87. Poonacha Machaiah CEO, Chopra Foundation – A Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Resilience

In an age where the digital and spiritual realms often seem worlds apart, Poonacha Machaiah, CEO of the Chopra Foundation, stands as a beacon of integration and innovation. His unique journey from the technological trenches of corporate giants to the holistic hallways of the Chopra Foundation offers a glimpse into the potential for technology to enhance spiritual and global well-being.

Poonacha’s roots are deeply embedded in the warrior tribe of Coorg in South India, where resilience and a robust spirit are a way of life. These traits have seamlessly transitioned into his approach to leadership and wellness, blending the ancient wisdom of his ancestors with the futuristic visions of tech-enhanced lifestyles. At the heart of his mission lies a profound commitment to using technology not just as a tool, but as a transformative agent for societal well-being.

The path that led Poonacha from engineering circuits to engineering calm is as intriguing as it is inspiring. His tenure at companies like Motorola and Nortel equipped him with a deep understanding of technology’s potential, which he now channels into health and wellness innovations. The Chopra Foundation, under his leadership, explores the realms of educational technology, mental health, and longevity, all through integrative therapies that marry the conventional with the contemporary.

Perhaps one of the most groundbreaking endeavors under Poonacha’s guidance is the reimagining of meditation. Moving away from traditional sit-and-chant methods, the foundation is pioneering immersive meditation experiences that leverage everything from AI to virtual reality. These aren’t just meditative sessions; they are gateways to new worlds created through sophisticated soundscapes and virtual environments, making spiritual practices accessible and engaging for the digital generation.

With mental health at the forefront of global health discussions, Poonacha’s initiatives are timely. The foundation’s work includes the Never Alone initiative for suicide prevention and mental health awareness, which uses AI to provide support and resources to those in need. This approach exemplifies how technology can extend a hand of hope and healing to those who might otherwise suffer in silence.

Looking ahead, Poonacha is excited about the potential of psychedelics in mental health treatment. The foundation is exploring how virtual reality can simulate the therapeutic effects of psychedelic experiences, offering new treatment pathways without the need for drugs. This innovative approach could revolutionize psychotherapy and open new doors for treating various psychological ailments.

In every initiative, whether it’s creating physical spaces for immersive experiences or developing virtual platforms for meditation, the goal remains the same: to build sanctuaries of well-being that bridge the gap between the ancient and the ultramodern. Poonacha’s vision extends beyond mere wellness; it’s about creating a world where technology serves humanity, enhancing not just our physical health but our spiritual lives as well.

It’s not by chance that we’re posting this episode during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.  We invite you to search “mental wellness” on globalwellnessinstitute.org for insight on the pathways to mental wellness. 

Look for the Institute’s Webinar Series Wellness Economy Research Webinar on the topic of Mental Wellness scheduled for  June 26.  They’ll be discussing how mental wellness policy can promote resilience and support community connections. They’ll also introduce their latest toolkit on mental wellness policy. 


Hosted by Kim Marshall

Produced by NOVA Media

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