Health - Discover your Compassionate Healer
by Roohi Saluja
Saurabh is a successful business entrepreneur, earning Rs nine lakh per annum. He lives and breathes his work. At barely 27, he's terribly focussed-knows what he wants, when he wants it, and how he wants it. No wonder his colleagues call him a hawk!
Picture perfect? Take a closer look. Competition puts Saurabh into an overdrive. Regular intake of coffee, and deep puffs of smoke keep him alert and wakeful even at odd hours. Lunchtimes mean important business meetings. The result: Saurabh digs into a burger between phone calls, gulping canned juice in the midst of serious business negotiations. In crutch situations, he takes recourse to two shots of vodka.
Lately, Saurabh complains of feeling unusually tired. Vodka shots are now unable to put him to rest. He's developed a tendency towards acidity and he also suffers from splitting headaches. Clinically, the doctors have given him a clean chit. He's healthy though just a little overstressed.
However, in alternative medical parlance, Saurabh is laying the foundation for chronic disease. His internal system is like an overworked factory. Neurotransmitters and hormones surge within his overcharged system, causing his heart to pump blood five times faster than normal. The smooth inner lining of the blood vessels has started to tear and erode, making them more susceptible to the accumulation of deposits. In the long run, Saurabh is thus becoming predisposed to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and coronary heart disease.
And now, the million-dollar question: Is Saurabh healthy? Modern medicine might say 'yes', with slight ambiguity, but alternative medicine would stamp its foot with a tough 'no'. Their verdict: Saurabh is unhealthy, but what disease will finally afflict him at a later stage is difficult to predict. This is because the variability in the individual response to pressure is so vast that no single prognosis will apply in generic terms. But what can be said with absolute certainty is that Saurabh's physiology is already showing signs of poor adaptability, and that the alert should be sounded before it is too late.
What is Good Health?
In my backyard, I once noticed a bare, lonesome rosebud leaning against the wall, trembling at the slightest waft of breeze. It sought help, and I decided to lend a hand. Day after day, I nurtured it-faithfully watering it, tending its soft thorns, and cheering it to blossom. On the seventh day, I noticed a glorious full-bloomed rose, dancing to the soft breeze, blushing in the warm sun, generously offering itself to the butterflies. It seemed to be saying 0a soft 'thank you', in its distinctly splendoured stance.
For each of us, our body is like a rosebud that wanes for lack of love, nourishment and attention. If we give it what it wants, it responds with robust, full-bloomed appearance. Health is our natural state, and it is within all our capacities to maintain good health at all times.
So, what is it to be healthy? Louis Prato, in Self Healing, describes it thus: "When we are experiencing well-being, our bodies feel alive and full of energy, our state of mind is positive, problems don't oppress or depress us. We're able to enjoy our work, to concentrate and be effective, and switch off, relax and play when the work routine is over. A positive self-image and love for yourself are the essence of well-being..."
Hari Sharma, in Awakening Nature's Healing Intelligence on the vedic approach to health says, "Health is much more than the absence of disease. It is a state of complete balance on the level of body, mind, and consciousness; a state of optimum happiness, an integrated state of emotional balance and well-being, psychological flexibility and energy. It is an active state of self-realisation, where individuals live and breathe their full potential."
We are all familiar with the vedic aphorism, 'yatha pinde, tatha brahmande', meaning that the body and the cosmos are made of the same elements and components. Our bodies could well be said to be made up of the stars.
The Buddha once stated, "In this six-foot body the entire universe is contained." To understand this statement, let's take a brief look at the esoteric constitution of the human body. Dr P.G. Kurup, in Drugless Therapy, propounds human existence at two levels-the lower self (body) and the higher self (soul). The lower self has a quadruple nature, constituting physical, mental, emotional and etheric body.
The physical body comprises various organ systems, and is discernible by the panchendriya (five sense organs). The emotional plane acts like a bridge between the physical body and the mind, translating gross body vibrations into perceptions comprehensible to the mind. The mind, on the other hand, is the vehicle for thoughts, memory, imagination, and consciousness. Of its several sub planes, the spiritual mind is the highest and the purest.
The Bhagavad Gita ponders on the existence of the etheric body that contains the physical body, but is imperceptible to the sense organs. This is the individual energy complex that serves as the mode of energy exchange between the lower self and the five universal elements, the panchamahabhoota (earth, air, fire, water and ether). The etheric body helps revitalize the physical, mental and emotional bodies. It absorbs and transforms cosmic energies, redirecting them to various organs of the body. The energy exchange also continues on mental and emotional planes.
Perspectives on Disease
Contrary to popular understanding, disease is not the converse of health. According to Park's Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine, a manual of modern medicine, health and disease is explained to "lie along a continuum, with no single cut- off point. The lowest point on the health-disease spectrum is death, and the highest point corresponds to positive health. The health of an individual is a dynamic phenomenon and a process of continuous change… There are degrees or levels of health as there are degrees of severity of illness. As long as we live, there is some degree of health in us."
While alternative medicine does not deny this view altogether, it delves deeper. The human body is seen to work in harmony with nature. Since the etheric plane forms the most integral link with the physical plane-connecting the gross with the subtle-any fluctuation or disorder in the functioning of this unit plays a key role in understanding disease patterns.
Dr Kurup explains that when subjective factors (like anxiety, depression, worry, stress); objective factors (like toxins, physical anomalies, environmental pollutants); or any incongruence between the etheric and the physical plane disturbs the energy balance, disease pattern sets in. The energy is then likely to either accumulate or deplete in the chakras, thus impairing functioning at the physical, emotional and/or mental level.
Diseases manifest first at the subtle level. If we become aware of these early warnings, before they surface on the physical plane, a lot of discomfort, pain and anxiety can be easily averted. This is the groundwork of alternative therapies-to witness the subtle workings of the body, identify and invoke its self-healing power, each time making more space to connect with the ever-pure Brahman. And when the ground shifts, learn the lessons, take charge once again, and move on. Health is thus not a form in stasis, but an ongoing process.
The Body's Healing Wisdom
Our body, with its multitude of cells forming the various organs is a dynamically changing organism-constantly dying and renewing. At the sub-atomic level, our body is at a high convergence point of energy fields influencing each other. The functioning of all organs, cells and systems is interwoven within a network of phenomenal complexity. But what is the controlling factor? Science has no satisfactory answer.
Sharma tracks it down to "intelligence." Borrowing from Vedic wisdom, he explains this intelligence as "that which gives direction to change… It is the source of order…the unseen force that aligns the functioning of the parts to the system as a whole." In other words, an innate understanding that we are the wholeness in which everything is contained. And that it manifests in each of our fleeting sensations, thoughts, and experiences.
The loss of this intelligence is the loss of focus-of being externally driven rather than integrally connected. And the moment this happens, disease occurs. The buddhi aspect-the intellect or discriminating value of the consciousness-then gets lost in the complex, ever-changing vision of the world…". When individual consciousness becomes 'object-oriented' instead of 'self-attuned', losing sight of the fundamental wholeness of which both object and subject are a part, it forgets its essential nature, and commits 'pragya aparadh' (sinning against innate wisdom). This is the fundamental reason for disease.
Saurabh can then said to be committing pragya aparadh. According to modern medicine, his physical imbalances are sub-clinical, that is, they still haven't reached the stage where they produce any clinical signs of dysfunction. But according to the alternative systems, disease has already begun to manifest in him on the etheric plane.
Healing is an effort to revive the body's inherent wisdom of the self. And this self is not the limited ego, but the expansive pure consciousness, the healthy whole. Paula Horan and Narayan Choyin Dorje, in their book, The 9 Principles of Self-Healing, beautifully explain the body's healing wisdom by citing a quote from Master Hua-Ching Ni's translation of the I Ching (Book of Changes), "There is no incurable disease, there are only incurable people. To heal we have to take the responsibility for our own life and health, with the attitude of loving kindness and self-respect."
The Compassionate Healer within
Dr Neelam Verma, who is a consultant physician and cardiologist, and has successfully integrated alternative approaches with mainstream medicine, offers a classic model of the body's natural healing energy: "Human body is a pulsating universe. It's a symphony of innumerable rhythms. Our heartbeat, breathing, sleep, hunger, and all other physiological processes follow their rhythmic cycles throughout life, mutually interdependent and scrupulously balanced."
Whenever there is an alteration in the rhythm of life, a wave of reorganization is spontaneously generated. This is the 'healing rhythm of life', or the body's healing wisdom. It is a combination of the corporeal-comprising biochemical, hormonal, immunological components-and the incorporeal-comprising the supreme intelligence, all of which must be visualized in its vital integrity. And it is this very rhythm that swings into action as and when any part of our body suffers from sickness or disease.
The healing rhythm of life originates from an immense reservoir of therapeutic energy that lies dormant at the core of our heart (the Brahman), and corresponds to the eternal vibration (spanda). Our structural, functional and energy planes are traditionally represented as concentric circles around this center-the inner level being more refined than the outer. At the core of the consciousness (E0), one senses immense peace, silence, bliss, and a state of pure health. The divine radiance reflects both within and without, purging all impurities and toxins of the body and the mind. This divine radiance, the Brahman, she explains, is our 'Compassionate Healer'.
Self-Healing Energy: A Model
Dr Neelam's self-healing model is not new. The idea of the Compassionate Healer was already pronounced in the Prashna Upanishad as the Brahman whose essence is "knowledge, and he is the immortal self, the Supreme. He who knows that immutable self, wherein lives the mind, the senses, the Prana (life-force), and the elements…" The centripetal movement from (E5 to E0) is explicated in the Prashna Upanishad, "As birds fly to the tree for rest, all these things fly to the self-earth and its essence, water and its essence, air and its essence, fire and its essence, the eye and what it sees, the ear and what it hears, the nose and what it smells, the tongues and what it tastes, the skin and what it touches, …the mind and what it perceives, the intellect and what it understands, the energy and what it binds together. It is the self, which sees, hears, smells, touches, thinks, knows and acts…and this self is the immortal, the Brahman."
Furthermore, what Dr Neelam describes as the Compassionate Healer, many others identify as a rich and vibrant reality of our Being. It is experienced in the body as the zest and the spirit for life, in the heart as faith, hope and love, and in the mind as wisdom. All we have to do, as conscious human beings, is to open ourselves to this energy, allow it to grow on us, heal us, renew us, and liberate us.
To access this Compassionate Healer, we need to change the protocol-from the intellect to something subtler. Dr Neelam prefers to call this the "divya drishti," or the vision of the soul, which cuts like a laser beam through the veils of illusion, piercing deeper until it meets with the truth within, enshrined in its stark reality.
The Innate Natural Wisdom
We've heard it, we know it, and we believe that the body is connected with the mind and spirit. And yet, we consider recovery as being solely limited to the body. Moreover, we forget that it is our body's innate healing wisdom and not the physician that nurses us back to health. At best, therapeutic interventions help us to overcome abnormal situations that might otherwise prove too great for the healing system to manage.
While the physician must harness aspects of medical resources that promise optimum benefit to the sick, ultimately, we are responsible for our own sickness. Dealing with sickness involves taking responsibility of our body with awareness of its connections with the mind, soul and environment. This includes wisdom about healing as a holistic, objective, yet profoundly intuitive, compassionate process.
Listen to Your Body
Our body, mind and spirit are constantly interacting with each other, and with the surroundings, giving rise to a mind-boggling symphony of subatomic sensations. However, in our civilizational numbness to this mechanism, we tune out important messages that our body wishes us to hear. "Pain for instance," explains Anita Anand, hypnotherapist, "is the body's call to attention. It is an insistent message from the body that forces us to comprehend the need to rest."
To work with your body is to be compassionately and wholly attentive to it in the present moment. The art of listening to your body is astutely explained by psychotherapist and spiritual guide Robert A. Masters (robertmasters.com) as, "We only need to shift from having a body to 'being' a body, and from being a body to 'Being'. Then we can feel right down to the tips of our toes, how natural it is to be whole." What we identify as symptoms and expect the physician to diagnose, can then be easily deciphered by us. By tuning into the language of the body, we can re-learn the functional lessons of the whole-body, mind and spirit.
Movement therapies like Rolfing and bioenergetics not only concentrate on releasing blocked energy by stretching and manipulating tissues, but also open us up to a whole range of emotional nourishment-love, faith, hope, and compassion. As each door opens, we advance towards the Compassionate Healer, slowly but steadily.
Touch is the mother of all sensations. The baby first knows its mother by the sense of touch. As a little finger crooks into that of the mother, 'safety and support' are at once understood, even before it learns the meaning of these words. This is the groundwork of all touch therapies. Paula Horan says in The Ultimate Reiki Touch, "The human capacity to be touched manifests in many different forms. We can be touched physically, emotionally and spiritually. Reiki supports and helps you appreciate touch in all of these forms, ultimately transforming them into a deep sense of inner peace-the supreme touch of freedom."
Work With your Emotions
Citing another passage from one of Robert's works, "To work with our emotions is to become increasingly intimate with them. We need to know what we're feeling, and when we're feeling it. On the way, we learn to find the balance between containment and expression. We learn how to regulate our emotions, how to directly express them, how to ride, guide, and ultimately just be with them."
And once this is learnt, there are more lessons to be learnt: that our feelings are only feelings; they do not define us. Choosing to let them go or holding them is in our hands. The moment we realize this, we gather an incomprehensible strength and ability to deal with life and its lowdowns.
This is the hallmark of almost all alternative-healing systems, particularly laughter therapy, and art therapy. Disease is understood as blockage in energy flow. So the moment we let go, we automatically allow ourselves to go with the flow, unclogging jammed routes.
Bernie Siegel's Prescriptions for Living expounds the three-pronged approach for dealing with one's illness: accept, retreat, and surrender. He says, "Once you 'accept' that the disease exists in your life, and that you are a participant, you can marshal your forces to eliminate or alter it. If you avoid thinking about it, deny it or feel hopeless, you cannot play a part in changing it and your life. When I say 'retreat,' I don't mean withdrawing in the face of a more powerful opponent. For me a retreat means withdrawing to a quieter place where I can be aware of my thoughts and feelings. Once you have accepted, retreated and prepared yourself to fight, then you are ready to 'surrender'. Again, you do not surrender to outcomes but to events. When you surrender to the illness, you continue to receive your treatments, explore your feelings, repair your relationships and do all the other work of healing. But while you are working, you are saying, 'Thy will be done' and not 'My will be done.' Surrender the pain, fear and worries and you'll be able to keep love, hope and joy in your life."
Work With your Mind
Says Robert, "The mind is a marvelous servant, but a poor master." And yet, we need to serve it with humility. Thoughts, anxieties, fantasies raid the mind every quarter of a second. Working with the mind is then to work at a healthy distance from its inner quarters. How to do this? Robert answers, "Discipline is needed-particularly in the form of sustained concentration, but so too is relaxation. Initially, we make the effort to stay focused on a particular object…and once the chatter of our mind quiets-we let our effort lessen, and then even disappear."
When purpose and pleasure fuse together, all work becomes play. But play ceases to be play when there is fatigue or strain. Rejoice like birds after the first spell of rain, or like sunflowers opening their hearts out to the warm sunshine. This is the spirit of wellness-oriented therapies and meditation practices. Just like the physical body demands regulation and moderation, the mind also requires exercise, nourishment and relaxation. And when this is done, the mind heals and renews its forces, swinging back into action.
Work With your Spirit
Hermes Trismegistus in his aphorism, 'as above, so below', utters the supreme cosmic truth, a simple message from the emerald tablet that is the navigating message on our way home. For the unseen cosmic swirl of energy that we must tap into for all our answers, comes from above. For all of us have come from above, to learn special earthly lessons that cannot be generated unless we connect with that which lies below.
From his work, Meditation: Achieving Inner Balance, Dr Syed Abdullah observes, "Meditation's well-known calming effects on the central nervous system are often quite dramatic. There has been some success in the treatment of cancer patients with the combined use of meditation and imagery… Meditation can serve as a valuable aid to the process of psychotherapy. The appearance of flashes of memory, images out of the unconscious, unexplained emotional experiences during meditation are well known… Most of these reports have been anecdotal in nature and await further authentication, but they seem most promising."
Re-Tune your Eating Habits
Food nurtures not just the body, but also the quality of our mind, intellect and soul. Fruits and vegetables are potpourris of pharmacy- tranquillizers, antidepressants, laxatives, cholesterol regulators, and even painkillers.
With more and more breakthroughs in research, the healing properties of food celebrated from time immemorial, are now finding empirical evidence. Hippocrates had said centuries ago, 'Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food.' Ayurvedic practitioners had also pronounced the truth ages ago, 'When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct medicine is of no need.'
Eat the heaviest meal at noon, when the digestive fire is strongest, and prefer a lighter meal in the evening.
Natural foods, says Sharma, "are packets of nature's intelligence, which our body can use to counterbalance disruptive influences from the environment." However, the modern food bazaars are stockpiled with preservatives, bleaching agents, flavorings, dyes, and artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Consuming these, Sharma explains, "interferes with the normal operation of our physiology by generating free radicals, and interfering with our metabolism."
Life begets life. Eating fresh foods with minimum processing and in their natural form animates our entire being. Sharma says, "If you like non vegetarian diet, don't force yourself to become a vegetarian-just give yourself a chance to experience the psychological and physiological benefits of healthier lifestyles…don't try to eliminate old habits, just build an alternative habit and allow it to grow."
Be your own Healer
Disease is a state of crisis. It's a crisis in your state of good health and well-being. Like all trials in life, lessons are to be learnt from the disease. Recovery is then a process of re-examining and re-fashioning your priorities. Disease then is just another one of those complex messages on life's path.
Bernie S. Siegel notes, "Physicians call the most dramatic healings 'spontaneous remissions.' But we cannot afford to ignore these remarkable successes. We need to learn from people who recover and people who stay healthy." He continues, "In his novel Cancer Ward, Solzhenitsyn wrote of self-induced healing, which is a much better term than 'spontaneous remission.' Solzhenitsyn chose a rainbow-colored butterfly to symbolize healing. The butterfly represents change, and the rainbow represents our feelings and emotions. We need to let the butterfly of change and emotional growth, touch our lives if we are to heal."
Modern medical schools invest a great deal on the immune system. Medication is prescribed only when symptoms of disease manifest in the individual. The natural healing system is allowed to take its course only after the end of the recovery stage. Contrary to this, the alternative therapies domain inverses this process-the body's self-corrective mechanism is revoked and boosted at a much earlier stage to prevent or delay the onset of disease.
The Future is Now
The intention is not to reject scientific health inquiries, but to envision and welcome the emergence of a new spiritually oriented science-a science that coexists with God, nature, and the human being.
The future begins now. Its imminent pulsations can already be felt. Current research on the power of thought has opened gateways to biofeedback research-that clearly exhibits the body's healing wisdom, and its control over the body functions. Kirlian photography offers empirical evidence of energy fields, apart from the phenomenal presence of auras. Studies in chronobiology and biorhythm are pouring fresh insights into the interpenetrating levels of the emotional, intellectual, and physiological planes.
While the vital interactions between the body, mind and spirit are beginning to be discovered, there are still many more secrets that continue to be shrouded in mystery. The obvious course of action is then to see science and spirit as one-to evolve a new protocol-a combination of researchers and seekers, the practitioners of integrated medicine.
Dr Anil Patil of Guruprasad Aarogyadham, an integrated medical center in Mumbai, has successfully blended his modern medical science with the classical alternative systems. He argues, "No single medical modality is a panacea for all ailments. There are limitations in every science that can be trounced by adopting integrated medicine that inspires us to be more whole and integral, but in the spirit of science."
Dr Suchindra Sachdeva, a Delhi-based consultant homoeopath agrees, "As medical physicians, we need to realize our sacred goal-to make aware and strengthen the belief in the individual of his/her own self-corrective mechanism, till the time comes when no medication is required. This involves a judicious 'handing over' and 'taking over' of the various medical disciplines."
The point then, to be made again and again is to be self-reliant. Elliott M. Goldwag in Inner Balance rightly concludes, "The more we are taught to rely on outside explanations and solutions for our health problems, the less confidence we have in our own innate abilities to heal. If the thought processes that produced the need for illness persist, the illness will return in another form."
So take the cue, dear reader, and hail thy Compassionate Healer!
Subject: Well summarized - 1 September 2009
Excellent Article, wonderful, wonderfully summarized the truth
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