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Get into the Best Mind-Body Shape of Your Life . . .

The Answer is Inside!

wayne bannerThis month we invite you to connect to the rich inner wisdom of your body, mind, and spirit . . .

Begin by taking the Dosha Quiz to identify your mind-body type; join davidji for a guided meditation; practice a powerful technique to let go of food cravings; awaken your intuition through chakra-opening yoga; and watch our new video about our upcoming Journey into Healing workshop, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and David Simon weave their messages together. In his letter, Deepak discusses how discovering and embracing your shadow can help you reclaim your hidden power, while David Simon writes about the journey to the heart and shares a special guided meditation on love.

We wish you a wonderful month filled with peace, self-acceptance, joy, and love.

In gratitude,
The Chopra Center Staff

This month in the beautiful Squamish Valley of Canada, the Paradise Valley addiction center is launching one of the only residential holistic treatment programs in North America. The Chopra Center has created the program curriculum, which weaves together the timeless teachings of ayurveda with cutting-edge research in neurology, psychology, and addiction treatment.

Paradise ValleyIn an interview with Canada’s Canwest News Service, Chopra Center co-founder David Simon said,

“We’ll be training teachers and staff to implement the programming. We’ll be having a close relationship to ensure people who are coming to the Paradise Valley Wellness Centre will have an authentic Chopra Centre experience while going through detox and transformation.

The Chopra Centre component will primarily focus on making certain everyone attending Paradise Valley Wellness Centre masters the process of meditation. There will be daily meditation. Twice daily yoga classes. There will be a rich two-part curriculum, one part focused specifically on the issues of people going through recovery and the second part focused on the mind body component and how to live a more balanced life.” Read the full article here.

Click here to learn more about Paradise Valley’s residential addiction treatment program

david-simon-portrait-webHello Dr. Simon,
I am most grateful for your book Freedom from Addiction. In the book you write that neither you nor Dr. Chopra have seen a person who is committed to meditation or a yoga practice relapse. Yet I read tonight that you believe that having the support of a group or therapist is necessary to stop an addiction. Please clarify which of these options you believe works.


Dear Heidi,
Everybody is addicted to something. Some of us have more obvious additions to drugs, food, or alcohol, but every one of us engages in addictive behavior for temporary relief. These subtle and not-so-subtle addictions may beckon to us, then, in the words of my beloved poet Hafiz, they “drag us for days like a broken man behind a farting camel.”

If your behavior is creating negative consequences for your body, mind, and relationships, you would benefit from some type of support group with others who are on a similar path of recovery. The community aspect, combined with the inner work of yoga and meditation, will restructure your inner and outer environments to support you in making choices that are life-supporting rather than life-damaging.

The challenge and the goal is to replace habits that have negative side effects with those that have positive ones, including regular meditation, daily exercise, yoga, reading, dance, art, and nurturing friendships that perpetually remind you of your unconditional lovability and creativity.

Of note, the Chopra Center is developing a residential addiction treatment program in conjunction with the Paradise Valley Wellness Centre in the beautiful Squamish Valley (about one hour north of Vancouver, British Columbia). The program is based on the principles described in Freedom from Addiction and will offer a consciousness-based approach to healing and transformation.  Learn more about the Freedom from Addiction program here.

With love,

[This is Part I of  an article featured in the December issue of Elevated Existence Magazine.]

The Chopra Center’s Dr. David Simon explains the connection between emotions and disease, and the holistic way to find wholeness and health.

david-simon-portrait-webBeyond the Symptoms
By Tammy Mastroberte

When our head starts pounding, our stomach starts churning or our chest is on fire from heartburn, the first place we usually run to is the medicine cabinet. And when we can’t find relief on our own, the next step is the doctor’s office, where the physician often turns to his or her prescription pad to alleviate our symptoms.

This has been the routine for many of us, who learned over the years that when we feel bad — physically or mentally — a pill is the answer. And in some cases, this is absolutely true. But what if there was an alternative to medication that would soothe anxiety or depression? What if our stomach cramps or acid indigestion is really the body’s way of letting us know our emotions need tending to?

book-cover-web2These questions are the reason Dr. David Simon wrote his newest book, Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions, and created an emotional freedom course at the Chopra Center, both of which are based on his experience as a physician who has looked at life and health holistically for more than three decades.

“If you give people the safety needed, you will find everyone has a story underlying their symptoms or illness, and if we can bring that fromthe subconscious to the conscious, there are opportunities for healing,” he tells Elevated Existence.

“It’s about revealing the underlying story and writing a more empowering chapter. This can often help people get off or reduce their medication needs for a variety of things.”

Of course, there are some cases where medication is required, such as an auto accident, sudden heart attack or a urinary tract infection, Simon says. In these cases, medication can be lifesaving. But there are many instances where modifying a person’s lifestyle and looking at emotional factors can help alleviate ailments just as effectively as a pill.

“Traditionally, the physician’s job is to find the biochemical to relieve someone’s suffering. They don’t think of stress when someone has high blood pressure, it’s more about giving them a medication that can bring it down,” he explains.

Heart in the Sand“If someone is depressed, a doctor often doesn’t look at what’s happening in the person’s relationships, how they might not be nourishing themselves, or even if a person has found meaning or purpose in life. It’s more about a deficiency in serotonin. That is the conventional model.”

Simon approached medical school from a different perspective, majoring in anthropology and studying medicine in non-Western cultures. He did his thesis on shamanism, and in between his graduate studies and medical school, became a meditation and yoga instructor.

“I learned health was about love, but in medical school they teach that people are molecular machines, and when the machine isn’t twirling properly, to introduce a new molecule. We are taught to treat symptoms rather than look at the root of illness,” Simon says.

The Role of Emotions in Illness
He believes there is an emotional component to all illness, and a mind/body approach works well, especially for psychosomatic illnesses such as functional bowel disorders, chronic pain, migraines and fibromyalgia. Even heart disease has some emotional component, he explains, although genetics, diet and exercise do play a role.

“At any one time, 20 percent to 25 percent of the population is struggling with digestion, whether its heartburn or irritable bowel, and these have a strong emotional component,” Simon notes.

Many autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, also have a direct correlation to emotions. “Most people with an autoimmune disease say their illness gets aggravated when they are stressed, and when they are not, the symptoms get quiet for a while,” he says, citing a study done with people suffering from an autoimmune disease who were admitted into a hospital.

Patients were asked about physical, emotional, sexual or drug abuse in the family as a child, and the study showed an increased risk of an autoimmune disease as an adult when one or more of these factors are present. Additionally, issues about food — whether eating too much or too little — all have underlying emotional components.

The answer is to help people fill their needs directly rather than going through food, Simon says, explaining that whether it’s food, drugs or alcohol, addictive behaviors are a person’s attempt to self-medicate.

The Hidden Message of Symptoms
But whether it’s self-medicating or turning to a doctor’s prescription, when the underlying emotional components are not addressed, new symptoms will often crop up over time, he explains. The body will continue to create disease until the emotional causes are uncovered and resolved.

“The body is trying to get our attention because it is carrying some pain — often emotional — that needs some direct attention,” he explains. “Whether it’s a headache, backache or irritable bowel, the body is asking ‘Can someone please pay attention?’ But rather than doing that, we just suppress the symptom with some type of medication, and then it often finds another way to get our attention.”

AppleStethoscopeFor example, a patient will often go to the doctor because of a migraine headache, and the doctor will prescribe a medication. Then the patient comes back into the office saying his or her headache is better, but now they have a side effect, or a new symptom. The doctor will then prescribe a new medication for the new symptoms or side effect, and that is why people often wind up on five or six medications, Simon says.

“You have to look back to the beginning and see what triggered the episode. When I see people like this, it often goes back to one thing — such as being emotionally or physically abused as a child — and they often need someone to hear their story and help them heal that story. Once it’s resolved, the symptoms often go away.”

Alleviating Anxiety and Depression
When dealing with many mental or psychiatric disorders, medication is extremely important. Illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder — often based on a deeper genetic, biochemical imbalance — require medication, Simon says. But
for issues with anxiety, depression and insomnia, a mind/body approach can have amazing effects. And when used in conjunction, can get people off medication sooner.

“Medication for these things can be such an easy shortcut, and we need to raise the threshold of how readily doctors are giving them out,” he explains,
noting often people will feel better from the medicine and the underlying issue will never be addressed. “When someone dies, suddenly a person is put on an antidepressant, and they are not even allowed to grieve.”

Reducing our Dependence on Medication
Ideally, Simon believes medication should be used for a short period of time while helping people work through their issues, along with teaching them alternative lifestyle changes, such as meditation and yoga.

“People often just want relief, and if doctors offered them relief without going on a psychotropic medication, most people would opt for that, but so many just give the pill,” he says.

While a psychiatrist might know that if a person started meditation on a regular basis and reduced the amount of caffeine they take in during the day, it might help with their anxiety, many assume the patient won’t do these things, and so they just offer a pill, Simon explains. But in essence, people are “outsourcing their biochemistry.”

“I work with people trying to get off medication all the time, and I tell them, ‘If you had a manufacturing plant in the United States and you learned you could do the work overseas for much less, you would fire everyone and move. But then, if all of the sudden you decide you want to start back in the United States, you can’t just open up the same day — it takes time.’”

Simon says the same is true with the human brain. Once you start giving it serotonin from the outside, it realizes it doesn’t have to make it from the inside anymore. So getting off of medication can take four to six weeks, “until the brain says, ‘Oh, you’re serious. You really are going to make me manufacture this myself,’” he explains.

By looking at diet, exercise and sleep habits, shifts can be made to produce the same chemicals from within, rather than depending on an outside source. Getting to bed by 10 p.m., eating healthy foods, walking in beautiful, natural settings and more can help create a feeling of peace and keep a person centered.

woman meditation on hill XSmall“The practice of meditation is key because it gives people a glimpse of how they can generate peace inside their own body,” Simon says. “Good, healthy food; good smells; nourishing sounds; and good relationships — if everyone had these things we would all be healthy and happy. At the Chopra Center, we recreate the memory of wholeness, and teach skills to allow people to stay connected to their center.”

Particularly when it comes to anxiety, Simon believes by putting time into it and learning these new skills, people can learn to live without anxiety in a natural way. “Living without anxiety is a skill set that we have to be taught, and then the need for medication will go away,” he explains.

Read Part II of the interview tomorrow: The Heart of Emotional Healing

David Simon, M.D. is the medical director and co-founder of the Chopra Center
for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California.  Visit or call 888.736.6895 to learn more about the Free to Love process and David’s upcoming emotional healing workshops.

paradise valley

In partnership with Paradise Valley Wellness Centre, the Chopra Center is opening a new addiction treatment center in Squamish, British Columbia. The residential center is the first of its kind, offering a unique healing approach that combines timeless Eastern healing traditions with the most recent breakthroughs in Western medical science. The treatment program is based on the core principles developed by the Chopra Center’s co-founders David Simon, M.D. and Deepak Chopra, M.D. and described in their popular book Freedom from Addiction.

Nestled on 10 peaceful acres in the beautiful Squamish Valley (between Whistler and Vancouver), the addiction recovery program at the Paradise Valley Wellness Centre will be led by a team of health care professionals that include a psychiatrist, a physician, therapists, yoga and meditation instructors, a nutritionist, an acupuncturist, massage therapists, and residential care givers.

Learn more about the addiction treatment program here.

“Our experience at the Chopra Center is that when people are able to identify and release stored emotional pain – and replace addictive behaviors with choices that nourish their mind, body, and spirit – healing and transformation can occur,” said Chopra Center medical director, David Simon.