Reinventing the Body: Deepak Chopra at TEDxTimesSquare (Full Transcript)

Deepak Chopra

Following is the full transcript of author Deepak Chopra’s TEDx Talk: Reinventing the Body at TEDxTimesSquare conference.

Deepak Chopra – MD, Founder and Chairman of the Chopra Foundation

Okay. Well, I have 10 minutes to inspire you to move in the direction of well-being, perfect health, discover your true self, resurrect your soul, influence the markers of ageing at a cellular level – the level of cell biology – and actually discover who you really are.

But before we do that, the first thing I want to share with you is that you have to change your perception of your physical body because we are talking about literally reinventing the body.

Your physical body is not physical, your material body is not material. You have to start thinking of your body as an activity, as a process, if I may say it so, instead of a noun, as a verb, an activity. So our bodies are constantly in the river of change and transformation.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “No man can step into the same river twice, because it’s a new man and it’s a new river.” Likewise, your true self cannot step into the same flesh and bones twice, because in every moment of your life, you are actually in the river of change which is your physical body.

Through processes like eating, reading, digestion, metabolism, illumination, elimination, sensory experience, thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, memories, imagination, creativity, intention, intuition, inspiration, your body is in transformation. In fact, the physical bodies that you are using right now to listen to my lecture are not the ones that you came in from Times Square a few minutes ago.

Even with one breath that you breathe in, you breathe in 10 to the power of 22 atoms, which is a huge amount of stuff that comes from everywhere in your environment, ends up at your cells, your heart, your brain, your kidneys. With every breath that you breathe out, you are literally breathing out at the atomic level bits and pieces of your heart, and kidney, and brain tissue, and technically speaking, we are all intimately sharing our organs with each other, right this moment.

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In fact, there are studies – mathematical calculations – that can show without a shadow of doubt that right this moment, you might have a million atoms that were once in the body of Jesus Christ, or Buddha, or Genghis Khan, or anyone else you want to think about. In just the last three weeks, a quadrillion atoms have gone through your body that have gone through the body of every other living species on this planet.

So think of a tree in Africa, a squirrel in Siberia, a peasant in China, you have stuff in your body, which is actually non-stuff, that was there only three weeks ago. None of the atoms in your body are the ones that you were born with. None. They were manufactured in the crucible of stars, and in fact the atoms in this hand and the atoms here may have come from different stars. The carbon, the hydrogen, the oxygen that is right now circulating in your body is not even a material entity; it’s a process.

Once you understand that your body is a process, then you can engage in reinventing the body. And you do so by very simple, fundamental activities that you pay attention to. So let me tell you what are the most important fundamental activities. Sleep.

When you sleep, your body rejuvenates itself, repairs itself. Not only your brain, but the rest of your body. The second thing: meditation. We now have, actually, scientific proof that a daily practice of meditation – and we have done these studies with places like scientists at Harvard, at Mount Sinai here in New York, and University of California – within – in our study – within four days of meditation, people increased the enzyme that controls biological age by almost 40% in four days.

And then we took those samples, we sent them to our teams – as I said in these institutions – and we showed that the entire genome starts to express itself in a different way. You don’t change the sequence of nucleotides in your body, but there are genes that get up-regulated, genes that promote homeostasis of self-regulation or self-repair. And there are genes that get down-regulated, genes that activate inflammation. So both inflammation and homeostasis are self-repair, our protective mechanisms.

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When you fall down, you need the inflammatory response to heal yourself, but if that response is exaggerated then it is the basis of many diseases. Many diseases, including chronic conditions, like bronchial asthma, arthritis, many types of cancer, etc., etc., heart disease, inflammatory disorders are all connected with these diseases.

So when the genes get down-regulated or inflammation, the genes get up-regulated, you’re literally changing the activity of your genes and the enzymes that control cellular ageing. And this we have shown already. So here are the few things that really matter.

I mentioned sleep and meditation. Movement. The more you move, the healthier your body. Don’t worry about the kind of exercise you want to do, you can do any exercise. The key thing is to keep moving.

The fourth thing is emotional well-being. And somebody in a previous talk mentioned the limbic brain. The limbic brain is that part of your brain that is influenced by your emotions. So when you experience emotions like joy, peace, compassion, empathy, then there’s a phenomenon that occurs in your brain, it’s called limbic resonance, and the hormones that are secreted and the neuropeptides that are secreted, like oxytocin, and dopamine, and serotonin, and opiates, these are immunomodulators, and they enhance self-healing or self-repair.

On the other hand, if you’re feeling guilt, hostility, depression, any of the things that create fear in your body, then limbic resonance turns to a limbic dissonance, and that starts a disruption of homeostasis. So cultivating those emotions.

And finally: diet. A diet that is free of – A diet that’s not based on refined foods, manufactured foods, or processed foods. A diet that is more plant-based and also perhaps a Mediterranean diet, which includes fish and olive oil. It’s that simple. Sleep, meditation, movement, cultivating healthy emotions and a healthy diet.

So here is the formula: Wake up every day with the intention that you are going to experience a joyful, energetic body. A restful alert mind. Cultivate the emotions of peace, joy, love, compassion, empathy, and equanimity, and finally experience lightness of soul. Because at the core of our being is an intelligence that’s orchestrating all these activities that I mentioned.

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You have 600 trillion cells in your body, which is more than all the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Only, by the way, only 10% of them are human, the rest is what is called the microbiome. So of the 600 trillion cells in your body, most of them are bacteria. You are a walking bacterial colony with a few human cells added. And all of these cells are working together as an ecosystem.

And the things I mentioned to you, they influence everything. Diet particularly influences the microbiome, which is in the GI tract, and the microbiome and your genes actually regulate each other. So, it’s a fascinating thing. Our body is star stuff that has learned to self-regulate itself, that has become self-aware, that knows itself, that regulates itself, that evolves, and ultimately, that goes back to the field of pure consciousness, which is the field of infinite possibilities, infinite creativity, that takes leaps of evolution, and as we move into the future, I think you will see that reinventing the body is not a possibility in the future, it’s a possibility right now.

Thank you.