To live without love, compassion, or any other spiritual value creates a state of such severe imbalance that every cell yearns to correct it. Ultimately, that is what lies behind the onset of disease; the body is sending a message that something lacking in the present — an imbalance existing somewhere — has given rise to highly visible, unarguable, physical symptoms.
I cannot resist the temptation to begin this story with the main attraction of my Living in Balance retreat. I wanted to share the incremental progression of the weekend where we learned about the pillars of health through the ancient healing system of Ayurvedic Medicine and the key elements of living a balanced lifestyle. But my mind won’t focus on my notes because I have been mesmerized, hypnotized and spellbound with the juicy presentation by the Way of the Wizard author, the ‘man who needs no introduction’, Dr. Deepak Chopra! TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “One of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” I cannot contain my excitement at how much I appreciate the level of his expansiveness.
I have met some people who find it difficult to grasp the kinds of concepts that Chopra explores. One literal fellow I shared this with said he could not even imagine ‘discovering your cosmic self,’ and that when he hears anything that Chopra shares about the universe, he gets lost in space. Yet I am thrilled to explore the “You Are the Universe” concepts. However, the quantum physics stuff baffles me too.
The man who introduced us to the Seven Spiritual Law of Success has just walked into the meeting room at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa, next to Legoland in Carlsbad, California. The excitement is palpable, as he saunters upon the stage. (Although I have been to a few book signings and actually shook his hand, his presence in the room was noteworthy.) I was ready for a large dose of whatever he was sharing today. The reality pills (the blue or the red) are no longer working and I wanted a new prescription for escaping the ‘matrix’ and detoxing from the digital world, the job hunting world, the news, the world at large and basically my ‘so-called life’.
I promised myself I would stay focused on the whole gestalt of the weekend, but when he nonchalantly walks upon the stage, I was clearly captivated by his composure. I was swept away by his larger than life persona. He definitely has his own personal signature style, with the black Nehru vest, red piping trim, black turtleneck shirt and chinos, and the bright red suede NIKE sneakers. (Will wonders ever cease?) And those slick black eyeglass frames with the 1” bling on the side!
He is cool, calm and collected, with a dash of hip and ‘rock star’ blended like a smoothie. (Used to hang out with Michael J). Then he begins to share such diverse and complex topics such as the nature of existence in the universe. He makes things so simply poetic and yet complex at the same time. He tells us that we are stardust, that the gene, a unit of heredity, is actually a protein code (enzyme) and starts talking about genomics, First there is the one cell, and then approximately 25,000 human genes that differentiate into the whole body and that our body is some 30–40 trillion cells, or MORE (the Milky Way has 250 billion ± 150 billion) and that the average cell will divide between 50–70 times before cell death. To make a body, there is morphogenesis, to give rise to form. It’s definitely time for a meditation break.
It’s been a week since I returned from my Living in Balance seminar sponsored by the Chopra Center. I have assimilated back into the swing of life. Yet each day I hear the words of Deepak Chopra and the other brilliant speakers filling my empty spaces in the gap, as I attempt to include Primordial Sound Meditation into my daily practice. There was so much valuable information, emanating from this venerable poet and scientist, with a virtual feast for the mind/body/spirit. I promised myself I would share the highlights of the event with my friends and readers, covering the leading edge wellness wisdom shared by all of the brilliant speakers.
There was an impressive line up of presenters, who were warm, engaging, entertaining, authentic and well informed. The attendees were health savvy devotees, committed to a better way of living. Many have been on the path to self-healing after decades of feeling tired, sick, and out of balance. They may have embarked upon the path of allopathic medicine only to find out that the modern western medical remedies left them depleted and still unwell?
Many were no longer willing to let their health challenges get in the way of living the life they were meant to live.
The event began with a seamless program of the top docs and experts in the field of Ayruvedic healing. As weekend of wellness evolved into covering the fundamentals. This event provided the foundation of lifestyle enhancement through the Ayurvedic principles of preventative self-care that can last a lifetime. Each presenter shared their personal passage into the world of alternative, integrative and functional medicine, and how they arrived at the Chopra Institute at a pivotal time in their lives. Some were from the hard core corporate America and dropped out to follow their dream of living a more balanced lifestyle. Others were in mainstream medicine and realized there was a more comprehensive approach to heal the body, from the inside-out. They followed their inner guidance to this particular practice of wellness and became a beacon of light to share with patients.
The first introductory lecture was with Dr. Sheila Patel, an exotic looking Medical Doctor who resembled the classic feminine Indian characteristics. Wide eyed, large framed and a mane of dark hair, typified the easy going Kapha type, as she introduced us to the basics of the ancient Ayurvedic healing. Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India. It’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. It is a complete system of health, and the key is to indentify what’s getting in the way of our natural healing. It is a consciousness-based healing system, beyond the physical.
“In order to trust your body as a guide, the first step is to begin to understand it.” Deepak Chopra
This system of healing is based on the five elements that are found in all living things — ether, air, fire, water, and earth — which are the building blocks of life. It unites us all as humans, yet we have a unique set of differences that are characterized by ‘doshas’. How the three doshas appear, and in what proportion, is what makes each of us unique. We were given a detailed quiz to identify the characteristics which make up our specific body types. Each type has a set of traits that make the distinction. One is Vata,(Resembling the wind) as the delicate, hyper, long limbs and lean body, unsettled and talkative one who grazes throughout the day. Pitta (Fiery Nature) may be the typical “Type A” personality with a strong appetite, fiery and intense with a medium build. Kapha (Solid Nature) is the more relaxed, couch potato who is easy going and nurturing. While some typify the exact type, many of us may have a mixture of these tendencies but can identify with at least one or two. The key is to understand the roles these doshas play as they are in constant flux in response to the external stimulus such as weather, lifestyle and stress.
We had a thorough and amusing introduction to each of the dosha’s specific characteristics by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar. He was by far the most fun ‘stand up’ comedic presenter of the weekend. He never did reveal his own specific dosha characteristics but he certainly was able to portray the most entertaining descriptions of each distinctive type.
As the day progressed we were introduced to the Primordial Sound Meditation and all the benefits for health and well being. According to some studies practicing meditation can be effective to reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia. It is also considered one of the key elements to living a balanced life and was integrated into the daily program. It was emphasized as a most important ingredient, especially when one meditates on a specific mantra that is personalized for each individual. In this age of overstimulation and excessive uses of outside forces from Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF’s), digital devices, social media and the ubiquitous influence of technology, the practice of restful awareness via meditation is now proven to be most beneficial for our overall wellbeing.
The second day began with a group meditation and an introduction to Ayurvedic Nutrition from Kelly Greene. Dr. Suhas Kshirsager shared an in depth lesson in learning how to eat to balance your dosha. We had a Ayurvedic cooking demonstration with Chef Johnny Brannigan, and a lesson in the diversity of six distinct tastes that satisfy our hunger.
The six tastes or Rasas that are distinguished in the Ayurvedic diet are Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Astringent and Bitter. These tastes originate from the five elements and transmit their properties.
Loving Kindness Meditation:
May I Be Happy
May I Be Well
May I Be Filled With Peace
Then, the fashionably forward, silky-billowy-sleeved modelesque Dr. Mona Saint explored and explained the Emotions and Stress Management, and then on the last day, she spoke about Balancing Through the Senses. We had more insightful info on the benefits of Mindful Movement and learning how to read your own body signals. The real heart of the matter was that our bodies are a self-regulating system and we just need to get out of the way, get rid of negative habits (not so easy) and let it heal itself.
“No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature.” Deepak Chopra
We learned about a new anxiety disorder coined, Nomophobia (“no-mobile-phone phobia”) which is the stress of separation from our cellphones and how attached we are to technology. Basically, it’s more of an anxiety disorder from the attachment that we have and the over-use of the phone.
So much of what we have incorporated into our daily lives has become stressful and damaging. The technological age is in full swing and we are all somewhat ‘addicted’ to the modern conveniences. Yet somehow, as I reflect upon my own life, I have noticed that the more high tech we become, the more we need high touch. (High Tech, High Touch, coined by Megatrend’s author, John Naisbitt.)
It is an examination of the role technology plays in our accelerated search for meaning, The body is ruled by the subconscious mind and it knows everything, it experiences everything. We must feed it nourishment not only with high energy, pure nutritious food, but our thoughts, our environment, the total body-mind unit is a coherent, self-organizing system where the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The holy trinity is the mind-body-spirit. There needs to be an integration, we need to listen to our sensory environment which influences our hormones. There is so much to learn, yet it is so simple.
…there is no real division between mind and body because of networks of communication that exist between the brain and neurological, endocrine and immune system.
I learned in the seminar is that it’s not just what we eat that nourishes us, there is evidence based research on the powerful influence of mind/body/spirit. From our thoughts to our relationships, our environment, and the necessity for movement, touch, intimacy, breath, slowing down to stop and smell the roses. Everything in our environment is actually our extended body, from nature to people to home to furniture.
“An increasing number of US medical schools and centers now have departments devoted to mind–body research and some also to mind–body treatment, including Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Columbia University (New York, NY), University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pittsburgh (PA). This now-interdisciplinary research field, which also includes behavioral medicine, is often called psychoneuroimmunology or psychoendoneuroimmunology, and “incorporates ideas, belief systems, hopes, and desires as well as biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy,” according to Ray O(2004).
We all need to stop pushing so much and listen to our bodies via mindful meditation. It gives us feedback all the time. We override it and steam roller ourselves without feeling through it. Our bodies have the wisdom of the universe as a Miraculous Self-Regulating System. We need take care and be gentle with ourselves. Ayurveda is based on experience, “How do I feel”. The basic questions for mindfulness meditation is ”Who Am I? What Am I?
On the last day of the event, we were given a “Balance Tip of the Day” Knowledge is useless until gets activated. We were given a simple prescription for applying the teachings from the weekend into our daily lives at home.
- Make TIME to quiet the mind and Meditate
- Eat a healthy balanced diet with lots of organic, pure, colorful, fruits and vegetables, paying attention to including the six tastes (Sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, salty, pungent) into each meal. Drink lots of pure, filtered water (Without ice) and herbal elixirs and teas.
- Move your body, take breaks from desk work by getting up every 1/2 if possible. Take in deep breaths, get outside in nature, walk barefoot and get grounded on the grass or sand.
- Cultivate Loving relationships. Connect with your heart center, find ways to share your positive feelings with others. Get and give hugs! Healing touch is vital to health, so go and hug a loved one or a friend every chance you get. Don’t miss the opportunity to pet a dog or any pet and even a tree!
- Enjoy a good belly laugh at least once a day, uncontrollable laughter is the best medicine.
- Release emotional toxins! Take a moment to let go of worries, stress, and negative feelings.
- Make a ritual of good habits that lead to restful sleep. It is essential, and especially remove all technology from the bedroom or at least shut down and put your phone, laptop and Ipad to bed.
Sleep Prep Tip: Unplug two to three hours before bed. Take a soothing bath with aromatherapy (lavender, epsom salts). Journaling-make a gratitude list, ask soul questions, recapitulate the day, release it all and prepare for sweet dreams.
If you are seeking more in depth information, Dr. Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi have a new book, The Healing Self, which is a revolutionary new plan to supercharge your immunity and stay well for LIFE!
“The Healing Self is a quantum leap forward in the integration of science, medicine, wisdom and health, As Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi powerfully show, our first line of healing lies inside us, and the choices we make today are crucial to lifelong wellness.” Arianna Huffington
With all the different choices and new scientific discoveries of how to live your best life now, the first step is finding a deeper understanding of your whole body system and how everything in your consciousness has an effect on your health.
Going Deep with Deepak, I was committed to making some significant changes in my life through attending the Living in Balance workshop. The key is to be mindful of what is life-affirming and empowering for me and to learn how to listen to my own inner guidance.
Humans are not biological robots. We live for meaning, for the personal value of every experience. The body metabolizes our experiences and sends the message to every cell, while the mind, in its own domain, processes experience in terms of sensations, images, thoughts, and feelings. Nothing fuses the whole-system effects of love and non-love like the human heart, which needs to be understood as more than a physical organ.”