By Ambica Gulati
Meet high-profile Indian psychotherapist Dr Akash Dharmaraj in her new avatar of a holistic healer
You expect to see the clichéd couch in a psychotherapist’s clinic. But Dr Akash Dharmaraj’s house comes as a pleasant surprise. You are greeted by rangoli (Indian motifs drawn on floors) patterns on each step as you climb up the stairs. At the entrance is a huge earthen plate with a lit lamp. Despite the cacophony of the south Delhi traffic outside, the ambience here radiates tranquility. I am gently told to take off my shoes. Everybody walks barefoot in the house.
‘I have been practicing for the last 30 years,’ says Akash, 52. Dressed in a loose kaftan with floral motifs, she looks ageless and calm, her long hair framing her face. Understanding of what makes her different comes when she reveals that she is a reiki master, pranic healer, crystal healer and aromatherapist. ‘I merely use all these ancient techniques to harness the positivity in life.’
My attention goes to a table covered with crystals of all colors, shapes and sizes. There is also a board with the reiki symbols drawn on it. This is her healing room. The adjoining room is for meditation. The floor here is covered with a jute mat. There is no furniture, but for a cupboard full of essential oils. Group meditation sessions are conducted every morning and evening.
Akash is consultant psychotherapist with Delhi’s Vasant Valley School and Aashlok hospital, as well as the executive director (HRD) of the Hotline group, a well-known name in home appliances, which she started in 1981.
Her doctor parents wanted her to pursue medicine as a student. ‘I didn’t want to become a doctor, probably because I wanted to break away from the mould. I opted for psychology, a subject which most people avoided those days, because I wanted to understand myself.’ After finishing her Ph.D in clinical psychology from University of Delhi, she started her career as a counselor in the prestigious Air Force Bal Bharati School before moving on to DU’s South Campus. Well, she might not have become a medical doctor, she is a healer all right. Now, her family just loves her work.
Akash was introduced to complementary methods of healing following a severe health problem five years ago. She was bedridden: ‘I used to have dizzy spells. I was dependent on other people. Then a friend suggested that I do reiki.’ Reiki was the rave in those days. Though Akash didn’t believe in the system, she tried it out. The process of transformation had begun. ‘We had to practice for 21 days after learning reiki. Five days after that, I woke up and without any conscious effort, fetched a cup of tea for myself. I was surprised. Then I felt wonderful.’
This personal experience inspired her to study the connection of this ‘wonderful energy’ with science. She discovered many answers in Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics, which drew striking parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism. She quotes from the book: ‘The matter simply does not exist as anything solid but as an energy in continuous dancing and vibrating motion. The universe is not a mere collection of physical objects, rather it is a complicated web of relationships.’ Then Akash understood how the natural energies were connected to life. Today, reiki is a way of life with her. She channels it to herself everyday. She also teaches reiki but only to ‘clients who really need it’.
After reiki , she went on to learn music and dance therapy and aromatherapy at the Osho Commune in Pune. ‘Here, I learnt about the various chakras in the body, the diseases connected to them and how to heal them with music and oils.’ The therapy is very simple. The seven major chakras in our body respond to specific notes and melodies. For instance, the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine is related to fast beat music. And the anahata chakra in the heart region is connected to soft, rhythmic music. Any imbalance in a particular chakra can be corrected by concentrating on the related rhythm, and even dabbing a bit of essential oil beneficial in that ailment. She has also compiled some music on her own for therapeutic use.
‘Healing is a process. It doesn’t take one session or even one day to heal,’ explains Akash. ‘That depends on the disease. Above all, you have to love yourself enough to heal.’ People come with all kinds of problems. Some with depression, others with relationship problems, which are most common. ‘I even have children coming with their school problems,’ she says. ‘You must take responsibility of all problems to heal completely.’
Treatment follows an insight into the patient’s problem. ‘It could be just counseling, or a blend of energy healing and other alternative therapies.’
She also holds regular workshops titled Total Quality Living for corporates. It is a blend of transactional analysis, Gestalt therapy, metaphysics, meditation and creative visualization. Akash developed this workshop to create a ‘total quality person’ who could understand that life is a relationship, with its ebb and flow and dynamic balance.
Whatever be the problem, Akash has a solution at hand. The keynote is to harmonize man and nature for perfect health and happiness.
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