Ever since 1991 when I first met Dr. Dean Ornish in California, I have auite closely followed philosophy and practice in the treatment of the Coronary Heart Disease. Almost every year so far I have made it a point to go to the USA in summer to be in the mainstream of the new experimentation. Every trip, I must say, has left me richer and more equipped in my endeavour. I have a host of memories to share.
I had a privilege to be invited on 7th June 1994 to deliver a lecture on 'Universal Healing' at Duke University Medical Centre, N.C., USA to commemorate Dr. Kempner's address to American Medical Association 50 years ago in 1944 on his successful treatment of 50 congestive cardiac failure patients by the "Rice Diet" therapy. Dr. Kempner will be 93 this year. My talk centred round our experience with meditation in healing, meditation being the vital part of universal healing program. At the end of my talk, an old lady in her 80s sprang up on her feet and said " Doctor, please tell me what is the longevity span today ? I hope to live for 125 years. How could meditation help me?" Almost intuitively I replied, " Mrs. Williams, the way we experiencethis very moment, peace and joy of the human existence in a climate most congenial such as this, is in itself an everlasting moment, an eternal Now. Is this not enough ? In meditation it is the same awareness, the same experience. The question of dying does not arise at all." "Where shall I learn meditation ?" she asked. We are together always. No matter how very apart we be physically."
An encounter with Dr. Dean Ornish's patient is quite memorable. A patient aged 72, who was advised bypass surgery but instead chose to join Dr. Ornish's program was benefited but not to the extent the other participants were. He complained to Dean that he did exactly what others were also doing - he was a vegetarian and teatotaller and also practised yoga and meditation besides helping the needy. Dean listened to him attentively and said, "Please go ahead in the same way. Don't be burdened by the idea of altruism. Don't be obsessed. Thank God that you have been able to help others and that you are in a fortunate position to do so. Thank even those helped by you. Try this for about eight weeks." The patient got the message of Dean's remarks. Believe it or not, within less than six weeks his angina disappeared. Even the attitude of altruism when loaded with ego is counterproductive.
Some years ago Dr. Larry Dossey studied the speeches of 30 patients for about 15 minutes. He made frequency count of the use of the words "I" "My" or "Mine" in the course of utterance of each one of them. He followed up these individuals for 15 years. To his great surprise, those who had used the word "I", "My" or "Mine" most frequently were more prone to heart attack than those who did not!
One of the most heartening encounters was with the three young American cardiologists who took great interest in the program. These cardiologists could earn about 2000 dollars per hour by performing angioplasty, whereas their hour's commitment to this program could fetch them less than 300 dollars. They were prepared to devote 6 to 8 hours per week to this program. When asked what attracted them to this program, they said that in an hour they might help two patients with angioplasty while in an hour of this program they might help 20 patients and that too probably more significantly.
An Indian cardiologist at Chicago has been investigating the rising incidence of coronary heart disease amongst the young Indians. His research has led him to believe that the growing sense of isolation is a major cause for the increased incidence. Isolation encouraged smoking, drinking, and indulgence in fast foods rich in fat. The prosperity was also responsible for unhealthy lifestyle. During my visit to England at Leceister I had a similar experience. The young Indians below the age of 35 were increasingly falling prey to coronary heart disease.
During my recent visit to the USA, Dr. Robert Pritiken of the Longevity Centre at Los Angeles related to me a case history of a 55 year old patient who had 90% obstruction in his left anterior discending (L.A.D.0 coronary artery. The patient was advised angioplasty. However, he joined the reversal of atherosclerosis program at Los Angeles and in a year's time his repeated angiogram showed reduction in the obstruction of the left anterior discending, artery by 60%, that is, it had reduced to mere 30%. The patient's clinical condition had improved a great deal. He was practically symptomless. Six months after this recovery, the patient indulged in a heavy meal. He also took a couple of pegs of hard liquor and then after an amotional outburst had a heart attack. This case history clearly demonstrates that even an occasional indulgence in alcohol and heavy fatty meal accompanied with emotional outrage can cause disruption of a plaque and clot formation in an otherwise normal looking coronary artery resulting in a heart attack.