March 6, 2023
SF Gate

Why Time Isn’t Causing You to Age.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, FRCP

The promise that aging can be defeated is centuries old, and many biological approaches keep cropping up in medical science. It seems only natural to suppose that our bodies age because our cells do, and our cells age because something has gone amiss at the genetic level—so the current thinking tends to go.

But if you probe deeper, aging is embedded in the mystery of time. Until that mystery is resolved, human aging won’t really be understood.

When people think about growing old, they blame the passage of time—the years roll by, and the body stops looking younger year by year. But the cells that make up your body live only in the present. The now is the only location that is timeless. This is one reason memory remains such a mystery. Brain cells function through electrochemical activity that occurs the instant a chemical reaction or electrical impulse is able to occur. There are no pauses to think about reacting; if the potential is there, the action must follow.

Whatever a brain cell does, it can’t go back to the past. So how do we seem to go back into the past when we remember a childhood birthday party or our first kiss? No one knows, but when the answer is found, it won’t involve time travel, either forward or backward.  It is our ability to transcend time that makes memory possible. In order to live in the present, this ability must be brought back into your awareness. You need to remember how to be timeless. 

Biologically, the crux of aging lies in the gap between how a cell lives, which is always in the now, and how a person lives. As people, we repeat the past, get stuck in old habits, cling to stubborn beliefs, fear the future, and in general occupy mental states that are not in the now. In other words, all the symptoms that arise from being stuck in time can be traced to a person’s state of consciousness. Consciousness trumps biology for the simple reason that our bodies respond to our thoughts, moods, and mental states ranging from depression and anxiety to joy and inspiration.

If you can return to the now, you close the gap between your life and the life of your cells. By doing this, you can prevent aging or even reverse it.  That’s not a mystical or hypothetical statement. It has been acknowledged for over a generation of aging research that chronological age isn’t as important as biological age. Two people passing their fiftieth birthday can be biologically younger or older, depending on many factors. The factors that you have control over are in consciousness, for the simple reason that lifestyle is a conscious choice, and lifestyle is the greatest determiner of biological age, far more than so-called good or bad genes. This argument has been reinforced by showing that the controller of genetic activity, the epigenome, responds to the major events in a person’s life. 

Aging isn’t one thing but a complex of possibilities. Which possibilities get triggered is infinitely complicated, but no one has ever shown that any symptoms of aging must occur. Even though we can all tick off the disagreeable signs of growing old—creaky joints, wrinkled skin, loss of energy, erratic sleep, declining memory, and so on—there is someone who has actually improved as they aged in each of these areas, except perhaps for wrinkles. However unusual, there are individuals who retain youthful limberness, energy, good sleep, mobility, and memory.  Even our dread of Alzheimer’s is realistically out of proportion to the actual incidence of the disease, which affects an estimated 6 million Americans of all ages, a horrible number but far below the specter created by fear. Of the total, 73% of sufferers are 75 or older. 

In fact, once we abandon the notion that aging is unavoidable, it dawns that aging might actually be the sum of disease processes, and without these disease processes, cells can function at a high level of efficiency for a very long time. (In laboratory experiments it has been shown that a cell can only divide a limited number of times, around 50, which would place a physical limit on lifespan, and this may indicate a genetic barrier that cannot be crossed. However, in real life such laboratory limits don’t impede more people than ever living to be 100, and it is now a reasonable goal to remain well up to an advanced age.)

As described in the book The Healing Self, which I wrote with co-author Rudolph E. Tanzi, PhD, of Harvard Medical School, the prospects of anti-aging and the reversal of the aging process begin, as far as individual choices go, with conscious choices. We outline an anti-aging regimen that lists the fundamental things each person can either do or undo.



Join a social support group.

Strengthen emotional bonds with family and close friends.

Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement (if you are age sixty-five and older).

Maintain a balance of rest and activity.

Explore a new interest.

Take up a challenging mental activity.


Don’t be sedentary—stand up and move throughout the day.

Examine your negative emotions.

Heal injured relationships that are meaningful to you.

Be mindful of lapses and imbalances in your diet.

Address negative stereotypes about aging and ageism.

Consider how to heal the fear of death.

Each of these choices is correlated with maintaining a state of wellness throughout one’s lifetime. In our program, we advise doing or undoing one thing on the list, then not moving on to the next thing until the first choice is well established in your daily life.

For now, the role of consciousness has barely been explored, because there are genetic and even quantum connections waiting to be unlocked. But it can be said that meditating is critical because it brings the mind into the present moment, where the body always lives. There is much more to be said about reclaiming the ability to transcend and to discover our timeless nature. Finding a way to live in the present moment can be looked upon as a spiritual aspiration, but as far as your cells are concerned, the present moment is where every decision to survive and thrive is made. That should be our attitude also. 

DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, FRCP, 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 91st book, Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life  explores and reinterprets the physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual benefits that the practice of meditation can bring.  For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution. His latest book,  Living in the Light co-authored with Sarah Platt-Finger. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.”

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