By Akber Ayub October 2008 In keeping with the spiritual tenor of our times, even beauty treatments are increasingly going to the root of the problem by healing the mind In 65 BC, the Roman emperor Nero and his wife Poppaea, used lead and chalk to whiten their faces, rouged their cheeks and put kohl around their eyes. In 50 BC, Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, is said to have rouged her cheeks with red ochre; she also painted her upper eyelids blue-black and lower lids green. The look-good factor has enraptured humans from time immemorial because the desire to enhance one’s beauty is innate. In the modern contemporary world, the concepts and techniques to enhance beauty have made vast strides. They now encompass many hitherto unknown, related fields, shifting the focus from merely the skin to deeper issues. You find new techniques and procedures that have a spiritual connection offering not just beauty-related solutions but also healing of the mind and body. You could say, New Age spirituality has found yet another niche. How effective are these new-fangled procedures? A look at their increasing popularity should provide an answer. The fact is, today, you do not have to go to obscure places to get a taste of this new amalgamation of health, beauty, and spirituality. You are quite likely to run into a centre in your local shopping mall or your immediate neighbourhood. Says Aruna Babu of J.P.Nagar, Bangalore, “I take a holistic approach to the concept of beauty. There are no chemical or other synthetic inputs in any of my preparations. All the oils, creams and other preparations used in my centre are made using authentic ayurvedic, botanical and herbal ingredients, perfected over the last few years.” Obviously, this is a result of the new understanding and a new approach to the concept of beauty enhancement. In addition to specialised services like ayurvedic therapeutic massage, Thai massage and the like, you also find exotic treatments like, aromatherapy, stress relieving massage involving reiki and acupressure, reflexology, vital touch, and many more. Dr. Bhanu Moorthy, a medical practitioner at the Prithvi Natural Healing & Yoga Centre in Indiranagar, Bangalore, throws light on the mind-body connection: “If it is a beauty problem I aim to cure it from its root rather than suppress or cover up the symptom externally. If the mind is constantly disturbed, it drains the person of his vital energy, so unless this is corrected, the energy reserves of the body restored and the system recharged, superficial treatments are futile. To do this, I use various techniques to get to the root of the problem, and then attempt to heal it with a combination of hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, yoga and acupoint massage.” The amazing array of therapies used today range from the spiritual, like reiki and pranic healing, to the esoteric, like aromatherapy, acupuncture, and acupressure. Bach flower remedies are yet another field that is finding favour with clients to soothe not just a ruffled skin but also ruffled minds. The bottom line is that inner well-being and vitality is as important as physical beauty. Elsewhere, in the bigger cities today, you are likely to find a whole gamut of healing techniques such as crystal healing, gem therapy, dowsing and pulse reading, ESP and magnified healing. There are other esoteric methods, bordering on the occult. These include Amadeus, Mexican healing, tarot card reading, and the Melchizedek method of healing. The list appears endless. Aruna, a reiki master among other things, says that she attunes her staff including the beauticians and masseurs to reiki. All her preparations are charged with M-particles (short for miracle particles with amazing therapeutic powers, first discovered in Korea). Again, a simple facial involves an elaborate ayurvedic massage of the hands and legs to stimulate the energy channels that connect the facial muscles with those on the hands and legs. The result is reflected in the tributes from her innumerable satisfied clients, many of them regulars. Where does homegrown ayurveda fit in all this? Quite well, it appears. Says Dr Leela Rohini, an ayurvedic doctor at a Panchakarma centre in south Bangalore, “I treat skin and hair disorders and obesity cases with ayurvedic massages using different medicinal oils and sometimes dry powder preparations.” To control stress, she advises pranayama, meditation and yoga. Ayurveda is not limited to such traditional centres either. Go to any of the swanky health spas strewn across all major cities today, and more often than not you will find a full-fledged ayurvedic massage centre. These treatments are obviously not limited to the young and the chic. Nor to just beauty-related problems. Dinesh, a highstrung 30-year-old, suffering from IBS (involuntary bowel syndrome) for over 10 years, his diet cut down to the bare minimum, constantly losing weight and vitality, sought an alternative healing method after exhausting other means of treatment. Three months of reiki and aura cleansing coupled with specialised ayurvedic massage saw his weight jump from a gaunt 55 kg to a healthy 70. Just as the concept of beauty and health has changed with each passing era, so have the methods and techniques to enhance it. Akber Ayub is a mechanical engineer by profession, an ex-marine engineer, ex-industrialist, member of a college faculty, and finally,following his heart, now a writer. 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