The timing of Deepak Chopra's new book, What Are You Hungry For?, is just about perfect. The American Medical Association has declared obesity to be a disease, and the Centers for Disease Control says it's more common (affecting more than a third of us) and costly ($190 billion a year in added medical costs) than ever. But Chopra's take on the epidemic is as thought provoking and unconventional as his views of health and health care are.
"The story of overweight in America is the story of missed fulfillment," Chopra tells us in the book, and then explains, "People turn to overeating to substitute for what they really want." He goes on to say, "Once you turn desire in the right direction, real transformation can take place."
Chopra, who will offer his vision of "The Future of Wellbeing" Sunday at the Straz Center in Tampa, gives readers practical steps for finding answers to the incisive question posed by the book's title. These answers may prove pivotal in our collective struggle to better understand the causes of obesity and find ways to deal with it.
But the live program will go way beyond insights from the book. In a recent interview, Chopra said the program would include some "exciting data" from his work with Gallup, where he is a senior scientist leading research into how one-on-one relationships can have far-reaching effects.
He spoke of how "physical well-being, social well-being, community well-being, financial well-being and spiritual well-being" are all related. In his words, "Everything from crime rate to hospital admissions to traffic accidents to social unrest to the economic well-being of society depends on our personal well-being, which has nothing to do with health care."
Chopra left his successful career in mainstream medicine decades ago and has authored more than 65 books that have been translated into more than 35 languages. Many have topped the bestseller lists.
Chopra believes there is a divine source of health and well-being, but that modern medicine is still deeply invested in a belief that health and illness are totally physical in nature and continues to focus primarily on physical therapies like surgery and drugs.
But he does see a slow shift occurring. Both scientific research and grass roots movements, driven in part by social media, are beginning to open the door to a new era of medicine, which will reveal the role that consciousness, human and divine, play in health and well-being.
Any chance this slow shift might speed up? Chopra cautions, "We need to just do our best to be the change we want to see and not worry about legislators and other people. Just share what we know with those who are willing to listen."
Those who come to hear Chopra will find a scientist who challenges conventional views of health and health care. He recognizes that "health is more than just the absence of disease." For many, the search for health already includes spiritual practices. And it's encouraging to hear more about the growing public recognition of their value and place in modern medicine.
Bob Clark is a Christian Science practitioner from Belleair. Read his blog at simplyhealthyflorida.com.