In the past few decades, there has been a revolution in how we perceive the body. What appears to be an object, a three-dimensional anatomical structure, is actually a process, a constant flow of energy and information.
Consider that in this very moment, your body is changing as it reshuffles and exchanges its atoms and molecules with the rest of the universe – and you’re doing it faster than you can change your clothes. In fact, the body you’re using right now as you read this article is not the same body you woke up with or even the same body that you had a few minutes ago.
The fifty trillion cells in your body are constantly talking to each other as they keep your heart beating, digest your food, eliminate toxins, protect you from infection and disease, and carry out the countless other functions that keep you alive. While these processes may seem out of your conscious control, hundreds of studies have shown that nothing holds more power over the body than the mind.
To think is to practice brain chemistry. Every thought, feeling, and emotion creates a molecule known as a neuropeptide. Neuropeptides travel throughout your body and hook onto receptor sites of cells and neurons. Your brain takes in the information, converts it into chemicals, and lets your whole body know if there’s trouble in the world or cause for celebration. Your body is directly influenced as these molecules course through the bloodstream, delivering the energetic effect of whatever your brain is thinking and feeling.
When you say, “I have a sad heart,” then you literally have a sad heart. If we looked inside your heart, we would find it affected by molecules that cause stress and damage, such as excessive amounts of adrenaline and cortisol. If you say, “I’m bursting with joy,” a scientist could analyze your skin and find it loaded with neuropeptides that may have antidepressant effects and that may modulate the immune system. If you say, “I feel exhilarated, unbounded, and joyful,” and I were to examine your blood, I would find high levels of interleukin and interferon, which are powerful anticancer drugs.
One of the keys to harnessing this potentially unlimited power of the mind is to expand your level of self-awareness. When your awareness is contracted, the flow of energy and information throughout your bodymind is hampered. You tend to stay stuck in toxic emotions such as regret, resentment, and self-pity. Non-nurturing habits such as overeating and not exercising take hold. The feedback loop between your mind and your body turns negative, and stress can hit you instantaneously or grind away at you day after day.
On the other hand, when you expand your awareness, your energy flows freely. You’re more flexible, balanced, and creative. You view yourself and the world with more compassion and understanding. You have more energy and are open to new possibilities. At this level of awareness, you have all the power you could possibly need to create a new reality—a reality of vibrant health and wellbeing.
There are many practical tools that can help you expand your awareness, including meditation and mindfulness. In addition, a self-aware approach to life would include the following prescriptions, which I developed with Dr. Rudy Tanzi when we co-wrote our new book, Super Brain:
• Be passionate about your life and the experiences you fill it with.
• Remain open to as much input as possible.
• Don’t shut down the feedback loop with judgment, rigid beliefs, and prejudices.
• Don’t censor incoming data through denial.
• Examine other points of view as if they were your own.
• Take responsibility for making conscious choices.
• Work on psychological blocks like shame and guilt—they falsely color your reality.
• Free yourself emotionally—to be emotionally resilient is the best defense against growing rigid.
• Harbor no secrets—they create dark places in the psyche.
• Be willing to redefine yourself every day.
• Don’t regret the past or fear the future. Both bring misery through self-doubt.
Awareness isn’t passive. It directly leads to action (or inaction). As you take steps to expand your awareness, you will naturally find yourself harnessing your mind’s infinite power to create greater health, happiness, and love in your life.
Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a best-selling author and the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. The Chopra Center offers a variety of signature programs and events, including the Seduction of Spirit meditation and yoga retreat, the Perfect Health program, and the Journey into Healing workshop. Coming this August 22–25, 2013, the special theme of Journey into Healing will be Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-being. To learn more, please visit www.chopra.com or call 888.736.6895.