Dr. Ornish is the founder, president, and director of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California. For the past thirty years, he has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse the progression of even severe coronary heart disease and prostate cancer without drugs or surgery. He is the author of five bestselling books, including New York Times bestsellers Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; and Love and Survival.  For more information, visit and


Anyway, I was in so much emotional pain that I was willing to try anything. It’s not even so much what the swami said but

who he was and what he embodied. I was struck by the clear light that was filling

up the room, his peacefulness and playfulness, the twinkle in his eye, and the joy that he exuded. And so I figured, Well, let me give this a try. I can always go to Plan B and kill myself if it doesn’t work. So I gave up my Texas diet of chili, chalupas, and cheeseburgers; began exercising, meditating, doing yoga, practicing breathing and relaxation techniques; and started doing more selfless service. Within days, I began to get glimpses of what he was talking about, and that was enough to

save me.

Bestselling author DR. DEAN ORNISH’s plan to kill himself during his freshman year in college is interrupted by the serendipitous visit of a swami to his parents’ home.

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Photograph taken by Erik Butler