By Deepak Chopra™ MD, Brian J. Fertig, MD and Jack A. Tuszynski, Ph.D., D.Sc.
Since no one wants to age, there is a tremendous incentive to prevent, slow down or even reverse it. But all these efforts run into the same obstacle. No one actually knows what aging is or precisely what causes it. On its face, this riddle shouldn’t exist. The universe is subject to entropy, which causes everything, including the universe itself, to run down like a child’s toy whose battery slowly runs down. Biology chimes in with the obvious fact that all higher living things grow old and die.
But reality changes depending on your viewpoint, and one viewpoint tells us that aging, especially human aging, could be a mistake. First, we need to counter the evidence that living things must grow old and die. This is more easily done than you might suppose. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the counter-argument against aging.
· Entropy refers to the dissipation of heat by which warm things grow colder. But those are inanimate things. Life preserves and increases energy. Putting on a coat in winter effectively defeats entropy, and so have all living forms for at least four billion years.
· The universe may die a “heat death” as it approaches absolute zero, but in the meantime, complex forms keep arising and surviving. The force that creates them is evolution.
· Unique among the living things yet discovered, Homo sapiens can consciously choose to evolve.
· Long ago Homo sapiens escaped the prison of Darwinian survival of the fittest by moving in any direction that offers more complexity, creativity, and discovery.
As you can see, these are fundamental facts that can be used to approach aging, making it far from inevitable. An ancient Indian scripture declares that “people grow old and die because they see other people grow old and die.”
What if this were literally true, that we age by being conditioned to age? Partial proof is offered by lifestyle. Two generations ago no one took seriously the prevention of heart disease, hypertension, recovery from stroke, and the advantages of pure food, water, and air. Now all these things are common knowledge, and life expectancy has continued to rise. Even more critical, the span of wellness has extended into old age, and many people in developed countries may achieve something unknown to the human race for thousands of years: wellness that lasts a lifetime.
So far, so good — the anti-aging camp has some scientific facts on our side as well as proof that lifespan can be extended. Nor are we beyond the notion that people grow old and die because they see other people grow old and die. This position turns aging into a failure of consciousness by which old habits and conditioning block true awareness.
Your state of awareness fundamentally influences how and why you age. Here are some striking examples:
· Recent research indicates that people suffering from extreme grief are prone to a quicker death.
· At the cellular level, one theory of aging says that levels of a protein known as telomerase correlates with how long a cell lives and how much DNA wears down with time. Research has shown that even a short period of practicing meditation increased telomerase levels by 40%.
· Stress accelerates aging. Caregivers who spend all day with Alzheimer’s patients have shown a tendency to shorten their lifespans by 5 to 8 years.
These are illuminating facts, but to attack aging directly, we must dig deeper. Your body is organized on time schedules that are many and complex. Biorhythms regulated by biological clocks span from a scale of a few thousandths of a second for the swirling chemical reactions in every cell to an entire lifetime.
When biorhythms get out of sync, entropy speeds up and aging accelerates. One can spend a lifetime as a medical researcher studying just one hormone, key players in the ebb and flow of every bodily process including hunger, sex, mood, growth, and sleep. But in everyday life one can cut to the chase. Biological clocks are designed to remain in sync unless interfered with. What interferes with them is stress, bad sleep, overwork, and over-stimulation of the central nervous system caused by constant noise, distraction, and everyday pressures at home and at work.
To ultimately answer the mystery of aging, however, we need to probe into the very heart of Nature. Nature coordinates every level of matter, energy, time, and space. These parameters can expand and contract, because relativity governs them and links them together. Entropy is connected with the arrow of time because events in the macro or larger world aren’t reversible. If you break a glass, the arrow of time dictates that you cannot unbreak it again and have it be whole.
However, as you get down to finer and finer levels of Nature, reality becomes peculiar. The basic forces of nature, such as electromagnetism and gravity, exist without regard to time. Reverse time, standard time, and no time are all possible. In some astonishing way totally outside present knowledge, the quantum world of reverse time and no time meshes perfectly with the macro world governed by the arrow of time.
What invisible force could account for this? There is no known physical force. However, one element of human existence meshes no time, reverse time, and standard time: consciousness. In memory we return to the past; in imagination we fly into the future. Times hangs heavy and moves slowly if you are depressed; time speeds up and is light as a feather when you fall in love.
If deep meditation, yogis use consciousness alone to radically slow down bodily processes. As standard demonstration of yogic powers involves burying a sadhu or holy man in a box underground. With nothing but the air in the box to sustain him, a yogi can slow his heart rate and breathing to the extent that he will emerge from burial a week later perfectly alive and healthy.
Let’s call this the zero point of aging, since it is close to the zero point of physiology. At the quantum level, there is also a zero point at the horizon before space, time, matter, and energy emerges to create the known universe. What if a yogi’s zero point and Nature’s zero point are the same, or at least analogous? There was a time when physics knew nothing about the quantum world, and as a result a host of calculations were wrong or could not be made. This is the crux of anti-aging today. In the absence of the kind of knowledge possessed by Yoga, we make wrong calculations about our bodies and miss out on calculations yet to be discovered.
Every scientific model has its blind spots, and for many decades consciousness has been the major blind spot of mainstream science. But as we have just discussed, science is roomy enough to provide a model that not only includes consciousness but traces it to the quantum level of Nature. The brain is likely to be a quantum device that we are using very clumsily. Higher consciousness is likely to be nothing more than a state where the brain is called upon to modify its workings in such a way that it gives quantum information to every cell in the body, being directed from the zero point of consciousness where time itself is controlled.
A hundred years ago such a proposition would have been insanity. Fifty years ago it was the remotest of possibilities. Today it is an exciting probability with the trend of evidence moving rapidly in the right direction. If the mistake of aging is ever to be corrected, this is the course we must follow.
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential(Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra
Jack A. Tuszynski, Ph.D., D.Sc. Professor, Department of Physics, Adjunct Professor, Department of Oncology, Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Member, The Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Brian J. Fertig, MD F.A.C.E. Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Associate Professor Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Chairman, Department of Diabetes & Endocrinology Hackensack Meridian Health at JFK University Medical Center, President Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center