BY NAAMA O. POZNIAK
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”
— Deepak Chopra
For over ten years, I had the pleasure of attending the Capital Conference (CapCon) in Washington, D.C. Last year, the last flight I took before the pandemic began was to CapCon. This is the National Association of Health Underwriter’s (NAHU) annual conference and one of the largest and most influential healthcare industry events. Beyond hosting it virtually for the first time, this year we were honored to have Dr. Deepak Chopra as the keynote speaker.
The manifestation of this collaboration with Chopra and his team was weaving for more than 10 years. His vision, knowledge, energy, and expertise are critical in our industry. This unique appearance and sharing is certain to have a ripple effect, especially with those of us who write the policies, lobby for and deliver the American healthcare system.
Here is a recap of Dr. Chopra’s CapCon presentation
Excitement crackled across cyberspace as the session was broadcast through Zoom to many corners of the country.
Chopra invited the audience to “connect from the heart” when he spoke of the challenges brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic. “We all, including me, observed first-hand the pain, anger, grief, and fear experienced by the populace. So much taken for granted — friends, family, employment, good health — lost instantly. People felt helpless in the throes of the disease and, tragically, many people died and continue to die still.
“But notwithstanding variants, it is the usual course of viruses to become less contagious and virulent eventually. It may take time, but this too shall pass, and 2021 will be the year of recovery. We must ask ourselves what we have learned and gained from this experience. It is essential to let go of the past to change our future and find peace.
When peace is found, so is meaning and purpose. “Directly or indirectly, stress is the number one killer in our society. By itself, stress produces loss of immune function. Stress is the number one pandemic of our civilization. COVID-19 doesn’t even come close. Many people have chronic illnesses, anxiety, depression and inflammation. Ninety- five percent of all chronic diseases are related to lifestyle. We can foresee these illnesses, and therefore they are preventable.”
Chopra sees the future of wellbeing as “personalized and predictive — we can predict what’s going to happen.” But it is a process, not an overnight cure.
Most people don’t give much importance to sleep, but lack of sleep is considered to be one of the most significant contributors to premature death because of the inflammatory consequences. Sleep is the window to our soul and spiritual experiences. Humans need seven to eight hours of sleep to minimize risk of Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression. When you wake up after a good night’s sleep, you should feel refreshed, joyful and energetic. Toxins have been released, and the body has had a chance to self-regulate. You have returned to homeostasis.
Meditation is the best way to manage stress through self- inquiry, reflection and mindfulness. Incorporating art into our lives in the form of music and poetry is very healing. Never underestimate the power of laughter. Laughter brings joy, and joy illuminates our lives.
The body must move, and movement links to good health. Any form of exercise that coordinates the mind and body is beneficial and healing. Recommended practices include strength-building yoga combined with breathing techniques or other mind-body integrative techniques, such as Tai Chi, Chi Gong or martial arts. Data shows that exercise incorporating mind-body coordination, deep breathing, meditation, singing and chanting stimulates the vagus nerve, calms the body, and decreases inflammation, allowing the body to self- heal.
How we fuel our bodies makes a clear difference. Avoiding processed chemicals, hormones and steroids in our food is a key to wellness. Cardiovascular disease and so many others can be avoided by following a plant-based diet with maximum diversity. Damage can be reversed quickly by a change of diet and nutritional intake.
Our bodies have a biological rhythm. We are affected by circadian rhythms — the internal processes that control our sleep cycles and seasonal rhythms, lunar rhythms and gravitational rhythms. Our bodies are partof the symphony of the whole universe. When your feet touch grass, dirt, or sand, or when you touch a tree, you get what is called “grounded.” You can return to self-regulation, self-healing, and equilibrium.
Career wellbeing is fundamental as our work gives us purpose in life. Ask yourself: are you happy at your job?Are your talents being recognized? Are you part of a team that complements each other’s strengths? Ideally, a work environment incorporates a shared vision where there is an emotional and spiritual bonding and where each person brings an added benefit to the team, as in sports. It’s essential to find a career that fulfills your spirit. It is a critical factor in long-term happiness.
Social wellbeing means having people in your life who care about you. It would help if you strived to surround yourself with friends and family who support you and that you support in return. You are available to them and them to you through attention, affection and acceptance. Community wellbeing refers to your home. Ideally, this should be a space of comfort and safety.
During the quarantine, people found themselves at home more than ever before. Therefore, it became critical to live in a comfortable home “in which solace could be found, day after day.”
Financial wellbeing refers to feeling safe about your money. The pandemic has thrown many people into financial distress. Suddenly, many cannot afford adequate healthcare or nutrition. Financial distress, whether you are rich or poor, can cause significant stress and biological havoc. The extremely poor and the extremely rich worry about money all the time and often confuse their self-worth with their net worth.
Net worth is not self-worth. Financial security doesn’t come from the amount of money you have, but how you feel about money. What is your relationship with money? How do you use it? Do you have enough money to retire? If you get sick, do you have insurance?
Do you spend money on experiences, or do you spend it on possessions? Do you have default systems? Do you pay your taxes? Do you know how to give? All of these factors make up a person’s financial well-being.
Spiritual wellbeing is being in touch with the true self. When we get in touch with our true self through meditation, we access a field of infinite possibilities, incorporating values like truth, goodness, beauty, harmony, love, compassion and joy. Once you are in touch with your spiritual core, it influences everything else in your life positively. Spiritual enlightenment shines a light on the purity of your true nature and, in turn, affects your emotions, behavior and life.
In the next few years, we will see technical expertise extended to handheld devices, like Fitbit, with whom Chopra is working, allowing a person to reap the benefits of meditation. Such technology aims to enable the user to experience a joyful, energetic body, a compassionate heart and lightness of being — and to inspire us all to walk the pathway to total health. We can minimize disease and illness as we get older, but we do age. Nothing is going to prevent old age or death.
Everybody gets old if they are healthy. However, we can mitigate the suffering that comes from old age and the fear of death. With a sense of spiritual connection, we can learn not to fear death but embrace it as a natural part of life.
Every spiritual tradition teaches that the soul is timeless, immortal and boundless, and infinite. If we can assume that, we embrace self- realization, and fear evaporates.