Deepak Chopra is an author and one of the world’s most well-known advocates of alternative medicine. We asked him to share some insights on how to be well in your mind, body, and soul.
What does it mean to lead a holistic life?
Leading a holistic life can only be partially successful if you live in separation or duality. That is a life of opposites. These opposites could be moods, like feeling good one day and bad the next, or physical contrasts between feeling sick or well. Even the division of mind and body imposes a line of separation that doesn’t exist in Nature. Duality, then, consists of mental constructs that humans have created.
A truly holistic life would have to be lived beyond duality, which means finding a unified source from which everything — mental, physical, emotional, biological, and social — springs. The only source that qualifies is pure consciousness, and living a holistic life would be living a totally conscious life, which we can call an awakened life.
Living in a busy, fast-paced world, how do you keep yourself centered and grounded on a daily basis?
You do it by noticing whenever you feel distracted, overburdened, rushed, pressured, or stressed. That’s the first step. The second step is to act as soon as you notice any of these states — don’t postpone and put off doing something. Third comes the actual process of re-centering, which involves finding a quiet place where you can be alone and undisturbed, taking some deep breaths, and with eyes closed, placing your attention in the area of the heart until you feel centered again.
This procedure should be followed as often as you notice that you are off center. If more people took the time to re-center themselves as often as needed, rather than haphazardly, their nervous systems would adapt to being centered as a default state to which it becomes easier and easier to return.
What are some easy ways a person can begin to incorporate Ayurveda (a system of medicine with roots in India) into their daily life?
An Ayurvedic lifestyle can’t fully be led until a person has their bodymind type, or Prakriti, diagnosed by a trained practitioner. This would be followed by discerning what imbalances are present, and then prescribing herbs and various Ayurvedic treatments. In other words, true Ayurveda is immersive.
But as a rough corollary to everyday conditions, one can say that the three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha — come into play with everyone. Vata moves quickly and is rapidly responsive to stress. Pitta is connected with heat and is connected to inflammation. Kapha is long-term and slow, and is related to chronic disorders that often take years to develop.
So rather than being unique and separate from Western medicine, Ayurveda advises dealing with stress, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, and making positive lifestyle choices in the long run.
What are some tips you can offer for someone to begin to incorporate more holistic practices into their everyday life?
Nothing is more important than reuniting the artificial separations we’ve imposed through mental constructs that divide body from mind, self from other, inner from outer. There is only one reality, and therefore only one life. This life consists of consciousness changing into different modes of knower and known.
I realize that people are unaccustomed to thinking in this way, which is why there is a process known as waking up, or becoming more conscious. I’ve written a whole book on how the process works, called ”Metahuman.” Its essential theme is that there is a level of consciousness from which one can live an effortless life in wholeness. Only when the person is whole can life be whole.
At the core, you must adopt a new vision of possibilities. As long as you live with a vision rooted in separation, you may bring certain improvements to your life — and I applaud these — but a truly holistic life won’t emerge. Only a transformative vision, one that opens your horizon to infinite possibilities, makes the journey to wholeness real and possible.
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