Q&A with Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi
In this Q&A authors Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi discuss issues raised in their new book Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness and Spiritual Well-Being. Deepak Chopra. M.D. is the author of more than sixty-five books, including numerous New York Times Bestsellers. His medical training is in internal medicine and endocrinology. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., is the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and director of Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Q. How would you define super brain?
A. It's the brain you have now but maximized. Everyone uses the brain at every moment, but we use it unconsciously. We let it run in the background without realizing the power we have to reshape the brain. When you begin to exercise your power, the everyday brain, which we call the baseline brain, starts to move in the direction of super brain.
Q. The power to reshape the brain—can you be more specific?
A. It means being more mindful of your own thoughts and feelings and becoming more proactive in taking charge of your brain. Each of us plays four roles in relation to the brain. We lead, we inspire, we invent, and we use it. Most people do not actively use their brains. They passively let their feelings and thoughts control their lives. Or they only use their brains without giving it much inspiration or leadership. They don't invent new ways to use their brains, either, settling instead for the same routine and repetitive thoughts every day. But if you master all four roles, you create your super brain. The bottom line isthat you when you are the active observer of your feelings and thoughts, you become the user of your brain. Your super brain then serves you, not vice versa.
Q. How did you hit upon this power to create super brain?
A. Directly from breakthroughs in neuroscience. Modern brain-scan technology has revealed that each person shapes a completely unique brain. Other studies have documented the amazing regenerative ability of the brain, which can be reshaped by the power of your mind to bring you the world you desire. Knowing that, the obvious question arose: Why not use your mind to create the brain you want, using conscious choice?
Q. What does that mean on a practical basis?
A. We give a lot of pointers in the book, but the quickest answer is this: All experiences are either positive for your brain or negative. If you maximize the positive ones, you are shaping the brain you want to being you the world you want.
Q. Can you give a few examples of what you call"a positive lifestyle for the brain"?
A. We divide it into inner work and outerwork. Outer work includes diet, exercise, stress management, social engagement, intellectual stimulation, and good sleep—very familiar advice, but we have made it specific for the brain. Inner work is even more important and little understood until now.
Q. Can you describe inner work?
A. The brain is a dynamic system that constantly processes and creates your reality. It works best if you balance all the things that the brain is good at. The brain is good at being adaptable, flexible, creative, and intelligent. But it's also good at playing and just being. A balanced life provides time—every day if possible—so that every function of the brain is allowed to come alive and flourish.
Q. Do you think that "work" might be more than many people want to do?
A. By work, we mean doing the best you can for yourself. If you want lifelong good health, intact memory, reduced risk of Alzheimer's, and inner fulfillment, your brain plays the central part in all of them. The old adage of "use it or lose it" applies to the brain. The "work" is actually quite simple but requires persistence. One must simply choose to be the observer of the thoughts and feelings brought to them by their brain and use them to create a positive and constructive world that best suits them.
Q. Where is super brain taking us in the future?
A. We believe that super brain is the next evolutionary leap for the human brain. The last leap was the neocortex, the higher intellectual brain, which gave humans the ability to reason, to plan ahead, to love, to feel compassion and empathy, to attribute meaning to the world. Now we can build on that. Choice is the key, because human beings are the only creatures who can choose to evolve, who can shape their destiny. Furthermore, we have been given the gift of "self-awareness," which allows us to step back into our true selves to observe and use our brains to create the world we wish to live in. For us, super brain is the future and starts now.