A Celebration of Healing:
Sal Brownfield, Artist
FROM "ART AS A LANGUAGE OF HEALING" EXHIBITION
Still One of the Best Answers for Wellbeing
By Deborah Charnes
The first Ayurvedic textbook dates back 5,000 years ago, making it a precursor to allopathic medicine which dominates our western world.
Ayurveda, meaning the science or study of life, is a very complex holistic approach to optimize one’s health and offset diseases and discomfort. Divided into eight branches, similar to the eight branches of yoga, the Ashtangas of Ayurveda include general medicine, pediatrics and OB/GYN, surgery, ENT, toxicology, rejuvenation (geriatrics), aphrodisiacs and psychiatry.
While Ayurveda is not widely understood in our part of the word, in India, the birthplace of Ayurveda, it’s widespread. In Kerala, the state where it may be most prominent, currently 40 percent of health care is Ayurvedic and the local Ayurvedic association has a marketing campaign underway to boost that figure to 50 percent.
The government does its part of support Ayurveda as well. Those of lower socio-economic means in India are entitled to free allopathic or Ayurvedic treatments. Additionally, the Government of India has published formularies for Ayurvedic treatments, available on CDs.
Just as we’ve seen proof of unbelievable scientific intelligence among the ancient Mayas and Egyptians, among other cultures, Ayurveda, over the last 5,000 years has proved its effectiveness based on its age-old wisdom and practices. In the last ten years, blind double tests confirmed the value of Ayurveda. Two plants traditionally used to treat blood pressure were patented by a major pharmaceutical company as allopathic drugs for hypertension. Another Ayurvedic herbal therapy (ephedrine) is now a common allopathic treatment for asthma.
Many of the native plants used in Ayurveda, when analyzed using modern technology and data, are found to have curative elements. According to the Indian sages, all plants have medicinal values. “It is promised that nature always creates, in every habitat, plants needed to treat typical diseases prevalent in the eco-system,” stated the Caraka Samhita, the most well known treatise on Ayurveda dating back to 600 B.C.
Dr. L. Mahadevan, director of Hospital located at the southernmost tip of India, operates a botanical garden and pharmacy alongside his clinic. There are more than 100 herbs cultivated here, many of which can be used for multiple purposes. Among the plants grown in this tropical garden are asiatica, arrowroot, asoka, gooseberries, aloe vera, amaranth, bitter demon, stevia, coriander and neem.
Dr. Mahadevan’s clinic treats about 50 patients a day. He has a staff of 70 which is certainly not the ratio seen in western clinics. While he operates in a fairly remote geographic location, surrounded by paddy fields, lotus ponds and coconut groves. His patients come from all over the world, and most likely seek treatment due to imbalances caused by diet and lifestyle.
According to Dr. Vinod Verma, author of Ayurveda, A Way of Life and founder of the New Way Health Organization in India, “people live lives that are largely anti-life, i.e., our lifestyle is unhealthy…They spend most of their time searching for more money or fame…trapped in a vicious cycle of over medication and its side effects.”
Dr. L. Mahadevan echoed that thought. He says he’s seen patients eat too much and work too much. He says patients nowadays usually prefer the mindless act of taking a pill or a shot, rather than modifying their lifestyle to achieve health and happiness. Some ailments, with Ayurvedic treatment, can be cured merely with water, salt, or exercise. But, in today’s modern world, whether one lives in New Delhi or New York City, there is a too often a focus on the material needs rather than the more important personal needs of each individual.
Dr. Vinod adds in her book, “When people are running around attending one meeting after another or making deals, they are usually suppressing urges, inviting ailments and shortening their lifespan. Running after achievements is of no use when they are life-threatening and life shortening. Remember that the first priority of life is life itself…all else is useless…take time for what you would like to do rather than always doing what you are supposed to do.”
The Caraka Samhita not only talks about healing techniques, but also the role of the healer. The doctor, it advises, should be “friendly and compassionate toward the sick and should not be greedy.”
Ayurveda focuses on the patient, rather than on the antidote. An Ayurvedic analysis takes much longer than an allopathic one, as the treatment is customized and holistic. As an example of the complexity and holistic nature of Ayurveda, the patient may be advised to modify his or her diet and lifestyle every two months, based on the changing elements of our climate that affects our environment. Likewise, Ayurveda recognizes the daily cycles that alter one’s state of being, which factor into recommended daily regimens.
Ayurveda does not ignore allopathic medicine, but weaves it into the complete picture. For example, it’s not uncommon for Ayurvedic doctors in India to request blood tests or X-rays, and they frequently work hand in hand with neurologists, surgeons and other western medical practitioners. It’s not about territory. It’s about what’s best for the patient. For example, dais (midwives) assist in home births of 90 percent of normal deliveries, with immediate referrals to allopathic hospitals in cases of abnormal births.
While most allopathic doctors probably enter the field with a sincere desire to help patients, in today’s American managed care medical environment our medical providers are squeezed so tightly by insurance providers and risk management that these principles are very hard to maintain. Ayurveda, on the other hand, due to its holistic nature, brings about equilibrium in the patients, which results in well being. Individuality is not a part of western medicine. In Ayurveda, the mind, body and spirituality are all interrelated. In Ayurveda, health is harmony with the self and the environment.
FORGET "WHAT’S YOUR SIGN?" WHAT’S YOUR DOSHA?
I happen to love broccoli, kale and brussel sprouts. My mother couldn’t stand them. It turns out, some people have different taste buds, and for many people, vegetables like broccoli can be extremely bitter. I eat these three greens like candy.
While I never particularly had a sweet tooth, as my mother did, over the last few years my cravings for salty foods have increased. I still consume loads of spicy foods, something else my mother couldn’t tolerate. She didn’t even like garlic and onions, which I can’t comprehend.
While my father drank coffee every morning and also enjoyed a cup after dinner, my mother rarely drank the brew. She only took a few sips at luncheons, maybe to be “lady like.” I was a coffee addict for most of my life. However, I self-prescribed the hot java for several reasons. First, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been friolenta. Living in Mexico City, and shivering in the mornings, I learned that the hot liquid warmed me up a bit. When I worked in Miami, there was nothing better than a mid-afternoon cafecito break, just like tea time, this was a great way to get up and get my circulation going along with a bit of socializing. Third, and most importantly, caffeine was a great antidote to the perennial lethargy I felt, no matter how much sleep I’d had.
I’m an Aquarian, so I tend to like adventures. To make them reality, I learned how to modify my lifestyle to take my adventures to the max, and rid myself of my sluggish nature.
Basically, what I did was try to create more balance in my lifestyle and my life. Sleep was a waste of time to me, and eight to ten hours of sleep never yielded an energetic and vibrant next day. Many people, in today’s super fast paced world, have chronic health conditions due to imbalances brought on my improper nutrition and lifestyle.
The Ayurvedic life science, the mother of all healing arts, that supposedly was passed on by the divine, addresses precisely these imbalances. According to Ayurveda, one’s constitution is established upon conception. In the case of my mother, she was probably predominantly Pitta. She would sweat easily, and heat was unbearable to her. She craved sweets and cold soothing foods like yogurt and ice cream. What’s more, she had a premature thinning of the hair and chose to wear a hairpiece. These are all signs of Pitta imbalances.
There are three doshas, or constitutions: Pitta, Vata and Kapha. However, people’s levels of Pitta, Vata and Kapha fluctuate constantly. As one ages, there is a natural tendency to shift balance over the years, throughout the day, and based on the season. For example, during summer, one’s Vata increases and in the winter, Kapha is more in force, so you need to adjust diet, exercise and routine accordingly.
While I may be my mother’s daughter, I see no Pitta in my life. I sense my innate constitution as Kapha which I probably inherited from my dad. Interestingly enough, he and I shared multiple idiopathic health problems. Idiopathic means it’s not hereditary and they have no idea why you got the illness. While no allopathic doctor could tell either of us the source of our pains, I think the answer may be from too muych Kapha.
My inner balance must have recognized this, so I worked to decrease my Kapha for decades, without even knowing what I was doing. In the end, I had an overabundance of Vata that I brought upon myself, far beyond the coffee fixes. Ayurvedic experts say that the vast majority of people in our western society have Vata imbalances caused by the drive-through and dog-eat-dog world of super moms and super Marios.
There are several recommended Ayurvedic methods to create balance in one’s life.
Diet is key, and each person, basedon their imbalances is given different recommendations. Herbal remedies are traditionally prescribed, as are message therapy, all which are customized based on the three forces. Likewise, periodic detoxification has tremendous benefits, and the cleanse varies based on one’s dosha. Finally, there are daily regimens that need to be followed to provide total balance in mind, body and soul. ##
Deborah Charnes is a Texas-based wellness and fitness writer and advocate.
She is a yoga instructor and owner of The Write Counsel, a strategic PR company
dedicated to transforming our community.
In a latihan, three months after I was opened, my mouth was wrenched wide and this huge sound came roaring out of it. This was the beginning of my journey into voice. Years later, I did talent testing in front of Bapak. I was sounding so strongly that I thought my whole body would explode, and I was inwardly begging for the testing to stop! It’s only now, 25 years later, that I understand that the voice can be an instrument for healing and changing. This is my work.
My intention always is that workshop participants will recognize the power of their own voice through the energy centers of their bodies, connect to their true selves, and, through the group process, come into connectedness with the universe, or God. So there are three stages that I hope we go through: Me, Us, God. I encourage participants to make sounds with guidance…lower sounds evoke the lower charkas, higher sounds the higher charkas. I guide them to stay in range but to change the note.
Often there’s resistance to the process: “I want to leave”… “I can’t make a note”…”I’m bored.” Resistance is inevitable, partly because there’s a taboo around making sounds, and partly because as sound penetrates the body and the feelings (as no other medium can) it will open pain and problems buried deep. I ask people not to get into conflict with the resistance — it’s a guardian — but to ask it to step aside.
Sound softens the body. The feelings come to life and are expressed through the voice. I ask people to keep the body soft and relaxed, to look for the strength under the sound of the pain, so that they can stay safe and connect with the energy they need to heal. We all have this energy — it’s our gift.
I ask people to trust their own voice rather than me, so that they aren’t dependent on me. I don’t want to be a guru.
Sometimes someone hits a big trauma and I help them through it personally. Most people, however, access strength they didn’t know they had. As they come into their own strength they are more confident and self-assertive and learn to trust something beyond themselves — the universe, or God.
Through sounding together we tap into the collective unconscious and have spontaneous experiences: e.g we’re all sitting round a fire in a forest. One participant was approached by a Native American who introduced her to an initiation. Others discover their animal energies — they’re a flying eagle or a black panther. They contact animal energies they can summon in their daily lives. Women particularly are made alive to Mother Earth, to the elements, the energies of Gaia.
My work comes from my latihan. It’s my true work. Plus I was working — or being guided to work — two hours a day on my voice It was like taking dictation. I wrote down everything I was shown… fifteen sound cycles, which are now the basis of my work.
I love what I do.
— Adrienne Thomas ##
A talented singer and writer, UK's Adrienne Thomas regularly performs the Berlin Caberet songs of Brecht and Weill, and with the band, IN BOB WE TRUST, which celebrates Bob Dyan’s music. Check them out on You Tube
draws our attention
to a unique slant on prayer
Reprinted with permission FROM EMMANUEL ELLIOTT'S REMINDERS OF REALITY
During 2006, I wrote to our Australian Prime Minister, requesting that he make moves to preserve the forests of Tasmania, Borneo and Amazon because they are the lungs of the Earth. I definitely felt as though I’d drawn a blank there. Then someone inside me said, “Pray for the Earth.” I did not know how to do this and asked to be shown.
Soon afterwards, I joined a prayer healing group, but, because it didn’t feel like the right one for me, I left it, but not before giving my email address to just the right person, who later sent me information about a kind of prayer I had not encountered before. I was certain that this was meant to come to me for the purpose of praying for the environment. The way I used it went like this:
”Mother Earth, I’m sorry for the damage we’ve done.
Please forgive me. I love you, God bless you”.
As though to give me encouragement, snow fell on our worst bushfires the very next day. In summer! I kept it up for six months and then the impetus to do it just went…I had the impression that it had become someone else's duty after that.
I’m a therapist, and I went on to use it silently and effectively for clients, adjusting the words to “Sorry for the suffering of your life.” In fact. I use it at the drop of a hat now, as soon as I notice something not right with my fellow man.
She then goes on to share the following article by Joe Vitale that inspired her to pray in this way:
Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients--without ever seeing any of them. The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he improved himself, the patient improved.
When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane? It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story.
However, I heard it again a year later. I heard that the therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called ho 'oponopono. I had never heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know more. I had always understood 'total responsibility' to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of total responsibility that way. We're responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does--but that's wrong.
The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspective about total responsibility. His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist.
He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That the ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous. Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.
Dr. Len told me that he never saw the patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal.
"After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely," he told me. "Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed." I was in awe. "Not only that," he went on, "but the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed."
This is where I had to ask the million dollar question:
"What were you doing within yourself that caused those people to change?" He said "I was simply healing the part of me that created them." I didn't understand. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life—simply because it is in your life—is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your creation.
Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life. This means that terrorist activity, the president, the economy or anything you experience and don't like--is up for you to heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have to change you.
I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in ho' oponopono means loving yourself. "If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone, even a mentally ill criminal you do it by healing you." I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when he looked at those patients' files?
"'I wrote their name and I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again," he explained. "That's it?"…
"That's it." Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, you improve your world. Let me give you a quick example of how this works: one day someone sent me an email that upset me. In the past I would have handled it by working on my emotional hot buttons or by trying to reason with the person who sent the nasty message.
This time, I decided to try Dr. Len's method. I kept silently saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you,' I didn't say it to anyone in particular. I was simply evoking the spirit of love to heal within me what was creating the outer circumstance. Within an hour I got an e-mail from the same person. He apologized for his previous message. Keep in mind that I didn't take any outward action to get that apology. I didn't even write him back. Yet, by saying 'I love you,' I somehow healed within me what was creating him.
I later attended a ho 'oponopono workshop run by Dr. Len. He's now 70 years old, considered a grandfatherly shaman, and is somewhat reclusive. He praised my book, The Attractor Factor. He told me that as I improve myself, my book's vibration will raise, and everyone will feel it when they read it. In short, as I improve, my readers will improve.
"'What about the books that are already sold and out there?" I asked. 'They aren't out there," he explained, once again blowing my mind with his mystic wisdom. "They are still in you." In short, there is no out there. It would take a whole book to explain this advanced technique with the depth it deserves.
Suffice it to say that whenever you want to improve anything in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you. When you look, do it with love.
Our Australian sister, who is an EFT therapist, concludes :
This is powerful…simply by saying:
" 'Name' I'm sorry for your suffering, please forgive me I love you, God bless you"
about four times, resulted in:
A tattooed and pierced young waiter who’d been impolite and surly when serving my friend and I, after we both did the ho'oponopono for him while he was in the kitchen, came out smiling and gave us free dessert! This was my first proof of the miracle of this Hawaiian healing prayer.
The second proof was connected with a lady’s inability to overcome a feeling of chaos and shame. I knew that she lived in rooms filled with mess and rubbish which she could neither sort nor clean. Within hours of my doing h'oponopono for her, (about four times) she went through the place singing with joy and overcame the mess accompanied by a great feeling of being lovable. Although I didn't tell her I'd prayed, the following day she sought me out, feeling that she wanted to tell me all about it and give me a hug. This was the second proof.
What she saw as the third proof was the story of the snow falling which began entry.