Deepak Chopra On His Quest To Unite Technology, Spirituality, And Success

America’s favorite alternative medicine practitioner is taking a turn toward tech. As he explains in an interview, the quantified self includes your psychology–and success isn’t what you think it is.

Deepak Chopra On His Quest To Unite Technology, Spirituality, And Success
[Image: Flickr user Maikel Nai]

When we say the words “physician-author-guru,” your brain probably flips to only one person: Deepak Chopra. The man acts a soothing voice in the wilderness of pop culture–hanging with Conan O’Brien, Oprah Winfrey, and the like–all while writing 50-some books. Now Chopra has taken a turn into the spiritual realm of tech entrepreneurship with the Dream Weaver, a device designed to bring your brain into a relaxed state–and now a recently released iPhone app. We talked to him about the nature of wealth, the necessity of rest, and the intersection of technology and spirituality. Find a selection of that interview below.

Deepak Chopra

About two years ago I got interested in the idea that you could feed light pulses through the brain with your eyes closed and sound and music at a certain frequency. Your brain waves would dial into it and then you could dial the instrument down so that you would decrease the brain wave frequency from what it is normally in the waking state. And then you could slowly dial down the brainwave frequency to what it would be in the dream state, which is called theta, and then you even dial further down into delta.

So I asked my friend Rudy Tanzi who’s the head of the genetics lab at Massachusetts General Hospital and also a neurologist, if we could try it out on a few people, and sure enough within 10, 15 minutes they go into the dream state. And a lot of them actually go into the sleep state. So we decided to release this as a device that could help people relax but also help people go into dream and sleep states–you know most people have to take pills for this. So we’ve been experimenting more and more and we’re going through some official trials, but people are having great responses–especially people who have difficulty doing meditation or relaxing.

The more your mind is restful, the more you’re capable of dynamic activity. And you know the future is all kinds of biosensors, devices like this that not only sense what’s happening in your body but also give you feedback and tell you how to change your emotional and biological states.

This is a new era where what is happening in your consciousness is reflected in your body. It can be measured through digital technology and give you feedback instantly. Anyway, this is just the first of many such devices that will soon emerge that will help peoples’ ability to take deep breaths, enjoy their sleep, go into an altered state of consciousness, and efficiently maximize the use of their energy.

On the relationship between rest and activity

If anyone’s had a bad night’s sleep, the next day’s a disaster. Lack of sleep is now considered to be a very important factor in obesity. It disrupts two hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which are responsible for giving signals of hunger and satiety. Lack of sleep also is a factor in decreased concentration and traffic accidents, the shuttle disaster, the disaster with the oil rig, the Fukushima disasters can be tracked to inefficiency due to lack of sleep. But if you had a good experience of sleep but also through meditation with deep rest in the mind, which is also deep rest in the body, it automatically makes for dynamic activity. Dynamic activity and deep rest of the mind are complementary to each other.

On being in the world, but not of the world

The world sometimes feels like an insane asylum. You can decide whether you want to be an inmate or pick up your visitor’s badge. You can be in the world but not engage in the melodrama of it, you can become a spiritual being having a human experience thoroughly and fully.


On being a spiritual being with a career

In a person’s career, well, if you’re process-oriented and not totally outcome-oriented, then you’re more likely to be success. I often say ‘pursue excellence, ignore success.’ Success is a by-product of excellence.

It’s process. If you’re studying for an exam you’re not thinking about the results. If you’re always worried about the results you can’t study a lot. So to be engaged and detached from the outcome is excellent. Excellence is behavior. I mean, isn’t that what martial arts is about? And that’s what meditation is about, that’s what, in many ways, sports are about. If you adopt that lifestyle (of excellence as behavior rather than outcome), then it can extend to all areas of your life.

Bottom Line:

Wealth is nothing other than abundance consciousness. To understand also that your spiritual nature is to always achieve worthy goals but also to have a relationship with your own creative source within the spirit, and to make sure that your behavior reflects love and compassion. I would say success is a progressive realization of worthy goals, the ability to love and have compassion, and the ability to get in touch with your creative source.