’ of depression or anxiety, which will consequently melt away like snow in the sun if we do not obsess about them. The common mantra is ‘what we resist persists’ perhaps until we learn the lesson it is willing to teach us. As such, we cannot resist the parts of us that we dislike. We can only accept them and work on our positives, so that our negatives do not hold so much sway over us.
He moves onto living in the present, without lamenting the past or ruminating over our futures, paying attention to how and where we seek to gratify our egos, gaining job satisfaction (perhaps harder to achieve in today’s economic climate), nourishing our bodies with healthy, delicious diets, paying attention to nature and the bodies conjoined rhythms, approaching life with an open mind, retaining a sense of wonder and belief, living with compassion and generating love.
It is clear that many people naturally operate from a place of openness and trust, particularly when they are raised with love and care. As we grow and endure disappointments, disillusionments, betrayals and hurts, we slowly clam up and close. We aren’t always so willing to give love, nor are we always willing to receive it. We perceive treachery and pain around us and question the intentions and motivations of others. We start to see kindness as weakness, generosity as submission, honesty as foolishness and so on, when really we know that the greatest sense of liberation and transcendence can only come from embracing these qualities and doing away with our sharp and pointy defences, that only seek to make enemies out of potential friends and con-men out of benefactors.
You may be familiar with the ‘law/power of attraction’, the idea that what we give out is what we get back. Chopra expands on this explaining that people that want love should give love first, people that want praise should praise others first, and this will naturally come back on us. The world is a place of abundance simply waiting for us to participate and claim what is rightfully ours. Everyone knows someone who is so positive, generous, compassionate, powerful or calm that others flock to their magnetic appeal, whilst others repel with their sense of entitlement, bitterness, fear, insecurity or anger. It is no coincidence that the healthy attract the healthy and the unhealthy attract the unhealthy, even if their problems are very different. A co-dependent woman may end up with a controlling partner. Both are sick, just in different ways. Their sickness is what draws them to one another. We can change what we attract by concentrating on what we consciously or unconsciously give out to others, and by how we respond.
It may not be easy to incorporate all of these teachings without feeling like you are lowering your defences somewhat, but a person can still operate with boundaries and walk away from any situation or individual that threatens to damage their physical/mental health in any way.
The lessons seem simple, but are much harder to actively do. Nonetheless, I couldn’t help but find Chopra’s thoughts very inspirational and I endeavour to develop these strategies myself.