By Tuhina Anand
From Advaita to Zen, alternative medicine to personal growth, relationship advice to performing puja online, the internet is proving to be a helpful resource for the New Ager
Many people are hesitant to discuss problems with doctors or counsellors in person. The net gives them the option of seeking help without revealing their true identity
Professionally developed psychological tests including IQ, emotional quotient, self esteem, and honesty. Also featured are various tests on social skills, management skill, relationships, personality, career, health and just-For-Fun tests.
A comprehensive site for students that features online counselling and aims at helping students on matters of education and career.
Visit Shree Siddhivinayak Temple by logging onto this site. It offers daily pujas and aarti. You can also make your donations online. A link to other temples in India provided.
Your guide to leading a healthy lifestyle. A site that aims at helping you find solution to any query related to health.
Take a test to check your relationship management skills and find out more on yourself and people around you.
This site helps you in getting acquainted with various diet related issues, food and nutrition. It features online health analysis, various home remedies, and low calorie recipes. It also has a link to various reputed hospitals in India.
Get an update on the new age including information on alternative medicine, aromatherapy, psychic world or advice on stones and gems. The site also helps in interpretation of dreams provided by professionals.
Dedicated to achieving integrated self-mastery for planetary unification.
Website of the Berkeley Psychic Institute, a psychic kindergarten which teaches students to develop their own psychic abilities.
Ellie Crystal’s metaphysical and science website with pages on music, extraterrestrials, healing, crystals etc.
Kamlesh Sharma gives free online health counselling.
Amodini is a seeker. An avid traveller, she travels far and wide in her quest for spiritual experiences. In this she has an unlikely ally—the internet. She says: “I keep experimenting with different techniques of meditation, yoga, etc. I often need information on these and for this I turn to the net. It is so fascinating, and thanks to it I find myself making quantum leaps.”
The internet, a storehouse of information, is increasingly becoming popular and more and more people are exploring the medium where all you need to do is to click on the mouse and a whole new world is virtually available at your fingertips waiting for you to explore. Going beyond the e-mails and chatting, the net’s popularity has made many people to marvel at the new vistas it provides.
The World Wide Web is used in numerous ways now. You can take a second opinion from a doctor sitting across the Atlantic or attempt various tests for personality development and self-assessment. Taking a medicine prescribed on the net is not advisable, though. You must consult your doctor, as it might be risky.
What is available
There is no limit to what one can find on the net. From Advaita to Zen, this ‘virtual’ Pandora’s box has it all. This unlimited information does need careful sifting though. Discrimination is called for, especially when we are talking about accessing information that we intend to put to use. Says Aalif Surti, who works for a TV channel: “The internet is a good tool for development of healthy mind, body and spirit. But more than other media such as TV or cinema, it depends on the user to make the right choices.” Agrees Amodini: “People always need to evolve their sense of discrimination.”
The ‘Online Doctor’ is becoming popular among many surfers. Information on diseases, symptoms, cures, how they can be prevented or hospitals specialising in treatment—all this is easily available on the net. Case histories are available which facilitate in proper understanding of any disease. In fact, the medical world has shrunk with people being able to consult doctors across the world via the Internet. If you have any query on health, the net is your best buddy. One can check three to four sites to do a comparative study and understand the issues in totality.
Besides mainstream allopathy, the internet is a treasure trove of information on alternative therapies, including ayurveda, homoeopathy and reiki. Supriya Verma, working for a publishing house, has always been interested in ayurveda. She says: “Though I have not given up allopathy, ayurveda is the therapy that I would like to do. Whenever I want any information, all I need to do is access a good website on the subject. There is a wealth of information, which can help me ultimately make an informed shift.”
If dieting is for you, then all you need to do is to log on to the net to clear the myths on the Atkins or the GM diet. The diets are explained at length and you can also join the chat groups to understand more on the diet or consult online to find what diet will suit your body type.
The ‘Online Doctor’ is not restricted just to medicines but extends to various options available for personal growth. The net is a handy tool to helps you assess your personality. There are details on various issues like anger management, stress management, confidence building and personality development. Online tests helps in instant assessment. Counselling on the net has a big advantage because confidentiality is assured. The internet is also an important tool for relationship management. It can play a patient listener and give sound advice on how to nurture any relationship.
If you find solace in religion and want to visit religious places but cannot for some reasons, then all you need to do is take an online pilgrimage. Almost all major religious places have their websites and devotees can perform pujas or participate in aartis by just logging on to the net.
Shree Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai launched its website on February 1, 1998, with the initiative of Ashok Nadkarni of Webstudio and Ashwin Gumaste. Since then the response has been overwhelming, says a spokesperson of the temple. Daily e-mails pour in from all parts of the world including Russia and the Middle East. He adds: ‘‘Handicapped persons, senior citizens all highly appreciate our efforts. In the US, students take e-darshan before going to their exams, newly married couples, job seekers, executives in multinationals and others seek blessing on the net. Surprisingly all along we have a good presence of non-computer savvy visitors who take darshan with the help of others.’’
Reasons for popularity
The internet is popular primarily because of the unlimited information it provides. And searching for it is as simple as clicking the mouse, typing in a few keywords on any of the popular search engines and bingo—in seconds your screen will be flashed with number of sites you could visit.
“We would have to read a thousand books to get that much knowledge,” avers Amodini. “Earlier, we would randomly open the pages of a book, with the faith that the page which opens would have the answer. Well, now we do the same with the Internet. A link opens and some picture or some text just hits you at the very spot where you need clarity. The added attraction is that it is so vivid, often with sight and sound and good music,” explains this loyal surfer.
Besides, the easy accessibility to information, one factor for its popularity is the anonymity it gives to the information seeker. Many people are hesitant to discuss problems with doctors or counsellors in person. The net gives them the option of seeking help without revealing their true identity. This also works where a social stigma that is attached to the concept of visiting a counsellor or ‘using the couch’ dissuades many from seeking professional help.
Counselling on the net is authentic and there are many sites where people can pay online for this service. Smita Singh, an entrepreneur, says: ‘‘I have visited sites which deal with relationship management. In fact, what I found helpful was the interaction you could have with counsellors and also chat with people facing similar problems. You didn’t have to reveal your identity to discuss your problems.’’
Often the net helps people to overcome their inhibitions and move from the virtual world to the real one and discuss their problems. Poonam Gaur, counsellor, says: “The Internet motivates people to talk. If they are hesitant to talk initially, it helps if they read up on the issues disturbing them which can act as a warm up before real discussion can take place.’’
For the net savvy new-age seeker, however, the biggest advantage of the net is that it helps you ‘connect’. Ajay Kalra, a CA with a swiss multinational company, feels that these sites act as virtual support systems: “The internet helps you to interact with people
with common interests. When your thoughts and feelings are reflected by reading other seekers’ experiences, it makes you feel connected and this is so essential.” Amodini elaborates: “It is wonderful how ordinary people care to share their experiences, the fruits of their hard work with others. And though you don’t know anything about these people, the sharing is so open, from heart to heart.”
How to find help on the net
There is so much information available on the net that at times it becomes difficult to select from the numerous choices that appears on your screen. The first step to seek help on the net is to go to a popular website that specialises in certain fields, be it psychology, counselling or health.
Alternatively, you can go to a search engine and type the keywords that would help you to find sites specific to your needs. Visit more than two sites on the subject you are searching as it would help you get a wider perspective and you can do a comparative study to reach your conclusion. A word of caution before taking any medication or following any health tip prescribed online—it should be discussed with your family doctor. After all, there is nothing wrong in taking a second opinion. So have a nice time surfing.
—with Roozbeh Gazdar
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