Chopra’s Keynote Offers Directions to Well-Being for Family Physicians

Deepak Chopra, MD

Deepak Chopra, MD

Why are family physicians more prone to burnout or stress?

"Because you are like the shock absorbers of the entire medical community," said Deepak Chopra, MD, during his address, "Future of Well-being," during Wednesday's General Session. "Patients first come to you. You have to absorb the shock, you have to deal with the stress of a patient and the system and then they gradually may be delegated to other specialties. But this is the system that we now need to understand. The whole system is a biological approach to health, healing, and return to the memory of wholeness."

Chopra explained that everything that we call "life" is part of one wholeness of activity: Our thoughts, feelings, relationships, cycles of rest and activity, social interactions, and work environment.

"They are all affecting our biology at a very fundamental level—at the level of gene expression, at the level of macrophages and lymphocytes and T cells and B cells and neuropeptides — a perfect mapping of the greatness of the whole-systems approach to medicine and to healing in the future," he said.

Before physicians can be effective in treating their own patients, they need to first treat themselves. He encouraged attendees to start by looking at their own body. "Your well-being is directly connected—how could it not be—with the well-being of the patients that you so deeply care about," he said.

One way of bringing the body to a state of well-being is through "earthing" or "grounding," the act of reconnecting physically with mother earth, he said, noting that humans are the only species on the planet who have lost that contact with the earth. For example, when some animals have inflammation or feel sick, they burrow into the ground until they feel better.

"It is now known that when you walk on the ground, free radicals are neutralized because negative ions come from the earth into your body and neutralize the excess free radicals. There's a lot of literature now coming on premature infants and grounding devices. You can connect to the earth through the grounding outlet. This might be a very efficient way of actually reducing inflammation," he said.

Technology has also opened the door to understanding how human genes are influenced by thoughts, emotions, relationships, and our environment. Chopra said that we could change the structure of the brain to optimize physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

"Neuroplasticity is the new discipline," he said. "Self-awareness is the key to all of this transformation. We talk about self-regulation, self-healing, bioregulation, but very few people — until recently — have appreciated the fact that physical well-being, mental well-being, emotional well-being, and spiritual well-being are all part of the continuum of healing."

Chopra said it shouldn't take a crisis to bring us into self-awareness, but unfortunately, that's what has taken place. He called on family physicians to look deep within to determine how they can participate in reversing the inflammation in the world and when they will begin to bring about wholeness and healing to themselves and the world family.

"You are the only people among the whole ecosystem of physicians who haven't broken down the body into bits and pieces, because the body cannot be artificially divided into bits and pieces. It's a whole activity. That activity includes everything that we call 'life,'" he said.