This Is How Deepak Chopra, MD, Stays Present, Energized & Clear
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., is nothing short of a legend in alternative medicine. His 80-plus bestselling books and revolutionary spiritual teachings have made him one of the most renowned voices in wellness (and a well-deserved recipient of mindbodygreen's annual Lifetime Achievement Award). His latest book, Metahuman (available October 1, 2019), explains how we can expand our lives beyond daily living and access higher consciousness—ideas that, if you ask him what he does each day, it's apparent he exemplifies.
His daily routine is as admirable as it is unorthodox—he doesn't so much "take a day off" as he does shape every day to fit his needs. He believes in being present, doing what you feel like, and living a "clear" life. Here's a small taste of his schedule, straight from the source.
His mornings start with several hours in bed.
If I go to bed by 10 p.m., which I try to, then I wake up at 6 a.m. I'm very mindful of the fact that sleep is the best and most efficient way to keep your energy maxed out. I like to ask people: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much energy do you have in a day to do all the things you want to do? Ten would be as much as I want, and 1 would be it sucks. If you say 8, 9, and 10, you're thriving. If you say 5, 6, 7, then you're struggling in some area of your life. It could be any area of life: social, personal relationships, career, finances, physical, emotional, spiritual, but there's something going on. And if you score at 1, 2, 3, 4, you're suffering, and you are either sick already or you're going to be. I can confidently say that I'm a 10 out of 10.
Whatever time I go to bed, I make sure I get eight hours of sleep, and I make sure that at least 90 minutes is in deep sleep, and another 90 minutes is in a dream state. (You can monitor that with all these gizmos and gadgets. I love to get feedback and relate it to how I feel subjectively.) So yes, I aim for 10 out of 10, all the time.
When I wake up, what I do is, for about half an hour, I don't do anything. I just lie in bed and focus on being still. Then I start my meditation, which usually lasts about 90 minutes, sometimes two hours. That includes reflection, mindful awareness; it includes mantra practice. It includes intention setting; it includes awareness of body, awareness of mental states, awareness of perceptual experience, and I transcend it to mantra practice.
Coffee is next. Three cups. Black.
Every day, I drink three cups of coffee before noon. All the research is showing that coffee actually prevents five types of cancer1, including reproductive cancer in women. It also mitigates the risk of Alzheimer's2. It's an important antioxidant3. I don't drink decaf coffee, because the decaffeinating process actually involves petroleum and removes a lot of the phytochemicals that are supposed to be protective. Of course, people are trying to figure out how to get decaffeination without chemical processing, but if you go on Google and look up the benefits of coffee... My brother, Sanjiv Chopra, M.D., who is a professor at Harvard Medical School, did a lot of research on this and has written books and articles on this. If you look up the benefits of coffee, it's getting a big turnaround in terms of its medical benefits.
Then, it's time for yoga—with a teacher or on his own.
I practice yoga for at least one hour every day. Twice a week, I take a yoga class with a teacher, personal teacher. But the rest of the time, I do it myself. I haven't missed a day of yoga for as long as I can remember. I don't remember when I did not do yoga at least every day for an hour. If I have the day off, I might do an evening yoga session as well.
From there, the day is his—to work, not to work, to breathe, or otherwise.
The rest of the day, I just don't do anything. Basically, if I feel like writing, I write. If I feel like reading, I'll read. If I’m in New York or in a big city, I'll walk 10,000 steps. I do some breathing techniques.
In terms of my diet—I eat light. I have one meal that is a major meal, and that's usually at 6 or 7 p.m. Things change, but I usually don't eat after 6 p.m. I'm a vegetarian, and I eat mostly plant-based foods. I eat a bowl of fruit and yogurt in the morning and then have a routine lunch—if I'm at home, it's usually a little bit of lentils, rice, and vegetables. In the evenings, I keep it really light with soup and salad, and I usually eat before sunset. Basically, that's my diet.
I keep weekends totally off, unless there are reasons not to, like a conference or something like that. I don't usually see my family during the week, so we try to get together on weekends, and they also spend the summers with me in New York. We take one vacation every year, and my wife spends time between my children. When I'm in California, she's there. When I'm in New York, she comes with me.
I also spend a lot of time in nature. In New York, and in big cities now, I'll head out to the park, and when we go on vacation with the family, it's in a natural environment. Bali, or India, Australia, Argentina... We always spend a lot of time in nature.
When his schedule changes, his routine doesn't break; it bends.
When I'm working, which is when I'm on the road, the routine is the same, except it changes. Usually, if I'm on the road, I'm speaking at night, especially at public lectures. And these are at theaters on the road, so they usually start at 7 p.m., and they go on to 10 p.m., and then I usually do a book signing after that or a reception, so when I'm actually working on the road, my evenings start at approximately 6 p.m. and don't end until midnight. Still, I do my routine.
I do my evening meditation every night. Obviously, if I go to sleep at midnight, then I'll wake up later, like 8 a.m., and I'll keep the same routine. And when I travel, it's the same routine. It doesn't matter.
I don't consider my work to be work, so for me, it's play. For me, every day is beautiful, and I'm a maximizer, which means I maximize my potential for giving information, knowledge, or whatever I have to say. I write every day for as long as I need to, for planning. When I'm flying, I write a lot on the plane. I used to read a lot; I don't read that much anymore. I get my answers from stillness and, generally speaking, I don't take myself seriously. Nor does my family, and that keeps me going.
Ray Bass is the associate movement and wellness editor at mindbodygreen and a NASM-Certified Personal Trainer. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Pennsylvania, with honors in nonfiction. A runner, yogi, boxer, and cycling devotee, Bass searches for the hardest workouts in New York (and the best ways to recover from them). She's debunked myths about protein, posture, and the plant-based diet, and has covered everything from the best yoga poses for chronic pain to the future of fitness, recovery, and America's obsession with the Whole30 diet.