....A progression towards another reality....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Faith and Treatment

Do I need to have faith in your treatment to get better?” I get this question quite often.

The answer is “no you do not need faith as a pre-condition”. 

The forms of alternative medicine that I practice (Various aspects of Yoga, acupressure/sujok, mind-body medicine and energy healing) have a high therapeutic probability.

For example, the possibility of a headache responding to an acupressure point (Li 4) or an “Aspirin” tablet is quite similar. An acupressure point (Gb 31) can usually alleviate general back pain as quickly as a muscle relaxant gel. Some yogic practices like regulated breathing, Yog-nidra can work like a tranquilizer for almost everyone in general. 

Having said that, I would also like to add that, in my field, the treatment has to be individualized at various levels. So, the expertise of the therapist plays a very significant role. The same set of acu-points, meditative techniques etc. might not work for four different people with ostensibly similar symptoms.Many times due to a therapist’s incompetence, alternative forms of medicine are dismissed as a matter of faith.

Coming back to the question of faith - Faith as I understand, is a product of mind, a metaphysical phenomenon that has tremendous influence on our perception and response to situations and circumstances. 

Did you know that 35% of patients get better even on placebos if they have faith in their Doctor and his expertise?

Let’s call “faith” a kind of an interest, liking or keenness, an inclination, positive attitude, an assurance or a kind of open-mindedness. In our general lives if we take up something with an open-mind or with interest, our chances of achieving the goal become higher.  
Interest or inclination gives us extra momentum or motivation to work hard tirelessly, effortlessly and naturally.  
In the absence of interest, formula II, our dedication and hard-work (even if we crib about it) will help us achieve our goal.

So, whether or not you have faith in the treatment, you would need sincerity and patience to respond well to my treatment. 

I say sincerity, because my treatment usually requires one to do a bit of homework, whether that involves introspection, mind-body sensitization, relaxation exercises, self-acupressure, breathing or asanas or permutations and combinations of all these.

I say patience because some of these practices will require more time and effort than popping in a pill.

Treat meditation, asana, pranayama and an acupressure point like a non-invasive and a non-pharmacological medicine. Just like you pop in pills at regular intervals, you are required to take in the prescribed alternative medicine combination.If you follow it with interest topped with a hint positive attitude or faith, you will respond faster. 

Medically, I ask you my friend what do you base your faith on?
  • A Theory which has proven itself in practice. (Most of my techniques are a combination of well researched scientific studies with a probability or p ≤0.05) 
  •  A convincingly logical possible outcome/explanation. (I’ll be happy to give you one, if you have a question.) 
  •  A testimony from a trusted one. 
  •  A therapeutic experience which has broadened your perspective.
If you agree with one or more of these, we are on the same page. 

To Health and Wellness, Cheers!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pranayama and Stress: A Breather for the Symptomatic Soul

Well, you are stressed! It’s a long story, there are too many complications and you are confused or helpless. The situation may be out of your control, but your breath is not.
So, Breathe!

Do you raise those eyebrows when I say the “B” word? More often than not you can’t breathe away your problems. You’ll not find instant solutions either. Neither will you experience a “miracle”. You can, however, prevent and manage many symptoms that sustained stress has already made you vulnerable to. Also, you might be pleasantly surprised when your painful conditions get alleviated.

Do you have tense muscle groups around your neck and shoulders? Is your blood pressure on the higher side? Does your back-pain worsen when you are worked up? Do you have trouble going to sleep?Are you prone to indigestion in general?  
Then, you need to check the way you breathe without waiting for your symptoms to first make their presence felt or worsen.

Physical as well as mental stress affects the body the same way. The former is characterised by fight or flight. In other words, the body girds itself for immediate action when danger is perceived. Stress response leads to sympathetic activation that automatically, involuntarily, inhibits the digestive processes but increases activities like our heart rate, blood pressure, pulse-rate, respiratory rate etc.When the danger subsides, the body restores its original balance.

Mental stress translates itself the same way but tends to linger around for much longer. One can literally experience the heart beating rapidly, sweaty break-outs etc. under pressure or due to fear and anger. Even recollection of stressful or emotionally charged events can trigger a similar response in the body.

Whereas our blood pressure and heart rate are not in really in our control, our breath is. Although we generally breathe without awareness, we can, at any given time, control our breath rate at will. 

Breath acts as a bridge between the involuntary and voluntary activities in the body. Mental Stress translates into sympathetic activation that increases involuntary activities like heart rate, blood pressure, pulse rate, breath rate automatically. These can be stabilized by voluntary breath regulation. By consciously regulating your breath, you can influence your blood pressure, heart rate and the rate at which adrenaline is being pumped into your blood-stream. Once the breathing slows down the body systems automatically switch to the “relax” mode.

Pranayama is translated as rhythmic regulation of breath. By regular practice of pranayama one can reduce one’s breathing rate. Just like an athlete/marathon runner has a lesser heart and a pulse rate at rest compared to a normal person, a pranayama practitioner has a lower breathing rate in general. At rest, an adult breathes on an average, 12 – 18 times per minute. With regular practice of Pranayama one can reduce the number of breaths to 7-11 per minute.Consequently, one becomes less prone to sustaining the stress response.

By practicing pranayama regularly, keeping a check on the breathing pattern and breathing speed, and by regulating the same a few times a day, it is possible to alleviate, manage and prevent many symptoms of mental stress. So, Breathe!

One can start with simple non strenuous diaphragmatic breathing by placing hands on the abdomen and observe it inflate and relax. Simple humming, M-kara chanting with each exhalation regulates the breath indirectly.

For a detailed description of simple diaphragmatic breathing technique for relaxation and to know if you have the correct breathing pattern, please click on
Try it a few times. If you feel refreshed in less than 10 minutes, you know you are doing it right.

That’s all Folks!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How does Energy Healing Work? (A humble attempt!)

Here’s an attempt to demystify how Energy healing modalities bring about changes in the physical body. 

Energy healing is an umbrella term for many therapies some of which are, Pranic healing, Reiki, Qi-gong, Distance healing, Sanjeevani healing etc. The common principle being the ability of the healer/practitioner to modulate or direct the energy flow in the body of the person seeking help or in their own bodies, to bring about a therapeutic effect.
Before I explain how this happens, let’s look into some concepts.
There's matter and there's energy, interconvertible according to Einstein's theory of relativity
(E = mc2). If the theory is to be believed (the one's who don't, needn't go through the rest of this blog) consider our physical body as frozen energy. Apparently this lump of matter, solidified energy can be diffused or converted into its formless, expansive, invisible state. To put it simply, the visible, palpable “matter” has the ability to vanish into thin air.

Have you ever wondered what happens when an extremely fat person reduces in size? The accumulated fat "burns" away, shrinking the physical body. The previously large body, more matter, gets converted into a smaller body, lesser matter. Where does the excessive matter, the fatty layer, vanish? Does it get diffused? If so, into what?

What happens when we eat food? The food gets digested, energy is released, chemical processes take place converting food into other simpler substances which get stored in the body. Glucose is stored as glycogen, and when we are required to run or fight (or during the sympathetic activation) the glycogen gets converted to glucose which provides the body with energy to perform. By these examples one can understand in a simple way, the interconvertibility of energy and matter.

The vital energy layer which surrounds our body is called "Prana". At a gross level Prana enters our body through our breath which is why Pranayama has immense therapeutic significance (My next blog will elaborate the working principle behind therapeutic benefits brought about by breath regulation). Prana is what makes us alive, what makes us conscious. In Chinese it is referred to as "Chi", in Japanese “Ki”; One can usually feel Prana in forms of nerve-impulse like tingling sensations, pulsation, muscular contractions, heat wave on paticular areas or some sort of a magnetic field. Prana shouldn’t be confused with a nerve impulse as that travels only in a particular direction. Prana isn’t bound by direction.Too much Prana or too little Prana makes its presence felt in our physical body. Inflammation, spasms, pain (too much)on the one hand; Weakness, paralysis, numbness (too little) on the other; The fraternity of energy healers try to bring about a balance in the Pranic sheath to bring about equilibrium/homeostasis in the body.

Let's now look into the properties of energy in general. Energy is neither created, nor destroyed, it is only converted from one form into another. Potential to kinetic, electrical to mechanical, so on and so forth. Energy transformation takes place constantly in our body as well. It is easy to relate to this kind of transformation while we eat or move about. When we are stationary, externally we possess potential energy although internally our body processes are being carried out through energy conversions.

How does one explain the "thought-process" via the energy nomenclature? What kind of transformation could be possible? How does too much thinking induce a headache or a heart-attack?

Thoughts are usually understood as the potential possibilities or potential energy, however there's most definitely some sort of kinesis that they induce in one's own body.
For example, a good-luck wish, a compliment or a genuine smile from another elevates our mood. Another's attitude towards us affects our mood as well. So, another person's thought-energy can influence our own with or without our acknowledgement.

One of the working principles behind any kind of distance healing is similar (not exactly the same though). The healer channelizes the thoughts towards the healee. With the help of concentration and visualizations the healer manages to induce changes in another's body. Infact it is possible for one to heal oneself with the help of certain breathing techniques and visualizations. Also, with a bit of observation and practice one can develop the sensitivity towards pranic manifestations like tingling, pulsation, heat wave, vaccum sensation etc.
It’s thrilling to see the reactions and responses of the participants when I conduct workshops on Pranayama and Pranic energization.

One has to suppress the limited logical mind for a while for the para-rational to work (Let’s not call this a matter of faith, call it open-mindedness). Once you experience, you don't deny. Believe it only when you experience it, when you experience, try to explain. It isn’t always possible to verbalize what one feels, but if you can it might help many others who know you well to understand the same. Testimony from a trusted one goes a long way. Mine did!
Click on this link to know my first experience with energy healing-

That’s all folks!
(For those who find this sign-off lame, know that I loved the road runner show. LOL)