Deepak Chopra: Why Wall Streeters need to meditate

Stress - Ivar Van Bussel

More Wall Streeters should think about starting their day with meditation, best-selling author Deepak Chopra said Monday.

The alternative medicine advocate said many financial firms are implementing meditation programs, and that will make employees more productive and less distracted because they're centered. He noted that "things change by the minute" on Wall Street, which can cause considerable stress.

"Stress is the number one epidemic of our civilization," Chopra said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "Indirectly or directly it's related to things like insomnia, anxiety, fear, but [also] cardiovascular illness, inflammation in the body, heart disease, autoimmune illnesses. Many kinds of cancer are connected directly or indirectly to inflammation in the body. So meditation is a very effective way to start tackling this problem, this epidemic of stress."

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About 15 minutes of meditation provides twice as much rest as deep sleep, he said.

Chopra said he himself began his path toward "mindfulness" when he was a busy internist and endocrinologist, admitting he was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. He said he realized he couldn't help his patients if I he didn't first take care of himself.

Hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones is among Chopra's followers. Chopra said Tudor Jones's entire staff engages in some form of meditation.

To encourage more people to meditate, Chopra has partnered with Oprah Winfrey to launch a free online, 21-day meditation program that he said has reached 3.6 million people. The theme of the program is "success."

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