Coronary Heart Disease ( CHD) is a global phenomenon. It is now becoming a major health problem even in the developing countries. Till today, the cause of coronary heart disease remains an enigma. It is also increasingly understood that the fear and panic of the disease are more ravaging than the disease itself. The tell-tale predisposing factors are : heredity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high serum cholesterol and smoking. The way of living and the way of feeling appear to be quite an important factor in its increasing incidence. Of late, various experiments conducted in the United States and European countries have shown that the impact of this disease could be reduced considerably by paying attention to this crucial factor of modern way of living and feeling.
A young Cardiologist of San Francisco, U.S.A. Dr. Dean Ornish has been conducting a program of strict vegetarian low fat diet, modest exercise, progressive deep relaxation ( shavasana), meditation ( which has developed the participants to change their life style ), group discussion and the sharing of feelings. This program has shown considerable subjective and objective improvement in forty participants with severe coronary heat disease, over a period of four years. Encouraged by this favourable results, we decided to investigate the benefit of this unique non-drug approach in our set up. We launched such program on 2nd October 1991.
A charitable trust - " Universal Healing " was founded with the idea of pursuing this wholesome approach to the complex problem of coronary heart disease. Main objects of this trust are :
- A holistic approach accommodating all the measures, drug or non-drug of whatever discipline ( whether allopathy, homeopathy, ayurved or naturopathy).
- Creating mass awareness regarding coronary heart disease
- To promote research and original thinking in the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of the patients of coronary heart disease.
- To dispel unnecessary fear of coronary heart disease.
- To simplify the treatment of coronary heart disease bearing in mind the cost effectiveness of all interventions.
All the above efforts to be made with a scientific temper withour prejudice to the widely accepted current methods of treatment and prevention.
During the short span of 12 months, since we started this program , we have quite an encouraging feed-back from our participants in their feeling of well- being and improvement in objective assessment of their cardiovascular status by simple methods like weight, BP/Pulse measurements, resting and exercise ECGs and reduction in the dose of medications. Moreover quite a few have experienced relief in other complaints like hyperacidity, chronic skin disease and arthritis. Most significantly almost all of them said that their reactions to day to day stressful events had become more balanced. A spirit of brotherliness, togetherness and connectedness has been felt by them. We conduct this program twice a week under the auspices of "UNIVERSAL HEALING " at C. N. Vidyalaya on every Tuesday and Friday between 6 and 7 p.m.
A qualified yoga teacher helps us in conducting of the program of progressive deep relaxation ( shavasan) and meditation. A very well qualified dietician guides the participants regarding proper diet and gives individual advice considering dietetic habits of the family. A devoted batch of volunteers coming from different walks of life help the cause of Universal Healing.
This program does not claim to be a panacea. Not is it against the conventional approach in dealing with the patients of CHD, including angioplasty and CABG. It is a modest endeavour to assist all the efforts to contain this deadly foe of mankind.
We do feel that such a program has a place in the vast arena of various methods in dealing with the hitherto unsolved problem of CHD. We ourselves are studying the impact of the program with an open mind. WE welcome suggestions and co-operation from one and all.
Donations to the trust are exempt under Sec. 80 (G) of the Income Tax Act.
- Our aim is to establish normal circulation in the coronary arteries by reversing the process of atherosclerosis. The present medical approach is to dilate the arteries and increase blood flow to the narrowed arteries and diminish the need of oxygeneted blood by the heart muscle with the help of medicines. The surgical approach is by passing narrowed arteries or dilating them by inflating a balloon inserted in the narrowed artery. These do not bring about permanent cure. The by-pass surgery tends to be a palliative measure, bypassing the problem.
- The occurrence of heart attack is a dynamic process. All of a sudden the narrowed arteries become further narrow due to spasm and blood flowing through the artery becomes thick due to increase in viscocity of blood and the clumping of platelets. This is usually the result of extreme sympathetic activity following undue mental stress due to physical and mental exhaustion. A heavy meal, alcohol and smoking aggravate the arterial spasm and clotting of blood. The practice of shavasana, meditation and change in food habits with the avoidance of alcohol and smoking blunt the edge ofthe above mentioned harmful reactions and save the patient from the heart attack.
- Diet low in fat ( 10% of total calories derived from fat) with modest exercise like walking on level for 30 minutes, progressive deep relaxation ( shavasan), and meditation bring about the reversal of atherosclerosis in coronary arteries, i.e. fatlike deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries dissolve, and he obstructed arteries become wide once again. This is an all round beneficial effect on coronary heart disease. The program not only heals the coronary disease but also heals the person as a whole.
- It is difficult to quieten the mind even for six seconds. It is estimated that out of 16 hours of waking time, hardly for an hour and a half, we live in the present. Most of the time our awareness is in the past or in the future. Meditation helps us to stay in the present.
- The technique of meditation diminishes the need of oxygen by the heart muscle. It has been estimated that within only three minutes of meditation, 20% of oxygen consumption is reduced as against only 8% reduction in oxygen consumption after six hours of good sleep.
- Meditation brings our awareness in the present by focussing on the process of breathing or some sound, like Om.
- Meditation slows down the rate of entropy - in other words wear and tear are reduced resulting in better health and longevity.
- In order to meditate we need to relax mentally. To relax the mind,we need to relax the body. And to relax the body, light stretching exercises are necessary. Progressive deep relaxation , i.e., shavasan performed in this manner brings about a relaxed state of mind which prepares the individual for meditation.
- The technique of meditation is simple. You sit down in a relaxed manner. Close your eyes and simply watch the inhaling and exhaling of your breathe. Thoughts may come and go, but you remain unconcerned. Breathe is life. When you are breathing, it is not only air that you breathe in, you breathe in light and life force also. Thus your consciousness becomes one with your breath and life force, and healing follows.
- Meditation motivates the individual to adopt a healthy life style. It helped the participation in Dr. Dean Ornish’s program to become strict vegetarians and teetotaler.
- Dr. Dean Ornish has also noted that selfless benevolent work opens the arteries whereas self-centredness, hostility and cynicism are toxic to the heart. They constrict the arteries.
- In a study of 46 patients of coronary heart disease, divided into two groups of 23 each, all 46 patients are given the same medical advice and treatment. One group of 23 patients was taught stress management which consisted of shavasan, meditation and visualization. The results of a twenty four day study revealed a significant difference in the clinical improvement between the two groups. The group which was taught the stress management technique showed much greater improvement shown by increase in work performance by 55% due to improvement in the left ventricular function. There was 20% fall in cholesterol level and 90% reduction in the frequency of anginal attack.
- The electrical activity is continuously generated from the brain throughout life. From the front part of the brain beta waves are seen on electroencephalogram. Shavasan and meditation bring about the alpha activity which promotes healing through secretion of health-giving hormones throughout the body.
- Our greatest limitation comes from our perception, that we are individuals limited in space and time. During meditation one experience that one is eternal and boundless. Feelings of connectedness with the universe and wisdom dawn on the individual. This whole experience helps in healing in toto.
- Dalai Lama gave a tip to an eminent Harvard Cardiologist who had gone to Dharmashala to study the benefits of meditation. He said, " The essence of Chinese medicine consists of three conditions , vital to curing of any disease :
- Doctor’s faith in himself to cure his patient.
- The patient’s faith in his doctor that he will cure him
- Doctor’s Karma - his skill and its application with love."