The Brain, Metacognition, and Consciousness: An Interview with Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP

The Brain, Metacognition, and Consciousness: An Interview with Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP

What follows is a transcript for the podcast: The Science of the Brain & Consciousness - Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP - Brain

An Interview with Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP

DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation.  Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his 91st book,  Total Meditation (Harmony Books ) is out now and helps to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living.  TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

Topics in the interview include:

  1. How Do We Unleash the Explosive Power of Our Brain?
  2. The Definition of Metacognition
  3. The Benefits of Adaptogens
  4. What is the Future of Healthcare?
  5. Optimizing the Brain
  6. Let's Use Technology to Maximize Wellbeing
  7. Working Towards Supporting Humanity
  8. How Do You Interact With People Who Don’t Share Your Perspective?
  9. The Impact of Fun on Your Biochemistry
  10. Masculine and Feminine Energies and Archetypes
  11. How Do You Tap Into Inner Knowing?
  12. How Do Psychedelics Influence the Brain?
  13. Dr. Deepak Chopra's Prediction on Human Lifespan 
  14. The Only Measure of Success is Joy
  15. Learn More About Deepak Chopra's Latest Work and Digital Deepak

How Do We Unleash the Explosive Power of Our Brain?

Heather Sandison, ND: Welcome to Collective Insights. I'm your host today, Dr. Heather Sandison and I am so pleased and privileged to have Dr. Deepak Chopra joining us today. Dr. Chopra, welcome.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Thank you for having me too.

Heather Sandison, ND: I want to dive right in to the meat of it. How do we unleash the explosive power of our brain?

Deepak Chopra, MD: The first thing to understand is that the brain like any other biological system is a verb, it's not a noun. The brain responds to every experience. It doesn't matter what that experience is. Fundamental experiences are sensations, so this is a sensation, this is a sensation. Okay, so fundamental experiences, sensations, perceptions. That would include sound, color, shape, taste, smell and then the interpretation of that. This is a pen. This is a hand. This is a book. This is how we metabolize experience and that's all life is. Life is the continuum of experiences. Even a fertilized egg is having an experience in the womb as it becomes a zygote and an embryo, and then a baby and then toddler.

That whole biological organism is, if I were to use one word for it, it's a sensory technology. Biological organisms are sensory outlets, experiencing a narrow bandwidth of experience in the form of sensations, perceptions, which are modified sensations. Sound, touch, sight, taste, smell are modified sensations because all the windows do operate through the five senses are actually certain forms of touch. With eyes, we see protons. With ears, we touch vibrations of the atmosphere. Taste and smell we also are touching at a very basic level, molecules, et cetera. What is life? It's the metabolism of experience. Where does this occur? Not in the brain. It's occurs in consciousness, which has no form, which is boundless, which is therefore infinite and anything that has no boundaries is infinite.

It doesn't mean humongous big. It just means infinite possibilities. It doesn't mean infinitely small. Even that has a boundary. Consciousness has no boundaries, so it's formless infinite. It's modified expressions are experiences, sensations, perceptions, images. If you imagine a rainbow, imagine the milky way galaxy, imagine the Himalayas, imagine the face of your beloved. Okay, so sensations, perceptions, images, feelings, emotions, love, compassion, joy, equanimity, but also the opposite, guilt, shame, anger, hostility, distrust, depression, all of that. All emotions, all feelings, all images, all thoughts, and all sensory experiences and all sensations are entangled. If you think of one, let's say I think of my mother, I see her face, I hear her voice. I can even smell the skin, although she's long gone. As a child, I remember sitting on her lap and listening to stories.

Here is all experience happening. Where is it happening? Not in my brain because this brain, which is remembering me sitting on the lap of my mother, is different from the brain that had that experience. If the brain had the experience, what I'm saying is, brain never has an experience. Nothing has an experience. All experience is in consciousness, including the experience of that three pound thing that we call the brain, three bones, yellow that we call the brain.

How do we maximize the capacity of our brains? Number one, by understanding that fundamental reality is who we are. When we say, "I am,"` before I say, "Deepak Chopra," I am before you say, "I am Heather-"

Heather Sandison, ND: Sandison.

Deepak Chopra, MD: ... Sandison." Before you say that, we both say, "I am." That I am is infinite possibilities. It's infinite. "I am Heather," is the metabolism of a selected bandwidth of experience since Heather was a fertilized egg to where she is now and to where she is going, all the way to dusty death. What is Heather as a body-mind system and upgrade the metabolism of expense? Be mindful of experience as it is happening and all experience is happening. When? Now. What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life is what you give the present moment meaning and how are you respond to it. If you just keep that in mind, that there is only the present moment and it's not a moment in time because the moment in time is gone.

What happened to my words? By the time you heard them they're gone, they don't exist. Anything we experience is in time, but the presence in which that happens is not in time. If we are present to what is right now and respond creatively to it in an evolutionary manner, then we automatically have insight to truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, insight, intuition, imagination, creativity and transcendence. That's all we have to do. Be alive to presence now and choose the response to what is happening now creatively and not a biological robot, otherwise an algorithm.

Heather Sandison, ND: If I understand correctly, then the perception kind of switch is that the brain is a tool that we can use to optimize our perceptions, our experiences and then that consciousness.

Deepak Chopra, MD: The brain is what records what we call correlates of experience. Right now, as you and are having this conversation, we are actually regulating, being regulated by each other, we are regulating each other, we are monitoring each other. My neurochemicals are affecting your neurochemicals. The activity in my brain is affecting your brain. There are, say, millions of people watching us on the internet. Our brains are entangled right now in what we can call a collective brainscape, a collective brainscape. That collective brainscape is a biological system. It's not just on the internet because if I said something rude right now, many people their cortisol would go up, their adrenaline would go up, their blood pressure would go up, the body would go inflamed. If we were having a loving conversation, which made us feel good, then people would be getting dopamine hit all over the world. They would get serotonin hits. They would get oxytocin hits on and on, opiated.

Whatever this broad brain bandwidth is in which we are engaging right now through cyberspace, but even that cyberspace is a space of shared consciousness and this is nothing else. There's only consciousness and that is being metabolized as this experience, which is a body-mind experience. It doesn't matter if it's on the internet or wherever. You can't escape. Wherever there's mind there's body, where there was body there's brain, wherever there's brain they're a unified wholeness of experience in consciousness and then it's not the mind because the mind is a programming of that consciousness. Your programming is different than mine, cultural education, parents, economic, ancestors, epigenetics, history, all the way back to the big bang. We've had slightly different experiences, so that's why you look different than I look, but we're still the same consciousness.

The Definition of Metacognition 

Heather Sandison, ND: We have a potential, we have this opportunity to influence that, right, when we make decisions. You could say something rude, but I could laugh it off and we could turn it into a joke and that would shift everyone's experience or I could have the opposite experience and start crying, and that would shift everyone's experience. We have some control over the way we respond and that's happening in our brains, in our minds and in that consciousness. What are the things that we can do to influence that?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Many things. One is, I said the practice of what these days is called mindfulness. A better word is metacognition. Metacognition, be aware of the activities and experiences in the present moment as they're happening, and then choose your responses in a creative way, in the direction of truth, Goodness, beauty, harmony, love, compassion, joy, equanimity, laughter. That is the most important thing. Then of course, good sleep, stress management, whether it's dancing, or listening to music, or watching comedy, or reading poetry, or reading a nursery rhymes as my mother did to me as a baby, all of that is very important in stimulating the sensory perceptions, that modulate brain activity. That's important. Stress management, it doesn't have to be only meditation. Storytelling, entertainment, dance, music, poetry, massage, sex, sleep, all these are important as stress management. That's second.

Third is movement and exercise. The fourth, which we are learning a lot about now is a vagal stimulation. Every time you sing, you breathe deeply, you chant, you stimulate the vagus nerve, which has bi-directional traffic from the brain to the body and from the gut back to the brain. In fact, 90% of serotonin in your body is coming from your gut. That kind of vagal stimulation is very important and getting a lot of attention right now.

Nutrition. I need diet that is rich and diverse in plant-based foods that affect the microbiome, which is 99% of the genetic information in your body. It's not in the brain. It's in the gut, so your gut is also programed. In fact, your gut, and your brain and your skin come from the same layer neuroectoderm, so anytime you stimulate the skin through sensation, the gut through food, the brain through five senses, and thinking, and feeling and imagining, you're refining the instrument. Your brain is an instrument. It's not 

who you are. It's the instrument you use, but the instrument you use, of course, is a reflection on who you are. If this computer was messed up, it would be a reflection on you and me right now in conversation.

The Benefits of Adaptogens

Heather Sandison, ND: To sharpen that tool, that instrument, you've given us some foundational things. What is the science saying about, maybe, some of these really optimizing, really accentuating, again, the sharpness of that tool, the brain and its connection to the mind, the neurochemistry, maybe like herbs. I know there are a lot of Ayurvedic herbs, like ashwagandha and turmeric, gotu kola. There are a host of interventions we can make at a physical level that can help us, again, sharpen that tool that is the brain.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yeah. All these things that you mentioned, gotu kola, brahmi, which Bacopa brahmi, ashwagandha... there are many. They are now being seen as what we call adaptogens. They have modulate at a cellular level, including the brain, but not just the brain. The brain is just one organ in the body and yeah, we give it a privileged position, but they're all equally important. I think your heart beat is as important as your brainwave activity. So is your nervous system, but so is your immune system, so is your endocrine system. The nutritional supplements or compliments that you mentioned are adaptogens. They modulate the effects of stress at a cellular level, both the neurons, but also in other parts of our biology.

They induce what is called self-regulation or homeostasis, which is the dynamic stand-up state of non change in the midst of change. That's what optimizing should mean ideally speaking, dynamic non change in the midst of change, or homeostasis or self-regulation, which is returning to your baseline state of being. In-being is the highest intelligence. When there are no fluctuations of consciousness in the form of sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, then that is the highest self-regulation. It happens in deep sleep as well.

Heather Sandison, ND: The study is around monks who've been doing it for 40 years, 50 years, that there's this base level of equanimity. Is that sort of what you're describing, that self-regulation, not being strung along by the emotions of the day, but being able to maintain that stability? Is that kind of what you're describing that these herbs and some of these [crosstalk 00:17:36]?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yeah. On the emotional and psychological level, yes, equanimity is a good word, but on the biological level, it's perfect dynamic non change in the midst of change. Let me explain that. When you say, "My blood sugar is normally between 80 to 100," it's a range that we call normal. "My cholesterol is this, my blood pressure is this." That range of change is actually a dynamic non change because it doesn't go above this or below this, temperature, body temperature, baseline metabolism.

Equanimity on the psychological level, peace, absence of agitation, translates into the same activity on the biological level because body, mind, they're a unit, they're not separate in the same way as mass, energy are a unit, as space, time on a unit or wave, particle are a unit or mind and brain are a unit. They're a single entity of a deeper reality with recording consciousness.

Heather Sandison, ND: I'm sure a lot of our listeners might be able to relate to how a drop in blood sugar might make someone irritable. Right? They interact so fluidly that not only does our brain affect maybe our blood pressure, but our nutritional intake affects our brain and our consciousness, our experience of the world.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Everything affects everything.

Heather Sandison, ND: Say that one more time.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Everything affects everything.

What is the Future of Healthcare?

Heather Sandison, ND: Exactly. In your work, you're a medical doctor and you've gone down a deep spiritual path and made that working, I think, for the benefit of humanity, not just at the physical level, from the perspective of a medical doctor, but from a very spiritual level. Tell me about the weaving of those two things, especially as you approach what we might call medical diseases, things like dementia, anxiety, depression, things that affect our mind, our brains, but show up as diagnoses. There's an ICD-10 code for them. How do you marry those perspectives when you maybe see a patient or start to discuss treating those diseases with a group of doctors, say.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Once again, when you use words like spirituality, it's a pretty loaded word than just the same way as you use words like God, and the divine and most scientists, the way they're trained, they can't relate to those words. I think the best word to use for spirituality would be self-awareness. That would be a convenient word, self-awareness, which includes of course, awareness of the environment, the self experiences the environment. It would include the experience of professional interactions. It would include the experience of personal relationships. It would include the expense of the body, include the mind, the emotions, imagination, and ultimately the experience of the self. That self-awareness, if you want to call it spirituality, that's a great word too, because the self is not a physical entity. Okay. It has qualities, characteristics, but the self by itself is not a physical event.

I think just like consciousness, it's not a physical entity. Every experience, as I said, it has a biological correlate. What is now being revealed in current science is that, less than 5% of disease-related gene mutations are fully penetrant, that it has to be phrased very carefully, less than 5% of genetic mutations are fully penetrant, which means if you have a mutation of a certain kind, a mutation is a genetic mistake or an error, like a typo in a word. Let's say every gene is a word, then there's a spelling mistake. There's a typo there, that's a mutation. Less than 5% of those guarantee diseases. If somebody has a BRCA gene like Angelina Jolie, the actress, she had a BRCA gene and that predicts cancer, 100% breast cancer. She had a double mastectomy as a precaution, correctly so because that gene would have guaranteed that she would get that disease.

Now for that, there are new technologies that are emerging including CRISPR and gene editing, where you'd be able to cut and paste the gene the same way you do your emails. However, that doesn't affect more than 5% of chronic illness, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes type II, auto immune disease, et cetera, et cetera. 95% of chronic illness, all chronic illness, from Alzheimer's to cancer, to autoimmune illness, to whatever, it is actually associated with low grade inflammation, low grade anxiety and low grade depression. Now, most people don't even know what the cause is. He said, "Why do you feel anxious?" Or they just feel anxious. They can't identify. Why are you depressed? I don't know. There's a little bit of inflammation in the background and this might precede the chronic illness by my decade, or two decades or three decades.

Bottom line is, 95% of illness can be influenced and probably prevented. The future well-being, given all the things that we experience and how they modulate our biology because biology is the metabolism of expense, theoretically 95% of disease is preventable and reversible even. The treatment in the future will be much more personalized, preventable, process-oriented, participatory and very measurable, very measurable in terms of biometrics. Right now we measure things like common measurement, things like cholesterol, blood sugar, heart rate variability, bone thickness, skin resistance, number of wrinkles as a measure of aging and disease and all of that, immune function. These are good measures of how your biology is doing, but there are more precise measures that we can do now, including gene expression, micro RNA transcription analysis. We can look at inflammatory markers. These are much more precise and that's what we do.

As an organization, one of our foundation activities is to create algorithms that correlate everything from facial expression to eye movements, tone of voice, mood, what we call welfies instead of selfies. You take a welfie of yourself and then you can correlate it with blood pressure, bone density, everything. In the future, all we'll be able to do is take a ten-second video. It will tell you the state of your health and everything, and there'll be algorithms. Now, we combined that with artificial intelligence, with VR, immersive dreamscape experiences. There's a whole different way to look at the future well-being, which will go beyond pharmaceutical interventions. Five years from now, you might go to a smart physician, not every physician and instead of writing your prescription for a drug, they may give you a nutraceutical, or they may say, "Go and get this VR session."

We know that an exposure to VR in a burn setting, gets rid of burns. Autistic children, when they look at their normal expressions through VR, the neural networks change. The future of well-being will be less chemical intervention and more information intervention. Some of that intervention will be electroceuticals, electrical information going into your body through VR, and deep learning systems and immersive dreamscapes. The more you look into this, you realize that the whole world is a dreamscape, even your body and mind. You are a fictional character. The only reality is consciousness.

Heather Sandison, ND: These technological tools sound like a way to sharpen that tool, that brain. Do people have access to this right now? Are you aware of a product someone could get to use this VR systems right now?

Deepak Chopra, MD: We are experimenting. We have a lab, an innovation lab. We're building a big lab in Florida like Nona with all the high-tech companies. We bring what we call collaboration of information technologies and VR and artificial intelligence all together, with the express purpose of well-being, not only person, but bringing the planet to well-being, more peaceful justice, synable, healthier and joyful world. We believe that the future will be through technology. Yes.

Optimizing the Brain 

Heather Sandison, ND: One of the things you mentioned was prevention, and also that a lot of these diseases are something that we might be able to measure, that something is not imbalanced, maybe decades in advance of the diagnosis. There's potential here to optimize function through people, through the 20s, 30s, 40s, before there's a diagnosis in their 50s, 60s, 70s. As we start collecting this information and getting people the feedback, because I guess that's what's lacking right now, right is, if someone goes to their doctor, they get their cholesterol run. They say they're fatigued, they're a little depressed, but they get their cholesterol, CBC CMP run and the doctor says, "Oh no, you're fine. There's nothing wrong with you." They go home and then that inflammation continues to build. They stay in the same patterns that don't support health and optimization again. What can we do now to advocate for ourselves to get that extra information that can give us that feedback so we can make the necessary changes to optimize now and prevent future diagnoses.

Deepak Chopra, MD: In my work, I focus on what I call seven pillars of well-being. The first is sleep. The second is stress management. The third is exercise and mind-body coordination through various techniques, yoga, breathing, vagal stimulation, Tai chi, Qigong, all of that. That's whole separate discipline that's just simple exercise and so that will be three. The fourth is emotions and relationships because every emotion triggers a biological response. The fifth is nutrition and nutritional supplements, compliments, nutraceuticals. The sixth is balancing your biological rhythms. We have four biological rhythms, circadian rhythms as the earth spins on its axis, as the earth goes around the sun, seasonal rhythms, we have lunar rhythms, gravitational rhythms. Ideally speaking of bodies totally imbalanced when the biological rhythms and the biological organism are in total harmony with the universal rhythms.

We have techniques for that kind of grounding. That's the sixth pillar of well-being. The seventh in our system is self-realization or understanding fundamental reality beyond perception reality. Those are the seven pillars that we use. We optimize well-being through that. We also know that biological age doesn't have to correspond to chronologically. I was 74, my biological age, and I'm not kidding, is in the late 30s.

Let's Use Technology to Maximize Wellbeing

Heather Sandison, ND: Fantastic. I'm hearing kind of two paths. What you just described, those seven pillars. These, when I hear you list them, I think of millennia of human experience that has recognized that these seven things are profoundly important for the health and well-being of humans and humanity. Yet, on the other side, you're discussing how the future of technology and what's kind of on the precipice is going to be so influential and really helpful for preventing and reversing disease. Do you think that when we start to use those technologies, is there any risk of unintended consequences?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Every technology, every intervention has risk and that's what life is. If you don't adapt to risk or you don't minimize it, then you become extinct. That's how evolution works. Technology is part of the evolution of the human species. If we say, "Well, let's do away with technology." You can't. I mean, we cannot have this conversation without technology. The evolution of technology is irreversible. Period. Now, can we use it for diabolical purposes? Of course. We just saw. You can hack democracies through cyber attacks, you can make nuclear bombs, you can create climate change. Even the pandemic is a result of a distressed ecosystem of genetic information in the microbiome. Yes, technology ultimately will lead to human extinction, is my belief, unless we are wise, but it's also unstoppable. Let's use technology to maximize well-being. The technology I'm talking about is actually augmenting what is already happening in your body. Your body's a biosensor and all these technologies are meant biosensing. They are augmenting and reclaiming what you already know.

Now, if you were a yogi, you're able to silence their mind completely, I'm able to do that, then you can regulate your biology without the technology. You can lower your blood pressure, you can secrete the right hormones, you can decrease inflammation all through consciousness, but then you have to take training for that. In the meanwhile, technology can help you do what would take 40 years for you to learn to do, how to control your autonomic nervous system, for example.

Heather Sandison, ND: It's like a shortcut to the natural processes.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yeah. Also in interference with the natural processes.

Heather Sandison, ND: Well, this is some of what we've seen in modern medicine. Right? A lot of the auto-immune medications, they just suppress immune function. If we can interpret an autoimmune process as a symptom of the body telling us that the body is out of balance instead of suppressing, and instead of suppressing that response, we can work maybe with the natural system. I don't know if I'm saying that very articulately, but what I'm hearing you say-

Deepak Chopra, MD: We just have to be very careful how we use words, because then you say, "Oh, instead of taking a pharmaceutical, I can do this, then it's not true 100% of the times. If you have a pneumonia, you need an antibiotic. Right? You're not going to start taking nutraceuticals right off the bat when you have a temperature of 102, the body's shivering and you're about to die. You might even need a respirator. Right? We're seeing that right now. We kind of make blanket statements. The one thing we can say, I try to avoid words like balance because nobody knows what that means. You know? The optimal word would be, again, self-regulation or homeostasis and that is a fine tuning. Suppressing the immune system or stimulating the immune system is both wrong. If you have an overactive immune system, you're going to get autoimmune in this and inflammation. That's what an overactive immune system is. Okay, and you're going to get allergies.

If you have an underactive immune system, you're going to get infections and maybe prone to cancer. You don't need an aggressive immune system. You don't need an unresponsive immune system. You need to fine tune the immune system. It's like, when you listen to music on the radio, at least the old fashioned radio, you had to fine tune until you got the tune. In the meanwhile, there was a lot of background noise. You minimize the noise in a biological system and the noise is what we call entropy. It creates everything from disease to dis-ease to stress, to dis-ease, to ultimately death and aging. What we are trying to do is minimize entropy at the most fundamental level and all these things, adaptogens, nutraceuticals, they all have a role to play. We should never have the idea that this is one solution to everything because there isn't, okay, because your body's a system, it's not a thing.

Heather Sandison, ND: Using the technology to work with the system versus supersede the system.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Correct. 

How to Work Towards Supporting Humanity

Heather Sandison, ND: Okay. That's helpful. I've heard you say that the current trajectory of humanity, if it were to collapse that it would just be the end of the human experiment and you sound almost okay with that, and yet you are totally committed to supporting humanity. How do you hold both?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Well, it's a matter of preference. Do you like tragedies or do you like comedies? What kind of movies do you want to go to see? I believe that we are all fictional characters in a collective dreamscape, along with Vidconstein, who said, "Our life is a dream. We are asleep, but once in a while, we wake up enough to know that we're dreaming." I believe that literally. If I asked you what happened to your childhood, it's a dream. If I asked you what happened to your teenagers, it's a dream. Whenever I ask you what happened to you yesterday, it's a dream. What happened to you when you woke up this morning, it's a dream. What happened to you a second ago? When did the moment that was there right now, where did it go? It's gone. When we say this is a dream and this is a dreamscape, the dreamscape includes the human body-mind biological activity. It's part of the dreamscape.

Fundamental reality is not in time. It's eternal and infinite. If tomorrow, the universe rapidly burnt itself into the heat death of absolute zero and disappeared all together, fundamental reality, as the singularity of creation, would still be there because it's not physical. You and I are not physical beings. We are having a physical experience. Religious people say, "We are divine beings having a human experience, spiritual beings having a human experience." You might say you're a non-local being having a local experience. It doesn't matter. As long as I'm in this movie, that I call the world, I might as well upgrade. That's my job right now is creating a critical mass of consciousness for a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier and joyful world.

Any of the things that we see right now from climate change to the pandemic, to some crazy guy causing nuclear plant to leak through this iPhone, that would be an end of the story because we are sleepwalking ourselves to extinction. It is like humanity is so asleep that it doesn't realize that it's on a collective suicide mission. Now, in the bigger picture, failed experiment, no big deal, but in the small picture, while you're in the movie, I think while you're getting the heebie-jeebies, as they call them, you might as well switch the journal and see a comedy. 

How Do You Interact With People Who Don’t Share Your Perspective?

Heather Sandison, ND: It makes me curious. Do you have that crazy uncle, or maybe in your case, it's the asshole nephew that you have to be with in family gatherings where it takes some work to maintain your perspective? Or are you just in it all day, every day, so when you interface with people who don't share that perspective, what is your experience of that? Does it take work?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Not anymore. It used to take work because I would press the pause button before I reacted and observed my reaction to react. Instead of reacting, I would pause, observe my reaction to react and that was enough to cut the circuit, but now it's natural. I watch the show and sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's very sad, but it's still a show.

Heather Sandison, ND: Do you feel compelled to intervene to sort of convince people that your reality is the reality and that theirs is not? Or is that not even the way to say it?

Deepak Chopra, MD: No. That was the phrase, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinions too." No, I used it. Actually, I like to share and there are enough people who enjoy the sharing, so that's good enough.

Heather Sandison, ND: I'm sure there are enough people who are in that place, maybe where you were, right, where they have that space between an input and then their reaction and they're just trying to widen that space. Right?

Deepak Chopra, MD: That's it.

Heather Sandison, ND: Those are the people that you're speaking to.

Deepak Chopra, MD: That's it.

Heather Sandison, ND: That's where the work gets done. What do you do just for fun?

Deepak Chopra, MD: For me, existence is fun. I don't take it for granted. I don't take existence or awareness of existence for granted. For me, life is a perpetual surprise. As long as it's a perpetual surprise, it's fun.

The Impact of Fun on Your Biochemistry

Heather Sandison, ND: In that, having that experience that life and this experience is fun, how does that affect your biochemistry? How does that affect the physical? What's the neurochemistry? What's happening there?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Well, when you're happy or when you're having fun, or when you're experiencing joy, or peace, or love, or compassion or equanimity, the biochemistry, as we know it, at the present moment, is serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, opiates, there's another peptide, it's called anandamide that people are talking about these days. When you're not having fun, then the biochemistry is cortisol and adrenaline. That's a simple way of saying it at the moment.

Heather Sandison, ND: We can change this perspective to directly affect our biochemistry and really upgrade our experience and our consciousness.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yeah. Every experience is an opportunity.

Heather Sandison, ND: Relatively and simply too. It's just the choice.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yeah. It's the choice of what you choose in the present moment.

Heather Sandison, ND: This is impacting longevity. You just described you were born 74 years ago, was that right? But your cells are 34 years old.

Deepak Chopra, MD: 37, 38 [inaudible 00:42:51].

Heather Sandison, ND: You mentioned the seven-

Deepak Chopra, MD: In terms of physical and mental capacity. Okay. That's how I measure how the body is doing.

Heather Sandison, ND: What are the tools you use to measure that?

Deepak Chopra, MD: All measurements, joyful, energetic body, loving, compassionate talk, clear, reflective mind, and lightness of being. As long as I have those four, my biochemistry will take care of itself.

Heather Sandison, ND: I was sure you were going to say it was about counting wrinkles.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Okay.

Heather Sandison, ND: For someone else to gauge their cellular age, could they go through that process? Can you kind of take us through that?

Deepak Chopra, MD: I think right now, the best biological markers are blood pressure, cholesterol, HDL ratios, sugar tolerance, immune function, inflammatory markers and maybe telomerase levels and telomere length. Has this been standardized into one way of measuring biological age? The answer is not yet, but it's being done.

Heather Sandison, ND: You are the way you feel. You are the age you feel, right, and the way you act.

Deepak Chopra, MD: I could compete with any 35 year old today in terms of yoga, or physical endurance, or strength, or capacity, mental or physical. Maybe I'm competitive, but I also recognize that's an ego thing.

Heather Sandison, ND: Well, and how compelling, because you're living it. Right? These are what you espouse you actually live every day.

Deepak Chopra, MD: I do.

Heather Sandison, ND: And you can measure it and it works. It's reversed your biological age.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yes, I believe so.

Masculine and Feminine Energies and Archetypes 

Heather Sandison, ND: That's impressive. I've heard you refer to God as female. Can you tell me how you got there when most of the world's refers to God as male?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Well, first of all, I come from a tradition where God is both male and female and that's my spiritual tradition. There was never a question of God as a he or she or an it. God being everything is divine male, divine female, divine it, divine transgender, divine whatever. It's all divine. Now, having said that, the history of human civilization has been dominated by the male impulse, apparent good reasons. We started as hunter gatherers and so, you had a male that was going out and really to hunt and bring back food, frequently, not return and disposable. What did the male have to do? Male had to be a predator, had to be a conqueror, had to take initiative, had to be violent. You have to kill to get food. Okay. Interestingly enough, ironically speaking, there are 200 million sperm for every egg that is fertilized.

You see that what is more valuable in nature is the nurturing element that gives us life and the male kind of fertilizes and activates that. Okay. So for historical reasons, up until the agricultural age, which has only 12,000 years, ecosystems of life were dominated by male predatory energy for survival, fight, flight, freeze, reactive. It served its purpose, but now what is it done? It's the basis of everything that we call exploitation, and conquest, and predation, and injustice and, social injustice, and racial injustice and gender inequality, et cetera.

What is the feminine energy associated with? It's associated with beauty intuition, nurturing, affection, tenderness. Actually, if you look at the mythological aspects of the divine feminine, it doesn't matter east or west. Let's take the West, so Hara represents power. She's the Goldup Mia, the Indra Gandhi and the Margaret Thatcher of our times, hero. Dimitri is mother. She's the mother Teresas of our time. Okay. Aphrodite is sexuality and beauty and love. She could be the Marilyn Monroe's of our time, Aphrodite. Artemis is Diana, the one who looks at nature, the nature conservationist. That Jane Goodall is Artemis or Diana of our times. What else? [Pull 00:47:45] Stephanie's the alchemist, the healer. There are many healers today that are representing the divine feminine. Hestia the homemaker with somebody like... I am forgetting the name right now, but all these archetypes have equivalents in human affairs. If you look at the divine feminine, I personally believe that's the future of human evolution, the divine masculine that serve this purpose and we're seeing the depth of that right now in Washington DC partly. 

Heather Sandison, ND: In ourselves, for self-discovery, self-awareness how do you suggest, or how have you personally found an integration in those archetypes, a healthy integration of those different archetypes?

Deepak Chopra, MD: I actually, in my personal life, I am raised with one divine archetypal DT in my imagination and have her embody my biology every day.

Heather Sandison, ND: You go through them. You don't choose the same one every day, but you go through them.

Deepak Chopra, MD: I sequentially go through them every day of the week.

Heather Sandison, ND: Oh, how fascinating. Tell me more about that. What does that look like?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Well, so let's say today. What is today? Today is Friday. Okay. Today's a very interesting Ope day for me, but let's say today was, which I am not willing to reveal, so I'm not sharing, but yesterday would have been the goddess of wisdom, Athena and she resides here in the throat, in this chakra. Her equivalent in India or in Indian mythology is Sarasvati. She's the custodian of music, the arts, the sciences, culture. In the West, she's Athena. All day long, she lives here on Thursday. Then from here, she radiates her energy everywhere in my body and outside my body to the world. Every day I switch.

Heather Sandison, ND: What an incredible tool. Have you taught others to embody that?

Deepak Chopra, MD: I teach people courses on archetypal environment, yes, to the divine feminine. There are other people, Geniusend and all these people that are amazing people teach us.

How Do You Tap Into Inner Knowing?

Heather Sandison, ND: One of the impressive parts about speaking with you is your certainty that you seem to know you're expressing your truth with a capital T. How do your downloads occur? Do you see it? Do you feel it? Does something higher speak through you? Or is it the highest version of you that is speaking? Can you describe a little bit of that experience?

Deepak Chopra, MD: The normal internal dialogue that we have, you close your eyes, is hear a voice. Anytime you close your eyes, you have thoughts, you hear a voice. That is your personal history, it's your karmic history. That is projecting itself as your body right now. Your body is your internal dialogue, your karma. If you want to call it karma, you don't even have to. It's kind of loaded word. Any past experience and how we interpret it and metabolize, live through the experiences is now projecting itself as this body. When you take your attention away from that internal dialogue, do an archetype, which is an image, but it symbolically represents a story. Then you embody that story. Okay? Then it becomes part of your story.

Ultimately, you even transcend the architectural stories and that experience is called pure knowing. You know without being able to verbalize it. It's also an aspect of intuition, intuition being a form of intelligence that is contextual, relational, holistic, it doesn't have a win-lose orientation, kind of eavesdropping on the internal dialogue of a greater, bigger, higher mind. As soon as you get yourself out of the way, and you ask a question, you get the download. Now, the download could be a sensation, it could be a perception, it could be an image, it could be a thought, it could be an epiphany, it could be an insight, it could be a creative impulse, it could be a vision or it could be a synchronicity. It happens to me. That's how I write my books, 93 books and I get the feeling that I'm collecting the royalties and not doing the work.

Heather Sandison, ND: My clinical experience is that, patients who are tapped into that inner knowing have less depression, less anxiety, that certainty brings them some of that equanimity that translates into what you were describing as a sort of the physical you call the dynamic. Tell me again.

Deepak Chopra, MD: The dynamic non change.

Heather Sandison, ND: Yeah. Those patients tend to do better. They tend to heal faster. Is that consistent with your experience?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Yeah, that's true. Yeah, because they're more returning to a baseline homeostasis. That's true. All the while though, when you say certainty, I'm certain in what I express based on my experience, all the while knowing that in the ultimate reality, it's a magical lie, just like the earth is flat is a magical lie, just like the ground I'm standing on is stationary, is a magical lie, just like, this is solid, is a magical lie. It's all a magical lie. It's spirit makes life work.

How Do Psychedelics Influence the Brain?

Heather Sandison, ND: When we talk about finding and accessing that pure knowing, because it does help with our health, there are health benefits. Meditation is one of the ways to access that. Other people talk, especially these days, about psychedelics as a tool to access that. What are your thoughts or opinions about using tools, any of them and there's probably more than I'm not aware of, but I'd love you to comment on using that to get there.

Deepak Chopra, MD: I'm very engaged in the research, and psychedelics, and ketamine and things like that. I believe that psychedelics can open the window to reality as long as you're not dependent on them under proper supervision and all that, but psychedelics have a role in treating depression and getting over the fear of death and also opening the window to awareness.

Heather Sandison, ND: Yeah and shifting brain and mind function at a physical level for, I guess that part of me is wondering how to, for patients or listeners who really aren't comfortable yet, maybe it's talking, taking their awareness to that consciousness level, but who are really focused on the physical. Is there a way to start the conversation at the physical level? "Okay. Here are the actionable things, maybe from still this note."

Now, as people grow older, they should realize it's possible to grow old without having a chronic illness, unless you're one of those penetrant genes for which also technologies are coming. If old age can be without infirmity or chronic illness, and if you can choose the moment of departure, which in my tradition is called the big meditation, mahasamadhi and consciously exit, that would be actually a very graceful exit.

Dr. Deepak Chopra's Prediction on Human Lifespan

Heather Sandison, ND: We've had Aubrey de Grey on the phone here and on the podcast and he suggested that maybe there's a choice in that even. Do you have thoughts about extending longevity past the 125 years or so, that the eldest people have lived?

Deepak Chopra, MD: I think the limits of how far we can extend it are still questionable. 120 is right now the limit, so that's questionable. Should we live forever? I think it would be a very silly idea because there would be no variety and we would ultimately be doomed to eternal senility. That makes life possible through resurrection. For every off, there's an on. For every on, there's an off. If you had a permanent on, there would be no experience. In fact, every experience is dependent on, on and off. If I put my hand on somebody who's died and I don't move it, after a while, they wouldn't know it's there, just like you're not aware of the fact that your skin is touching your clothes. If I move it again, then you might say, "What the heck are you trying to do?" Okay. Every experience is an on and off of sensation and that's what life is. without an on, there's no off, without an off, there's no on. If there's a permanent on, you're doomed. That's where I depart from Aubrey.

The Only Measure of Success is Joy

Heather Sandison, ND: You've partnered with Oprah Winfrey and Alice Walton. Two of them are arguably some of the more powerful women in the country if not the world. How can our listeners and I help you manifest the highest potential of your partnerships? What does ultimate success in your world look like?

Deepak Chopra, MD: The only measure of success is joy. If you don't have joy, which is called Ananda Shakti, she's the divine feminine, the ultimate source of all divine feminine, then you're not successful. It doesn't matter. There's only one measure of success.

Heather Sandison, ND: I want you to say that one again.

Deepak Chopra, MD: The only measure of success is joy. If you don't have joy in your heart right this moment, then you're not successful. It doesn't matter how much money you have or how much power you have.

Heather Sandison, ND: I guess that makes me wonder, how do we help more people experience joy? When you see the suffering in the world, how do you hold that? I think you've kind of already answered this, but I just want to go back to it because hearing you say that joy is the measure of success, is that personal joy, or is that joy for the most people who are currently existing?

Deepak Chopra, MD: As long as you're thinking only about yourself, you'll never be joyful. Okay. Next time you're concerned or worried, ask yourself, who are you thinking about? It is me, me, me, me. The only way to joy is love and action. Love without action is irrelevant. Action without love is meaningless, but love combined with action, and we call it Karma Yoga, is the only way to experience joy.

Heather Sandison, ND: Oh, beautiful. Thank you so much.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Thank you.

Learn More About Deepak Chopra's Latest Work and Digital Deepak

Heather Sandison, ND: How can our listeners find out more about what you have to offer, where your books are sold, how they can maybe be involved in what you are doing in your work?

Deepak Chopra, MD: Two things that I would appreciate any help on. One is, go to and you have all what I do there. I also have an app. It's called the Chopra app. In three weeks, I'm coming out with a digital version of myself. It's called Digital Deepak and you can have a personal relationship with Digital Deepak where it can get to know you, your health needs and actually guide you for a lifetime. You can check out Digital Deepak by just checking out the website at and then the app, which called Chopra. Now I have another project, which is probably more important than all of that and that is through our nonprofit, which is

That project is called Love In Action, as we mentioned and it has a chat bot. Her name is Piwi. She can engage with anyone in a few seconds and assess their mood. If they are depressed, she can counsel them. If she thinks they're seriously depressed, she can actually find them a counselor. At this moment, we are creating a cryptocurrency or Love in Action tokens to pay for professional services, but Piwi has already intervened in 400 possible suicide attempts. People are more comfortable talking to her than to a human being, which tells you the state of our humanity, because they don't feel judged by a machine, even though she has the sweet name of Piwi.

I would say, please check out, Once again, She's engaged with suicide prevention. When I heard that every 40 seconds, a human being is killing themselves, that amongst teenagers, suicide is the second most common cause of death, that more people died last year in Japan from suicide than from COVID, I think this is something we need to do right now. Otherwise, our humanity's incomplete. Please check out www.never

Heather Sandison, ND: Thank you so much.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Thank you.

Heather Sandison, ND: Thank you for your time. It's been an absolute privilege to have you today.

Deepak Chopra, MD: Thank you, Heather.

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