“Our body creates our soul as much as our soul creates our body.”
– David Spangler
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
— Jim Rohn
Happy Beautiful 2017!
In this post, my intention is to share with you some of the holiday reading and viewing I’ve been doing over the past several weeks, and to recommend resources you may find valuable aids in a New Year filled with love, light, and new levels of embodied vitality.
Two weeks ago, as I began this series on self-care for MIND, BODY and SPIRIT, I described the mind as an activity, not a thing. With this post, I invite you to bring that same awareness to your perception of your body. In his book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul (2009), author Deepak Chopra asserts that your physical body is a fiction. Your real body is energy.
Before I share on my recent return to Chopra’s work, I feel compelled to relate that my experience of developing a health “condition” many years ago, in my twenties, led me onto a spiritual path; and at that time, Chopra’s break-out book, Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind Body Medicine (1989), was one of the first places I went to for good news. I describe that significant turning point in my book, Birdlight: Freeing Your Authentic Creativity, when a long-ago diagnosis once viewed as sad and shocking, actually became my catalyst for greater levels of health, personal growth, and conscious creativity.
In Chopra’s teachings, he emphasizes the power of focused awareness in caring for and influencing the body. An endocrinologist by training and practice, Chopra scientifically supports his claim that not only can we improve our health with chosen mental and behavioural practices, but we can even positively influence our genes. (See the interview link below, where he discusses epigenetics.) Moreover, Chopra repeatedly emphasizes a crucial connection between our emotional states and states of bodily health.
As a high-performance coach in personal transformation, I regard SETTING STATE as a crucial factor in improving wellness and success in ALL areas of life. Our ability to generate our own mental and emotional states of being, a highly calibrated feeling-tone in the body – regardless of our present circumstances – is paramount to living at what mystic Hildegard of Bingen called “the green growing edge of our own becoming.” (Here I gratefully credit my coaching mentor, Mary Morrissey, for introducing that metaphor into my life …)
In researching videotaped talks by Chopra, I came across this less-than-high-resolution 2015 interview which nonetheless is quite helpful for its content. The discussion runs for approximately 20 minutes (mysteriously, and perhaps for emphasis, the final 12 minutes are a repetition of the opening). I highly recommend you carve out time for it, especially if the topic of quantum healing and mind body medicine is calling to you right now. This recording may be a gateway to further exploration, especially as you form resolutions for upping your game in life mastery and well-being this year.
For a slightly shorter dose of Chopra, here is a table of contents I created with running times. Take your pick of topics:
- (0 – 2:00 min.) Chopra discusses his medical background, including the discovery of the “MOLECULES OF EMOTION.” He describes how emotional states influence our biology, noting the neurochemicals associated with feel-good states: oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, opiates, and endorphins. Chopra also notes the chemicals associated with sadness and stress: adrenalin and cortisol; and he makes connections between contractive emotional states and inflammation, as well as immune system damage.
- (2:02 – 5:00 min.) Chopra explores the reasons why the Chopra Centre has grown, due to 1) developments in science, 2) the power of social media, e.g., the Oprah Winfrey – Deepak Chopra partnership, and 3) growing public awareness that Western medicine has tended to treat the symptoms and not the root causes of illness.
- (5:00 to 8:10 min.) Chopra lists 6 SIMPLE THINGS you can do to improve your well-being right away. I recommend listening to this interview segment for the details; here is his list, in a nutshell:
- Sleep well
- Meditate daily
- Move (during the day, frequently, and ideally including yoga)
- Avoid processed food
- Create conditions for healthy emotions
- Stay hydrated (Drink plenty of water!)
- (8:15 – 9:38 min.) Chopra elaborates on THE SCIENCE BEHIND MEDITATION. Specifically, he discusses the influence upon enzymes, chromosomes and genes. He supports the assertion that meditation actually changes our gene activity and cell biology.
- (9:40 – 10:50 min.) Chopra unpacks the Self-Directed Transformation Initiative (SDTI), including factors in addition to meditation such as a healthy diet, sleep, yoga, breathing techniques, and massage. I personally love that he explains how massage with certain oils positively affects bacteria which leads in turn to a reduction of inflammation in the body. ALL of the factors in SDTI have the power to positively influence genetic activity.
- (10:51 – 12:52 min.) Chopra talks about some of the problems associated with present-day healthcare reform, and specifically his opinions on the pitfalls of “insurance going to the wrong things.”
- (12:52 – 14:30 min.) Chopra focuses on STRESS, which he describes as the number 1 epidemic of our civilization. Number 2, he adds, is addiction. He discusses the biological chaos which ensues when we don’t bring awareness to our own stress levels. “The more you learn about yourself,” Chopra emphasizes, “the more you participate in your own well-being.”
- (14:30 – 15:49 min.) Chopra reveals WHERE THINGS ARE GOING at the frontier of medical research. In this segment, he notes that only a rare 5% of disease-related gene mutations are “fully penetrant,” meaning you can’t stop them. With 95% of disease-related gene mutations, he adds, their expression is influenced by LIFE STYLE. He speaks specifically about the power of emotional states to influence such diseases as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
- (17:10 – 19:37 min.) Chopra provides simple ways for decoding Eastern approaches to understanding the body. Specifically, he discusses the doshas and chakras as principles and points of awareness in the body. He argues we need both kinds of science in our journey of wellness: empirical science, which focuses on “what’s out there,” and natural, or experiential science, which focuses on “what’s in here.”
- (19:38 – 20:31 min.) Finally, Chopra explains the work he is presently involved in. He explains how advances in technology are leading to significant advances in our potential to self-regulate and raise our level of health.
For so many reasons, Chopra’s teaching illuminates the tremendous power each one of us has to influence our own biology with our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We shape this “earth suit” called the body, indeed the only place we have to live, for better or worse.
I can’t help but find Chopra’s work a glowing affirmation of the importance of the emerging field of life coaching. With specialized support, and a willingness to learn and apply, each of us can accelerate the process of reaching new levels of wellness and, in fact, greater results in ALL areas of life.
Another book I revisited over the holidays is Christiane Northrup, M.D.’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing. I love her thoughts in a section called “Self-Care During Menopause.” Northrup writes, “Your body was designed to be healthy for at least a hundred years and probably longer. Menopause is nothing more than a halfway point.” She goes on to emphasize, “Dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer are not inevitable – no matter what your mother or grandmother experienced.” Next is my personal favorite on her list: “Menopause is the springtime of the second half of your life.” Yes!
Here is Northrup’s key message, which applies to us all:
“The time and energy you are willing to invest in yourself now will pay off in spades for years to come.”
And so I ask you …
What amount of time and energy are you willing to invest in your own self-care and well-being in 2017?
What would you love more of?
What would you love less of?
What would you love?
And finally, what if answering those questions and taking action were among the most important things you ever did?
I look forward to bringing you the third post in this series, on self-care for your SPIRIT, soon …
In the meantime, if you want more help in making those New Year’s resolutions manifest, let me know. Helping you live into your Vision brings fulfillment to us both. I would love to see you thrive.
To Your Beautiful Dream in 2017!
P.S. For those who’ve expressed interest in attending the Vision Workshop originally scheduled in Toronto on January 14, please note that I have decided to reschedule at LucSculpture and Yuri’s Village in the spring. My 2017 public talks and workshops will appear on my newly revised website shortly. With that said, I’ve been working on a video series you won’t want to miss. Watch your inbox this month!