"The best use of a physician's knowledge is to teach patients how to heal themselves."
~ Dr. David Simon
Dr. David Simon was a best-selling author, Chopra Center co-founder, and pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine. More than three decades ago as an anthropology student exploring humanity’s earliest communities and cultures, he was drawn to the understanding that the role of the doctor was much more than a disease technician; a true healer had to be a diagnostician, medicine man, psychotherapist, and priest – an expert navigator of the mind and spirit as well as of the physical body.
As a medical student at the University of Chicago, David began studying and practicing meditation. Soon his fellow students were asking him for instruction in meditation as a tool for coping with the stress of their rigorous study demands. “By the time that I had completed my four years of medical school, almost half of my medical colleagues had learned meditation and were practicing at least intermittently purely for the value of having a tool to quiet their mind,” David recalls.
After finishing his medical degree, David completed several residencies at the University of San Diego and the University of Colorado. He began his influential career in private practice in neurology, and then served as chief of staff and medical director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Center and Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory at Sharp Cabrillo Hospital.
An Expanded Vision of Health and Healing
As a young physician and board-certified neurologist, David continued to explore a wide variety of healing traditions, searching for alternatives to the prevailing medical model that he had found extremely disappointing and limiting since his earliest days in medical school. He later wrote, “At times I was deeply demoralized that the notion of human beings as fully conscious, spiritually aware creations had been totally lost from the medical model of life and health.”
David studied the ancient wisdom traditions of India, Tibet, and China, encouraged by the way in which they combined the concept of body, mind, and spirit into a definition of a health as something more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being and vitality.
David’s first exposure to an Ayurvedic physician was to have a profound impact on his personal life and career. In his book The Wisdom of Healing, David describes meeting this gentle vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor), whose kind-hearted, open nature seemed to inspire the trust of his patients, who were then able to share their deepest concerns and get the most benefit from their visit. David was deeply struck by how the vaidya’s own presence seemed to be the most powerful aspect of his therapy. “More than an expert on health, he seemed to be a living representative of a healthy person, balanced in body, mind, and spirit. In this man, I saw the possibility that a physician could be more than a technical master of pathology – a doctor could guide his patients to health through his actions, words, and being,” David said.
Deeply drawn to the wisdom of Ayurveda, David ultimately became a recognized expert in this 5,000-year-old healing system, including its sister science, yoga. Throughout his medical career, he focused on integrating the theory and practice of these ancient healing sciences with the newer developments of modern Western medicine. He forged a model of health that integrates the multiple dimensions of a human being ― environmental, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.
The Creation of the Chopra Center
In 1996, David co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing with his colleague and mind-body healing expert, Deepak Chopra, M.D. Together, they have expanded people’s understanding of the true meaning of health, helping thousands of people throughout the world experience the healing benefits of Ayurveda, meditation, and yoga. Recognized as a leading authority in the effective and appropriate use of mind-body medicine practices, Dr. Simon's endeavors resulted in the training of thousands of physicians, nurses, and health care providers. One of the first recipients of a National Institutes of Health grant to study mind-body medical approaches to improving health care, David helped bring integrated mind-body medical programs to medical institutions, health centers, educational institutions, and health resorts throughout the world.
Best-Selling Books on Mind-Body Medicine
David Simon was a best-selling author of many wellness books, including Free to Love, Free to Heal: Heal Your Body by Healing Your Emotions; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga Guidebook; Return to Wholeness: Embracing Body, Mind, and Spirit in the Face of Cancer;The Wisdom of Healing; Vital Energy; and The Ten Commitments: Translating Good Intentions into Great Choices. He has also co-authored many books with visionary Deepak Chopra, including The Chopra Center Herbal Handbook; Grow Younger, Live Longer; The Chopra Center Cookbook; Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives: a Holistic Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth; and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga.
David's books Vital Energy; The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga; and Magical Beginnings, Enchanted Lives each received a Nautilus Book Award. The Ten Commitments was the winner of the 2006 Foreword Award.