Well-Being for All
Well-being. Health. Joy. These are more than buzz words; they are what Dr. Deepak Chopra believes everyone on the planet should be able to access with ease. This maxim is at the heart of Never Alone, an initiative of the Chopra Foundation, which brings together people and organizations from around the globe to forge a new vision for mental and emotional health, and make resources available to people seeking support.
In advance of the Seaport’s Community Meditation Event on October 12, we spoke with Dr. Chopra and Never Alone co-founder Gabriella Wright about their work together, and why it is so crucial. The pair will also be in conversation following the community meditation on The Rooftop on the 12th.
Gabriella, can you share the story of why you and Dr. Chopra founded Never Alone?
Gabriella Wright: When Dr. Chopra and I met, we started discussing the importance of “freedom from suffering.” Being a student of Vajrayāna Buddhism since the age of 18, the importance of finding purpose and being of service to a collective has always been at the forefront of my life. After losing my little sister, I realized that the global community needed a safe place to share stories and lead their own journey to healing.
Never Alone was founded in September, 2019—a year and a few months after my sister’s death to suicide in June, 2018 at the age of 28. The weight of grief for my family made us feel like we were in a sinking Titanic, unable to escape our own suffering and questions of why? There is so much stigma around mental health. Never Alone was founded to embrace a journey of healing, not only for ourselves but for the collective.
Dr. Chopra, why was it important for the Chopra Foundation to be a part of Never Alone?
Deepak Chopra: Gabriella was already active in suicide prevention and mental well-being as a teacher of Buddhist meditation. She had suffered the loss of her sister as a result of suicide. Every 40 seconds, someone dies as a result of suicide, and suicide is the second most common cause of death among teens. It is our responsibility to our fellow humans and also our children to help alleviate the global pandemic of stress, anxiety, and depression.
We joined forces with Gabriella and she became a cofounder, along with Poonacha Machaiah (CEO of the Chopra Foundation), of the Never Alone movement. We think the partnership brings experience and knowledge that will strengthen the efforts of the Chopra Foundation as we move away from mental distress in the direction of peace, justice, sustainability, health, and joy.
What are some examples of initiatives Never Alone is working on?
Gabriella Wright: In our Love in Action community programs, ambassadors promote the 4 A’s — attention, appreciation, affection, and acceptance. We have an upcoming course called Freedom from Suffering, and a mental well-being podcast in development as well. The Chopra Foundation’s CEO Poonacha Machaiah is behind the technology strategy of democratizing access to mental well-being tools. The foundation deployed an AI emotional chatbot, ‘PIWI,’ and to date, 24 million text messages have been exchanged on the platform. That equates to approximately 19,000 crisis situations detected and approximately 11,000 people with suicidal ideation detected. We have several more technologies that are focused on anxiety that we’ll be releasing soon.
The Chopra Foundation conducts scientific research into the effects of mind-body practices on health and well-being. What are some of the most recent findings that you’re most excited about?
Deepak Chopra: We recently published research on what we call self-directed biological transformation (SBTI.) Our research showed that a week-long experience at a retreat that included healthy food, meditation, yoga, and breathing practices changed the activity of the genes of the participant. Genes that were responsible for healing and self-regulation went up very significantly over baseline levels. In some cases, gene activity improved 17-fold over baseline. Genes responsible for inflammation and chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes metabolic syndrome, and cancer went down significantly. The level of the enzyme Telomerase, which controls aging and our biological clock, went up 40%. In other words, our research and the effects of mind-body practices show that it is possible to prevent and even reverse a number of diseases, and increase our health and lifespan as we age.
The Community Meditation event at the Seaport will bring a large group of people together. What are the benefits of meditating together in this way?
Deepak Chopra: Group meditation enhances brainwave coherence in all participants. This means that the brainwaves of different participants align at the same frequency which leads to the generation of a consciousness field that amplifies the effect of individual mediation. The event will also be live-streamed, and our hope is to generate a global consciousness field for well-being and healing.
Anyone can become part of the Never Alone community by going to neveralone.love. People may also support our mission by making a donation. If we work together with a shared vision and leverage each other’s strengths, we will not only tackle this global epidemic of distress but also create a global consciousness for joy.