Wellness

Deepak Chopra's best six tips for building a better brain

We sent Tracy Moore, host of Cityline, to get life-changing advice from Oprah’s go-to guru, Deepak Chopra. Read on for his best tips to overhaul the power of your mind.

Deepak Chopra visits the Chopra Centre in Toronto, 2013.

Deepak Chopra visits the Chopra Center in Toronto, 2013.

1. Develop your super brain:
“There are three parts to the brain: The midbrain takes care of everything automatically, like blood pressure and the immune system. It multitasks and does trillions of things without you being aware of it. Then there’s the emotional brain, which is triggered in either a healthy way or an unhealthy way by human interaction. Finally, there’s the critical brain, which is the bulk of your brain. A “super brain” is an integrated brain, where all three parts work together. It’s not triggered by people or circumstances into reactive feelings of rage, hostility or shame. Instead, reactive emotions are controlled. A super brain is fuelled by healthy emotions like love, compassion, joy, empathy, equanimity. And, by mastering its emotional side, the super brain makes more room for things like insight, intuition, creativity and imagination.”

2. Exercise for a healthy brain:
“We’re not exercising, not meditating, not getting enough sleep, not enjoying personal relationships, and we’re increasingly distracted. All this is having a negative impact on our brain health. For example, when you exercise you grow more neurons, you grow more connections between those neurons, and your body makes chemicals like endorphins, which make you feel good. These anti-depressive chemicals even regulate the immune system. Without exercise you lose all those extra brain benefits.”

3. Build a better memory
“Start by compartmentalizing activities, so you have sleep time, creative time, downtime, playtime, social time and technology time. This helps keep you in the present moment. And I believe being in the present moment is the best way to improve memory. When you stop worrying about storing memories and simply focus on what you’re doing at any given moment, you’ll have greater success retrieving those memories in the future. For example, if you’re putting your keys away and you watch yourself put them away, you won’t forget. Memories are reinforced simply by being present. Of course, I also encourage meditation.”

4. Master the art of silent meditation
“The key to meditating is understanding it’s not about focusing or staying on track. It’s about letting go. There are four aspects to human existence: being, feeling, thinking and doing. Meditation is about being. The easiest way to start is to sit comfortably with your eyes closed and no plans for 15 minutes. Listen to your breath going in and out. If you can sit quietly, with zero agenda, it’s a good start. Then, every now and then, be aware of your breath. Every now and then, be aware of the sensations in your body. Every now and then, stop and ask yourself: Am I aware? What am I aware of? That will bring you to the place you want. These days, I wake up early and try to do two hours a day, but I started with only 20 minutes.”

5. Forget goal setting to achieve real success
“People can reach their life goals and be unhappy at the same time. A lot of so-called successful people are very messed up — and that’s not my definition of success. Driving ambition, overwork and constantly making plans often lead to heart attacks, divorce, drugs and dysfunctional families. For me success is a progressive realization. It’s also the ability to have compassion and feel love — and most importantly to be in touch with yourself. When you’re in touch with yourself, things happen spontaneously. That’s why I don’t believe in setting goals. Instead, I believe in doing less and accomplishing more.”

6. Tap into the power of living in the moment
“As I get older, I see the future diminishing. I realize there’s never a point of arrival. Never. Having that realization throws you into the richness of being in the present moment. And in that richness, there are infinite possibilities.”

Click here for more from Deepak Chopra’s visit to Toronto.