Deepak Chopra’s and Rudolph Tanzi’s Super Brain is a masterclass in the power of mind over matter (by Etan Ilfeld)

Deepak Chopra latest book is Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being. Super Brain was co-written with Rudolph Tanzi, PhD, who is the Joseph and Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and director of Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. In Super Brain, Chopra and Tanzi teach the reader how to develop and use the brain to its full capacity, while emphasizing the power of self-awareness, conscious intention, and spiritual insights. By maintaining an active mind, we are able to improve our memory, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s maintain better health for the entire body.

Here are some quotes from the book that I found to be very inspiring:

  • Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, regular exercise, a steady relationship, and a job they can count on. The regular habits aren’t just good for you in a vague general way–they help you avoid depression by training your brain in a positive direction.
  • Self-aware questions are the keys that make consciousness expand, and when that happens, the possibilities are infinite.
  • If we value intuition as a real skill, highly successful people are probably the best at feeling their way through life. Seeing the future is intuitive, too, and we are all designed for it.
  • Set long-range goals that will take years to achieve.
  • No cell in the body is an island–all are receiving an unbroken stream of messages from the central nervous system. Certain message are good for cells, and others are bad. Eating a cheesburger every day send one kind of message; eating steamed broccoli send another. Being happily married send a different message from being lonely and isolated. Clearly you want to send messages to tell every cell not to age. Therein lies the promise.
  • Undertaking personal growth is far better than bemoaning the perennial state of human suffering.

Here is an excerpt from my interview with Deepak Chopra (the full interview will be published in the Spring 2013 issue #33 of the Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit):

Do you believe in free will?
Those who deny free will believe in a mechanistic brain, according to classical laws of physics, but the more that we learn about the brain, the more that it seems to follow the realm of quantum uncertainty. The whole science of neuroplasticity reveals to us that every emotion that we feel changes the brain–proving that consciousness comes first, and that the brain comes second.

Your book emphasizes the idea of mind over matter, and has a beautiful saying that if you look at person, you can see the history of their thoughts, and if you know how they’re thinking, you know how they will look in the future.
Right, because every thought is recorded in the brain, and determines everything in our body including body language, facial expressions, speech, gestures, personal relationships, and the environment that we create.

How are you aging and how is the Deepak Chopra that I’m speaking with today, different than the Deepak Chopra from 15 years ago?
I hope that I have the wisdom of experience, but still maintain the biology of my youth. We do not need to lose sharpness and age. By participating in life with passion and ensuring that our bodies remains active, we can maintain a healthy mind and remain alert. The key is to sustain our mindfulness.

Super Brain

Why are long term goals important in life?
We are goal seeking organisms, and we are not happy until we have something to achieve for, and we are not happy unless we are in meaningful relationships, and, finally, we are not happy unless we find creative expression. All of these are very important things that stimulate our brain.

What are your long term goals for the next 40 years?
My long term goals are to reach a critical mass of awareness in the world, so that we can collectively participate in a more peaceful, just, sustainable and healthier world.

What’s the hardest thing about being a celebrity?
Some people project attributes to me that I don’t have. I’m just a regular guy.

Do you eat meat?
I’m almost a vegetarian–I eat eggs and fish.

Super Brain mentions that physical exercise is an excellent way to stimulate the brain. How do you exercise?
Exercise helps foster neurogenesis and strengthens the mind-body connection. I do sun-salutations, which is a yoga exercise. I do around 50 to 100 sun salutations a day, and will try to go to the gym. I also walk 10 miles everyday.

In Super Brain, you’re quite critical of conventional medicine.
We know now that 85% of pharmaceutical drugs do practically nothing, and are mostly relying on a placebo effect. Of course, there are people that do need conventional medicine–as in the case of an acute illness. However, many people, could take better care of themselves by meditating, exercising, eating healthfully, and maintaining a state of mindfulness.

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