Open the first page and you are stuck by the eye-catching lines of Jim Warren, a cancer survivor. Have a look-
Twelve years have come and gone,
And I am still at the dance
I guess that God has just changed his mind
And gave me another chance
And on that day I took a vow
To let go of the past
To live my life and love each day
As if it were my last
In the first chapter “Aghaat”, doctor describes how he was diagnosed of heart disease while he was serving community at his Shodhagram at Gadchiroli. He is a man with a shrewd sense of social service and handles rural health care sector of his self-formulated hospital cum research center. While leading a calm rural life without the hustle bustle of city, he never expected himself to fall for a cardiac malady, a near-fatal heart attack. His keen intellect and acuity of a physician led him to search for the causes those put him in this condition. Also he describes how despite being a doctor, he kept ignoring his body’s alarms those were pointing towards some kind of serious problem time and again.
While describing his woes and his fight against adversity of heart attack in the hospital, he read Braunwald’s Heart Disease and Dean Ornish’s Reversing Heart Disease. He gives description of how today’s medical investigations can be misguiding and deceiving of normalcy when there is something abnormal going on in the body. The rest story of first part gives a physical, mental, and emotional crisis of the patient who has to witness his heart problem, several investigations, surgery, ups and downs during treatment, enhanced knowledge of purpose of existence, numerous things we enjoy as the healthy human being, and repentance of the stress that we behold despite knowing that positive side is more dazzling than meager negativism of life.
The second chapter on Ornish according to me is a separate study lesson altogether. I believe reading and comprehending this chapter is enough for one lifetime! The best part about this chapter is that it does not entail us only about the physical lifestyle changes those are necessary to revert a cardiac disease or to prevent a heart disease. But in depth, it discusses the mental and emotional change one should adopt to remain healthy throughout life. Importance of meditation, yoga, shavaasana, and stress-free living are stressed and apt examples are given how to bring about these changes. Moreover, his explanation regarding how to relieve stress by attaching ourselves with the innate things that we possess as a child but forget in due course is astonishing and touching. Spirituality is another plus of not only this chapter but of this entire book. How spirituality can be cultivated and directed to find permanent calmness and happiness is given extremely beautifully. Correlation between Ornishs’s and Gandhian philosophies is another point to be mentioned about this chapter. Those who may call this book as non-medical should read this chapter. In exceedingly easily understandable language, doctor has given how to calculate different health parameters personally and how to bring about changes. Diet advices given here do not just list the things to be eaten but also give how to modify existing diet with the healthy alternatives. Here you also find interesting info regarding the method to start any exercise, choice of exercise, frequency and intensity of exercise, calculating how much exercise is enough for us, and what day to day things can be altered positively to get maximum exercise without hitting gym.
The next chapter starts with a Zen haiku that says, “Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and grass grows by itself! The chapter entails a doctor’s conversion into a spiritualist who wants to look at life with the all-new vision that existed within though not paid heed to. Right from yoga, dhyaana, to various cults of spiritualism the chapter discusses how we should sacrifice self if we want to be happy and healthy at the end. Living in present tense is elaborated with the ease and efficacy of a great spiritual being. The small examples given here and there only make your reading an enjoyable experience without making it dull even a minute.
The fourth chapter carries forward this vision of spiritualism further elaborately. The fact that our health is directly proportional to our spiritual wellness is understood here. This can be said as the most beautiful chapter in the entire book for those who believe in spiritualism and try to comprehend the unknown by the known. The frankness of the author in accepting his defeat at the start of his spiritual quest makes us concretely believe in his future spiritual endeavor and we become part of his quest (at least for some days unless we try to pursue it for lifetime, which is advisable). The effect of spiritualism to help conquer our psycho-physical health is worth reading hundred times.
The fifth chapter I would say particularly applies to twenty first century youth. Running behind deadlines, forgetting how to laugh for a day, and meeting friends only online have become synonymous with our fast life today. The question, how much is enough is unanswered still. And that is discussed here to comprehend Gandhian philosophy that says, “There is enough on this earth for everybody’s need; but not for everybody’s greed!”
The sixth chapter reveals around human quest for ultimate peace. It is certainly relevant that only after one is at peace with oneself can find peace around and can be peaceful in body and mind. Through all this modified controlled lifestyle measures, spiritual quests, meditations, sacrifice of material instincts, doctor teaches us how to conquer futuristic health maladies. Today when we are afraid at the slightest attack of viral fevers and swine flu, this treasure of psycho-somatic wellness will help us evolve ourselves beyond the realms of time!
The last chapter gives medical details and health parameters’ calculative details. There are details and some tests regarding diet and exercise. After going through entire book, this last part is exquisitely important and I can say that each word of this lesson must be read carefully not to miss anything.
Well, I think how much ever I write about this book, it is less. In between had done a vague attempt to translate this book in English but could not find time and energy to elaborate this awesome doctor’s work. So, can say this is an attempt to satisfy my writing instinct about this divine book!