What if the key to a long and fulfilling life wasn’t hidden in genetics, but in simple yet powerful choices? Join Dr. Gladys McGarey, a 102-year-old pioneer of holistic medicine, as she reveals her six time-tested secrets to health, happiness, and thriving at any age in this lively conversation with Dr. Deepak Chopra.
Dr. Gladys McGarey is now 104 years old and is still consulting as a doctor. Recognized as a pioneer of the allopathic and holistic medical movements, she is also a founding diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine. She is the co-founder and past president of the American Holistic Medical Association, as well as the co-founder of the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine and the founder of The International Academy of Clinical Hypnosis. Her book, THE WELL-LIVED LIFE, is now available.
Dr. Gladys lives and works in Scottsdale, Arizona, where for many years she shared a medical practice with her daughter. She currently has a medical consulting practice, maintains a healthy diet, and enjoys a good piece of cake now and then. She has spoken at TEDx.
Follow Dr. McGarey on Instagram – @begladmd
Listen to the podcast here
102 Years Of Wisdom With Special Guest, Dr. Gladys Mcgarey
A Conversation With Deepak Chopra And Dr. Gladys Mcgarey About Her Six Secrets To Health And Happiness At Every Age.
I have the great privilege and honor of speaking to Dr. Gladys McGarey. Before we start our conversation, I’d like to tell you that Dr. McGarey is 102 years old. She has six secrets to health and happiness at every age. Let me give you a little background on her. She’s the Cofounder of the American Holistic Medical Association. She began her medical practice at a time where when women couldn’t even have their own bank accounts.
Despite challenges, she has pioneered a new way of thinking about disease and health that, over the past many years, has transformed the way we imagine healthcare and self-care around the world. She started the American Holistic Medical Association, now called the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. She’s also the Cofounder of the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine.
She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where, for many years, she shared a medical practice with her daughter. She has a medical consulting practice, maintains a healthy diet, and enjoys a good piece of cake every now and then. I was also intrigued that she brought up that she grew up in India. During her early childhood in India, she had a chance to encounter Mahatma Gandhi. There’s a lot more to say, but I don’t want to take up too much time. You should buy the book and read it. I want to take this opportunity to have this conversation with her so that you can all be inspired. Gladys, I’m honored and grateful that you’re doing this interview with me.
I’m proud to do it.
I read in the early part of the book that your larger philosophy is that each individual is part of a greater whole, we are souls having a human experience, and some part of us is interconnected with other people. We come here as part of a personal and collective mission of growth and healing. Share with me these ideas. The world is at a crossroads. It looks like one road leads to extinction and the other road less traveled, which you have pioneered could lead to a more peaceful, sustainable, joyful, and healthier world. What has inspired you all your life?
My parents were medical missionaries in North India. We lived out in the jungles. My parents took their osteopathic work back into the jungles. They didn’t have much in the way of things that they could do for the patients, but they had a lot of love and care. They were able to work with the village people. I grew up with that. When I was little, I could run into the villages with village kids. I got to go places other people didn’t, but the village kids would spend their time rubbing my skin to see if they could get the color back. That was this little white thing running around, but it was that idyllic childhood until I went to school when I found out I was dyslexic. That threw everything into the wind.
The work that my parents were doing and the work that I saw as people responded to the love and care they were giving, I realized, even as a little one, that’s what I wanted to do. As a two-year-old, I said I was a doctor, and all my dolls got some treatment. My sister wouldn’t let me play with them because they somehow got damaged, and I had to fix them.
I came into this world with a mission. We all do. We don’t all know and recognize it until later. Deepak, I picture it like the world is a huge jigsaw puzzle. Each one of us is a piece of that puzzle. No one else can fit that. I’ve tried putting other pieces into a jigsaw puzzle, and they don’t work. The sides that you touch are integrated into the puzzle itself. Anybody who’s made big puzzles, missing the last piece drives you crazy. You’re looking for that last piece. It’s a reality as you have worked with and the things that we know that work.
Holistic Medicine: I came into this world with a mission. I think we all do.
Your book is inspiring. You have these six secrets. The number one secret is you’re here for a reason, which you brought up. We are here for a reason. We have a mission. In India, there’s this concept of the dharma. This section is divided into five chapters, Why Am I Here? It’s like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. “Where should I pour my juice?” Connecting with desire is the impulse for creativity and how we unfold our potential. The second secret you mention is all life needs to move. Say a little bit about that, please.
The life itself has to move. If it doesn’t move, it dies. It’s always moving. Within our bodies, that’s what’s always happening. The cells are doing what they’re doing. Life itself is essential. Movement is essential to life itself. As physicians, we’ll tell a patient, “It’s time for you to rest.” A lot of times, people think that means doing nothing, but resting is doing something. In other words, if we can understand that everything we do is taking us down this path of life, we can coordinate whatever we’re doing. Whether it’s resting, running, or working, it’s that process. In the process, we ourselves grow and continue to grow and learn.
Holistic Medicine: If we can understand that everything we do is taking us down this path of life, we can continuously grow and learn.
In the Eastern wisdom tradition, they talk about impermanence, which is transformation and movement. Otherwise, we’d all be stuck if we didn’t. In this section, you also talk about two other things, moving through pain and being locked in shame. Can you share that?
It’s easy to get stuck in these dark places. Pain, particularly physical pain, but other pains too, are ways in which our soul is asking and telling us there’s something not going right here. The concept of getting rid of pain is stretching things. I don’t think we need to get rid of pain. We need to understand what this pain is telling us. I have a friend, an amazing woman who’s a painter. She’s an artist. She’s had pain all her life.
Some people have a life that is a constant physical struggle. She’s one of those people who is a joyous, amazing, beautiful woman. When the paint starts to get her down, she gets her paints out and starts painting. She’ll paint the wall, her shoes, or anything until she says she gets the thing back into painting. When that thing comes back in, she can move on with the paint. It’s the ability to not get over the pain or get rid of the pain but understand what that pain is saying and what it’s doing.
It’s a sign of transformation and growth. Pain takes you to a new level if you move through it and don’t deny it but begin to understand what it means. In this chapter, Locked in Shame, what are you referring to?
We all go through times when we’ve done something we didn’t particularly like or are ashamed of. It can be a little thing or huge. It’s something that holds us back from doing what we need to do. When I started school, I found out I was dyslexic. I had to repeat. We didn’t know what that was. I was the class dummy. I had to repeat my first grade twice. My teacher thought I was a stupid one, and so did the other kids. My first two years in school were horrible.
It took me years to accept that I had a voice I needed to share. I had been doing it. I had been writing, talking, and doing, but I was forever deflecting to somebody else. I would say, “Bill said this.” It was a way in which I didn’t understand that I had this deep-seated scar in my being that said, “You’re stupid, and nobody’s going to listen to your words unless you coach them in a certain way.” I was 93 before I got that understanding that that wasn’t so. I got it, and I’m claiming it now.
I’m speaking to the mother of holistic medicine, Dr. Gladys McGarey. The book is called The Well Lived Life: A 102-Year-Old Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age. We are not going to have time to go through all the chapters here because of various reasons. Please read this book because you might be inspired to live your own life to the level of maximum fulfillment as Dr. McGarey has done.
Let me read some other chapter headings here, from Secret to Releasing What Doesn’t Matter, Removing The Blockage, and Look for the Trickle Around the Dam. Let’s go to secret number three, Love is the Most Powerful Medicine. The chapters are titled Love and Fear, Choice, The Role of Self-Love, How to Let Love In, Giving Love to Others, and Love and Miracles. Speak a little bit about Love and Miracles.
The Native Americans have always understood that love is the essence of true healing. When we can accept that and realize that no matter what we do and if it is done with love and understanding, there’s a different thing that happens. My oldest son is a retired orthopedic surgeon. When he came through Phoenix, he said to me, “Mom, I’m going out into the world. I’m going to have people’s lives in my hands. I don’t know if I can handle that.”
I said, “Carl, if you think that you’re the one that does the healing, you have a right to be scared. If you can understand that this amazing training that you’ve had in orthopedics is something that you can use and work with throughout your whole life and after you’ve done the work that you need to do, support the patient and the physician within that patient who becomes your colleague as they are doing their own healing.”
We call it a miracle because it’s difficult to understand how this could happen. When that happens, it’s the reality of how life moves on. A patient friend of mine died a couple of months ago at the age of 79. She lived all of her life since she was eighteen months old with a quarter of one kidney. How did that happen? None of us ever figured it out. That is a true miracle. I call it living medicine. Living medicine is a life force itself, which is imbued with love and works in amazing ways.
Tweet: Living medicine is the very life force itself imbued with love.
Secret four, You Are Never Alone in the chapter headings here. Life is a Connection, Embracing Imperfection, Find your Friends, How to Set Boundaries, The Power of Listening, and Angels Appear. This is about engagement, interconnectivity, and how we are never isolated beings. Our life is in the matrix of inter-beingness. That is an extension of love itself. It brings compassion, empathy, joy, peace, and equanimity. Explain the chapter Angels Appear.
In my life, there have always been people who have helped me in ways that I could never have understood at the time. I mentioned that I was in first grade twice. That was up in Woodstock in the Himalayas. In third grade, I had a teacher who saw something in me that the others had not seen. She appointed me class governor. I could start doing things that I knew how to do, but I couldn’t read or add up or anything. She understood what was going on. To me, she was an angel. She opened up a life for me that had been shameful and held back. This teacher did that.
All through my life, there have been people, when life has gotten harder, who are like, “How am I going to do this?” Somebody comes along, and we can move forward together. I call those people, and they’re living people who are still around me. They’re angels because that angelic force within them is what is helping me do the things that I can do, which can be an angelic force for other people. That’s the way life works when you have love as an important medicine.
Holistic Medicine: Those who come along in our lives and move forward together with us are full of angelic force.
Gladys, you have to be an angel to bring angels life. That’s why it happened to you. You have a remarkable memory going back to two years of age and kindergarten and your stories about the Himalayas. These days, everybody is fearful of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They say when you get to 80, most people start to have cognitive decline, but you’re an example of that’s not necessarily so. You are 102, and you are sharing stories with me, which go back almost 100 years.
My life goes back that far. I’ve worked a lot with dreams. If I can’t fall asleep, what I do is go down memory lane. Those are the amazing memories that I have. It’s reconnecting with parts of my life that were amazing, and I’m enjoying them.
I do the same thing at night when I go to sleep. I recapitulate my whole life. I remember pivotal moments in my life, which were full of joy and challenges. What keeps the brain alive is remembering pivotal moments in your life. It resets the neural networks to keep your cognitive and perceptual abilities at peak levels.
We give ourselves a shabash.
The next secret is called Everything Is Your Teacher, A Lesson in Everything, How to Stop Fighting, The Role of Dreams, which you mentioned, When You Keep Hurting, The Impossible Moments, and Lesson After Lesson. I read that you are interested in parapsychology. Tell us about that.
We got interested in Edgar Casey’s work way back in the early ‘70s. That work led us into understanding aspects of the ancient human evolving process, which has brought us up to this point. It included the whole idea of reincarnation. It enfolded parapsychology into the medical field for us. As a result of that, Bill and I had the first acupuncturist symposium in the United States at Stanford.
There’s a whole long story there, but it was the reality that we were working with, and the medical community was saying woo-woo and foolish. We had started the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine. Under that leadership, we were able to start having conferences all up and down the West Coast. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, there was such excitement because the whole concept of how our mind works was evolving. Milton Erickson was a good friend of ours. He stretched us into working with that. It was an amazing time.
Parapsychology, to me, is what led us to the reality that what was missing in medicine was the spirit. We had the mind and the body. We were taught about those, but what the spirit did was ignored and called woo-woo. We were called, you and I, both the names we received, but that was because it was completely not understood. When you don’t understand your inner nature, life can get confusing, whether you’re a doctor or a kitchen maid.
Gladys, these days, I’ve been looking a lot into the nature of consciousness, non-locality, extrasensory perception, remote viewing, and healing. It’s apparent that our fundamental nature is what you call spirit, which is a field of possibilities, a consciousness that transcends space-time. These non-local dormant potentials exist in all of us. They’ve been ignored even nowadays.
Mainstream medicine has an attitude about that. This is the realm that if we explore, we would understand healing as a phenomenon that comes from consciousness, which is a field of possibilities and creativity. We can see the biological correlates of that in the brain, neural networks, neurogenesis, and neuroplasticity, where experience determines what happens in the brain.
The brain doesn’t determine experience. Experience determines the correlates in the brain, and experience happens in consciousness, which transcends space and time. Everything you say about parapsychology and have been saying now starts to make scientific sense. The next secret we’re going through is spending your energy wildly. The chapter headings include energy as an investment. What’s worth your energy? Making space for miracles, feeding the positive, shifting your attention, and embracing your life. Talk to me about energy.
Life is energy. Life is like a seed, which could be in the pyramids for eons of time. The energy that is within that seed is the energy of the universe. It can’t do anything until love, which is the life force, activates it. You get some water to it but you pay attention to it. Life can begin to express its energy. The energy that is held back like that doesn’t do anything, but the energy that is connected with love and action is what runs the universe.
Tweet: The energy of the universe cannot do anything until love activates it.
Love and action go together. Love without action is meaningless. Action without love is irrelevant, but love in action creates miracles. I could talk to you forever. I want people to read this book because it’s extraordinary. It’s life-transforming. I want everybody to read it. Let me ask you a few other questions. In conclusion, where are you now? Am I speaking to you in Scottsdale? Are you still seeing patients?
Deepak, I don’t have a license, but they didn’t tell me I had to stop talking so I could consult. I’m a consultant.
How are you doing? You are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually there. You are an inspiration to all of us. How are you doing physically?
I’m doing well. I had an infusion of stem cells. It’s been an interesting thing. I haven’t noticed a huge change, but some things are happening. I have a ten-year plan. That includes a village for living medicine. I believe that our universe, the world herself, has been damaged and hurt. If we could start a village for living medicine personally, where we would be living with people who understand what we’re talking about, who work with the ideas, the way we birth babies, which I understand a lot about and I’m passionate about. Aging into health and education would be part of the village for living medicine.
Having grown up in Indian villages, I remember the Panchayat in the village. They didn’t pay any attention to women. That’s not when I was there. It’s a concept that life has to keep moving. If it’s moving, hopefully, it’s moving into the light and not into darkness. Now, people are frightened and damaged. They don’t know what to do. I’m concerned about these young men who are shooting people.
Tweet: Life has to keep moving, and hopefully, it is moving into the light and not darkness.
I have something that I’d like to say quickly. I had a friend who was a schoolteacher. She said that in one year, she had a dog in her classroom, which was the best year she had ever had. We’ve been talking about the possibility of having guardian dogs so that these dogs would help the children who are damaged. These children who are doing that shooting, I don’t think they know what love is. They don’t know what death is. They watch a TV, and a person dies, but the next day, they’re back. It would be comforting for a child who is having trauma at home to come to school and have a dog that understands them because a dog isn’t going to go near a child that’s afraid of a dog, but as soon as a child reaches out to the dog, it’ll be there.
Deepak, it would start a whole new profession. You’d have to have hypoallergenic dogs. You’d have to have the trainer trained, and the dog would have to be trained. The teacher would have to be trained. The parents would have to know. In the process, it would bring love into an area that has somehow become itself, the classroom becomes damaged, and we’re hurting our children.
Gladys, you are such a remarkable human being. In you, I see the evolution of healing and medicine, which is 100 years in evolution. You are a living example of that. You have pioneered a whole new revolution in medicine. I respect you, admire you, and love you. You have a ten-year plan. Before I let you go, what do you think is the mystery of death? What do you think happens after death?
We still go on. I’m still communicating with members of my family. Before I left for Afghanistan, I fell and was hurt. My father, my nephew, and my son are osteopaths. These people all ministered to me that night. I was able to go to Afghanistan the next day. I knew my dad, my son, or my nephew would be working. The whole night was the administration of people. My son was still alive, but these other two were from the other side. They were as real as my son was, and it worked. I was 86, and I went to Afghanistan.
I concur with you that consciousness survives physical death because consciousness is a field of infinite possibilities that recycles. It’s what we call body, mind, and experience of the world. Your personal experience is confirming because I communicate with my parents on a regular basis. When I sleep at night, I not only recapitulate my life, but when I recapitulate my life, I meet my parents and grandparents.
I know they’re alive in another dimension, but they’re also alive in me as my genetic activity. I couldn’t move my hands or speak to you if these genes, which carry the lifetimes of my ancestors, were not alive in my body. You confirm eloquently what I’ve thought of all my life. It’s been a great honor. I want everyone to pick up this book and read it. I wish you all the best in your tenure plan and know that I’m your biggest supporter. You’re a mentor and inspiration to me and to many people in the world.
Thank you. What a joy to spend this time together.
More to come. Thank you, Gladys.