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

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Brush with Ayurveda

So much has happened since this next story, that it feels like a far off memory, even if it was only a week ago.

While in a small beach resort called Varkala, I had the opportunity to check out one of the therapies in South India's traditional medicine Ayurveda. It's history was first documented in the Rig Veda - one of the holy Vedic Indian texts dating to around 3000BC. Apparently the oldest Indo-European text in existence. Ayurveda is probably the oldest existant medical tradition in the world. And it has become one of the primary tourist attractions in Varkala.

Varkala has over 46 ayurvedic clinics and hospitals, so after a long day riding on a scooter through the rough backroads of Kerala I decided to see if an ayurvedic massage would do me some good.

I had just come from the beach as I walked through the door of the clinic looking for the Doctor. I had read all about her, she had been practising for about 10 years and had been an attending physician at several hospitals. So I asked for a massage. she told me what I would get, I negotiated the price with her and she guided me to a small room with a massage table that looked more like an instrument of torture. With a hole for the face, and a cross bar on which to rest the arms. (earlier that day we had come across a more traditional table made of wood, hmmm comfy. I'll post a pic of it soon).

I was then instructed to get naked - and there I was standing in my birthday suit with the door wide open (there goes any sense of Indian modesty). Her assistant then tied a little loin cloth to me - a g-string loin cloth who's point I guess was to protect (just barely) my tender parts. The doctor then stepped out the door and the assistant began to vigurously scrub my head with copious amounts of oil. I was then instructed to lay down and the rubbing of my entire body begun. Nothing was missed not even a butt cheek.

However I felt the massage was rough, I could feel the rough skin on the hands of the masseur. I even felt littel bits of grainy skin coming off on me - yuck! I even complained to the Doc. who said I was the first ever to complain of such things.

I was given a warm bucket shower. I then went to my room in the guest house and noticed my feet were still covered in sand from the beach. Oops! I rushed bak to the clinic and apologized profusely - explaining the roughness must have been from the left over sand. My apology was warmly accepted with a hug. No hard feelings!

I do have to say I felt great! My neck was loose and every muscle was content. Many foreigners silike this type of massage however because of the huge amounts of oil used (it took 2 days of washing for my hair to stop like I was from the cast of Grease) and it's not the deep tissue massage that we are used to. the point of ayurvedic massage is to stimulate and sooth the nervouse system. An I have to say it really does work.

Next post I'll talk about the hugging Amma's Ashram.

Tomorrow we're heading to an Ashram in the middle of the Keralan mountains for Yoga and good tea.

Love n light

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dr. Sunil Anand in Ottawa

Behavioral disorders in children and chronic pathology in adults

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Dr. Sunil Anand

Over 20 years experience as a practitioner. Hon. Professor at D.S. Homeopathic medical college, Pune, India.

Ottawa, Canada

May 12nd & 13rd, 2007

A close associate of Dr. Rajan Sankaran. Sunil is an articulate and masterful teacher as well as a delightful and warm person.

…Sunil Anand gave a beautiful lecture about remedies from the Silver Series. It was beautiful to see how he handled the cases. There was no forcing needed. A great learning experience - Jan Scholten

…Sunil carefully guides those studying with him through the most important features of the case and brings the analysis all together in a way that is very easy to understand and yet very profound – Murray Feldman

Price: Before and on April 15th: $375

After April 15th: $425

(Group discounts available)

Also available ongoing video course & study circle based on kingdom classification method(a.k.a Sankaran’s method) in Ottawa

For registration and further details contact:

Anshev B. Bhardwejj:

(613) 523-0582

Catching Up, Allopathy vs. Natural Medicine

it's 9:15pm in the Keralan heat as I sit in a dingy internet cafe writing on a sticky keyboard. We're in a small city called Kollam (or Quilam) where one can hire a boat and go explore the backwaters of Kerala. The bakwaters are a series of rivers, canals and lakes that connect a significant part of the state.

We began our journey into Kerala in Trivandrum - nearing the southernmost tip of India. We arrived by plane from Bombay - that an adventure in itself. Though we planed to quickly move through the city and head to the beach, we got stuck with dis-ease. Jose had a bad case of Delhi belly (or maybe Pune belly). He was so dehydrated that we finally decided that yes the hospital was an appropriate place to go. After struggling to find a rickshaw driver who understood the word hopital we made it to Govindras hospital. A lovely place set in a Colonial House. Within seconds of paying 50 rupees for a hospital card we got to see the Dr. He looked at Jose's tongue at declared that he was dehydrated and prescribed and I.V. right away.

The nurse led us to an open area of the hotel, i mean hospital, where Jose was able to commune with nature as he recieved inter venous nourishment, while I lay down on the bed next to him. 2 hours later the water back in his system we go to see the Dr. as we're about to get discharged Jose, to my horror, passes out into the Doctor's arms. More I.V. the Doc declares. 2 hours later we're discharged with probiotics, rehydration solution, and a bottle for a stool culture. I was amazed, they didn't try to give him a single drug, treated him with respect using only natural forms of medicine. That and a dose of homeopathic Sulfur from me.

That morning I awoke with a painful kink in my neck. For me the doc at the hospital prescribed muscle relaxants. Next thing I know I feel weak and dizzy, and by evening I have a fever and I'm delirious. We all the hospital and they tell me I have a viral fever, if I need to come in the morning I should. I guided Jose through my Homeopathic computer program and we came to the remedy Aconite (I was terrified, my neck hurt, and i had a nasty fever). That calmed me down a great deal. Then the intense headache started, I got insatiably thirsty and every movement was an agonizing ordeal. I took a dose of Bryonia - a remedy that has helped me many times in the past. By morning I was weak but able to rest and eat. The next morning we both had enough strength or the one hour train journey to Varkala.

I think the drugs the Doctor gave me may have made me sick or at the least didn't help my neck in the least, while homeopathy got me through the night. I also met several people in the last few days who suffered from bad fevers for several days and were given antibiotics by medical professionals. Hurray for alternative medicine. Next time I'll talk about my Ayurvedic experience in Varkala - now it's time for bed.

Monday, February 12, 2007

OSHO Tales of a Madman

Jose and I have both joined a robe wearing, mad dancing, cathartic releasing, hugging and laughing, crazy cult. Ok so I became a card carrying member a long time ago, but this time I brought along another victim!

The Osho Ashram continues to grow in ways I'm not so supportive of, but at the same time the loving essence of a brilliant teacher still remains, and those on a spiritual quest can begin here. It's a great place to learn the language and teachings of spiritual masters from around the world. From Jesus to Mahavaira, Hasidism to Buddhism - you will find all these at Osho's commune (now commercially known as a Meditation Resort).

Is healing to be found here? Absolutely. As long as you have the money to come and stay for an extended period of time. If this is available to you than there is a lot to learn, and many opportunities to connect with meditation and spirituality both of which are inextricably linked to health and healing. When we find awareness disease is no longer necessary. Illness is a signal that something is amiss, but when we're fully aware, fully awakened the warning light is not required. There is a growing amount of medical evicence to confirm this ancient knowledge. Click here to read about it on the BBC, or click here to read about what NCAM has to say about it.

My favourite meditation at the Ashram, is the evening meditation, also known as white robe (becaues everyone must come in dressed in a white robe). This provides the best opportunity to hear and see (on video of course) Osho. It combines the best of Osho's teachings and meditations: dancing, giberish, satsang, silent sitting, and most of all celebration Osho was very adamant about life being a cause for celebration. Here is what seems to me a great unbiased article from Wikipedia you can make up your own mind. But the one thing I can say is Osho taught people to find joy in life, to let go of their hang-ups and concentrate on the most important things. For the religious and political establishment this was considered was sacrilege, and immorality. Explore your sexuality with love and awareness, meditate, find the truth for yourself, be kind, radiate love, stand up for what you believe in, don't follow societal construction if you do not agree with them, work to bring awareness to the world. Universal teachings that to me work towards global healing.

Friday, February 9, 2007

The Picture Dilema

Ok, some pictures are up! (didn't I mention the batteries for my camera need to be recharged every day?) So thanks to Jose's photographic prowess I've posted a few pics. Just scroll down and you'll see them along the side bar.

Cambia, todo Cambia

Things That Change, Things That Stay the Same:
As a week in Pune comes to an end there have been many changes I’ve noticed in this old home of mine. Everything changes – nothing remains the same, and that is truly evident in this place, even after only 5 years.

I notice many of the people who I regularly interacted with still toiling away at their same old jobs. Like the guy at the German Bakery who says he's been there for 15yrs. And I run across people all over the place who seem to remember me. I find this insane considering the amount of foreigners who come through this town – how is it that I’ve been so memorable? It’s been incredible to connect with good friends from another lifetime. It feels like people around me are confirming my past life, and that my experiences here were not just figments of an over active imagination. Something you begin to believe when there is no context for your past. The magical world I once experienced is overwhelming me again.

Pune is a mystical place. Many Gurus have based themselves here, and I believe that there is a reason for this. It seems to be one of those energetically powerful places. Things here really do happen as they should. Thoughts materialize rapidly here, energy is tangible, and trust is any easy thing to find.

However this paradise is transforming, it doesn’t attract the same people anymore. People now come here to seek their fortunes, to find work in the IT industry – and slowly the city is becoming a web of traffic. Honking, engines, touts, beggars, and loud, random, indeterminate noises from a myriad of construction sites interrupt that peaceful easy feeling.

Tibetan Prayer Bowls:
I never paid much attention to this new movement of using the viibrational power of prayer bowls for healing. Jose and I happened to venture into a shop selling a variety of Tibetan goodies. The shopkeeper insisted on putting a prayer bowl on my head and knocking it (to Jose's exited yelps of "hit it harder") – and WOW, the vibrations reverberated down my spine through my entire body. The vibrations produced a different state of mind in me, quiet, aware and joyful. The next day as I walked past the same store I decided to go in and give it another try. After a succession of 3 different prayer bowls I was flying – the perma-smile on my face lasted for hours.

Maybe there is something to this, something worth further exploration. I have heard of different sound and vibration therapies including the use of didjeridoos on different parts of the body. In reiki we talk of the attunements increasing your vibrational frequency, in the Indian chakra system every energy centre has a sound and vibrational frequency associated with it. And even Rajan Sankaran a well respected Homeopath conducted homeopathic provings on different India Ragas.

Does this mean that any sound will affect change or be used as a vehicle to healing? Will different sounds activate different parts of you body, mind, and soul? I welcome your comments and suggestions.

This One's For The Homeopaths:

I’ve had the great opportunity of observing for the last week in Dr. Sunil Anand’s. He sets an extraordinary example of how to use Sankaranian thought and methodology. He has a developed a deep understanding of how to find core sensations within a case, and then to recognize that sensation within the right remedy.

On my first day at the clinic I got to observe an amazing case of mansanilla. The patient came in complaining of anal fissures. He had a very logical way about him – even within his proffesion as a computer programmer. He drew pictures that reflected order, and to me took the form of a crystal. However when the patient spoke about the drawings he experienced them as disorder – he talked about how his illness affected his ability to be a social and respected person. He said that he felt like he had hit a wall and there was no logical way to break through. I saw what I obviously thought were mineral themes. Dr. Anand was able to show me the deeper level that I was ignoring – there was a clear sensation in the case. The patient talked of feeling bound, chained down, his picture actually resembled a box being chained down. The key sensation in the Euphorbiaceae family. He spoke of being afraid as a child of the dark – that something would come and take him away to another world. A key rubric in the remedy Mancinella is delusion that he will be taken away by the devil. And as the Dr. continued to explain the case clearly fell into place. So much to learn and every day demonstrates how little I know.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

no ricksha, no one rupee, no balloon, no magnets, no problem!

I know I know, it's been a long time and the pics I promised have not appeared! but I promise some nice things to look at before the end of the week.

We're now ssettling down in Pune for the next couple of weeks so I hope to have more time for this blogging thing (I have to admit the infinitely slow connections are a bit of a detraction)

So on the health front: it's been 10 days since my reflexology and Su Jok treatment and my knees and back have responded after only 1 treatment. My knees have been completely pain free and my back has given little hastle - especially considering long train excursions and carrying an ever increasing load (somehow my backpack keeps getting heavier - could this be correlated with shopping?) This seems like something I need to learn and explore further.

In the meantime Jose and I have visited Udaipur - home of octopussy! No one here will let you forget that this classic Bond movie was filmed on location in Udaipur. It is a majestic city on the shores of a quiet lake - and provided much more atmosphere than little touristy Pushkar. We left after 5 peaceful days to attack the crowds and the wallas in the sprawling metropolis of Mumbai.

In Mumbai I visited the Shree Mumbadevi Homeopathic hospital. What an amazing institution! A complete hospital with every department imaginable from a gynaecology department to a rheumatology department. There were even 2 women that had gone into labour waiting to give birth. And they tell me around 80% of all patients are treated homeoapthically. Here life and death situations are treated using homeopathic remedies with full confidence - something Homeopaths in the Western world can learn a great deal from.

There is even a government sponsored research department that for the last 10 years has been focusing on the treatment of HIV/AIDS, and have found success with patients returning to a viral load of zero! I filmed some scenes in the hospital and will have them up on the site at some point (even if it's only after I return)

One thing I've really enjoyed in India is that when I tell people what I do they nod and call me Doctor. Nobody asks what Homeopathy is, and nobody doubts whether it works. Even the tourists, like this French woman I met who works for big pharma and was carrying around her vials of Boiron remedies. People know and have embraced Homeopathy, though there are still many misconceptions about it. Many think that it is only for chronic illness and can be of no help in serious acute conditions - but my time at the Homeopathic Hospital has proven them wrong.

And now I find myself in Pune, home of the famous and indeed infamous Osho Ashram. What was once a true place for meditation, awareness, and hence healing, (and maybe I'll go and check it out once again to see if it's still true to its roots). Tomorrow I begin my internship with Dr. Sunil Anand and I'm sure I will have lots to report.