By Deepak Kashyap March 2006 What could be the shape of healing systems to come? The author surveys frontline healing systems that scientifically validate traditional notions of the unity of the body, mind and spirit. It is astounding to note, on a moment’s reflection, how much we live in our minds and how little in this world. As the yogis never tire of saying, and as consciousness researchers increasingly realize, the key to enjoying abundant health and creativity lies in our ability to let go of the dead yesterday and the uncertain tomorrow, and be in the unending ‘flow of today’ as it comes. The ever-changing face of allopathy and the gains at its expense, made of late, by alternative therapies – ayurveda, homeopathy, meditation, past-life therapy and the like – have to do largely with the fact that, for far too long, medical science continued to probe the body when the real answers were to be found in the mind, if not the spirit. Late in the 19th century came the acceptance of the modern germ theory, which led to the identification of the specific bacteria for tuberculosis and cholera, and the penicillin discovery. All these mammoth events saved millions of lives from infections and epidemics. Predictably, allopathy – the word coming from allopatheia meaning ‘subject to external influences’ in Greek – rapidly took centrestage. ‘Extraneous’ considerations such as diet, lifestyle and attitude were weeded out in a healing process that made light of the patient’s own participation, turning him instead into a receptacle of vaccines and antibiotics. The notion of the mind influencing the body that underpinned ancient and medieval medicine, was buried, ostensibly for ever. For all its impressive growth though, the foundations of allopathy were gradually found out to be flawed. In the wake of the newest discoveries in brain-chemistry and allied fields, there is an ever-growing realization in the scientific community that, now as never before, allopathy is at its crossroads: that it has to change fundamentally if it is not to perish. The road ahead would indicate a merger of fusion techniques that wed modern science with scriptural wisdom. Some of these include: PsychoneuroimmunologyPNI is a nascent branch of medical science studying the interactive patterns that arise from the impact of our mental states on our immune, endocrine and nervous systems. PNI research is proving what yoga and ayurveda always knew: that thoughts and attitudes dictate our vital physiological functions and have much the same implication for our health as powerful drugs and surgery. Neuropeptides, the PNI sensation towards the end of the 20th century, came to be recognized as the first physical manifestation of thought, one that bridged that crucial gap between mind and body. Using a process called positron emission tomography, brain researchers could now photograph a thought’s tracks in 3-D. Incredibly, each thought could now be ‘seen’ in real time as it rearranged the whole body, which, in fact, became a 3-D picture of our thoughts! The Magic MoleculeLong described by mainstream science as ‘pseudo-science’, homeopathy suffered all these years from the accusation that it, quite literally, ‘lacks substance': scientists could not accept the seemingly fantastic idea that higher and higher dilutions, even to the point where the solution did not carry a single molecule of the dissolved substance, strengthen rather than weaken the properties of that substance. However, science itself has offered a solution to the seeming paradox. German chemist Kurt Geckler working in a South Korean lab, ran into a riddle while performing the simple exercise of dissolving something in water. Commonsense and ‘science’ would infer that upon more and more dilution, the dissolved molecules would drift further and further apart. Instead, he found the stray molecules did just the opposite: they glued together first in small clusters, then in bigger and bigger balls of these clusters. This bizarre finding stood its ground against all scientific scrutiny and, on further research, showed this clustering to be exponential rather than linear. This discovery has stunned scientists all over, and has in the bargain, lent credence to the paradoxical homeopathic method. The new evidence also buttressed the controversial findings of Jacques Benveniste, a French immunologist, who in 1988, claimed through an article in Nature magazine, that a solution which, upon repeated dilution, had ceased to contain antibodies, still activated human white blood cells. Now consider this: beyond the relatively low and ‘material’ power of 12 C, a homeopathic medicine does not contain a single molecule of the substance – only its energy. And the 12 C would need to be diluted well over trillion times to get the not-so-unusual prescription of 100,000 C! NDEs and OBEsModern medicine, by enabling doctors to resuscitate people nearly dead, has led to an increase in reports of near-death-experiences (NDEs) and out-of-body-experiences (OBEs). Verifiable mid-operation accounts of NDE ‘victims’, which are too accurate to dismiss as hallucinations, have brought the medical fraternity to one distinct possibility: the existence of a soul. NeurotheologyAndrew Newberg, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, is a pioneer in the fast emerging field of Neurotheology, a field that investigates how spirituality connects with the human brain. Newberg suggests that the much-talked-about ‘higher reality’ of the mystics could in fact be very real. In early 1990s, Newberg, working in tandem with psychiatrist Eugene d’Aquili, employed an imaging technology to map the brains of Tibetan Buddhists and Christian nuns engaged in deep meditation. The scans captured images of blood flow as a measure of neural activity in each subject, round about the time the ‘peak experience’ was reached. Scientists then examined scans of the brain’s left parietal lobe that is supposedly the key to dividing the physical self from the ‘rest of the existence': a job that would necessitate a continuous inflow of neural information in the form of sensory inputs. Remarkably, scans revealed that at the time of hitting spiritual peaks, this flow dried up considerably. As this ‘orientation association area’ was starved of information needed to demarcate the self from all existence, the scientists concluded, the subjects tended to go into a limitless consciousness merging into an infinite space. While these peak experiences have to be a rare phenomenon, triggered by a near-total blackout of the orientation area of the left parietal lobe, researchers reckon that relatively lower levels of such ‘blockages’, achievable through prayers and contemplation, sufficed to engender a range of less pronounced, yet very significant spiritual experiences. With the Newberg scans as the starting point, the next big challenge before consciousness researchers, one would expect, is to unravel the suspected role of these often-reported peak experiences in cases of ‘miraculous healing’, or what the medical fraternity would call, spontaneous remission. For the early trends in research in these areas seem to suggest that it is the same process of introspective peaking of human consciousness that goes into physical healing at its mildest, and into the making of a Krishna, a Jesus or a Buddha at its pinnacle. From here on, it is only a step to infer that ‘spiritual highs’ may be the 21st century’s most versatile medicine. ‘Have noble thoughts’ and ‘Love thy neighbor’ could well become the doctor’s prescription in days to come! Equally though, the Newberg findings contain a stern warning for a civilization that increasingly thrives on emotions of pride, envy and hostility. Together, they might well be just the kind of ‘spiritual lows’ that drag you into the vicious circle of disease: traits that have been silently wrecking our health all these centuries without our knowing it. To deny this on account of our continued difficulties in measuring these emotions and their consequences, is like denying that light traveled at all before its speed got measured! ‘I have been through some terrible things in life, some of which actually happened.’- Mark Twain The author is a civil servant with a keen interest in healingsystems. He is author of the book, Healing the Future, published by New Age Books.Contact:email@example.com
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