Does managing stress mean we must withdraw from life?
Answered by Dr. Dean Ornish
  • Dr. Dean Ornish

    Dr. Dean Ornish

  1. Dr. Dean Ornish Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute


    There are a lot of misconceptions that somehow you have to choose between an interesting productive life that's filled with stress and you die early, or you sit under a tree and you watch your life go by, and you're a lump. That's not the choice. There's an old Zen proverb: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water." You may still do the same things, but the intentionality behind it is very different. This teacher that I studied with for many years, this swami, and people would say, "What are you, a Hindu?" He'd say, "No, I'm an undo."

    The idea is that these techniques, these spiritual practices, are not about withdrawing from the world. They're about embracing it more fully. Part of the reason I got so depressed when I was in college was I thought, "I have to be a doctor in order to be a good person, then I won't feel so lonely and depressed." Once you set up that view of the world -- that it's external to you -- then no matter how it turns out, you generally feel more stress.

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