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Book Summary Video Interviews with Dr. Dean Ornish on his book “The Spectrum for HealthBootcamps.
Dean Ornish, MD, is the founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif. He is the clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Ornish received his medical training in internal medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He received a BA in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.
For more than 32 years, Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. He directed the first randomized, controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may stop or reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer. His research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease. In collaboration with Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., he also showed that these lifestyle changes can lengthen telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control how long we live.
He is the author of six best-selling books, including New York Times bestsellers Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; Love & Survival; and his most recent book, The Spectrum.
The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Circulation, TheNew England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, The Lancet Oncology, and elsewhere.
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[00:01] REENA JADHAV: All right next chapter guided meditations. What’s that all about?
[00:04] DR. DEAN ORNISH: Well meditation can be used in a number of ways. One is just repeating a sound and when you meditate you can focus your awareness internally and you know mental energy is really no different than new kind of energy. Einstein showed that energy and matter work in a convertible that’s why E=MC2 is all about. And so when you focus something you gain more power just like a laser is focused light you could burn through steel or magnifying glass you could focus sunrays and you could burn a piece of paper. And so when you focus your awareness, your mind has a bigger impact on your body for better and for worse. Often at times people focus when they get angry that’s one reason why anger is such a powerful risk factor for heart disease and some of the other conditions. But if you can bring your mind to a more neutral or peaceful focus which is what meditation can be and there are certain sounds that people meditate on that have been found to be soothing. It’s like if you hum to your kid it almost intuivately there like Oh, Hmm [inaudible] shalom or whatever these are words and often translated literally to mean peace. And so when we teach people to meditate on guided meditations like bring your awareness towards sound and repeat the sounds. It will be like Hmmm or even the word one if you want something more secular. When you run out of air do it again that’s all meditation is and when your mind wanders as it always does everyone’s does even the [inaudible] such as mine does just bring it back over and over again. And so when you do that your mind begins to quiet down you begin to experience more of that inner sense of peace and joy and well-being and to realize that’s the natural state. And so as we talked about earlier it’s not that you have to get it, it’s just you have to stop the serving it. And to remind yourself that you’ve already got that if you take it even further using that direct experience as I mentioned earlier transcendence but also something we didn’t talk about which is really important is that we all have our own inner teacher, our inner wisdom, our inner google, our inner whatever you want to call it. Instead voice that speaks very softly and clearly but it gets drowned out by the chatter of everyday life you know it’s the voice that wakes you up every morning that says, “Hey Dean wake up! Listen up, pay attention you need to listen to this,” and I wake up Okay. But I’ve learned that you can access that voice actually very directly and intentionally. So at the end of the meditation for example when you are feeling more peaceful to ask that voice to identify itself to you. To listen to it and what I always ask is why am I not paying attention to that I need to and just listen and it’s amazing what comes out of that. And because it’s coming from your own inner voice you trust it, it’s authentic you don’t have to be like well maybe that’s true maybe it’s not. You figure someone else giving advice is coming from within and I’ve learned to trust that and when I do it almost invariably it turns out to be I’m glad that I did that.
[02:55] REENA JADHAV: How many minutes a day do you meditate?
[02:56] DR. DEAN ORNISH: It varies sometimes it’s an hour. I get up at five and meditate because from five to six no one is bothered me and I don’t get an email and stop look at my email. It’s a very peaceful time of the day but sometimes I just get overwhelmed with stuff but I always meditate at least for a few minutes. Now like I have this old game I play with my sons like okay I don’t have time to meditate for an hour. I meditate for a minute. If I have to stop myself and meditate for a minute I have to admit to myself in my life so out of balance that I just do a minute and once you do a minute chances are you going to do more just getting started is often an issue. But even a minute has real power its like have you ever found yourself listening to a song on the radio and you found yourself humming it later on the day? It’s your conscious that your mind is still listening and playing it. And so when you meditate in the morning even if it’s just for a minute or two your mind is subconsciously repeating that and it makes you feel stronger, it raises the threshold of the things that bother you so you can often do more without getting stressed without getting sick in the process.
[03:53] REENA JADHAV: And there is actually a lot of science behind doing meditation first thing in the morning. In fact in our health bootcamps we say don’t even jump out of bed sort of hip play because we send curated three to five minute meditations and more like you don’t have three minutes in the morning because you know you’re going to jump on Facebook or your social feeds and spend 20 minutes. So you can take 3 minutes out of that time or four minutes at a time press play and there’s actually science behind the fact that exactly what you’re saying when you start your day that way with introspection, with calm, you have retrained yourself to stay calm the entire day. You said earlier more tolerance, more patience, less reaction and all that stuff is fabulous to get your body into the heal zone.
[04:36] DR. DEAN ORNISH: That’s right.
Dr. Dean Ornish, MD
Phone: 415-332-2525, x-229
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