Dr. David Simon Memorial to be Broadcast via Live Streaming with Deepak Chopra & Wayne Dyer

On Sunday, February 26, from 2 to 4 p.m., the public is invited to honor David Simon at a memorial at La Costa Resort, where friends and family members will remember the man whose work and presence transformed the lives of so many people throughout the world.

The event is free and everyone is welcome to attend. Guests are asked to RSVP through the Chopra Center’s online registration page here.

The memorial will also be broadcast via live streaming on www.chopra.com so those who live far away can be part of the celebration of David’s life and gifts to the world, according to the Chopra Center.

Guest speakers will include members of David’s family, as well as Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer and other friends and colleagues. The public memorial will also include a live musical tribute by Emmy-award winning singer and songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman.

Since the announcement of David Simon’s passing, there has been an outpouring of love and gratitude, as thousands of people from throughout the world have posted their memories of David on a special chopra.com blog page, Remembering David.

For more information about the event, visit the online registration page.

Remembering Dr. David Simon: An Interview Part 2

In Part 2 of the article “Beyond the Symptoms,” based on an interview with Dr. David Simon, which was featured in the December 2009 issue of Elevated Existence Magazine, Simon discusses a holistic approach to anxiety and depression, and ways we can make changes in our lives in order to alleviate and release the emotions that can lead to disease in the body.

For part 1 of the article, see “Remembering Dr. David Simon: An Interview Part 1.”

Alleviating Anxiety and Depression

When dealing with many mental or psychiatric disorders, medication is extremely important.

Illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder — often based on a deeper genetic, biochemical imbalance — require medication, Simon says. But for issues with anxiety, depression and insomnia, a mind/body approach can have amazing effects.

And when used in conjunction, can get people off medication sooner. “Medication for these things can be such an easy shortcut, and we need to raise the threshold of how readily doctors are giving them out,” he explains, noting often people will feel better from the medicine and the underlying issue will never be addressed. “When someone dies, suddenly a person is put on an antidepressant, and they are not even allowed to grieve.”

Ideally, Simon believes medication should be used for a short period of time while helping people work through their issues, along with teaching them alternative lifestyle changes, such as meditation and yoga.“People often just want relief, and if doctors offered them relief without going on a psychotropic medication, most people would opt for that, but so many just give the pill,” he says.

While a psychiatrist might know that if a person started meditation on a regular basis and reduced the amount of caffeine they take in during the day, it might help with their anxiety, many assume the patient won’t do these things, and so they just offer a pill, Simon explains. But in essence, people are “outsourcing their biochemistry.”

“I work with people trying to get off medication all the time, and I tell them, ‘If you had a manufacturing plant in the United States and you learned you could do the work overseas for much less, you would fire everyone and move. But then, if all of the sudden you decide you want to start back in the United States, you can’t just open up the same day — it takes time.’”

Simon says the same is true with the human brain. Once you start giving it serotonin from the outside, it realizes it doesn’t have to make it from the inside anymore. So getting off of medication can take four to six weeks, “until the brain says, ‘Oh, you’re serious. You really are going to make me manufacture this myself,’” he explains.

By looking at diet, exercise and sleep habits, shifts can be made to produce the same chemicals from within, rather than depending on an outside source. Getting to bed by 10 p.m., eating healthy foods, walking in beautiful, natural settings and more can help create a feeling of peace and keep a person centered.

“The practice of meditation is key because it gives people a glimpse of how they can generate peace inside their own body,” Simon says. “Good, healthy food; good smells; nourishing sounds; and good relationships — if everyone had these things we would all be healthy and happy. At The Chopra Center, we recreate the memory of wholeness, and teach skills to allow people to stay connected to their center.”

Particularly when it comes to anxiety, Simon believes by putting time into it and learning these new skills, people can learn to live without anxiety in a natural way. “Living without anxiety is a skill set that we have to be taught, and then the need for medication will go away,” he explains.

Making Changes

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in December 2009. The seminars mentioned below have changed. See www.chopra.com/healingtheheart for more information.)

The Chopra Center offers emotional healing seminars, which Simon says he has been developing for years. The first of the two-part series dedicated to emotional healing is called “Free to Love,” which takes place over three days and is about identifying, mobilizing and releasing emotional toxicity getting in the way of good health. The second part is “Free to Heal,” which dedicates five days focused on rejuvenation for the body.

“Fee to Love is intensely healing, but we are finding people are pretty raw afterward, and so we encourage them to learn how to take better care of themselves in a compassionate and loving way through the second course, “Free to Heal,” explains Simon. “With both, they have the deep insights to release the pain, and also have the tools to move forward, treat themselves lovingly and have healthy relationships.”

In his book, which is based on these courses, Simon reveals a variety of methods for emotional clearing, including heart-opening yoga poses, breathing exercises and specific “intuitive self-reflection” exercises that take the reader through a series of questions to both reflect upon and journal about. “Breath and thought work closely together, so we find that by consciously using the breath, we can access information we previously suppressed,” he says.

Also, the yoga poses were developed over the years to make it easier for people to bring awareness into the places of the body associated with emotions, and stretching, moving and breathing helps the release of toxic emotions from the body. “If people are tuned in, they feel emotions in the heart, gut and occasionally the sexual organs,” Simon explains. “The yoga poses are designed to open up the core emotional center and release the energy trapped inside.”

And while many who go through the program or do it themselves at home may be tempted not to do the journaling element, Simon says it is a very important piece. Rather than going through the steps in the mind, writing them down is necessary — not only to remember the insights revealed, but to get them out of our minds and onto the paper.

“We carry all this stuff around on our internal hard drive, and when we write it down, it’s like downloading it to a flash drive and creating space,” Simon says. “We need to quiet down the usual conversation of our mind and start asking questions from a deeper place. We may not think we know what we need, but we do know it somewhere, and intuitive self-reflection is a way of hearing the truth and bringing into awareness.”

The key to emotional health, and in turn physical health, is learning how to stay centered, no matter what life throws at us. It’s about learning to make better choices, and knowing we all deserve to be happy and healthy, have nurturing relationships and have a meaningful life by expressing our unique purpose. By ridding ourselves of toxic emotions — some we may have been carrying around for a lifetime — and learning a new, healthy way to live and love, we can find our center and know how to return to it when we fall off.

“If we have an inner state of wellbeing, where the mind is relatively quiet and the body is in comfort, we can evaluate, and listen to our bodies and minds to get information from a deeper place,” Simons says. When evaluating a decision in life, our mind and body will often generate signals, letting us know when something doesn’t feel right. The more centered we are, the more likely we will be able to recognize the signals, he notes.

“The more your baseline is centered, balanced and comfortable, the more sensitive you will be to going out of your center. But if your baseline is one of chaos, you won’t even notice you are out of balance.”

To leave a note in remembrance of Dr. Simon, visit the Remembering David Web site.

Remembering Dr. David Simon: An Interview Part 1

The December 2009 issue of Elevated Existence Magazine featured an exclusive in-depth interview with Chopra Center co-founder, Dr. David Simon, about the connection between emotions and disease, and how a mind-body approach can help people find wholeness and health.

At the time, Simon had recently published the book “Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions,” and launched an emotional freedom course at the Chopra Center based on the book.

Dr. Simon recently passed away, and in remembrance of him, we present the article in full – broken into two parts. Interviewed by Elevated Existence founder, publisher and editorial director, Tammy Mastroberte, Dr. Simon shares valuable information on the connection between our emotions and the creation of disease in the body. 

Beyond the Symptoms

The Chopra Center’s Dr. David Simon explains the connection between emotions and disease, and the holistic way to find wholeness and health.

By Tammy Mastroberte

When our head starts pounding, our stomach starts churning or our chest is on fire from heartburn, the first place we usually run to is the medicine cabinet. And when we can’t find relief on our own, the next step is the doctor’s office, where the physician often turns to his or her prescription pad to alleviate our symptoms.

This has been the routine for many of us, who learned over the years that when we feel bad — physically or mentally — a pill is the answer. And in some cases, this is absolutely true. But what if there was an alternative to medication that would soothe anxiety or depression? What if our stomach cramps or acid indigestion is really the body’s way of letting us know our emotions need tending to?

These questions are the reason Dr. David Simon wrote his newest book, “Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions,” and created an emotional freedom course at The Chopra Center, both of which are based on his experience as a physician who has looked at life and health holistically for more than three decades.

“If you give people the safety needed, you will find everyone has a story underlying their symptoms or illness, and if we can bring that from the subconscious to the conscious, there are opportunities for healing,” he tells Elevated Existence. “It’s about revealing the underlying story and writing a more empowering chapter. This can often help people get off or reduce their medication needs for a variety of things.”

Of course, there are some cases where medication is required, such as an auto accident, sudden heart attack or a urinary tract infection, Simon says. In these cases, medication can be lifesaving. But there are many instances where modifying a person’s lifestyle and looking at emotional factors can help alleviate ailments just as effectively as a pill.

“Traditionally, the physician’s job is to find the biochemical to relieve someone’s suffering. They don’t think of stress when someone has high blood pressure, it’s more about giving them a medication that can bring it down,” he explains. “If someone is depressed, a doctor often doesn’t look at what’s happening in the person’s relationships, how they might not be nourishing themselves, or even if a person has found meaning or purpose in life. It’s more about a deficiency in serotonin. That is the conventional model.”

Simon approached medical school from a different perspective, majoring in anthropology and studying medicine in non-Western cultures. He did his thesis in Shamanism, and in between his graduate studies and medical school, became a meditation and yoga instructor.

“I learned health was about love, but in medical school they teach that people are molecular machines, and when the machine isn’t twirling properly, to introduce a new molecule. We are taught to treat symptoms rather than look at the root of illness,” Simon says.

He believes there is an emotional component to all illness, and a mind/body approach works well, especially for psychosomatic illnesses such as functional bowel disorders, chronic pain, migraines and fibromyalgia. Even heart disease has some emotional component, he explains, although genetics, diet and exercise do play a role.

“At any one time, 20 percent to 25 percent of the population is struggling with digestion, whether its heartburn or irritable bowel, and these have a strong emotional component,” Simon notes. Many autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, also have a direct correlation to emotions.

“Most people with an autoimmune disease say their illness gets aggravated when they are stressed, and when they are not, the symptoms get quiet for a while,” he says, citing a study done with people suffering from an autoimmune disease who were admitted into a hospital. Patients were asked about physical, emotional, sexual or drug abuse in the family as a child, and the study showed an increased risk of an autoimmune disease as an adult when one or more of these factors are present.

Additionally, issues about food — whether eating too much or too little — all have underlying emotional components. The answer is to help people fill their needs directly rather than going through food, Simon says, explaining whether it’s food, drugs or alcohol, addictive behaviors are a person’s attempt to self-medicate.

But whether it’s self-medicating or turning to a doctor’s prescription, when the underlying emotional components are not addressed, new symptoms will often crop up over time, he explains. The body will continue to create disease until the emotional causes are uncovered and resolved.

“The body is trying to get our attention because it is carrying some pain — often emotional — that needs some direct attention,” he explains. “Whether it’s a headache, backache or irritable bowel, the body is asking ‘Can someone please pay attention?’ But rather than doing that, we just suppress the symptom with some type of medication, and then it often finds another way to get our attention.”

For example, a patient will often go to the doctor because of a migraine headache, and the doctor will prescribe a medication. Then the patient comes back into the office saying his or her headache is better, but now they have a side effect, or a new symptom. The doctor will then prescribe a new medication for the new symptoms or side effect, and that is why people often wind up on five or six medications, Simon says.

“You have to look back to the beginning and see what triggered the escapade. When I see people like this, it often goes back to one thing — such as being emotionally or physically abused as a child — and they often need someone to hear their story and help them heal that story. Once it’s resolved, the symptoms often go away.”

Read Part 2 of the interview “Remembering David Simon.”

To leave a note in remembrance of Dr. Simon, visit the Remembering David Web site.

Chopra Center Co-Founder Dr. David Simon Passes Away

Chopra Center co-founder David Simon, M.D. passed away at home today, January 31, 2012, surrounded by his family, according to press release by The Chopra Center.

Known for his pioneering work in the field of mind-body medicine, David Simon, M.D. played a key role in bringing the healing practices of meditation, yoga and Ayurveda into the mainstream medical world and to countless people throughout the globe.

The Chopra Center staff and friends throughout the world expressed their sorrow at the news, responding with an outpouring of love on a special Web site,  created for the community to share  their stories and celebrate the life of a man who touched so many lives.

“David has been my friend, partner, teacher, trusted colleague,
and younger brother for more than twenty years,” said Deepak Chopra, a longtime medical colleague and friend who co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing with Simon in 1996. “He has touched my heart, influenced the way I think, and expanded my spirit. David approached life from a place of pure potentiality and unlimited possibilities. His wisdom, courage and love will continue to inspire all of us for decades to come.”

Dr. Simon is the author of many best-selling books on health and well-being, including “Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions,” “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga Guidebook,” “Return to Wholeness: Embracing Body, Mind, and Spirit in the Face of Cancer,” “The Wisdom of Healing; Vital Energy,” and “The Ten Commitments: Translating Good Intentions into Great Choices.”

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a contribution can be made to support Glioblastoma Cancer Research at U.C. San Diego.

Please visit the Remembering David Web site for the mailing
address or to make an online donation.


The Chopra Center Introduces Silent Retreat

For those practicing Primordial Sound Meditation, taught at The Chopra Center, and want to take the practice to a deeper level, a new retreat is now available called “Silent Awakenings: An Inward Journey Inspired by Dr. David Simon.”

Set for September 4-8, 2012, at Asilomar Retreat Center in Monterey Bay, Calif., “Silent Awakenings” offers participants the chance to go beyond their regular meditation practice and extend the experience of silence and contemplation to help them “dive deeper and in turn be more present” in their lives, according to The Chopra Center.

“In our dynamic, goal-oriented world, we don’t usually spend much time or attention cultivating silence, but it has been my experience that learning to surrender to this quality of awareness nurtures all aspects of life – including our environment, our body, our relationships, our creative expression, our heart and soul,” said Simon.

The new retreat will be hosted by Dr. Deepak Chopra, Brent BecVar and Amanda Ringnalda. Each day, participants will be guided in Primordial Sound Meditation, yoga, walking meditations and journaling.

Pricing includes 5 days, 6 nights accommodations at Asilomar; three meals each day; guided Primordial Sound Meditation; daily yoga; journaling and guided nature walks; and evening meditation and community gatherings known as satsangs.

See below for a video of Asilomar, and for more information on the retreat, visit http://www.chopra.com/awakenings.

World’s First “Chopra Yoga Center” Opens in Canada

The world’s first Chopra Yoga Center opened in Vancouver, Canada, and the custom-designed 8,000-square-foot wellness studio is the first in a planned series of yoga centers rooted in foundational teachings developed by mind-body healing pioneers Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D.

“We’re excited to bring Chopra Yoga to Vancouver, a city that is emerging as a world class center for yoga,” said Chopra. “In our beautiful new studios, both beginners and advanced yogis will have an opportunity to explore the deepest principles of yoga and conscious living.”

The Chopra Yoga Center offers a wide variety of classes that range from meditation, hot hatha and power vinyasa to Cho fit, Yoga Barre and Pilates.

Additionally, the center offers classes that focus specifically on the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga – a practice developed by Chopra and Simon. In fact, the studio’s philosophy is inspired by the principles in Chopra’s best-selling book, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success,” as well as an emphasis on the benefits of yoga for physical health, spiritual awakening, and inner calm and balance.

“In our modern electronic culture, so many people feel fragmented and overwhelmed with stress,” Simon said. “Our intention with Chopra Yoga is to help as many people as possible experience the balance, calm, and vitality that yoga naturally cultivates.”

The Chopra Yoga Center is located at 451 Granville Street, in Vancouver B.C., and is now accepting new members. The programs are designed for both new and experienced yoga practitioners, and in recognition of the importance of community, five percent of all profits will be donated to local charities.

For more information, visit www.choprayoga.com.