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A little more on Deepak Chopra

Posted Jun 06 2010 12:00am

I had mentioned in an earlier post that my friend Shaun T suggested last year that I give Deepak Chopra a try in my approach mentally with cancer. I tried. It was too spiritual for me, too many references to greater beings, and frankly, I wasn’t ready to leave my ‘warrior kill or be killed’ status yet. It took me a year, 2 more brain surgeries, Cyberknife, and some free time from work and study to give Chopra a chance. Anti-Cancer also played a big role in that the book’s author David Servan-Schreiber made a very strong case for treating the whole cancer patient not just the disease when trying to cure people. He employed some Eastern healing approaches to add to Western treatments and used himself and some of his patients as examples of success. His integrative approach became so successful that the MD Anderson Cancer Center is using his program with their patients now. Integrative medicine is finally catching on in a big way.

OK that being all said, Deepak Chopra got a second chance from me about a month ago, a few days before my second trip to the Cyberknife room. I became anxious that my ‘warrior’ approach was failing me badly since 3 new small mets showed up in my brain 6 weeks after the first three were killed off. My body wasn’t happy about something. So I started reading. I read anything I could on preventative treatments, holistic healing, and finally got to Servan-Schreiber’s book and arguments. Because of his whole-body approach I gave Chopra another try and really became hooked. He is almost like a rock and roll star of quantum healing using technology in smart ways to get his message out there and get people hooked on his teachings but I honestly believe, to get them to feel better about themselves as well.

He has become wildly successful, is a superstar in his field, and yet some in Western medicine still mock his approach and his logic to healing the whole person. I only have one set of MP3s of his, The Soul of Healing Meditations , so I don’t know much about him other than this set of recordings which I find good, positive, and helpful in light meditation. I do know that he has a huge Ayurvedic center in Carlsbad, CA (he has another in Lancaster, Mass) just north of La Jolla, where I first went to grad school. It’s one of the wealthiest and most beautiful areas of the country and of course it would make sense to open a healing center there, near the ocean on the gorgeous San Diego coast. But he has been mocked for that, and I am not sure why.

But this video may give you an idea. I wanted to do some research on Chopra and found a lot of skepticism about him and his approach written mostly by Western doctors and others who ‘know better’ about health and healing. The most interesting bit of criticism is in this video I found in which this arrogant British prick named Richard Dawkins , an author and scientist who has some clout in the world of evolutionary science, interviews Chopra and ambushes him on the steps of what seems to be an academic building. What’s interesting here is that the director of this piece has Dawkins stand on the steps of the building looking down a couple of feet at Chopra who is at what seems to be a physical disadvantage: The smarmy Brit is about to school the little Indian on medicine and show the world how wrong his approach is. What happens is quite the opposite:

Score one for Chopra.

For me, Chopra’s approach and meditations are too light. I listen to him every day and find his affirmations a good introduction to deeper meditative experiences by other teachers who are not as big or as successful. I like my meditation cleaner, with no music and with more of a focus on the outer world as well as within myself. Like I said, I still listen to Chopra, but I find his Buddhist colleagues more powerful at meditation teaching and daily affirmation.

But what Dawkins said is a complete falsehood and if he actually had read a Chopra book or listened to one his recordings he would have found that Chopra is not about self-absorption at all; He is about love and kindness for oneself and others around them, he is about opening the heart to love and unselfishness, and he is about treating the whole person – diet, psychology, and physical approaches – which patients and non-patients have found very appealing. Why he gets attacked for being successful is apparent, but to mock the whole system of integrative medicine as it’s gathering steam is shameful. As more and more Western doctors adopt Eastern healing (which by the way, has been around far longer than the heart pressure monitor) the more attacks we’ll see by little men like Dawkins.

Back to Chopra. His meditations are light, they work, but for me they don’t go far enough for what I need and am looking for in my daily routine. Don’t get me wrong, his Heart Sutra is a fantastic example of what the mind can help the body do. I use him as my secondary meditation guy. In the mornings I do breathing and the Metta Bhavana through Bodhipaksa (who by the way, lives here on the Seacoast of NH and teaches at Aryaloka right here in Newmarket!) And in the afternoon I use Chopra for a short meditation on the heart, on breath, and on self-healing.

But the more I meditate the more I find myself drawn to the Buddhist way of meditative affirmations and teachings. I love their combining teachings with meditative trance and how it all works somehow. I have had some raw emotions come out during my Buddhist meditations and it happens almost every time. It just happened this morning. Their meditative affirmations and results are very emotional and personal and work therapeutic wonders for me, even though I am going through serious steroid withdrawal at the moment (more on that later).

Anyway, leave Chopra alone. He has helped a lot of people. So have Andrew Weil and David Servan-Schreiber and others. As we find that chemo and radiation alone kill more cancer patients every year than does cancer alone, more and more doctors will leave the Dawkins way of thinking and try to find alternative methods.

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