Night of Enlightenment

The Clevelanders Behind Deepak Chopra's Visit

Helen Moss: Moss had never heard of Deepak Chopra before being diagnosed with breast cancer more than three years ago. Moss, a Merrill Lynch vice president and Bratenahl resident, founded the Helen Moss Breast Cancer Research Koundation to help educate patients about complimentary medicine: treatment that can be used either along with traditional chemotherapy and radiation or in place of it. "My goal — and it's a big goal — is to open the eyes of the administrators of hospitals and the heads of oncology departments," she says.

Trina Becksted: In 2001, Becksted, president of Cloudnine Marketing in Russell, met Chopra for the first time. The two hit it off professionally and she has since organized his appearances in Columbus, Ohio, and South Bend, Ind., in 2002, and Phoenix in May 2003. "Deepak is such a beautiful man who walks his talk, who is generous, kind and loving," Becksted says. "I've never seen him get angry. I want to learn from his example."

Joan Fox, Ph.D.: Fox, director of The Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine and a physiology and biophysics professor at Case Western Reserve University, researches topics such as the power of the mind in affecting physiology and the effects of dietary and herbal interventions on the body. "We now know that decreased function of the immune system and increased susceptibility to disease can result from stress or other emotional issues," she says.

Depak Chopra was a practicing endocrinologist in Boston when he began speaking and writing about the mind-body-spirit connection to healing. Since the mid-'80s, he's authored 35 books, including his latest best seller, "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: %arnessing the Infinite Power of Coinidence." Chopra, heralded by Time in 1999 as one of the "Top 100 Icons and Heroes of the Century," will speak at Severance Hall April 26. His visit is sponsored by the Helen Moss Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Chopra recently shared his thoughts on traditional medicine, the meaning of coincidence and his secret for a healthy lifestyle.

What is your message to those seeking to be healed through traditional methods?

The key is to know that as health-care providers and physicians we have a responsibility to help empower our patients, to maximize their potential for healing. ... You can have two people get the same treatment for the same disorder from the same physician and they can still have completely different outcomes. What is that difference? We must really harness everything a patient has in their body-mind system to promote their own healing response. We all have the ability to nurture and accelerate healing from within.

Do you believe in traditional medicine?

I do, but with a little caveat: You don't need a nuclear bomb when you can use a fly swatter. Sometimes, we do that in medicine. We do very devastating treatments when minor ones would suffice. If you use our technology selectively, it becomes extremely powerful. But when we use it indiscriminately, we do more damage. Sometimes, we do use it indiscriminately, like giving people antibiotics when they don't need them for viral infections or nurturing dependence on tranquilizers and sleeping pills.

You're a firm believer in coincidences. They're not just happenstance?

Coincidences are glimpses into the creative mind of the universe. [They are] actually expressions of creativity. [They] break the statistical likelihood of repetition and that's why you're surprised by them. So, in fact, they're an opportunity for you to participate with the creativity of the universe.

So when we're thinking about somebody and the phone rings and it's that person, there's a deeper message?

Yes. You should ask yourself what was the reason that happened? What's the significance? Either you'll have another coincidence or you'll have a flash of insight or intuition or creativity. Or you will have an encounter or relationship that will make that episode much more meaningful to you.

What can we do to live a healthy, prosperous life?

You can't change the world other than by changing yourself, so you have to become the change that you wish to see. ... I always say to people, "Don't worry about what's happening in the environment; you become the change and then the environment will change."

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