April 19, 2016 0 Comments Review

Journey Into Healing at The Chopra Center: Event Review

All facts, information and studies belong to the Chopra Center. I do not take credit for any of their incredible findings. All opinions are mine and everything relayed is how I understood it not word for word how it happened.

In all honesty the only reason I booked to go to ‘journey into healing’ was because it was mandatory to do before the meditation teacher training I am undergoing. I had not researched much about it so nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience.

Let me start by saying, San Diego is the most beautiful city. The Chopra Center is the most beautiful place. Even the people roaming around where beautiful. It was hard to be in a bad mood when you’re amongst so much beauty.

I went to journey into healing in February 2016. The program ran from; Saturday 27th February –Tuesday March 1st. The days normally run from 6.15am-9.00pm. You do a mixture of meditation, yoga and lectures throughout the day, all are optional but obviously I went to all of them in order to get the most out of my experience.  To see a full a schedule of each day scroll the bottom of this post.

Whilst at the Chopra Center I completely changed my outlook on nutrition, western medicine and Ayurveda. I would definitely recommend the ‘journey into healing’ program for anyone who is in the medical profession your eyes will definitely be opened to how far we have strayed from remembering what the human body is capable of doing in order to protect itself.

I met so many different people whilst I was there all for different purposes: a retreat, a spiritual awakening, many as part of their teacher training too. You are able to take this course for a number of different reasons. I personally would not suggest it for a retreat as it is information led and a seminar learning about different ayurvedic treatments as opposed to getting treatments done. The Chopra Center offer lots of different courses and get away so if you are looking for a retreat type holiday than maybe a different course could be better suited.

What to take?

Sunrise meditation is held outside on the lawn depending on what time of year you go this can get quite damp and cold so I would take a warm waterproof. There is the option to sit on your yoga mat or on garden chairs; the chairs tend to be damp from the dew so it is best to take a little towel to sit on.

All other sessions are held inside and the room fluctuates between chilly and warm so do take layers as it can sometimes be a contrast to the beautiful sunny outside.

They give you a goodie bag with all the slides of the presentations that you are given throughout the weekend so that you don’t need to frantically scribble. There is also a notes section after each lecture so there is no need for a notepad. I would take a spare pen as then pens they give out tended to run out quick quickly!

You have yoga sessions every day so take your yoga mat. If you don’t have one they tend to have around 10 spare but it is on a first come first serve basis so get there early.

You have a brief breakfast break after yoga every morning the queues for food are crazy, I would take some breakfast bars or something light you can eat to avoid queuing!

You can either sit on the floor for lectures or on chairs. You may want to take a small pillow or a back rest as you do sit for most of the day.

The Food

The food served by the Chopra Center is all ayurvedic, coming from an Indian background and being vegetarian this was fine for me but if you are not used to this type of food it may be best to get yourself prepared a few days before. I would definitely suggest cutting out meat and alcohol for at least a week before the event in order to prepare your body for vegetarian food. You do not want your body to go into shock as it may during a detox.

The Staff

Chopra Center Teaching Staff

Deepak Chopra M.D.

Co-founder of the Chopra Center for wellbeing

Sheila Patel M.D.

Medical Director

Tim Brieske M.D.

Staff Physician

Mona Saint M.D., M.P.H

Staff Physician

Integrative Medical Experts

Suhas Kshirsagar BAMS, M.D.

Manisha Kshirsagar BAMS, LMT, DYA

Daniel Vicario, M.D., ABIHM

Special Guests

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

 

Keep reading for a full detailed review of the journey into healing program.

 

Primordial Sound Meditation Mantra

For anyone who has not been to a Chopra program before you have to register earlier than everyone else in order to get your unique primordial sound meditation mantra. (Check out my post on what primordial sound meditation is for more information.)

Getting your mantra was a special experience between you and your meditation instructor. You are given a time slot to meet with them and upon entering the room there is a beautiful table set with fruit and flowers. Your instructor will recite a peaceful mantra for you, then they will share your mantra with you, you both recite it together and then you on your own until you feel comfortable with it. This should be the only time you ever say your mantra out loud.

When I first received my mantra I really judged it. It was not what I was expecting, my tip for you is to allow yourself to accept it and get comfortable with it. I promise you will grow to accept and love it! You are told not to share your mantra with anyone else, this is something not everyone honored. I personally chose to keep mine private, and have not said it out loud since the day I was given it. For me, this gives me a closeness to the universe knowing that I am aware of the vibrations made on the day and place of my birth.

The Essence of Healing

The first lecture we had was about what healing actually means, this was presented by Sheila Patel.

“The successful ayurvedic practitioner is not the one who heals the most patients, but the one who teaches his patients to heal themselves”-Charaka

Dr Sheila spoke about being ‘healthy’ and how this meant not only our body as western philosophy promotes but instead our mind body and spirit. When all 3 are in alignment that is when you are truly at optimum health.

perfect health

Dr Sheila educated us on how the use of medicine to treat different diseases or conditions actually leads to worse problems in some cases. For example; the use of anti-depressants can cause heart issues and also DEPRESSION, a side effect of anti-depressants is they may cause depression. All of this is right there on the packet yet we choose to ignore it? Have we really got that lazy?

Dr Sheila spoke about the notion of disease not just being in the body. The ayurvedic definition of disease is 1. When you have a physical imbalance, 2. Emotional turbulence, 3. Spiritual disconnect. In Ayurveda treatment is always specific to that person, there is no ‘one size fits all.’

My take on this is that if someone is suffering from high blood pressure, instead of prescribing them tablets, we should be taking the time to ask them about what else in their life is happening. Does this person have something else going on that is causing their blood pressure to increase? When you are under stress the body attempts to protect itself in different ways. (I am not a doctor so please forgive my weak explanations!)

Dr Patel goes through the main ayurvedic treatements:

-Meditation

-Yoga/Pranayama

-Diet(inc herbs)

-Massage

-Detoxification

-Sensory input

-Daily routine

-Emotional regulation

For me all of this hit a nerve. It was an “aha” moment. I constantly used to feel ‘under the weather’ I was always saying “I feel so run down, I don’t understand why, I’m eating all the right things.” Your diet is only ONE of the things that helps your wellbeing. There are so many other aspects that we fail to recognise. The above treatments help us to reach that balance of perfect wellness.

We were shown different scientific studies on how meditation, pranayama, mindfulness and so forth aided in ‘miraculous’ medical recoveries.

“As is the cosmic body, so is the human body. As is the cosmic mind, so it’s the human mind. As is the macrocosm, so is the microcosm” –Upanishads

Mind Body Patterns (What is your Dosha)

Dr Suhas Kshirsagar runs this lecture, he is probably my favorite person in the world. He is so personable and funny! Definitely do not miss any of the lectures he presents.

Dr Suhas started by saying “In western medicine we know a great deal more about the causes of disease than we do about the causes of health.” Meaning we know how to deal with a disease once it occurs but we do not know how to deal with staying healthy in order to avoid disease.

Dr Suhas really drummed into us the uniqueness of each of us. He said “you are the most important person in your own wellbeing”. I realised then that it doesn’t matter what might have worked for someone else or what this diet says to do, I know my own body better than anyone else and so if I listen to what it is telling me I will know how to ‘fix’ myself. I want to use the analogy of a mother caring for her first born child, how does the mother always know how to soothe the child? Her maternal instincts tell her what is right for the child, the difference is SHE LISTENS.

My favourite part of the whole journey into healing program was learning about ‘Doshas.’ There are 5 different elements in nature: space, air, fire, water, earth. Each dosha is made up of different elements. We are made up of all 5 elements but they show up in us as 3 different doshas.

Vata: Space & Air

Pitta: Fire & Water

Kapha: Water & Earth

Each of us have one dosha which is more prominent than the others (or in rare cases you can be bi-doshic or tri-doshic when you have equal parts of 2 or 3 doshas).

You get given a test to take which will show you what dosha shows up  most for you. You also get given a test that allows you to see what doshas of yours may be imbalanced at the moment and how to solve that.

I will do a full blog post on doshas; what they are and how to balance them, so you can find all the information we learned about there!

If you would like to take a dosha quiz you can take it here:

http://doshaquiz.chopra.com/

If you have any questions about doshas feel free to drop a comment and I can explain anything you may be confused about!

Food as Medicine

“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food”- Hippocrates

An ayurvedic proverb we learned that we should all live our lives by is:

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use

When diet is correct medicine is of no need.

I think in todays society we have lost sight of the meaning of food and what it should do for us, often times we are eating for the sake of eating. Eating foods that don’t nourish your body cause more harm than they do good.

In Ayurveda the digestive system is thought of as your own personal fire (your ‘agni’). Everything you do should be to keep your agni burning at the right temperature.

We were taught ways to optimize your agni/digestion:

-Meditate

-Movement

-LISTEN to your appetite (do not eat for the sake of eating)

-Stop drinking ice-cold food and drinks. NEVER drink ice cold drinks with a meal

-Sip hot water between meals

This lecture was all about nutrition and how to use the different foods available to us help our body to reduce toxicity. If you are a nutritionist or interested in nutrition this is a lecture you CANNOT miss.

Classical Ayurveda (Wisdom of Herbs)

In this lecture we learned about the foundations of ayurvedic medicine, being able to understand the 6 stages of disease, how herbs can be used in Ayurveda. I will touch upon the things that stood out to me in this session.

The first thing that really stood out to me is that you are taking in energy from all 5 senses. Diet is only ONE out of the FIVE ways you are fueling your body. We have to be mindful of what we are surrounding ourselves with.

Dr Suhas stressed that therapy needs to be customized in order to suit each individual person instead of creating standard diets or medical procedures for this imaginary average person who does not exist.  Your diet should correlate to your doshas, and your specific imbalances.

Purification & Rejuvenation

In this session we learned the difference between detoxing and rejuvenating. Often times people go to a weekend resort to relax, assuming this will detox their bodies. Generally a detox process is not supposed to be enjoyable, you wont feel good during the detox but afterwards is when you see the results. You enjoy the after affects of the detox as if you purify your body you automatically start to feel better than you did before the process.  Dr Suhas explained that even if you are a healthy person you should still detox not only to give your body a break but also because of our external environments in today society, all the pollution and chemicals that we face on a daily basis are toxins we are unaware of ingesting.

FAT and OILS are our friends, I had to say this a few times before I believed it. We have been brainwashed to think a low fat option is a better option. Fat is an essential part of our diet and we need to keep the body lubricated for optimum digestion. Different doshas can be balanced using different oils so it is important to  make sure you are using the correct oil for your dosha.

The Future of Wellbeing

This was one of the talks that really stood out to me and Deepak Chopra leads this. When Dr Chopra speaks he chooses not to use  presentation slides so make sure you are alert and focussed when taking notes.

Dr Chopra speaks about the causes of human suffering:

-Not knowing the true nature of reality

-Grasping and clinging to that which cannot be grasped (everything in this world is constantly changing)

-The fear of impermanence

-Identifying with your ego (there is no such thing as ‘I’)

All of these causes of suffering are actually a bi product of the first reason; we suffer by saying we do not know the true nature of reality.

Dr Chopra explains “The true nature of reality is where all phenomenon is created, where all phenomenon subsides. This is the true meaning of I.” He speaks so simply and each word is so thoughtout.  He goes on to further explain this saying “The world is inside you, you are not inside the world. Once you learn that your mind is inside you you learn to control it, once you learn that your body is inside you, you control it.”

Dr Chopra speaks about ‘yourself’ and ‘your mind’ as two different entities. He explains “yourself is consciousness, your mind is simply a thought.’

When you are truly enlightened is when you have found yourself as the source of all existence.

SO SIMPLE BUT SO TRUE.

Dr. Andrew Weil

I am not sure if Andrew Weil will always be at the journey into healing program as he was one of our guest speakers but if he is definitely go along to hear him speak, he probably has the most unique approach to medicine and healing that I have ever witnessed.

Dr Weil drills into us how reliant we are as a society on drugs. There are so many different way to change your health without drugs. In today society people have very little confident in themselves and in their bodies to realise the healing that the body is capable of doing.

Dr Weil spoke about ‘hope’ and how hope is the first thing the body or the mind needs in order to begin its healing process. He listed cases of ‘miraculous recoveries’ purely because the doctor had not told the patient they had X amount of days to live.

Dr Weils style of speaking is incredible he has so many stories and patient examples to solidfy all of his beliefs. He spoke about a lady he treated who had an allergy to roses, he gave her a plastic rose and the same allergic reaction begun. The mind does not know the difference between reality and our thoughts. I would love for a non-believing medical professional to have a conversation with him and see what the outcome was!

Emotional Wellbeing

This was my favorite lecture, emotional wellbeing is a soft spot for me and in my opinion is the most important part of ourself. Dr Brieske spoke in great detail about ego and how it is harming our emotional wellbeing. From a young age we are conditioned to think your ego and your intellect are what make you a better person, you are forced by society to create a mask or a psyche to allow people to accept you. The more you maintain this mask and this self image, the more you are boosting your ego and loosing touch with your conscious self.

I learned that if you are feeling negatively towards another person it is because one of your vatas are out of balance:

For example

Anxiety  > Vata

Anger  > Pitta

Guilt/Depression > Kaffa

Dr Brieske spoke a great deal about addiction and phobias and what methods to use to overcome these. He has a way of speaking to a huge group of people as though he is only speaking to you. Out of all the speakers he was the most interactive.

Eating for your Dosha

In this lecture we learned about the specific foods that pacify each dosha. This was led by Dr Suhas and changed my ENTIRE outlook on nutrition. I will do a full blog post on how to eat for your dosha.

Inner Pharmacy

Dr Mona Saint led this lecture and it focused on how sensory experiences impact our physiology, tools to balance our health through the senses and how to perform a healing using massage.

Dr Mona explained ‘stress’ and what it does to our physical body. Our bodies are designed for ‘fight or flight’ so when we watch stressful movies, listen to angry music it creates the same processes in our body as if we were actually in those situations and vice versa with happy or loving visual and audios. We need to be mindful of what we are bathing our minds with. Dr Mona uses examples of patients in hospitals who have natural surroundings having a higher and quicker success rate than those looking out onto busy streets with lots of traffic.

We learned a lot about how to change small things in our day to day lives to reap big benefits. Dr Mona spoke about COLORS and how different colors affect our doshas differently. This really stood out to me because it was as though all of my favorite colors were the colors that balanced my dosha, did my mind already know what was good for it? Music, laughter, touch and specific oils and aromas for your dosha, all can have a massive affect on our state of being. These are such small things we can do to change our moods instantly.

 The end of the Journey into Healing program

The program finishes by giving you a whole lecture on daily routine and how to incorporate everything you have learned into your day to day life. All the speakers do a question and answer session so you get to ask specific questions that you may still be unclear on.

I hope my review helped if you are deciding whether to go or not! I definitely enjoyed my time at journey into healing; I learned so much and have completely changed so much within my daily life. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn more and make a positive change. I would not recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing spa-like retreat it was anything but that!

 

Journey into Healing – Schedule of Events

Saturday, February 27th   

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Registration for Primordial Sound Meditation class – Costa del sol Ballroom.

9:00 a.m. Primordial Sound Meditation Course Session 1

10:30 a.m. Primordial Sound Meditation Mantra instruction. Upon receiving your mantra, lunch is on your own.

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Check-in for Journey into Healing (for those who already have their Primordial Sound mantra)

2:30 p.m. General Session

5:30 p.m. Ayurvedic Dinner included

7:30 – 9:00 p.m. General Session

Sunday, February 28th      

6:15 – 6:45 a.m. Sunrise Meditation (optional)

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga classes

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast Break (on your own)

9:00 a.m. Group Meditation and General Session

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.                Ayurvedic Lunch included

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Primordial Sound Meditation Course Session 2

2:30 – 3:00 p.m. Break

3:00 – 6:00 p.m. General Sessions and Group Meditation

6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Ayurvedic Dinner included

7:30 – 9:00 p.m. General Session

Monday, February 29th    

6:15 – 6:45 a.m. Sunrise Meditation (optional)

7:00 – 8:00 a.m. Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga classes

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Breakfast Break (on your own)

9:00 a.m. Group Meditation and General Session

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. Ayurvedic Lunch included

12:45 – 1:30 p.m.                Learn More About the Chopra Center Programing* (optional)

2:00 – 6:00 p.m. General Sessions and Group Meditation

6:00 – 6:30 p.m. Group Meditation

6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Ayurvedic Dinner included

7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Evening Session

Tuesday, March 1st            

6:15 – 6:45 a.m. Sunrise Meditation (optional)

7:00 – 7:45 a.m. Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga classes

7:45 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast Break (on your own)

8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Group Meditation

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Break

10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. General Session and Closing

Please note. Two ayurvedic lunches and three ayurvedic dinners are included with your course.