Holistic Nomad

Join Ananda as she scours the planet for traditional medicinal and healing practices

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Osho, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and the Lost Truth

I came across an interesting article on Osho today. What is particularly fascinating is that this is written by someone with first hand experience of the man's great power, but he is also aware of the failings of Rajneesh as a true honest guru. To access the article click on this post's tittle.

Please read the article and let me know what you think 

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Tibetan Cure

I now sit back in Canada reminiscing about my final - and one of the most meaningful health encounter in India. Dr. Yeshi Dhonden - most commonly referred to as the Dalai Lama's Doctor.

Dr. Dhonden is a world renowned physician, and served the Dalai Lama personally from 1960 to 1980, and yet unlike getting in to see a specialist in Canada, Yeshi Dhonden is very accessible to everyone.

Having come out of a 10 day Vipassan meditation retreat my back was a little troubled and clearly announcing it's presence with pain. It apparently didn't like being subjected to 10 hours of daily sitting. Luckily some friends told me about the Dalai Lama's doctor and that anyone could get in to see him. It was a date!

A few days later a gang of precocious backpackers gathered in the early morning (5am) in the main square of McLeod Ganj. We wandered down the empty streets, urine bottles in hand (one of the Dr's diagnostic tools), until we found the small line up that already began to form at the clinic's front door. At 7am an elderly monk came out and handed out numbers to those waiting patiently in line. A total of 40 numbers are available daily. With our numbers securely in our pockets we went to have an anticipatory breakfast before the clinic officially opened at 8.

With my belly full I returned to the clinic and sat in the waiting room until it was my turn. A wobbly monk would occasionaly come out of the doctor's office and guide people wordlessly down the hall. When my turn came he encouraged me to follow him to a sink. Demonstrated that he wanted me to pour my bottle of pee into his cup, where he whisked it, observed quickly the peculiarities of my morning pee and immediately poured it down the drain. He then guided me into the Doctor's office, sat me down, grabbed my hands and with his fingers observed my pulse. This was Yeshi Dhonden himself. He looked me in the eye and pointed at his back and abdomen. I whole hartedly agreed, yes those are definitely the areas where I need some help.

Another young Doctor in the office served as translator and told me they needed to work on Kidney energy. I was given a prescription written in Tibetan and asked to leave the office but return in a week for further evaluation. The entire visit took about 5 minutes. At the clinic's pharmacy my prescription was filled and I received 4 bags of little brown pellets, to be taken at specific times throughout the day with a glass of warm water. The pellets made up of different herbs look and taste like rabbit turd (I'm assuming, I don't really know what rabbit turd tastes like) whi makes chewing them as instructed a distasteful act, but well worth it.

Within a couple of days my back started to improve as did my energy. I returned to the doc. after taking my pulse he changed one of the herbs and gave me a 2 month supply, sying I should be all better by then.

I've been keeping to the pellet chewing schedule and feeling good about it - I don't even make faces anymore while I down the herbs! I'll let you all know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Vipassana, Enlightenment in 10 Easy Steps

ok, well maybe not so easy.
I recently finished a 10 day silent Vipassana retreat. It was as pleasant as going through drug rehab and as transformational.

Vipassana is an ancient Buddhist meditation. Today different styles are taught, but the most influential at the moment is S.N. Goenka's version. Goenka, born in Burma, was taught by Burmese monks who claim to have maintained the purity of Buddha's meditation technique for 2 and a half millenia. He has become responsible for the spread of these teachings around the world through his many Vipassana centres (over 100 I believe, and one only an hour from Toronto)

For 10 days I lived like a Buddhist nun. I had to first take refuge in triple gem - a Buddhist Tradition where one takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma (the law of nature), and the Sangha (the monastic community). From there we promise to keep 5 precepts:
  1. to abstain from killing any living creature;
  2. to abstain from stealing;
  3. to abstain from all sexual activity;
  4. to abstain from telling lies;
  5. to abstain from all intoxicants.
This was pretty easy since participants are only allowed to communicate with the teachers and Dhamma servers (volunteers there to cater to all your needs), and we were meditating 10 hours a day - not much time for much else other than sleeping and eating.

The first 4 days were spent focusing on the breath in order to sharpen the mind and the lat 6 days focused on the Vipassana technique itself where one focuses on the sensations of the body as a way to connect with the subconscious mind.

Needless to say this was a very challenging process from the very beginning. I had to share a room with 4 other girls- without communicating or making eye contact. It wasn't until the 3rd day that I started to realize who my roomates were. My back was killing me as were my knees and shoulders, and other parts I never knew existed. And to top it all off my mind refused to shut up. I've meditated before I thought to myself - and all other techniques I've used have silenced my mind much better than this.

But soon I realized that was the point - to get all the daydreams out of your system so you could focus on the more important work ahead. Everyday I considered leaving. I thought I'll just wait one more meditation and one more discussion and then I'll leave. For the whole term I almost ran away it felt so unbearable. But at the same time my mind began to open up. I started understanding how I'm the cause of my own suffering. Really grasping the understanding not just knowing this intellectually. It's changed how I react to external stimuli. I'm more aware and less negative.

The other incredible thing is that you start to notice all these negativities clearing out of your system. You are able to observe them arise and depart without reacting and creating more negative energy.

However this process really aggravated my back and knees. Staying now in the hills of Bagshu just north of McLeod Ganj and Dharmasala it's been tough walking up the steep hills. But I have discovered the next step in my healing journey -so stayed tuned and I will further elaborate.

Also according to Goenka one should not practice Vipassana and Reiki. He says you have to choose one or the other or risk going crazy. If anyone knows anything about this or has an opinion please leave a comment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Conclusion and an Interesting Twist

I know you're all holding your breath wanting to know about the Basti or enema expeience. Well needless to say it wasn't pleasant and I'm really hoping that something good and worthwhile will come from this.

My first colon piercing experience involved only half a cup of oil. Let me just say that since water and oil don't mix well together flushing it down the toilet is nearly impossible. The next morning 1 whole litre of this brown looking herbal concoction was slowly poured into me. It felt warm and hmmm... like it didn't belong there. After a half hour on the toilet and a cold shower, I thought I was going to be fine when my stomach and abdomen started complaining. The cramps that ensued had me in tears. And I was filled with sadness and anger. Old energy blocks apparently dissolving away into the porcelain bowl.

I repeated this 2 step process one more time. Do I feel clean? Not really sure. Do I feel healthier. Umm no. My blood pressure dropped dramaticaly, and I was extremely tired, and I lost a couple of kilos (in muscle I think).

According to Vijay I need to build up from here - see it as a new beginning. Well my hopes are up and I'll let you all know how I'm doing when I get home.

And now for something completely different:
Vision school update.

I feel like a drop out. Today Jose and I went to an optometrist. I was tired of straining my eyes from not being able to see with the reduced prescription (both eyes were seeing different things) I was given at the school For Perfect Eyesight. And lo and behold my prescription is right back to where it was before I started the program. Perhaps it's because I neglected my eye exercises, perhaps the faulty prescription I was wearing was straining my eyes, or perhaps my vision never improved at all and I was duped!

But Jose's improvement has held so far. It can't be a hoax. And a good friend managed to improve her eyesight through similar methods a whoppin 3 points! So despite this horrible blow I commit myself to trying again. (Maybe Salima will share her eye improving techniques with me).

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The treatment continues

This has certainly been a trip.

After the treatment of Ilakizhi (I believe that's what the brutal herbal beating is called) I felt exhausted. After 3 days my blood pressure dropped and all I wanted to do was hang out in bed. I did manage a walk on the beach at sunset however.

Then I began a new treatment, just in time for my birthday. After my daily massage I started a 4 day course of Kativasthi. While I lie on my back a damn of gram (chickpea) flour is created on my back. It's meant to act like a reservoir to hold oil in place. Then warm medicated oil was continuously poured onto my back and removed. This feels great. I often fall asleep. With thi snew treatment my energy has increased, I've been feeling light and active. Yoga and meditation seem to come more easily, yesterday I didn't even take my regular afternoon escape from the heat nap!

Tomorrow however starts the scary part - the first in a round of enemas (don't know how I feel about exposing my bum to a woman in a sari armed with a sharp weapon). They tell me they're going to put a litre of medicated oil into my colon, then give me some kind of massage after which I will pay my respects to the porcelain God.


well for those of you interested in more you can check out Ammrita Kerala Ayurvedic which is where I'm taking this treatment.

My next posting I will provide a more in depth discussion of Ayurveda - what's the point and Ayurveda, why, what, and huh? As well as an update on my enema experience

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Diving into Ayurveda

OK. So I'm doing it. I'm diving head first into a treatment plan that I'm a tad skeptical about, however I will try it with an open mind.

Arriving to Goa felt like the weight of the world was sliding of my shoulders. The warm sea air (noticeably cooler than the scorching heat of Tamil Nadu), the palm trees swaying in the breeze and the portuguese architecture gracing the tropical landsape. Ahhh heaven. I spent 2 months here 5 years ago, but I was bracing myself knowing that the tourism industry, always predominant, had exploded. Especially in my cherished Arambol, a formerly sleepy little fishing village now grown beyond recognition.

Our first planned stop was Candolim. An old friend (Vijay) opened a gorgeous Ayurvedic clinic here, and we thought to stop for a brief hello, a couple of days and then head down to my old haunt Arambol. Vijay treated Jose and I to some free massages, steam baths, and facials. And I was hooked by the luxury of it. Vijay also has a way with words and he convinced me to stay for a treatment. After contemplating his offer I accepted.

I have to admit this mode of medicine is a bit bizzare and often uncomfortable. I had experienced some basic massages - but the first day of treatment was something else.

I met with the Ayurvedic Doctor who told me very little. I had to fish everything out of him. He took my pulse and I asked him to explain what he found. He said I'm Vatta Pitta. A blend of 2 doshas. In Ayurveda there are 3 Doshas - Vatta, Kappa, and Pitta. Each a constitution having it's own quirks and tendencies. I will get more info on the specifics and add it to future postings.

Anyways I'm starting with a treatment to remove excess Vatta. 4 women pund me with linen bundles filled with piping hot herbs, while a 5th woman prepares fresh bundles as the temperature of the beating must remain constant. This is done while I'm contorted into 7 different positions. Some comfortable, some not. This process lasts around an hour. After which I'm so stinky that even after a shower my boyfriend won't come near me! This follows a wonderful Ayurvedic massage performed by 2 people (I will describe this further soon).

After the brutal pounding I am guided into a "steam bath", which looks like a medeival torture device - a big box with a hole for my head. I sit there for 15 minutes while steam medicated with a combination of herbs is piped into the box. This feels almost unbearable after all the previous treatment. But the facial I get after makes up for it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A week in a Homeopathic Hospital

So we arrived in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu in southern India. I was given a wonderful contact, Dr. Gnanasambandam (try saying that 3 times fast), president of the homeopathic association of Tamil Nadu and editor of Homeo Times. Within minutes he had me connected with a local Homeopathic hospital and with a Doctor willing to have me observe at his clinic.

I packed my things and was sent to a small homeopathic college and hospital in what felt like the industrial outskirts of Chennai. Jose and I were given a dingy room that had previously belonged to the principal of the school, and clearly hadn't been cleaned in years. The power was frequently out which meant our ceiling fans couldn't keep the sweltering, suffocating heat at bay. And to top it off the water had a tendency to stop running and we were given a bucket of murky brown water instead of the sometimes clear running tap water.

I was lectured by the Director of the college on proper homeopathic practice. Without knowing anything about me he explained that I knew nothing of this fine art and then explained the actual mechanics of how remedies work. He explained that humans have millions of undiscovered batteries in our bodies and that a well chosen homeopathic remedy would recharge these batteries. He didn't mean this as a metaphor but rather a concrete magically charged micro battery in every cell. I asked him if he meant mitochondria and he said this was still something that science had not discovered. He then gave me a few books to read on the subject. Turns out he wrote them himself. I was told that at this college and hospital I would gain insight into the true art of Homeopathic prescribing and taking the entire case into account.

Well I was deeply disappointed. After spending a morning in their out patient department I was amazed that they had any success at all. "This woman has a thyroid problem since her husband died and she craves salt - that means she needs Nat-mur" I saw about 100 cases and a total of 10 different remedies being prescribed over and over again.

The students were using shredded copies of Murphy's repertory. They would have to fish around the room for different chapters of the book. And with these facilities they are treating everything from cancer to tuberculosis. I talked about this with some students and they expressed disappointment at the lack of depth in their education. I promised to send some books.

I should also add that the women working at the school treated us with love and respect. Always on hand if we needed anything, always bringing us food and water, and cleaning up after us. I really appreciated their warmth and hospitality.

So instead of spending a month here, I made a donation to the school and asked them to purchase books with the money (for any of you who participated in the Make-Yer-Own Film Fest your money has been donated here), and Jose and I got on a plane and made our way to Goa.

And here we are now, enjoying a quiet moderately secluded beach. I am beginning Ayurvedic Treatment which I will log about regularly.

love and light to all