Introduction by Deepak Chopra, MD

Your body has an ancient song. Its score flows through the rivers of time as it runs through the rivers of your vessels, carrying the miracle of life to every cell. Its rhythms beat to the pulsation of your heart and with the surge of hormones and neuromessengers whose fanfare heralds your waking day. Its melodies sing out a sequence of information that encodes your body’s functions with your unique countenance, talents and foibles. Its harmonies blend into a perfect mixture of acids, bases and buffers, neurotransmitters, antibodies and killer cells, making you nearly invincible. Its counterpoints allow you to put your attention on your task at hand, blissfully unaware of the symphony of intertwining intelligence that keeps you vibrant and constantly repairing imbalances as they arise. And it reveals itself in your pulse.

This song is available to anyone, from any culture, at every moment. A riff of its melody is available as you feel yourself salivate while your meal is prepared, as you feel the stimulation and stretch in your body while jogging or during your morning yoga, in the excitement as your lover touches your lips, and even in the distress from your gut when you get bad news, because the song’s refrain is available in every sensation and perception, the interface between your body and your mind.

Our culture presents this song to us in many ways – through arts, but in the west also through science – as we gain a collective awareness of the evolution of DNA and of the evolution of our cosmos. We watch films about genetically reconstructing dinosaurs and view in exquisite detail pictures from the Hubble telescope of distant nebulae exploding and galaxies colliding. Growing up in India I heard this ancient song in the refrains of my parents and grandparents which recounted the expression of the intelligence of life. India’s rich cyclical interplay of festivals, fasts, feasts and pilgrimages revealed this song to me through tales, music, theater and dance. My Vedic heritage, focused on the song of the Veda, seeded the awareness of the interplay of gods, demons and sages within my own developing body, which was poised to experience the entire range of life. Today, my modern medical journals simply recount these same tales through a different language.

Once I fully appreciated the role of the harmonizing value of nature’s intelligence in the maintenance and restoration of health, my life as a physician would never be the same. My life became devoted to making knowledge of the body’s natural healing capacity available everywhere, not only to benefit health and prolong life, but also to make life more rich and creative.

Without a sense of the rhythms and intelligence inherent in our physiology and our consciousness, we ignore the critical signals that our body has been cultured over eons to express in order to maintain balance. We neglect to sleep and exercise, indulge beyond our capacities, retire too late and then arise when the sun is well aloft, wondering why we feel out of synch. We sabotage the delicate harmony and order encoded in our chromosomes, our genetic gift of longevity that comes from keeping our tissues free from plaque and debris. A little imbalance in time becomes a disorder and then a disease, bringing on more stress and neglect. Our body’s ancient song is sung off key.

When, on the other hand, we imbibe the flow of the universe into our rhythms and habits, culture tastes and pleasures that nourish us, drink in experiences that uplift us while preserving inner repose, we evolve with an evolving universe. Such a life promotes an integrated interaction of our brain’s one trillion neurons, allowing us to be present to the multitude of perceptions we are incessantly bombarded with, to enjoy them for their beauty, to process them into creative action and to intuit the future and our role within it. For those so inclined, in nearly every tradition, such a life is held to be conducive to the contemplation of the cosmos and its Creator.

Modern physicists, ancient physicians as well as artists and poets have described this intelligence in terms of sound and light, because of its vibrational and harmonic values. Its expression at each level of your physiology, from the subatomic level of quarks and leptons through the macromolecular level of DNA and proteins, to its ultimate functioning in tissues and organs, means that it can be accessed for its practical benefit: a long, productive life free from disease. Growing up in India, I found this refrain available on the surface of life in my Vedic tradition: in the kitchen where my mother and grandmother used herbs and spices for their healing values on our bodies and minds; in the stories and songs of my elders who breathed to me and my brother the dynamics of the unmanifest values of life underlying the concrete world of health and disease, joy and suffering; and in the chants and rhythms of the Brahmins in the temples. I have since discovered that it is available everywhere if you are ready to look.

Adopting or learning the Vedic traditions is not necessary to gain the practical benefits of Vedic medicine. Jay Glaser has made the essence of Vedic medicine available to anyone in this immensely practical book. He has presented the true roots of Ayurveda and the other Vedic healing arts in a context that does not require any previous knowledge of these sciences or a trip to India. Here in one volume is an approach to preventing and treating the most common chronic diseases that almost everyone gets. This work should be an owner’s guide to anyone planning on someday finding herself in possession of an aging body, or already the owner of one. Since over forty percent of us will die of heart disease, thirty-five percent experience sleep difficulties in a given year, 23 percent will develop high blood pressure, and 46 percent of men 40-69 years old will experience sexual difficulties, you are almost guaranteed to develop a handful of conditions whose prevention and treatment are discussed in this book.

Dr. Glaser had already been studying Vedic medicine for over fifteen years when he joined me at a newly opened Ayurvedic clinic in the late 1980’s. In this setting we were able to witness together the effect of Ayurvedic treatments applied to western patients and to understand how the classical description in the ancient texts may need to be adapted to modern health consumers who are inquisitive yet skeptical, and who are willing learners if motivated and informed in a logical, scientific dialect. The result of his experience, including the years we spent practicing medicine under the same roof is this book of Vedic wisdom in a language of the twenty-first century.

My late father, Krishnan Chopra, MD, was a cardiologist and medical director of a hospital in New Delhi, which offered separate wings for both Ayurvedic and western medical approaches. Interestingly, Jay Glaser met my father in India years before he met me and was asked by him to teach meditation to the medical staff. Jay told me it was at my father’s hospital, where Vedic and conventional medicine had been seamlessly integrated, that he realized that complete medicine requires both the subtlety of the East and the rationalism of the West. Before Jay returned from Delhi my father told him, “Be sure to look up my sons in Boston. ” Since then, our mutual medical research, clinical practice and other collaborations have been based on the shared recognition that medicine is foremost a spiritual path for personal evolution. This book has been written from that same spirit, one that encourages adoption of daily habits of prevention and healing as a part of your spiritual evolution. It is a path of healing where the joy and well-being gained from the practices create the motivation to continue.

Whatever your interest in Vedic medicine, as an option for dealing with a chronic condition, a means to feel younger and live longer, or as a science to refine your nervous system to complement your practice of yoga or spiritual practices, you will find it available in Vedic medicine, which is simply and colorfully laid out here. May your journey to perfect health be effortless and fruitful.

Deepak Chopra, MD