BEYOND MINDFULNESS TO AANANDAMAYA KOSH
All Sanskrit words are written in italics. Long vowel sounds have been denoted by repeating the vowel twice. Use of vowel ‘a’ at the end of proper and common nouns has been omitted to emphasize the point that there is no long sound of vowel ‘a’ at the end. For example, Yoga is pronounced as Yog and so, has been written as Yog to encourage proper pronunciation.
There is one-sided focus on the first three body sheaths (Koshas), viz. Aanandamaya Kosh, Praanmaya Kosh and Manomaya Kosh (food sheath, energy sheath and mind sheath respectively) in several health and stress management programs/practices being taught currently whereas the role of the last two sheaths, viz. intellect sheath (Vigyanmaya Kosh) and memory sheath (Aanandamaya Kosh) are not even mentioned. Likewise, these two sheaths are being totally overlooked and rarely been considered as possible parameters for research. In fact, the body health is directly controlled by Consciousness (Aanandamaya Kosh) of the individual as all lifestyle activities of the individual are controlled by his/her Consciousness and these activities determine not just body health but also the holistic health of the individual at all three levels, viz. physical, subtle and causal. This Paper seeks to analyze current trends in Yog practices worldwide and provides practical applications of the spiritual dimension of the individual in determining the overall Health and Happiness level of the individual. It makes use of two Cover Page stories – the first from Time Magazine of United States of America in its 3 February 2014 issue on Mindfulness and the second from India Today weekly magazine of India, 28 September 2015, issue on ‘the Digital Junkies’ and one research paper from the monthly Anesthesia News Magazine of US, September 2015, Vol 41/9 issue.
The author has been a practitioner of classical Yogic way of life for past four decades based on Vedic Sciences, and more specifically on Yogsutras and Bhagwat Gita, in maintaining a fine balance between his high profile diplomatic life and normal personal life as a householder. The result is he still enjoys absolute normal health at 67 years age without use of any medicines. His practical experience from numerous Yog classes he has been conducting in India and overseas shows that Aanandamaya Kosh is like the hard disc in our brain where all software in the form of knowledge gets stored, which is the ultimate determining factor for individual personality and actions. That is why Yog has been defined as ‘Chittavrittinorodh’ and not ‘manovrittinirodh’ (thought management and not mind management). Also, there are two kinds of knowledge stored in brain memory or Chitta, one illusory and the other real. In meditation when the practitioner directs his/her consciousness to the true source within, the Atman or soul, and seeks to get beyond the illusory perceptions to reality, he/she is able to transcend the illusion – a key factor in making right decisions. This has been described as ‘Samatvamyog’ in Bhangwat Gita where intellect and right knowledge combine in decision-making, which ensures perfect balance in life. It is, therefore, essential that people learn to think beyond the Manomaya Kosh and tackle their concerns at the actual source, the ‘Aanandamaya Kosh’. But this is not to belittle Mind’s inevitable role without which nothing can be known as there will be no connectivity of the ‘I’ with the body, just as without the monitor turned on, the computer remains ineffective.
Time Magazine in its 3 February 2014 issue had carried a cover page story written by Kate Pickert under the caption ‘The Art of Being Mindful: Finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture’ after she attended an 8-week course in New York on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program designed by Prof Jon Kabat Zinn. The popularity of Mindfulness can be assessed from the fact that 477 scientific journal articles about mindfulness were published in 2012. Mindfulness as per my understanding of meditation is all about awareness of happenings every moment in the present and that this awareness is provided by consciousness and shows up on the mind, the latter being a mere display board, a two-way communicator between the senses and the intellect. Senses provide connectivity to the external world collecting all the inputs, which show up on the mind like the monitor of computer. Mind then relays it to the intellect (the processor) for decision-making and the latter refers it to the memory plane (the Chitta or the Aanandamaya Kosh in Yog language) in brain where all data and knowledge (softwares) are stored. The intellect-memory combine is thus responsible for taking decision (output), which is relayed back to the mind for follow up action.
The story covers the subject at length and provides useful insights into all the theatrics involved in Mindfulness classes. But I am not sure if knowledge and science about Mindfulness is also taught in these classes that could help participants understand the logic and science behind all the positive outcomes they experience. That way they will benefit more and can be even more meticulous in practicing it. Way back in 2008 or early 2009 while I was Ambassador of India in Poland, I was invited to inaugurate a conference on ‘Mindfulness’. I had then also explained to the audience that what they actually call Mindfulness is less about Mind and more about ‘awareness’ coming from the Consciousness (Aanandamaya Kosh) and not from the Mind (Manomaya Kosh). But this is not to undermine the criticality of mind in overall human existence. Unless the ‘Thought’ from Consciousness appears on the mind, it cannot be put to action. This is because there is no direct connectivity of the ‘I’ with the body and messages have to pass both ways through the gateway of mind.
Words like Intellect, Memory, Praanaayaam and Consciousness so integral to meditation process did not figure even once in Kate’s story without which one can hardly think of a proper session of meditation and consequently mindfulness. The fact that participants still derived benefits from MBSR course, duly corroborated by research results and positive brain indicators, establishes the authenticity and depth of Vedic Sciences. But vested interests do not accept this eternal Truth and need modern research validation. They need to realize that research concerning the Ananadamayakosh is of a different nature and possible only in ‘consciousness lab’ (a Divine Creation) in individual brains and not in science or clinical labs (man made). It is time that a higher reliance on time-tested preventive measures from Vedic Sciences and traditional therapies are integrated into the western medical science. A beginning has already been made in the United States where medical doctors can enroll for a 2-year online certificate course in Integrative Medicine recognized by the American Board of Physician Specialities. Kate tells that there are more than 1,000 certified MBSR instructors teaching mindfulness classes worldwide and that a “NIH report found the Americans spent some $4 billion on mindful-related alternative medicine in 2007, including MBSR.
GENESIS OF MBSR
Kate tells that Jon Kabat Zinn, Ph.D. was working at Massachusetts Medical Center studying muscle development in 1979. He happened to attend a meditation retreat that year and an idea came to him, “What if I could use Buddhism-based meditation to help patients cope with conditions like chronic pain?” He started a pilot project with three physicians on stress reduction through meditation and mindfulness, which was so successful that Kabat Zinn floated his MBSR course. UMass Department of Medicine later accepted his MBSR prog. into its curriculum and is now used by hundreds of teachers across the country. “In the years since, scientists have been able to prove that meditation and rigorous mindfulness training can lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase immune response and possibly even affect gene expression. Scientific study is also showing that mediation can have an impact on the structure of the brain itself”. She further writes, “Kabat Zinn and other proponents are careful to avoid any talk of spirituality when espousing mindfulness. Instead, they advocate a common sense approach: think of your attention as a muscle.”
My question is, “Can anything happen in the body without spirituality of the spirit residing therein? Why does ‘Western Research’ avoid this vital and most active health molecule – the ‘Spirit Within’ – that is so critical for ‘Holistic Health’? Is it because either they are totally ignorant about it as they cannot spot the spirit or are they also part of the ‘Vested Interests’ to get the pharma and speciality health care industries flourishing? I agree that medical science does not rely on blind faith, which has to be subjected to scientific scrutiny, sound logic and reasoning but Vedic Sciences are evidence-based and can be experienced by anybody without religious, racial, nationality or other discriminations. Do we really need years of research and millions of dollars in cost for something that can be directly experienced by individuals within hours at literally no cost? There is no ideology or belief systems involved. It only reveals the true nature of existence of life on earth – life in all its manifestations, including vegetative life.
AANANDAMAYA KOSH AS THE SEAT OF ‘I’
My own experience of past one decade with hundreds of participants who have attended my holistic health and wellness classes, is that when presented scientifically with valid reasoning and logic, which they themselves experience during practice sessions, they become convinced of the intrinsic self-healing mechanisms and power of the body. After a week’s full time residential program, their body health, energy field and personality traits show marked transformations. The underlying reason for these visible changes through personality engineering is personal conviction coming from Aanandamaya Kosh as a result of gaining first the knowledge, then the understanding and finally firsthand experience during practice. It gets imprinted in individual memory and keeps evolving with newer experiences. They get empowered with techniques of bringing substantive positive transformations in memory, mind and body in that sequence. They can engineer and monitor the evolving changes themselves at all three levels, viz. physical (body), subtle (mind, intellect and memory) and causal (the ‘I’ within). They also get a clear understanding of the soul within that determines the field of spirituality. Religion or Faith relates to individual knowledge and understandings and not to the body per se. I emphasize the fact that body by itself has no religion. It is lifeless without the Praan (energy flow). The spirit or soul within gets transformed, after connecting with the Aanandamaya kosh (the Chitta), as the operator or the ‘I’ and initiates action by activating the subtle body, which in turn activates the senses and the latter in turn activate the physical body. The ‘I’ can also monitor body’s health and actions provided it is so educated and trained. The consciousness evolution engineering takes place best through Swaadhyaaya (study of Self), followed by meditation, which is the more advanced and exclusive field of Yog practice.
Sharing her experience from the MBSR classes of mindfully eating a raisin or taking a walk in the open, Kate writes, “Though meditation is considered an essential means to achieving mindfulness, the ultimate goal is simply to give your attention fully to what you are doing.” She very rightly tells that every effort at focusing mind on breath leads “to the contrary” and distractions get stronger. She further explains, “At the start of our 2-hour MBSR class our teacher … hit two small brass cymbals together to indicate we should begin meditating. During this agonizingly frustrating period, which lasted up to 40 minutes, I would try to focus on my breath as Paulette (the teacher) advised, but I felt constantly bombarded by thoughts about my family, random sounds in the room and even how I would translate each evening’s session into this story.” Citing several similar frustrations that digital technology has further heightened, Kate says, “It might seem paradoxical, then, that Silicon Valley has become a hotbed of mindfulness classes and conferences.”
A similar experience was narrated to me by a ambitious girl in her early twenties. She was attending my introductory class at Hapur, India, on 1 Nov 2015. She said she had read about scores of meditation techniques over the net, which she had tried to follow but her personal experience was quite to the contrary of all – the moment she tries to bring her mind to focus, it gets flooded with multiple thought processes other than meditation. But she was surprised that meditation technique I had explained to them exactly echoed with her own experiences. She also got a better appreciation of the indispensability of meditation in resolving stress and so many other complex personality issues. Meditation helps the practitioner to zero all faculties 100% on the thought appearing on the mind and find alternatives for its resolution. The more the knowledge of the subject to be meditated upon of the practitioner, the better would be the results from meditation. Readers are encouraged to see for themselves whether they can strike a better resolution of a vexed issue during meditation as compared to ‘in normal course’.
Kate’s “agonizingly frustrating period” perhaps arose because Mindfulness had not been defined – what exactly is it? What is the specific role of the mind? Is the mind doing something? How is the process taking place, etc.? To make matters worse, Kate got tagged to “Eastern Philosophy” and more specifically to “Buddhism”. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify Mind’s identity – does it operate independently or is it a mere 2-way messenger? Thereafter, we have to clarify the meditation process and its purpose. From what I can make out from Kate’s story, ‘Mindfulness’ is an adapted version of meditation where the subjects are helped to disconnect with senses by focusing on breath but are not made aware about connecting with the consciousness because they are told to return to focus on breath.
There are two very good examples to understand the role of mind. One is the rein connecting a horse to the rider. Rein has no independent role in controlling the horse and it sides either way depending on who has the stronger pull. But if the rein is weak and breaks apart in this two-way pulling, it becomes disastrous. The second example more relevant to present-day situations is that of the computer where Monitor’s role is vital in display of inputs and outputs. If it is turned off even if the rest of the computer systems are operational, nothing will happen and the operator will not know what’s going on. So, mind’s role can be compared to that of the rein or the monitor. We can think of people going into depression cycles where seemingly mind gives up and person is unable to stay in balance. Therefore, even though the mind does not play a direct role in actual decision making process, which is the exclusive domain of intellect and memory together, it is yet a key pathway in maintaining balance between the two opposing pulls – one coming from senses as input and the other from intellect as the output. If a person is busy intellectually for long hours where continuous focus of mind is called for, it is but natural for mind to get exhausted and that is why short breaks in such situations are highly recommended.
Time’s story highlights following five steps to Mindfulness Meditation: (adaptations from ‘Full Catastrophe Living’, 2nd edition, by Jon Kabat Zinn)
- Sit cross legged on the floor or on chair. Keep your back straight and let your shoulders drop. Take a deep breath and close your eyes if you wish;
- Notice your breath. Don’t change your breathing but focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your lungs;
- As thoughts come into your mind and distract you from your breathing, acknowledge those thoughts and then return to focusing on your breathing each time;
- Don’t judge yourself or try to ignore distractions. Your job is simply to notice that your mind has wandered and to bring your attention back to your breathing;
- Start by doing this 10 minutes a day for a week. The more you meditate regularly, the easier it will be to keep your attention where you want it.
Compare the above with my meditation class where the practitioner sequentially works at all three body levels before getting into meditation:
- Practitioner is given a good feel of body by fully enlivening it with flexing of all body joints, stimulating enough blood circulation in the body and oxygenating the blood with deep breathings. This is achieved through simple workouts of all body joints in rhythm with deep breathing. The workouts differ in choice, pace and depth of breathing with age and physical state of participants and time of day. Total time taken after few days of practice can be from 15 to 30 minutes;
- The next step is to bring the body to a complete stable and comfortable sitting posture and all senses are brought to a stand still state, so that mind is free completely from external world, including from body awareness. For this, they are brought to cross-legged sitting posture if they can with spine in as natural a posture as possible and back, neck and head in one vertical line so that the centre of gravity of body rests in between the two sitting bones, passing through Moolbandha and sitting does not demand any effort or mental attention. Those not able to sit cross-legged can sit on chair without back support and feeling body weight on their sitting bones. Now the Praanaayaam session starts. There are slight variations in intensity and sequence of different breathing routines (Praanaayaam) for morning and evening sessions. Mornings can be aggressive with maximum depth of air inhalations and exhalations for intensifying the abdominal fire whereas evening routines are gentler to relax the body, which is already tired after the entire day’s activities. Total duration depends on time constraint. Praanaayaam helps the breathing to become so slow and effortless that participants have no awareness of whether they are breathing in or out. Yogsutra, Ch II/51, describes it as the fourth state of breathing where there is no awareness of the location of breath. Mind is now automatically static on the forehead in between the eyebrows and eyeballs also become static on the same point even though eyes remain closed. Participants feel compelled to stay that way and unwilling to open eyes even when asked to do so. This is the fifth state Pratyaahaar of Ashtaangyog where senses get detached from their natural objects, in other words become silent on their own and free the mind from inputs coming from the external world. This is why the first four steps of Ashtaangyog are grouped together as extrovert and last three as introvert;
- As the breath slows down progressively towards the end of the breathing session of 10-20 minutes and comes to a near stand-still state, the body becomes nearly still and mind is totally free from body connectivity. This is the state where Praan or flow of life energy in body nearly stops so that body metabolism also almost stops. Sitting posture does not disturb the mind anymore because there is no connectivity of body to mind. Yogsutras clearly state that the sitting posture is critical for initial few minutes until the mind gets disconnected with body and thereafter it holds on by itself indefinitely until the meditation lasts;
- Praan now gets limited to the subtle body so that mind, intellect and memory combine remain operational and soul remains connected with Ananadamaya Kosh to keep the ‘I’ or consciousness active. Participants at best can feel some sensation of breath movement within the nostrils up to the Agya Chakra on the forehead. Whatever happens in consciousness is continually getting projected on the mind. Soul as the detached observer that keeps awareness about it. This is the way a dialogue gets established in meditation between the ‘I’ and the soul and the practitioner can use this connectivity for several purposes – consciously getting to know issues piled up in memory, erasing unnecessary junkies and virus clogging the memory or Anandamayakosh, get intuitions for resolving stress-causing vexed issues, monitor new ideas on future plans, sometimes brilliant intuitions may flash from nowhere that put you to amazement, etc. In the meditation process,‘I’ can be seen as the questionnaire and soul as the respondent, something like sitting in the confession box in a Church or doing Praayaschit or repentance for wrong acts as per rituals in all religions. Once this is over, the practitioner will reach the ‘Chittavritti Nirodh (a thoughtless) state – the ultimate aim of Yog practice. It is possible for everyone to exactly follow these steps though their individual experiences would differ as per respective personalities;
- The final step in meditation is to completely erase the existence of ‘I’, so that there is no doer or ‘I’ now and Soul as the embodiment of God becomes the sole identity of the individual who now becomes one with God at all times even though he/she is seen leading a normal worldly life. This is regarded as transformation from ‘Aham Brahmaashmi’ (I am God, also called Self realization) to ‘Brahmashmi’ (God alone exists or is Supreme).
In the actual meditation process, the practitioners have to remain as ‘passive onlookers’ of their mind on the forehead. They do nothing except remaining aware with closed eyes of all that appears to them on their foreheads. I never ask them to share individual experiences as no two persons are likely to have exactly same experience because of their individual understandings or consciousness, which are unlikely to be exactly the same on a given issue. But they are certainly encouraged to clear doubts, if any, in going through the process. If thoughts arise and show up on the mind, they have to quietly keep observing the sequence and do not tamper with it. They are guided to remain watchful of the Q & A sessions that may ensue in consciousness after they show up on the mind from time to time in each sequence of different thoughts. This is what exactly happens in the auto-driven process of stress management. These thoughts originate from Consciousness relating to urgent personal issues or piled-up stresses, if any, lying unresolved in the memory plane or the Aanandamaya Kosh. The first step in meditation is to become consciously aware of what is showing up on the mind, including accompanying solutions if they so appear for vexed issues. Obviously, all other distractions like phone, music, etc. are put away in meditation. In my class, we do not use music or other similar devices for commencing the meditation process since the first two steps have already brought them to perfect silence. Now they have awareness of only the intellect and memory combine within engaging the ‘I’ and results showing up on the mind.
As they advance with their individual experiences on a daily basis during the week-long retreats in caring lap of Nature, they become completely knowledgeable and experienced about the exact role played by mind, intellect, memory and their true spiritual identity, the ‘I’ within, during meditation. They learn of the many purposes daily meditation serves in management of personal and professional lives. They also become aware of individual spiritual worlds beyond the material world where emotions rule and determine behavioural traits in inter-personal relationships. Lectures on Swaadhyaaya from Yogsutras and Bhagwat Gita empower them to engineer their own positive and sensitive personalities. This also provides them complete clarity about the roles of Soul as the detached Observer and Consciousness as the operative ‘I’. I am sure readers can draw their own conclusions about Mindfulness and Meditation after going through their own experience of this practice.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF MBSR
Kate has provided two useful examples of practical applications of Mindfulness in her story. The first is about Associate Professor Elizabeth Stanley at Georgetown who along with Neuro-scientist Amishi Jha at University of Miami started a pilot study on whether a mindfulness program could make marines more resilient in stressful combat situations. They have been teaming up since and had received two US $ 1 million grants “to investigate further, using MBSR-based Mind Fitness Training.” Kate also tells, “Jha has been awarded $ 3.4 million more in federal grants to study how mindfulness training affects stress among other populations, including undergraduates facing exams and accountants slogging through tax season”.
The other example Kate writes is about Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio who has been pushing for federal funding in Mindfulness research after he benefited from a mindfulness retreat in 2008. Kate quotes Ryan, “My mind got so quiet, and I had the experience of my mind and my body actually being in the same place at the same time synchronized. I went up to Jon and said, “Oh, man, we need to study this – get it into our schools, our health care system.” Tim Ryan’s book ‘A Mindful Nation’ was published in 2012. He got a federal grant of $ 1 million secured to reach mindfulness in schools in his home district. He has also held sessions and lectures in Mindfulness on Capitol Hill for House members and their staff. I hope this will be a reality soon in India too under a YOGI Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and legislators of both Houses in Delhi and of State Assemblies get empowered with Yog and Ayurved sciences for the good of all. I also hope that all political parties will see reason at least from clinical and pure experiential research and agree to introduce practical aspects of Yog and Ayurved practices as applied sciences in schools to help children cope with the illusions of the virtual world they have been exposed to live. Children in cities hardly get to roam freely in Nature.
Kate admits that she has not been meditating for months after completing the MBSR course but that “the course has had a small – but profound – impact on my life”. It actually helped her realize how much she had moved away from natural living and in my opinion, all such courses are bringing people back to a more natural lifestyle than they have been living, unaware of the harms it steadily causes to their holistic health. Even though they have no knowledge of this part of ‘human engineering’ that takes place naturally in such retreats but it is logical that if consciousness can be freed from continuous worldly occupations and allowed time to connect with body, the person can at least stay stress free and enjoy normal health. This precisely is the purpose of daily Yog practice for at least 30-60 minutes every morning and half the time in the evening with the total time spent in the ratio of 3:2:1 for body postures, breathing and meditation. Omit body postures and forceful breathing in the evening session as body has been working the whole day. Yog classes are meant for learning and upgrading the skills and practice but it has to be made part of daily personal routine at home, just like eating, sleeping, bathing, etc. Just think if Mindfulness alone can bring so many benefits, how much more empowering a proper course from Yog and Ayurved sciences can be for firsthand knowledge and experience of the entire body design and engineering, the auto-mode biochemical processes, the inter-connectivity of the three bodies and holistic identity of each individual?
Point to be noted and re-emphasized is that the mental distractions or the wandering mind is not of mind’s own doing but is a reflection on the mind of the state of memory or the Chittavrittis in Yog language or the Aanandamaya Kosh. When Chitta reaches a pure state, it reflects the Self in it’s pure form because there is no more the envelop of ignorance, illusion, delusion, doubt, confusion, anger, greed, lust, etc. in the Chitta, which have been erased for good through Swaadhyaaya (study of Self) and meditation techniques, and the person moves about in life with absolute clarity of purpose and in harmony with everyone and everything around him/her. This is the state of union or Yog of the self or ‘I’ with the pure Self/Soul/Atman – the embodiment of God within – and is called the state of Self-realization.
Three practical mindful tips coming from Kate’s personal experiences highlighted in the story are:
- Wear a watch – you will avoid picking up your phone to check the time and won’t be needlessly distracted;
- No phone in bed – fully wake up before you look at any devices;
- Get out into Nature – take a hike and observe your surroundings. Resist the urge to Instagram them.
INDIA TODAY COVER PAGE STORY
These tips are also corroborated by the ‘India Today’, 28 September 2015 issue, cover story under the title ‘the Digital Junkies: Why we should worry about our growing addiction to the Virtual Universe?’ that looked like ‘Breaking News’. I have been raising these serious concerns in my own writings for years but I am happy that the alarm bells are louder and being aired worldwide. I entirely agree with our Prime Minister Modi when he says that Yog is also about balance between Man and Nature. There is hardly any realization that the mad rush for comfortable living is distancing Man from Nature, so much so that Man now claims ownership on Nature, which has led to the sad state of climate change, environment pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution and so on. I pity people who plug their ears while on a walk or traveling instead of enjoying Nature and/or events around them.
The India Today story highlights the fact that though the digital technology has made life easy but it has also destroyed peoples’ peace of mind. It highlights shocking statistics in a box under the caption ‘Cellular Jails’ of India about mobile phone use scene: 91% adults keep their cell phones within arm’s reach; 90% text messages get read within 3 minutes of delivery; 93% Indians are willing to share personal data with stores and e-commerce sites for a deal or discount, globally it is 50%; 22% use smart phones in the loo; 84% take their phones to bed; 56% check phones during meals; 60% use phones mainly for games and entertainment; 55% watch videos everyday; etc. What does all this indicate? Has technology not enslaved us? Our lives are being governed by technology with blissful ignorance about the long term harm it is causing to our holistic identity and exposing us to the new era of dreaded non-communicable diseases. We are living in utter contradiction to natural laws and wasteful use of precious time. Not surprising that the lifestyle diseases and emotional discords are also spreading in proportional terms with rising levels of individual wealth. One fact is clear: Richness is not a license to good health. To the contrary, luxurious living is likely to be the root-cause of untold health related sufferings.
Individuals have become robots, as if they have no brains of their own and only act to pre-coded technology commands. Even animals are better than present-day technology-controlled human beings because the former do not over-step natural laws. Machine Power and Digital Technology have driven governments and people on the path of destruction. Just think of the speed of manmade crisis since end of the Cold War at the end of 1980s and within just a quarter century of the ICT revolution, which has received further push with the digital age now unfolding. The resulting developments: Environment destruction; Wars (not just conventional but in more deadly ways than before like terrorism, drugs, trade embargoes, money laundering, etc.); Starvation; the recent Syrian Refugee influx into Europe (that has alarmed other world powers as well); 9/11of New York and many more similar terrorist attacks since then, including the Mumbai attacks in 2008 in India are too fresh and catastrophic to be forgotten.
Just in past two months (October-November 2015) there have been several terror incidents and no one knows where the Syrian crisis if headed for. The answer is very simple and was so tellingly told by a teenager refugee from Syria who had no interest in migrating to Europe but was compelled to do so. He called for an end to the proxy wars so that they could live in peace in their homelands. So, the solution is not in managing the symptoms but removing the root causes. Pope Francis during his visit to US at the end of September 2015 has also propagated just the same message: “Do to others what you would want others do to you”. Yog practice is all about return to Human Values and Peaceful Co-existence in Harmony with Nature, which alone can create such an environment to arrest the current destructive march, ironically in the name of sustainable development, towards point of no return.
CERTIFICATE COURSE IN INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE:
Coming to the Research Paper on Integrative medicine in the September 2015, Volume 41/9, issue of the US Anesthesia News Magazine, I am tempted to highlight findings of this Paper in this space as it supports my theory of the inevitable role of the ‘I’ within in holistic identity and health of the individual. The Research Paper highlights certification of 121 doctors of the first-ever class of Integrative Medicine by the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM), which is a member of the American Board of Physician Specialties. Obviously, Integrative Medicine is making rapid inroads with increasing acceptance of the advantages of such an approach in bringing quicker relief to the patients. I have personally also noticed that more and more doctors are registering themselves for our Yog and Ayurved workshops at our Centers, both in India and Poland though we do not provide any such certification. Some doctors running private clinics have requested for similar workshops for their patients, which they say they will organize and need my availability for conducting the same. The point to be made is decades of scientific and clinical research on benefits from Yog practices is now gaining more and more acceptance. Medical practitioners are acknowledging the scientific authenticity of these practices. My own submission to the learned researchers is that rather than wasting hundreds of millions of dollars in reasserting the validity of Vedic Knowledge and Science, they should take more advanced fields for research than what are already established Vedic texts and traditions, to confront current health and wellness challenges like cancer and other incurable diseases.
Anesthesia Magazine article justifies assertions I have been making in my writings, which come from firsthand experience of living by these highly evolved scientific disciplines of applied Vedic Knowledge. Point is do you need certification from research findings to try a non-intrusive tradition devoid of side-effects but promising full recovery from chronic ailments almost instantly; e.g. joints’ pain relief through Marma Chikitsa originating from Ayurveda? Western medicine research would take years to come to such a conclusion! Following excerpts from the report are very informative:
“The creation of the board certification brings a new level of legitimacy to Integrative medicine. The ABOIM defines “integrative medicine” as a practice that underscores the relationship between the patient and the physician, focusing on the whole person. They state that it is “informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, health care professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.” Integrative medicine is not “alternative” medicine; rather, it uses both traditional and nontraditional modalities to achieve the best outcomes.
Randy Horwitz, MD, PhD, chair of the ABOIM, stated that the reaction to the certification has been profound. “There are a lot of people who have completed fellowship training, and while that is a sign of dedication and perhaps of devotion to the field, it doesn’t reflect entirely on expertise or proficiency,” he said.
“We’re making inroads into changing the way medicine is taught and practiced,” he continued. “This board certification will lead to more acceptance in the field of medicine for the practice of integrative medicine.” ……….
To become board certified, applicants must have completed a fellowship at an approved institution, such as the programs at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles. The fellowship is a two-year program totaling 1,000 hours of study, which is mostly pursued online but includes some intensive in-person course work. “The biggest distinction with this curriculum is the bar used to assess the evidence base is very high,” said Hilary McClafferty, MD, FAAP, interim fellowship director. “We never unquestioningly accept any alternative therapy.”
The program combines conventional and complementary medicine with a strong emphasis on preventive health and patient engagement. While it makes sense for a general practitioner to know how to speak to his/her patients about nutritional supplements or the efficacy of clinical hypnosis in smoking cessation, the influence on anesthesiology may be more nuanced. Dr. Sheinberg, an anesthesia doctor, who was among the first batch of 121 certified doctors in Integrative Medicine, explains that when she meets with a patient, she conducts the standard examination and consent process.
“What I can offer differently is the connection side, the therapeutic side,” she states. “These are human beings who may have some stress and anxiety. … They’re rushed through this preoperative process, so I stop and speak to them like a human being.”
Dr. Sheinberg may do a short deep-breathing exercise to manage a patient’s anxiety. Eventually she wants to use CDs to do guided meditation with patients. “I think the preoperative mental preparation is just as important as the physical preparation we make them go through,” she says.
However, Dr. Sheinberg noted that this is just the surface of how integrative medicine could affect the surgical setting. She pointed to studies that have shown that preoperative acupuncture can reduce postoperative nausea and that massage may mitigate postoperative depression. Much of integrative medicine is about finding therapies that are high on effectiveness and low on side effects. This is particularly important in pain management, where integrative medicine shows demonstrable benefit with non-pharmacologic interventions.
“A small study has shown that gargling licorice extract for 30 seconds before surgery decreased post-op sore throat by something like 60%,” Dr. Sheinberg said. “While that may not change the world, for that patient it impacts their postoperative recovery. I think little interventions like that, that produce meaningful improvement, are really exciting.”
Proponents of integrative medicine believe that a growing body of evidence-based research will eventually evolve the practice of conventional medicine so that all practitioners, regardless of specialty, will naturally incorporate a more holistic approach to health care. Until then, a board certification helps quiet nay-sayers and piques the interest of physicians seeking new tools for their practice.”
The Punch line though is that all this new thinking about acceptance of the Integrative Medicine is also an outcome from deliberations taking in the Aanandamaya Kosh and not merely an outcome of Minduflness.