Tag Archives: Ayurveda

Ginger Masala Chai Worthy of a New York Winter

chai-tea-e-liquidI recently moved to New York City from California and am (ahem) “enjoying” my first real winter here. Let the wuss jokes begin!

It’s alright. I’m laughing at myself, too. Born and raised in California, used to being fairly tan, gets cold easily, loves sunshine so much she’s basically part lizard… Yep, that’s me. Now instead of donning a windbreaker for misty San Francisco mornings or wearing a hat for fun in the 60 degree Los Angeles winter sun, I’m learning the art of boots, down coats, ear muffs, long johns and mittens. Endless mittens. See you next April, world, because I am officially 75% clothing right now, and I can barely see over my scarf.

It’s going to be a long winter.

In all honesty, though, I love autumn and winter. I love the snow; I love the holidays; I love the feeling of warming up after being cold. It probably has something to do with a nesting instinct. One of the most beloved memories I have from childhood is making nests with my big sister on rainy days and sick days. When it was miserable, grey and raining outside, or when we were stuck in the house with colds and fevers, my sister would orchestrate a grand “nesting.” We’d pile tons of blankets and pillows on the ground, arranged in little cup-shaped seats like an egg carton. And then we’d hop inside the nest with a box of Nilla wafers and tea and watch a Disney movie to pass the time. Pure joy.

I still make nests of sorts, as does she, both literally and figuratively. Sans actual blankets and pillows, I just love making people feel warm, comfortable, and cared for. In any kind of weather, there’s little I love more than bringing people together around a table for delicious food and loving company. But this is a particularly important practice during the cold and dark months when our souls really need that extra swaddling. And many traditional winter recipes do the trick of warming us inside out.

Case in point, spice-infused recipes. This season you’re undoubtedly enjoying foods flavored with all kinds of spices, whether you know it or not. Butternut squash soup, gingerbread cookies, curries and stews, applesauce, etc. Winter recipes tend to incorporate many different spices, for several reasons. In Ayurveda, the winter season is associated with exacerbated Vata qualities, which are best assuaged through warming foods. This can be literally hot foods (like soup, hot cereal and warm drinks) and/or through warm-ing foods, made invigorating through the use of spice.

Even outside of Ayurveda, there’s a very practical reason to eat more spice during the winter. It’s cold, there’s a bug going around, you’re sniffly and sick…Voilà, spices curb cold and flu symptoms! Ginger, for instance, is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It can help boost your immune system, loosen mucus, open your sinuses, and relieve sore throats. That’s a lot for one little root!

Keeping the health benefits in mind, as well as the essential need for warming and nesting that we all experience during this season, I offer you chai.

“Masala chai” is the Hindi term for a drink made with black tea, milk, and lots of spice. It is a drink that has been consumed in South Asia for centuries and is traditionally much less sweet and much more spicy than what you’d get at your local coffee shop. I can’t necessarily vouch for the total authenticity of my recipe, as I’ve never been to India, but I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Ginger Masala Chai

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk (I like organic whole milk, but soy, almond, or oat work as well)

2 cups of water

3 tablespoons of loose leaf, unflavored black tea (the stronger the better; I like Darjeeling)

1/4 teaspoon Wakaya Perfection ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of saffron

2 whole, crushed up cardamom cloves

3 teaspoons of Turbinado sugar (or Agave, honey, etc)

Instructions:

Get two saucepans going on the stove on medium heat. Pour the milk in one and the water in the other. You’ll need to work in both pots simultaneously. As the milk begins to warm, add the pinch of saffron, pressing it between your fingertips gently before dropping it in the saucepan.

Once the water in the other pot begins to boil, add the loose tea leaves and reduce to a low simmer. Let steep 3-5 minutes. While you’re waiting, add the sugar to the milk and stir until it dissolves. Once the tea is ready, place a strainer over the milk and strain the tea water into the milk saucepan. Now you’re working in just one pot.

Start building the spice. Add the ginger, cinnamon and any other spices you want to the pot, saving the cardamon to the side for the end. You can try the chai to see if it has the right spice/sugar ratio, and adjust until it’s just right. Bring the pot to a boil, and as it begins to bubble up, throw the cardamon in and turn the heat off right away. The chai will stew for a second, cooling down slightly, and the cardamon will infuse the drink just enough without overpowering it.

Serve in two mugs and enjoy! Stay warm, everyone!

Can Adaptogens Help Us Reduce Stress – For Good?

If there were an herb believed to help reduce stress and increase our ability to adapt to new circumstances, would you try it? Couldn’t hurt, right?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra addresses questions about adaptogens, which are plants and herbs that may be able to modulate our response to stress and any discomfort caused by changes in the environment. He examines the history of these substances and some recent studies on particular adaptogens which he has been involved in. How can these substances be used to improve our response to stress?

Dr. Mark Hyman encourages the use of adaptogenic herbs to help reduce stress and calm the mind. Such herbs might include ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, Siberian ginseng, cordyceps, ashwagandha, and others that are nontoxic, nonspecific in action, and generally healthy and high in antioxidants.

Studies on the medical viability of adaptogens to reduce stress have been somewhat sparse but nonetheless promising.The more we learn about these plants and their healing potential, the closer we may get to finding real, long-lasting relief from stress and anxiety. And wouldn’t that be a treat!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and leave your comments below!

Deepak Chopra: Thinking Outside the (Skull) Box (Part 6)

In the DistanceClick here to read Part 5!

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Neil Theise, MD

In Eastern traditions the purpose of subjective states is to be useful, to aid inner work. What kind of work? The ancient texts give various answers. There is control of the involuntary nervous system, as demonstrated by the extraordinary feats of yogis and swamis who can consciously slow down their breathing and heart rate. There is balance, achieving conscious control over homeostatic mechanism and thus promoting health. There is the pursuit of enlightenment – a vast area beyond the scope of this post – and also the same curiosity to explore nature (in this case, inner nature) that drives mainstream science in the realm of materialism.

The fact is that Zen students and practitioners in other traditions routinely move their minds out of their heads. The experience has been replicated for centuries; it isn’t accidental, haphazard or hallucinatory. Having learned how to do it, you discover by playing around with the practice that you can move your mind into your little toe, your shoulder, your elbow, perhaps even across the room. The immediate reflex of most neuroscientists is that such a subjective sense of “moving mind” is the result of neuronal activity, and even if we cannot quantify such subtle and intricate activity today, we will one day be able to as our tools evolve.

The best rejoinder to this claim is that a whole host of subjective experiences in the domain of medicine are self-reported and cannot be measured without asking the patient what’s going on. Statements like “I feel a bad pain here,” “I’m depressed,” “I’m confused,” and “I’ve lost my balance” can sometimes be traced to distorted brain activity on an fMRI scan, but only the patient can relate what is actually happening. The brain scan can’t tell someone he’s in pain when he says he isn’t. To say “I see my fourth chakra” isn’t less valid; it just has far less brain research devoted to it. (When a bacterium avoids a toxin in a petri dish or is attracted to food, can we claim to know that it is not feeling some primitive form of repulsion or desire?)

The Zen practice of placing the mind in the hara is only a minor example, a step along the way to deeper, more profound experiences. There comes a time in nearly all contemplative traditions when one’s sense of mind and even the ordinary self changes fundamentally, for a moment or a lifetime. In Vedic and Buddhist traditions these experiences are called forms of Samadhi, where a connection is made with pure awareness at the deepest level. In Hebrew mystical practice this might be understood as D’vekut, in Christian practice, Cleaving to God. The thinking mind is left behind, and one arrives at consciousness without content.

Here we’ve reached the shadow zone where “my mind” dissolves into mind itself. In this zone reality shifts dramatically. Instead of sitting inside the space of a room, the person sits inside mental space (Chit Akash in Sanskrit). Events that take place are not strictly mental, however. The inner voyager witnesses time, space, matter, and energy being born here. If such an experience is valid, the implications for physics – and for everyday life – are immense. Consciousness is no longer the elephant in the room, the thing science prefers not to talk about. It becomes the only thing to talk about if you want to know where reality comes from. Starting with the undeniable fact that the brain shares mind with the rest of the body, we are on the verge of showing that mind must be shared with everything in existence – going outside the box extends to infinity, a possibility we will unfold as this series continues.

(To be cont.)

* * *

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with over twenty New York Times bestsellers, including co-author with Sanjiv Chopra, MD of Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and The American Dream, and co-author with Rudolph Tanzi of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being (Harmony). Chopra serves as Founder of The Chopra Foundation.

Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University, co-author with Deepak Chopra of the forthcoming book, Who Made God and Other Cosmic Riddles. (Harmony)

P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, Professor of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina and a leading physician scientist in the area of mental health, cognitive neuroscience and mind-body medicine.

Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), co-author with Deepak Chopra of Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. (Harmony)

Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) and Director of the Liver and Stem Cell Research Laboratory, Beth Israel Medical Center — Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. www.neiltheise.com

Why Ayurveda Could Change Your Life

Jumping

Imagine you’re outside, by a beautiful lake, enjoying the perfection of your surroundings. You feel comfortable, relaxed, as if you are an important part of it all. You are so in tune that it is as if you can hear nature speaking to you.

You see a swan glide past, and the swan is thinking to itself: “How wonderful it is to be a swan. I can take my time; life is serene. I am graceful and lovely. All is right with the world.”

And then you notice an eagle flying high overhead, and the eagle is thinking: “Ah, what a joy it is to be an eagle. I am strong, and free. This is the life!”

A hummingbird flits past, and you can hear the hummingbird is thinking: “I’m having so much fun on this glorious day. There’s so much to see and do. I’m so glad I’m a hummingbird and can move easily to all the things I love.”

Everything in nature has a purpose. We’re all connected. Sitting amongst the trees and looking at the clear blue sky you know that you are an important part of this connection. You breathe deeply and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace.

Now, imagine you’re in that same place, same time. When you hear nature speaking to you things are a bit different.

You see a swan glide past, and the swan thinks to itself: “Oh, my. Why am I stuck being a swan? I would so much rather be like that little hummingbird. I want to flit around like that! I feel so dumpy just floating here on this silly lake.”

Then the eagle flies overhead, and you read its thoughts: “Wow. Look at that swan down there. He’s got the good life. Why can’t I just hang out on the lake? Instead I’m up here working so hard. This isn’t fair. I’d rather be a swan.”

Then the hummingbird flits by and thinks: “Really? That eagle is so lucky. She’s way up there with a great vantage point. She can go so far without even flapping her wings. I’m down here pumping away a million beats a minute! Man, I want to be an eagle.”

Somehow, this second scenario just doesn’t make sense, does it? Because this is not how nature operates! And yet, this is exactly what we do as human beings all the time. We fight our own nature. We compare ourselves to one another. We think we need to always be thinner, more beautiful, more successful, more something, anything! When the truth is that we are inherently perfect. If we are carrying around excess weight, or stress, or feeling bad about ourselves it is because we are out of balance, our lives are out of balance in one way or another. We can find that perfect state of balance, and regain our strength and confidence and energy to be the best that we can be.

The most important thing we can do for ourselves, to be our healthiest and happiest, body, mind, and spirit, is to know who we are. Some of us are swans, some of us are eagles, and some of us are hummingbirds. Each being is valid, each being has value, and each being brings his or her unique gifts to the world. When we know ourselves, and our own nature, we allow the best of ourselves to shine through. Nature operates through us. So why are we fighting it?

Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old “Science of Life” from India. It explains the nature of everything in the universe. It teaches us how to live in harmony with nature, knowing the connections that we share. Ayurveda is all about balance, and this is something we are in dire need of today.

There are a lot of things that take us away from our state of balance. We are overstressed and overworked. We overeat and are overweight. We over exert ourselves and overspend so that we end up tired, hungry, in debt and living in a mess. Look at all the extra “stuff” we carry around with us. We need to lighten up! We need to shed the stress, the pounds, the debt, and the distractions and focus on what is good for us, what serves us. Food is a huge part of all this. We use food to soothe our emotions, to fill up our tummies when we feel a lack in some part of our lives. We fall into habits, with food and otherwise, that we think are easy, and they become mindless and robotic so that we don’t see any other possibilities or potential for ourselves.

It’s time to get back to nature, to get back to basics, to get back into balance. And what better way than by turning to a practice that has been tried and true for all these centuries? Ayurveda is a “sister science” with yoga and meditation. As we experience the benefits of these practices in our lives we naturally want to learn more – and that’s where Ayurveda is positioned right now.

Twenty years ago or so here in the west Feng Shui was a foreign concept – but now it’s a part of our every day vernacular. If you haven’t heard of Ayurveda yet – now you have! And if you haven’t lived the Ayurveda lifestyle yet, I encourage you to try it now. Lots more info in my new book, The Perfect Balance Diet: 4 Weeks to a Lighter Body, Mind, Spirit & Space and on my new website: perfectbalancediet.com

Deepak Chopra: Take a Journey Into Healing

The Chopra Center invites you to attend this rare opportunity to expand your understanding of mind-body healing, Ayurveda, and integrative health care. “Journey into Healing” features sessions with Chopra Center founder Deepak Chopra, M.D.; the Chopra Center’s expert integrative physicians and master educators; and world renowned guest speakers.

Each day of “Journey into Healing” combines daily sessions of experiential learning, interactive sessions, lectures, and group activities, offering unique opportunities to interact with like-minded individuals from around the world. In addition, Journey into Healing includes:

  • Instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation and daily group meditations
  • Morning and evening Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga classes (all levels)
  • The science of Ayurveda and a mind-body perspective on health and disease
  • The role of emotions and the mind in health and well-being
  • CME credits for physicians and other health care practitioners

Learn how to enhance your health, balance, and well-being at Journey into Healing, August 22-25, 2013!

5 Ways to Look and Feel Better Than You Did in High School!

Spa Treatment at Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort - MauritiusIt’s been said that youth is wasted on the young. When we’re in our teens we can get away with bad habits because we have that natural, youthful energy anyway. As we get older, we find that energy is a commodity that we prize and need to be more diligent in our self-care so that we have plenty of it!

Luckily for us, Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old “Science of Life,” has some easy guidelines we can follow to look and feel healthier, sexier, and more energetic than we did in high school!

Here are 5 tips from Ayurveda on how to look and feel better:

1. Know your body type.

THEN: In high school you probably coveted the body types of the women in Charlie’s Angels, or wanted to look like Cheryl Tiegs. Now we know better! YOU are the best you, don’t try to be someone else.

NOW: Know your body type – Are you Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. This way you know what “normal” is for you. That way you don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself. Every dosha is beautiful! Be your best self.

2. Eat for energy.

THEN: In high school you probably lived on pizza and leftovers, and ran through the drive-through after school.

NOW: Eat energizing foods. Fresh vegetables should constitute 40% of the meal. Green, leafy vegetables are especially high in minerals and fiber, so should be eaten often. Raisins are among the best of fruits because they enhance purity, pacify the mind and heart and increase the coordination between them. They are also a rich source of iron and vitamin B6, and provide magnesium, calcium, zinc, and potassium. Raisins aid digestion and elimination when they are soaked in water overnight. One handful per person is a good amount.

A date-milk energy shake is a nourishing way to end the day because it promotes sleep and calms both Pitta and Vata sleep imbalances.

Date-Milk Energy Shake

  • 4-5 whole dates
  • 1 cup whole organic milk (may substitute soy or rice or almond milk)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Boil the milk until it creates a foam. Turn off the heat and cool until the temperature is comfortable for drinking. Combine the milk with the other ingredients and blend until the dates are ground up. Drink it warm in winter and at room temperature in summer.

By the way, the warm frothy milk can also be used as a face mask – wonderfully hydrating and leaves the skin super soft!

Herbs and spices are your friends! Cumin helps digestion, freshly crushed black pepper helps you assimilate food better, cilantro cools and nutmeg soothes. There are spice blends, or CHURNAS, specifically to pacify each dosha – you can buy them ready made or make them at home.

Also, avoid energy-draining foods. Any fast foods, canned, frozen, packaged, leftover, or old foods, or foods with preservatives, chemicals and additives, are difficult to digest and contain little nutritional content. They actually drain the body of energy. If you do have some of these foods and feel heavy afterwards, drink half a glass of warm water with ¼ of a lime squeezed into it.

3. Keep skincare simple.

THEN: In high school, you probably spent a ton of money on grooming products, soaps, perfumes, lotions, hairspray.

NOW: Keep it simple. Nourish the body with natural oils. Abhyanga is a daily self massage which is good for keeping all the doshas in balance. It helps moisturize the skin, helps to release toxins, helps to tone the muscles, and it soothes the nerves. Sesame oil is usually recommended in general and is very good for Vatas specifically. Almond oil is also good for Vata. Coconut and sunflower both work well for Pitta. Corn and olive oils are beneficial for balancing Kapha.

The massage can be done in the morning before your shower, or in the evening before bed. Start by warming the oil to skin temperature, and drizzle a small amount of oil into the palms of your hands. Massage the top of your scalp (on days when you wash your hair), pay particular attention to the circumference of your ears, and the soles of your feet. Massage with long strokes on your limbs, and round strokes on your joints. It’s best to leave the oil on the body for 20 minutes before washing it off in a warm shower or bath. This 20 minutes is a good time to do your morning meditation!

4. Maintain a regular routine.

THEN: In high school, you probably kept late nights studying and partying with friends, up early for school, activities – on the go all the time.

NOW: Regular routine can help prevent stress. Ayurveda says there are 3 types of fatigue. Mental fatigue is a Vata imbalance, emotional fatigue is a Pitta imbalance, and physical fatigue is a Kapha imbalance. For all three:

  • Meditation – Twice daily
  • Good sleep habits.
  • Regular meal times.
  • Regular exercise, morning walk in the sun, yoga.
  • Dosha balancing routines – and teas.

5. Support fertility naturally.

THEN: In high school, energy probably came easily. You were always ready for a date!

NOW: Some grains, such as quinoa, enhance estrogenic activity and support the hormonal activity of both men and women. Cook it with a little ghee, salt, and spices such as cumin. Fruits such as papaya and pineapple are also helpful in strengthening the ovum. Turmeric helps enhance the binding of estrogen and progesterone.

Take the Dosha Quiz to determine your Dosha and learn more about Ayurveda with my free 6 week e-course here.

 

Originally published April 2012

Cook Your Way to Total Self Love

Pink Summer Cherry LoveMost of our fears and inner conflicts arise from a lack of self love. The first thing I tackle with clients is identifying and eradicating the root causes of self-beat, shame, guilt and insecurity. I call it “radical acceptance”.

Ironically, one of the best ways to build self-esteem, confidence and a deep, inner sense of contentment and acceptance is incredibly simple and easy to overlook.

Cooking for yourself and practicing conscious eating are perhaps the most primal and important acts of self love. We build a deep sense of trust in ourselves and the world (and relieve stress) when we take time to nurture ourselves by making our own food, sitting down, practicing gratitude and enjoying it mindfully.

You can begin to improve your relationship with food and your physical body by enjoying healthy meals that have been prepared for you, but investing time and energy to plan and prepare your own meals allows for the opportunity to reap the benefits of the loving energy you put in.

A potent message of worth and value seeps into the unconscious mind when we nurture ourselves. Food and shelter are our most primitive, basic acts of survival. When you practice self-care by maintaining a clean (sattvic), safe, inviting home and cook for yourself, you send a powerful message to your psyche that you are worthy and important.

Love is an action verb. How do you love yourself? What do you do to show love? Actions speak louder than words. Affirmations are great…but how are you showing up for yourself on a daily, consistent basis.

Self love through food is connected to the root chakra, or first chakra, which governs the first stage of emotional and psychological development. The root chakra (mulhadhara) is connected to physical identity, physical body, grounding, our relationship to the mother and sense of feeling safe and secure in the world.

Eating disorders, food addictions or obsessive control over diet, the body and food often result from a child growing up in an unsafe environment (abuse, war zone, constant fighting, financial distress, physical illness) or having an insecure attachment to the mother (mother was depressed, alcoholic/addict, working all the time, emotionally unavailable or unsafe). Our unconscious tries to overcompensate, insulate or create an external sense of safety or control through our food choices and physical body.

Always eating out, rushing through or skipping meals, watching TV during meals or choosing unhealthy foods sends a message that you are not worth the time and effort to slow down, nourish, nurture and listen to your body and your deepest needs.

Focusing on your relationship with food builds a sense of safety, trust and connectedness. Your arms and hands are a horizontal extension of your heart center (chakra). When you prepare a meal for yourself, you literally infuse loving energy from your heart into the food you eat. Ayurvedic master Bri Maya Tiwari recommends massaging your food with your bare hands as much as possible and focusing on positive thoughts while you cook. Send loving thoughts, pray, chant or play pleasant music while you cook. These vibrations all end up on your plate, in your belly and healing your mind and heart.

Nourishing yourself by preparing your own food and eating consciously can lead to big shifts internally and externally. Start by making a couple of meals for yourself each week. Take time to eat each meal in a ritual space (clean environment, at a table, sitting down) and mindfully savor each bite. Celebrate quality time with family, friends or yourself.

Lovingly preparing food and cooking for yourself will increase feelings of self-worth, inner security, grounding and be a ritual to receive the love you give yourself – the most important love in the world.

* * *

Ashley will be leading a retreat to Galapagos Islands in July 2013 and works with clients worldwide via SKYPE. Ashley is a member of Young Living Essential Oils, so if you’d like to sign up using her as a sponsor or want more info on oils, click here.

Deepak Chopra: Can We Reduce Physical Pain?

One of the most common questions people ask is: Are there non-prescription ways of decreasing pain? Most people don’t want to experience pain, whether physical or emotional, but sometimes the common methods we have for dealing with it are insufficient. In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak addresses this classic concern and offers several tips for reducing physical pain.

Some tips for minimizing physical pain:

  • Any form of physical exercise will reduce pain in almost every chronic illness because exercise gives you an endorphin boost and endorphins have pain reliving properties.
  • Practicing yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques is very important and they are all extremely useful when tackling pain.
  • Laughter, music, positive social interactions and gentle massages are also good ways to deal with pain.
  • Common misconceptions are that drinking alcohol or smoking will ease pain but they actually make it worse.

What methods do you have for reducing pain? Let us know in the comments section!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul!

Deepak Chopra: The Power of Ayurveda for Perfect Health

Does Ayurvedic medicine really work, and if so, how?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra is joined by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, an renowned Ayurvedic doctor, to explore Ayurveda as a science of health, wellness, and wholeness. How can Ayurvedic practices be used to create balance and health? Dr. Kshirsagar explains that the purpose of Ayurveda is to connect to your spiritual self and remove the fear of death and disease — that health is a by-product of enlightenment. How do we move beyond a quantitative approach to healing to a more qualitative one?

Ayurveda is the holistic approach to healing that is greatly needed in an age filled with all manners of dis-ease. It is the mind-body-spirit approach to health and wellness that can provide a powerful alternate, or at least addition, to the medical practices we are more familiar with in the West. Unfortunately not everyone is quick to accept this ancient healing wisdom.

What do you think? Would you seek out Ayurvedic healing to address various health conditions and improve overall wellness? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak’s book, Perfect Health!

Deepak Chopra: Richard Dawkins Plays God, The Video

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 4.57.35 PM

As a defender of atheism, Richard Dawkins has publicly declared that religion is the “root of all evil,” which became the title of his first big television hit in the UK, broadcast in 2006. Its follow-up, in 2007, allowed me to meet him in person. He invited me to answer a few questions on camera, and I did.

The resulting video footage emerged – leaked by an unknown source – and can be viewed on YouTube. Our Q and A wouldn’t be exceptional in any way except for the use that Dawkins made of it. I became a lurid example of the “enemies of reason” that his new show was attacking. To squeeze me into that box, Dawkins did some very unreasonable things.

We were standing in a courtyard in Oxford, politely dressed and just as politely talking. I’ll give a few excerpts of what we said. Dawkins began by referring to the title of a book I wrote on mind-body medicine…

Dawkins: Can you explain your revolutionary ideas on quantum healing and any evidence that it works?

DC: Quantum healing is just a theory that a shift in consciousness creates a shift in biology. So if you’re stressed, your adrenaline and cortisol levels, and many other neuropeptides, cause physiological chaos.

Dawkins: But where did the quantum healing come into that?

DC:  It’s a metaphor. Just as an electron or proton is an individual unit of information and energy, a thought is an individual unit of consciousness.

Dawkins: So it’s a metaphor, it has nothing to do with quantum theory in physics?

DC:  The theory has a lot of things to say about the observer effect, about non-locality and correlations. There’s a school of physicists who believe that consciousness has to be equated, or at least brought into the equation in understanding quantum mechanics.

This doesn’t sound like somebody hanging somebody else out to dry. The full interview took about fifteen minutes, and I wasn’t naive enough to believe that Dawkins would portray my views in a favorable light. But seeing the footage again, I don’t find that a single answer I gave qualifies me as an enemy of reason. I talked about how a person’s state of awareness affects the body’s homeostasis and its healing response. I spoke about spiritual experience as a means to overcome fear of death. At the same time, Dawkins took the position that quantum physics shouldn’t be brought into these topics, and I admitted (how could I not?) that there was controversy.

In the end, my remarks were cut down to a fraction of what I said, which is normal television practice. The scientists who were exploring consciousness that I mentioned as support were excised. Dawkins introduces me in voice over as someone “who once qualified as a doctor” (despite the implication that I lost my credentials, I was then and remain a board-certified endocrinologist). To trivialize me, Dawkins says, “In this year of self-absorption, he claims Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Hilary Clinton as followers.” I never made such a claim – Dawkins takes his facts from National Enquirer journalism. “Followers” adds the whiff of cultism, of course.

“Reason and a respect for evidence are the source of our progress,” Dawkins declares as the major theme of  the series, but Enemies of Reason is actually a stalking horse for his contention that the world is divided into two camps, the people who follow science and the people who don’t. All the latter are irrational in various dire ways, ranging from ignorance and superstition to pseudoscience and charlatanism. Since I’m not religious, clearly I belonged in the second camp of bogus thinking. “Isn’t Deepak Chopra simply exploiting quantum jargon as plausible sounding hocus-pocus?” Dawkins asks. Well, no. Not if you actually read what I write, which includes books and articles co-authored by physicists. I doubt that his other interviewees are treated any more fairly.

To shoehorn me into his category of the dangerously bogus, Dawkins was thoroughly dishonest himself, ignoring my call for an expanded science that would include consciousness, my backing of peer reviewed research, my partnership with highly accredited scientists, and so on.

Why air a six-year-old grievance? Because what I talk about on the actual video is pro-science and pro-consciousness at the same time. Dawkins seems totally ignorant of any aspect of quantum physics or consciousness research. His animus against organized religion, which he is perfectly entitled to, has led him into zealotry. It is preposterous to label God the root of all evil and intellectually dishonest to lump all thinkers who don’t accept his own cut-and-dried materialism as “fundamentalists and those who profit from obscuring the truth” – Dawkins’s popularity is essentially grounded on both.

“We live in dangerous times when superstition is gaining ground and science is under attack,” Dawkins tells the camera, blatantly riding the cresting fear that overcame the public after 9/11. It’s discreditable to connect all religious belief with dangerous unreason. I certainly didn’t see myself in such a portrayal. Here comes a hay wain, trundling out of the Middle Ages, and apparently I’ve booked passage with dousers, clairvoyants, stage magicians, promoters of false miracles, and the poor simple souls who fall for such nonsense.

The Enemies of Reason (which can be viewed on YouTube) is just old TV on the one hand, a successful episode in Dawkins’s rise as the most celebrated of militant atheists. On the other hand, mind-body medicine has matured and expanded, and so have far-seeing theories of how to fit consciousness into our conception of the universe. Dawkins will one day be relegated to a footnote in the rearguard action to defend narrow-mindedness as science. To attack God, he felt obliged to play God in the editing room. Distortion and misrepresentation are consistent with the ridicule and contempt that militant atheism traffics in. Happily, the surge of people Dawkins anticipated fleeing God to leap into his arms hasn’t occurred, while a reconciliation between science and faith has been progressing toward a better future for both sides. Dawkins’s attempt to make “spirit” a dirty word was doomed from the start.

www.deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...