If there were a machine to measure stress-out of every hundred subjects in a city, eighty would score more than 80% of the maximum possible.
Unfortunately most of us are unaware of the excessive burden of stress that we carry with us. Excessive work pressure, increasing needs, family
problems, time constraint, loans to repay, illness etc. are gradually increasing our emotional stresses.
Working and travelling all over the country during the last eight years of practice as the director of Saaol Heart Center in Delhi, and in
the preceding six years at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)-I have been treating heart patients with a combination of medical
treatment with lifestyle changes. Stress management and Yoga-Meditation are the major components of Lifestyle advice that I advocate
We have been able to cure and treat thousands of patients of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and so on. What
has probably helped people the most amongst the lifestyle changes are stress management skills and meditation. Amongst the other components
of my lifestyle program are regular exercises, very low fat diet, yogasana, walking and a relaxation procedure called Kayotsarga.
People ask me, “Doctor, though you are a medical doctor how did you deviate towards this holistic approach? Why are you so
True, when I acquired my MBBS from Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1986 and moved to Delhi, I was a hardcore medical doctor-following
blindly all the drug and surgical treatments out of textbooks and what my teachers had taught. I never believed in Yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and
naturopathy or, for that matter, anything that was not allopathy. But in Delhi, during my residency in a hospital-one patient’s death completely
changed my life attitude and approach. I changed track-from allopathy to holistic treatment. Let me narrate the incident which happened
sometime in 1986.
This particular heart patient visited me with complaints of chest pain on walking-I could easily diagnose him to be a heart patient after
some investigation. I started treating him with medicines-but his lifestyle was very bad as he was tremendously stressed and addicted to smoking.
His food remained bad, lifestyle sedentary and full of stress. I never found time, within those 5 minutes per patient per visit in OPD (Out Patient
Department), to talk to him on his lifestyle. As his disease worsened I gave him more medicines to relieve him of his symptoms of chest pain.
He felt better after this increment of medicines but ultimately suffered a heart attack. We admitted him in the ICU and gave him the best of care
but ultimately could not save him. But his death changed completely my views about treating heart patients. I realized that heart patients need a
complete change in their lifestyle, food habits, training on stress management and physical exercise. This started a new process of treatment of
heart disease and I called this SAAOL or Science and Art of Living.
In the last fourteen years of treatment of heart patients with lifestyle modification, I realized that diet is probably the second most
important factor to get results. The first of course in managing the various stresses of life. My job was to make sure that my patients are really
able to cut down their stresses-and then only the results will come. A less stressed person can control the food better than others. While training
the patients to manage stresses, I had to make the process very practical and user friendly. I included the spouses in my training program. In India
the family system is very strong and a change in the behaviour of spouse, will guarantee a better stress reduction. I included Meditation in y
stress management program as it will help us to control stress better by controlling our emotional brain. Along with Meditation I had to include
Yoga also as an adjuvant. The more I worked on my patients and followed them up-I started improving my training skills. The program became
valid for every person-professional or not, educated or not, business man or housewife-because they constituted majority of my patients.
Many of my patients changed their life completely, cut down their anger, changed their communication skills and were better persons
after attending the Saaol camps. Many were so impressed that they send their children to attend our program even though they are not heart
patients; some even repeated the training camps. Many of my patients wanted me to write down everything I speak during my camps so that they
can read the techniques again the again. I made up my mind to write down all the points in the form of a book a few years back. This book is the
Back of the Book
The term Stress has found everyday usage in our vocabulary/parlance and is increasingly becoming a topic for discussion at various platforms
and as yet, a clear-cut definition for this phenomenon remains elusive.
A practical definition explains stress as “when the problem presented by everyday life exceeds your resources for coping with them
you feel stressed.”
The text has been divided in two parts-1. Stress, and 2. Meditation. These have been discussed under various chapterheads which
Dr. Bimal Chhajer, MD, is a consultant cardiologist and cardiac rehabilitation expert who is also the founder and director
Saaol Heart Center in Delhi. Dr. Chhajer is a pioneer in treatment of coronary heart disease by a combination of lifestyle modification and
medical drugs. He advocates yoga, meditation, stress management, exercises, died modification as a substitute of bypass surgery and
angioplasty. His workshops are held regularly in all the major metro cities.
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