Questions for Deepak Chopra

Q: What is Primordial Sound Meditation, and why do you use a mantra? Aren't other meditation techniques just as efective?

A: You are right that there are many effective meditation techniques that don't use mantras. I have often recommended breath meditation myself for many years. However, what is important in selecting a spiritual technique is not whether it uses a mantra or not, but how effective it is at taking you beyond its own practice—getting you beyond the mind. Whenever you start meditating you are using the mind to think or attend to something (even trying to clear the mind is a mental activity). The mental activity of the practice itself keeps you in your mind and out of the unified experience of the Self, which is beyond the duality of the mind. The trick is for the mental activity of the meditation to lead you past the mental activity itself. Meditations that do this allow you to quickly progress on the path to Self-realization. Mantras are sounds based upon the elementary quantum mechanical structures of existence. Mantra comes from the word “mantrayate,” that which takes away the mind. When they are used properly they permit the active level of mental functioning to settle down to that fundamental non-dual state. While mantras are certainly not the only way to go beyond the mind, they are invaluable gifts the ancient seers have handed down to us to make access to the Self easy.

Q: Can you please elaborate on intentions and meditation. I believe you said that there are specific meditations for manifesting, and other meditations for silent witnessing, and the two should not be mixed. It's still unclear how exactly one goes about performing the manifestation meditation, and how often one should do it to get results. Should I focus on the breath and keep repeating my intentions like a mantra for the entire meditation period? Also, how often should one do the manifestation meditation versus the silent witnessing one?

A: One should practice silent meditation regularly every day. It should not involve any procedures to manifest desires while you are doing it. Manifestation meditation is something you can do in addition to your other meditation if you feel the need to accelerate the fulfillment of your desires. You may find that manifestation meditation is not even necessary. So that is part of the reason why the directions for manifestation meditation are vague, because there is no set rule for how much you should do it. If you want, you can do it every day, or whenever you feel the need. There are many types of meditation for fulfilling desires. Some involve repeating intentions, some visualizations. You can use whatever works best for you. Some of the practices involve first settling down deep enough to find out what your heart really wants. Those will be the intentions that bring the fulfillment of your desires in a balanced, harmonious way that is of greatest benefit to you and to everyone else as well. Through the practice of silent meditation you have established a deep baseline level of awareness from which intentions can manifest. The basic idea behind those manifestation meditations is to first settle down to a quiet state of simple awareness and then gently introduce your intention and let it sink into that silence. That is releasing the intention into the gap. Then allow your attention to return to that abstract silence for a few moments or half a minute or so, and then introduce your intention again into the silence. You can continue doing that for 5 or 10 minutes.

Deepak Chopra, M.D., bestselling author and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing at the La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad. Learn your personal mantra and Primordial Sound Meditation over the Weekend Apr 8-9 or May 20-21, 2006. For more information, visit chopra.com, email info@chopra.com, or call 888.424.6772.

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Amino Acid Therapy: Still a Secret
    

Two years ago I attended the Orthomolecular Health Medicine Conference. All of the speakers were prominent directors of specialty labs. Some labs specialize in immune system testing, others in infections, vitamins, minerals, etc. At the end of the conference, during a question and answer session, the speakers were asked what the single most important nutritional/metabolic test is, and they unanimously said, “amino acid analysis.” Yet, there was not one presenter in three days who spoke about amino acids.

There are innumerable good books on vitamins and minerals and perhaps one decent book on amino acids by Dr. Eric Braverman, called “The Nutrients Within: Facts, Findings, and New Research on Amino Acids.”

Conventional medicine tends to lag 50 years behind breakthroughs. I regret that the clinical use of amino acids is already at the 40-year mark, and there are truly only a few doctors in the country who have expertise. That does not mean that the testing is not going on. An enormous amount of amino acid testing is going on, but the laboratories are making recommendations based on computer programs. These programs do not “think” and they do a poor job in their recommendations.

In order to convey the importance of amino acids in health, illness, and treatment, we need to start at the beginning, which, in the human body, is DNA. DNA is made up of an alphabet, consisting of 4 letters or “nucleotides,” namely: Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), Adenine (A), and Thymine (T). Under normal conditions, C and G always pair with each other, and A and T always pair with each other.

These 4 letters code for genes. One gene codes for one protein. DNA, a 4-letter alphabet, uses amino acids, a 20-letter alphabet, to create the entire human body. So we have two primary alphabets, one with 4 letters and one with 20 letters, and out of that, everything we are, on the physical plane, is created. Amino acids have “D” and “L” forms, of which “D-phenylalanine” and “DL-phenylalanine” are the only ones that are not “L”-form. In this article, the letter “L” will be deleted. Simply know that I am always referring to the “L”-form as in “L-tryptophan.”

A short string of amino acids is called a “peptide.” A chain of 100 or more amino acids is a “poly-peptide,” and a chain or grouping of 1,000 or more amino acids is a “protein.”

The human body contain the same percentage of water as the Earth, namely about 67%. If you remove water, our bodies are 70% amino acids by dry weight. That fact should raise eyebrows, set off a flurry of classes and seminars, but it does not. The science of amino acids remains below the radar of mass consciousness. Is it just too obvious? I don't know. I do know that, during the 1980's there were a number of clinicians who were experts in amino acid therapy. Then came the tryptophan scare in 1998. The Shoyu-Denko Company in Japan had released a bad batch of tryptophan, purchased by the major nutritional companies in America, repackaged, and then sold in health stores. Several hundred people developed eosiniphilic myalgia syndrome and 27 people died.

Once the FDA had determined that the problem was with Shoyu-Denko and not with tryptophan, the moral thing to do would have been to ban Shoyu-Denko, but instead the FDA banned tryptophan. Four or five years later, the FDA allowed tryptophan to be sold, but only as a pharmaceutical. So, you had to pay a doctor and a pharmacist's costs and, as a result, the cost of tryptophan quadrupled. At long last, just over the last six months, tryptophan became available to the public over the Internet, as a nonprescription supplement.

I was not surprised at what had happened with the tryptophan scare, but many doctors specializing in amino acid therapy completely gave up the practice, fearing that if the FDA was going after amino acids, they would be targeting amino acid specialists next. And so a whole generation of amino acid specialists either left, or grew old and retired.

It is worth mentioning that Senator Dick Durbin is working hard right now to reclassify all nutritional supplements as “medications,” through Senate Bill 722, the “Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2003. If S722 passes, the FDA will have the power to pull any nutritional supplement off the shelves, and high doses of supplements (such as 10 grams of Vitamin C daily) is likely to become impossible. It is not clear how much support Durbin has among other senators. The bill should be defeated. You can help. Check out S722 at http://thomas.loc.gov/. If you take any nutritional supplements, you need to be aware of the potential loss you face. In order to protect your health rights and oppose this bill, go to http://capwiz.com/nnfa/home/. Contact the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, and say, “No, to S722.”

What Are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are called “the building blocks of life.” Protein is 100 percent amino acids. 95% of our neurotransmitters are amino acids. All hormones are made up of amino acids. Some hormones, like insulin, growth hormone, thyroid hormone and many others are 100 percent amino acids. Steroids and sex hormones are made up of amino acids and essential fatty acids. Amino acids are involved in every chemical process in the body.

Amino acids are classified as “essential,” and “non-essential.” Essential amino acids are those that you must get from your diet. Your body cannot make these. They include: arginine, histidine, iso-leucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, taurine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

Your body ordinarily can make about half of the necessary amino acids from other nutrients. However, under any kind of stress or prolonged illness, we lose the ability to make these “nonessential” amino acids, and hence we have to be careful in declaring a certain group of amino acids as nonessential. This group includes: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.

There are actually hundreds of amino acids. In my opinion, the best laboratories for amino acid testing are Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab (GSDL), Doctor's Data, and Metametrix. I prefer GSDL, whose Amino Acid Analysis has 41 sub-tests. Each of those 41 is important in helping me understand what is going on with someone.

Interpreting the Lab Data

As mentioned previously, it requires a brain/mind with a lot of experience to interpret this data. The computer recommendations made by all 3 labs do an injustice, in my experience. Rather than starting off by telling you what each amino acid does, I will lead you through the process I use in analyzing the data. Some of the words will look like Swahili to you. They did to me when I first saw them, when I began this work in 1982. Rather than provide you with a strictly linear way of understanding Amino Acid Analysis, I will use a totally fictitious example of Sylvia, a 45-year-old woman who “recently” came to me due to problems with fatigue, increasingly poor memory and concentration, depression, poor sleep, digestive problems (gas, bloating, feeling uncomfortable after eating), frequent infections, decreased libido, and eczema. Her energy just is not what it used to be and it has reached the point where it is impacting her work, her marriage, and her friendships, and she is now getting too exhausted for what used to be fun, such as socializing with friends. This description is fictitious but accurately fits thousands of you reading this. For some, the fatigue has just started, but for others it has gone on for years. Many people use their weekends to recover from their workweek.

I usually order a panel of 8 or 9 basic nutritional, viral, yeast, and parasite tests. During the “Data Review” session I interpret and explain the comprehensive stool analysis first, proceed to food allergies, evaluation of anti-candida antibody testing . . . and then begin reviewing the Amino Acid Analysis (AAA). Of the 41 sub-tests on the AAA, 20 are tests for nutritional amino acids, those that are involved in building protein, hormones, neurotransmitters, connective tissue, all organs, tissues and body structures. Here is what I “told” Sylvia. The other 21 tests are “markers” that tell you that something may be a problem. Let me explain by taking you through the data review, the AAA analysis, exactly the way I do with patients in my office.

“If you look at the bottom of page 1 of this 2-page test, look for 1-methyl-histidine. It is elevated and is a marker for leaky gut syndrome. You have leaky gut syndrome. We do not give you 1-methyl-histidine if it tests low. It is a marker, not a nutrient. There are hundreds of amino acids. Twenty of them are essential nutrients.”

I have already reviewed Sylvia's stool analysis, which showed that she has parasites, weakened immunity of the GI tract and food intolerances to soy and dairy. I also have reviewed a blood test for anti-candida antibodies that shows that she has very high levels of yeast/candida, both in her digestive tract and also throughout her body.

“The leaky gut is explained by the issues we've already looked at. I don't treat 1-methyl-histidine, but I will help you heal your gastrointestinal tract, and will treat your candida, parasite, and food intolerances.

Now turn to the second page and look for “urea.” It too is a marker, and it lets me know your overall protein levels. Your urea is deficient, which tells me something very important, namely that you are protein deficient. This is a serious problem and is a major cause of all of your problems. I like to jump-start the healing of a protein deficiency with protein powders, as they are quite easy to assimilate.

Go to the bottom of page 2 and look at 3-methyl-histidine. It is elevated, which means that you are breaking down your own muscle. This is not uncommon. If you had a good physical workout or played a sport the day before the test, this marker can be elevated. (Sylvia had not been exercising). In your case, you are breaking down your muscles because you are protein deficient. Your body is literally breaking down muscle because your body requires adequate levels of circulating, free-form amino acids. You're protein deficient, breaking down muscle, and 3-methyl-histidine is the marker that tells me that.

Now, let's go back to page 1 and look at the amino acids leucine, iso-leucine and valine. All 3 are quite low. These 3 are called the “branch-chain amino acids” (BCAA) and they are involved in muscle chemistry. This deficiency is consistent with what I have already shared with you about your muscle wasting.

Let me back up a minute and slow down the pace. In analyzing this data, I am looking at 3 major categories:

1. Important, single nutrient amino acids like tyrosine, alanine, and 18 others,

2. Groupings, or patterns, of amino acids. There are several important patterns that I look for. You happen to have a deficient pattern of the BCAA, the group of amino acids involved in muscle chemistry. This deficiency explains a good deal about why you feel weak, find it harder to exercise, and can't walk as far as you used to. In treating your “pattern,” I recommend a multi-amino acid product that is geared toward rebalancing the branch-chain amino acids. This product contains 18 amino acids, including all of the essential amino acids, so it will pick up the deficient threonine and phenylalanine that we have not even talked about yet.

3. Lastly, I look for “markers” like 1-methyl-histidine, urea, 3-methylhistidine and many more. We don't treat markers. We treat what the markers are telling us is a problem, like the protein deficiency that the low urea points to.

I want to look at one more marker, before looking at nutrient amino acids. So, let's go back to page 2. Your phosphoserine is quite elevated. This indicates that you are deficient in pyridoxal-5-phosphate or P-5-P, which is the active form of Vitamin B6. P-5-P is required for 13 amino acid reactions, fatty acid chemistry, and for countless enzyme systems. In terms of essential fatty acid chemistry, it is most probable that you have problems with omega-6 fatty acids because that is what happens when you have a P-5-P deficiency. You don't need to supplement with much P-5-P to fix this problem. It is a huge problem, which is easily fixed.

Now, let's take a look at tyrosine. It is deficient. Tyrosine has several major functions, and one of the most important is that it makes the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The low tyrosine tells me that you are deficient in norepinephrine (NE). People who are low in NE will have problems with memory and concentration, depression, and sleep. And, that is you. Those are major problems for you and low tyrosine is one major cause of all those problems.

Now, here is where P-5-P becomes critical to your healing. Tyrosine requires P-5-P to get converted into norepinephrine in your brain. So your low norepinephrine (which we will confirm on the test called the Metabolic Analysis Profile) is due both to low tyrosine and low P-5-P.

Next, take a look at cysteine, which is low. This almost invariably has to do with problems with toxic overload and depletion of glutathione, our body's natural detoxifier. We can boost your glutathione by supplementing with N-acetyl-cysteine.” Later in the Data Review, we'll look at Sylvia's Total Element urine test to see if she has heavy metal toxicity, a major cause of deficient cysteine and glutathione.

“Check out aspartic acid, which is very low. Right above it is asparagine, which is very high. These two convert back-and-forth into each other and should be at about the same level. And why aren't they? Because you are deficient in P-5-P, and asparagine requires P-5-P in order to make the conversion to aspartic acid. This simply confirms your P-5-P deficiency.”

Like this I go through each of the 41 sub-tests. Right now, we would be about half way through our analysis. I tape record the interpretation, because the huge amount of data can make people's eyes glaze over, just as yours may be right now. Forgive me, but I want to give you a feeling for this process, for the power and depth of the Amino Acid Analysis, and how the interpretation of data directly translates into practical recommendations. In fact, this test is so deep that I could go on and on for another hour, explaining the findings, but I try to keep my explanations practical, and I do not explain each and every one of the 41 sub-tests. I review what is most essential. Please remember that I review another 7 or 8 tests, and 2 of them are as complex as the Amino Acid Analysis. So, I need to avoid overwhelming my patient. Basically, I want Sylvia to get the big picture, knowing that she can go home, listen to the tape to pick up any details she missed. I want her to know that: 1) there really is a scientific reason why she is feeling so miserable. It is not all in her head, and 2) there is logic to the recommendations I make, based on solid science.

Amino Acids: One at a Time

That's how I review the test. Let's now take a quick look at some individual amino acids, what they do for you, and what functions they perform.

Arginine — Essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and immune system. Arginine is also involved in the production of growth hormone.

Carnitine — Helps heart disease and is essential for energy chemistry.

Glutamine — Aids digestion, muscle chemistry, and immune system. In addition, glutamine is the precursor to GABA, our calming neurotransmitter.

Tryptophan — converts into serotonin. When deficient, you get depressed, have problems sleeping, and can have some cognitive problems.

Alanine — a key to blood sugar chemistry.

Taurine — stabilizes brain and heart tissue, so it is useful for people with seizures/epilepsy, mania, or heart arrhythmias.

Lysine — helps fight viruses. Strict vegetarians are usually deficient in lysine.

Taurine and Lysine — help lower cholesterol.

Methionine — helps alleviate allergy.

S-adenosyl-methionine (a variant of L-methionine) — helps alleviate depression and enhances overall brain function.

Histidine — helps arthritis and is involved in the absorption of zinc.

This is a sketch of what a few amino acids do, when working in a vacuum. Remember that amino acids are the building blocks of life. Amino acids have their individual functions as well as their role in building protein, neurotransmitters, hormones, all tissues and organs.

It is my hope and prayer that the role of amino acids in health, illness, and wellness begins to get much broader attention. Research is not a problem. There is an enormous amount of research on amino acids. What is lacking is awareness by both doctors and the layperson. There is near-total blindness to their importance in medicine and the training of doctors. I'd like to make this much less of a secret.

While the power of amino acid therapy is great, the approach requires very high levels of responsibility for people who undertake this approach. It requires patience (most of all), the willingness to take quite a number of nutritional supplements, attention to all areas of one's life (body, mind, spirit), some understanding of the logic of the approach, and very strong commitment. Ultimately, nobody heals anybody else. Like any other modality, amino acid and nutritional therapy help ignite the “inner healer,” that part of you that really does the healing. This approach helps restore inner metabolic balance, so that you can start or resume the deeper issues that the word “healing” implies. Amino acid therapy often works like magic, but your healing is greatly enhanced when your own inner magician is vital . . . and involved.

David Gersten, M.D. practices nutritional medicine and transpersonal psychiatry out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Please feel free to access 1,000 online pages about holistic health, amino acids, and nutritional therapy at www.aminoacidpower.com. Access 800 pages about mental imagery at www.imagerynet.com.

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Dear Louise

Dear Louise,

My son's fiancé is a lovely woman. I think she'd make a great daughter-in-law. However, I do have one silly concern. Her birthday is June 15, 1978. This factors down to an astrological number of 6-6-6. I've heard so many bad things about this number. I haven't spoken about this to anyone, let alone my son. Please advise.

D.C., Atlanta, Georgia

Dear D.C.,

Yes, it's silly. You might as well be concerned about a certain flower or a color. Do you really think that everyone born on this date is doomed? There are some people who have nothing better to do than sell fear.

Remember all the hoopla over the year 2000? The fear surrounding that date was widespread. Many people lost money trying to escape the coming of the millennium.

Please don't listen to fearmongers. Trust your inner wisdom. I sense that your real concern is for your son. Here are some affirmations I suggest you use to ease your concerns:

My son's marriage is blessed and divinely protected. The safety I seek in the outer world begins with the safety I create within myself. I am willing to learn to love my son's fiancé and to support her. We support each other, and our way is made easy. My understanding of life and how to live it deepens and grows. All is truly well in my world.

Dear Louise,

I know that everything you say in each book is true, but somehow I don't want to accept it. I'm in a relationship that is kind of traumatic in some aspects. I don't want to live a life like this. It makes me feel horrible. My wife doesn't want me to have friends or go out with them, and she doesn't even want me to have my mother living with me.

I'm afraid of her, but afraid of leaving her, and I don't know how to get out of this relationship. The reason I'm writing is because I'm desperate for help. I look for it, but I don't find anything that really helps me. I hope you get this message, and if you can write back and tell me how to get help, I will be grateful forever.

V.J., Dallas, Texas

Dear V.J.,

You don't have to believe anything I write. You have the freedom to think exactly the thought you're thinking. However, your thoughts have created the mess you're living in. Instead of saying, “I'm desperate for help”, you could say, “I am now willing to make the changes that will create a good life for myself and my family.” Or simply, “I am willing to change.”

Don't try to change everything all at once. It will be too much for you. At this time, you need to start small. Take deep breaths and affirm: I am safe. I am safe. Do this over and over for a week. The second week, say: I am at peace. I am at peace. You need to get peaceful inside so that your inner wisdom can kick in. Also, go see the pastor of your church. You need more guidance than you can get in a brief letter.

Dear Louise,

My younger brother was just diagnosed with scleroderma, and he is terrified. He's aware that I lost a dear friend to this horrific disease about nine years ago. How can I help him?

E.C., Toronto, Canada

Dear E.C.,

The best way to help your brother is to stop using terms such as “horrific disease.” Just because one person dies doesn't mean that everyone, or even your brother, will react in the same way Don't let yourself be consumed with fear. You must know that there's an answer. Let's see your brother rising above whatever circumstances contributed to this disease. I want you to begin knowing and affirming that there's an answer, and your brother will attract whatever he needs to heal this condition. Don't use the word scleroderma again. It has too much of a charge on it for you.

On the physical level, I'd go to a practitioner of Oriental medicine. They're well versed with conditions like this. Begin there, and step by step you and your brother will be led to the solution. It would be good for both of you to meditate. Your minds need calming. This is not the end of the world. It's a challenge, and you will step up to the plate. Be at peace.

Louise L. Hay is a metaphysical teacher and the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life , Empowering Women, and I Can Do It! . Subscribe to the Louise Hay Newsletter! Call for a Free Issue: (800) 654-5126. Questions for Louise? Write to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100 (letters may be edited for length and clarity). Visit Louise and Hay House at: www.LouiseHay.com or www.hayhouse.com.

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