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

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

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's a Miracle! I can See!

I have just completed a week at The School For Perfect Eyesight in Pondichery, Tamil Nadu.In only one little week of eye exercises and not wearing my glasses (a terrifying prospect in a city where you have no idea where you're going and you can't tell if that's a cow, a rickshaw, or an elephant coming towards you) I have reduced my prescription by 0.5 in each eye and completely reduced the cylindrical deviation to normal.

Impossible you think? Well I am living proof. Let me tell you all about it. We arrived at the school. A beautiful colonial building which is a part of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondichery. Within minutes our eye sight was being checked. Jose apparently was mildly crosseyed (not that I ever noticed) and my eyes went in the opposite direction. Who knew! No one ever pointed this out to me before!We were given a set of exercises to perform right away - 2 times a day for the next week.

The first torture I had to endure was horrific - a drop of honey in each eye while I swayed my body in the sun! I recommend no one try this - it burns like a mofo. (lucky Jose only had to put saline solution in his eyes). The other exercises were much simpler and even enjoyable. Playing with a tennis ball, reading itty bitty print in candle light, and looking at all kinds of charts.Who would've thought! After such a simple workout my eyes would actually improved, and I would have no problem walking the strange streets of Pondichery blind. And even though we cheated for 2 days (renting a scooter and going to visit nearby Auroville
(which is a whole adventure onto itself) and thus wearing our spectacles the whole day) We both improved our vision significantly.

Another Allopathic myth busted. My optometrist (as lovely as he is) could be out of a job. And what does this cost you ask? Well besides the flight to India, the $3 a day for accomodation and the $3 a day for food and the occasional beer - we're talking nothing but what your own generous heart wishes to donate. And as we left we each receive a cute little package with an eye cup for washing our eyes, eye charts, an eye patch, and some sweet tasty honey (for my tea of course).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yoga Therapy part deux

To continue from the previous post:

After performing Karma Yoga, which consisted of sanding down the very rusty door to the studio and then priming it (I know you're all thinking I'm a sucker doing manual labour for free) we got to rest. This meant doing Suddoku puzzles. Then another dose of Asana practice and then dinner. We're starving by this time.

Afterwards we received a good dose of Satsang - or a lecture on spirituality to stimulate our minds. This was followed by an evening meditation and then bedtime. Needless to say they kept us busy.

But what was the point of all this???
As I said before the goal is to find self realization. Am I any closer to such a lofty goal, I have no idea. But I certainly deepened my meditation practice and somehow appear to be needing less sleep. A big achievement in my books.

Another big goal is healing and promoting health through balancing the mind and the body. Asanas are used to strengthen the body and keep in flexible - keeping the stiffness and deterioration of age at bay. According to my teacher Harilal it is a treatment for everything from diabetes and arthritis to asthma - all diseases originating in the mind. Through meditation one gains an understanding of the mind and hence these illnesses disapear.

In yoga therapy one is given specific exercises to practice. Both physical asanas as well as mental exercises. Also one receives internal cleansing protocols. Most of which I find nasty - like pouring water through the nose or cleaning the stomach by swallowing a cloth. Anyone out there ready to experiment with such things and let me know how it goes?

The name of the Ashram is Arsha Yoga Gurukulam. It is located in Idduki in the western Ghats of Kerala. I don't have their website but I promise to post it soon. The magnificent and knowledgable hosts are Harilal and his disciple Sudarsh. I highly recommend this beutiful, tranquil place. Just watch out for the ants and spiders.

Currently Jose and I are in Pondichery Tamil Nadu working on our eyesight. This place is incredible and we're both blown away by the results. For all the delicious details stay tuned to the next edition.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Yoga Therapy, shhhhh part one

Most of us have heard of Yoga, or even dabbled in a few classes. We know it's a set of postures that you do to increase strength, flexibility, and endurance. We these great Yogis in ridiculous pretzels and we hope one day to reach these heights of flexibility and hell it might improve your sex life.

But Asana (posture) practice is not even the tip of the ice berg when it comes to Yoga. It is merely an aid in calming the mind and strengthening the body for meditation. Self realization is the ultimate goal of this all encompassing practice and lifestyle.

In order to delve further into the art and science of Yoga Jose and I fled to the Western Ghats (mountains in Kerala) to spend time in an ashram dedicated to the study of yoga. Our program included pranayama, asanas, karma yoga, meditation, and mind calming meals. We lived with a mildly regimented schedule. Waking up at 6:45 to head up to the yoga hall or, weather permitting, the hill with a spectacular view of Idduki lake and wildlife reserve. Here we practiced early morning Pranayama - or breathing meditation. Pranayama actually means controlling the prana or energy (also known as chi)/ If you can control your breath you control the energy system of your body. This was also followed by what was always an intensely deep meditation - finished with a rewarding view of lake, mountains and forest.

We then got to relish a warm cup of tea before heading back up the hill to the yoga studio for Asana practice. Unlike Yoga classes I've taken in the west our asana practice involved more rest than anything. After ever posture we would rest on our backs in corpse pose for several minutes before continuing.

Following our morning calisthenics we got to eat breakfast which like our other daily meal consisted mostly of rice with some mild curries. nothing too stimulating to the taste buds or the mind. From there we usually took a small a break before heading back up the hill to perform karma Yoga. The idea is that by performing unpaid labour, or I mean selfless work for the sake of working at your best and looking for perfection, you will come closer to enlightenment or self realization.

and what is enlightenment? and what does yoga have to do with healing - stay tuned for the next edition of holistic nomad (to be updated in the next couple of days)