Sample from the Spring 2008 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine

In the early 1970s, Dean Ornish was a medical student who was stressed out, depressed, suffering from mononucleosis and about to make a really bad decision. Then, he had a life-altering encounter. In a newly released book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, author Phil Bolsta offers an intimate collection of spiritual awakening stories in which Dr Ornish’s story is featured. In an interview, Phil Bosta was asked which of the 45 stories included in Sixty Seconds—among them, Bernie Seigel, Deepak Chopra, Caroline Myss, James Redfield, Wayne Dyer and Christiane Northrup) touched him the most. He replied, “I was touched by Dean Ornish’s initial encounter with Swami Satchidananda.”

In the excerpt below, Dr Ornish shares how everything changed in a moment. And from that moment onward, Dr Ornish’s life would alter the course of medical research and bring Yoga to the forefront of integrative medicine. Dean Ornish’s latest book, The Spectrum, is a bestseller on the New York Times list. Following the Sixty Seconds excerpt, we also include an interview with Dr Ornish about his new book.

Integral Yoga Magazine: Why did you write The Spectrum?

Dean Ornish: This book is the culmination of three decades of my research and clinical experience proving what works, what doesn’t, for whom, and under what circumstances. It works. It’s about how to enjoy life more fully while enhancing your health and well-being. The book is based on our latest research, including studies showing that you may actually be able to change how your genes are expressed just by changing what you eat and how you live. In short, this book can empower you to transform your own life.

IYM: How did you come to name this approach, “the Spectrum”?

DO: I like the concept of a spectrum because it’s all about freedom. If you go on a diet, you’re likely to go off it sooner or later. For most people, being on a diet—any diet—is not sustainable. Even the word “diet” conjures up feeling restricted, deprived, controlled. In contrast, the Spectrum approach is all about choice. There is no diet to get on and no diet to get off. Nothing is forbidden. No “Thou shalt not,” no “You better.” No guilt, no shame; no right, no wrong. It’s based on love, not willpower. It’s about feeling good, not just avoiding feeling bad. Joy of living, not fear of dying. The book shows how to cut through the confusion and to personalize a nutrition and lifestyle program, just right for you based on your own needs and preferences. You have a spectrum of choices. People have different needs, goals, and preferences. The medicine of the future is personalized medicine, which this book brings to you today.

IYM: How does it work?

DO: Find your place on the Nutrition Spectrum based on the foods that you tend to eat most of the time. Then, according to your own needs and preferences, decide how far and how quickly you want to move in a more healthful direction (if at all). In general, the farther you move towards the healthy, Group 1 end of the Spectrum, and the faster you move there, the more benefits you’re likely to gain and the more quickly you’ll experience them. Begin by making moderate changes. If that’s sufficient to accomplish your goals, great; if not, you can make bigger ones. In our studies, we consistently found that the more people changed, the more improvements we measured and the better they felt.

IYM: Why does it seem the experts never agree on what we should eat?

Read the rest of this article in the Spring 2008 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine