Special issue with the Sunday Magazine
Well-being : March 12, 2000
Awaken those energy auras
Pranic healing, Reiki, Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy, magnetotherapy, magnified healing, psychic healing, rudraksha healing, vedic healing, sylva method, Tibetan breathing, Vipassana meditation, aroma therapy, colour therapy . . . Huh!. Are you tired merely hearing about the alternative or complementary forms of therapy? Then you had better try yoga to re-vitalise yourself?
Newspapers these days are full of advertisements for the various forms of therapies offering solutions for anything from marital problems to menopause, concentration deficiency to every other conceivable deficiency (pun not intended)! The fees charged for the programme would depend on whether it is conducted by global gurus or local gurus.
Why the sudden surge of interest in alternative forms of therapy? Are they really stress busters, easy cures for various ailments? Do they in fact work or is this yet another passing fad? Is the rush to "lost and found" methods because of the fact conventional treatment is becoming exorbitantly expensive? Alternatively, are people becoming disillusioned with allopathic remedies, which have side-effects that are sometimes worse than the disease itself?
The truth is, complementary forms of therapies have always existed in India. It is an ancient proposition that mantram, tantram, yantram and aushadam (loosely translated as - chanting, quick-wittedness, charm-like devices and medicinal potions) should all go hand in hand in treating a person. The treatment was holistic and not symptom based. Our mothers and grandmothers always resorted to them. Look around - we have coloured threads of various hues - black, red, green etc. - tied around the neck or wrist. Home-made kashayam is still used to treat the common cold. Homams are performed to mitigate the seriousness of illness and suffering. We don't know how these work or whether they are only psychological props, yet they have large followings, cutting across social classes.
Twenty-five years ago, I used to hear that yoga was not for women. Even now, some say the same of Vedic chanting or the Gayatri mantra. If yoga is beneficial and helps you to stay healthy, why should gender matter? The grand old man of yoga - the late Krishnamacharya, sorted out this issue for me quoting from scriptures to prove that yoga was practised by women of yore. Yoga is now routinely advised by doctors to keep fit and to cope with stress. It is now the accepted forerunner and foundation to any alternative therapy. Some doubts lingers still among the medical profession on the efficacy of yoga where the illnesses of sedentary middle age are concerned. "Do your yoga, but don't give up the forty-five minutes of brisk walking every day!." They seem to think that the oxygenation given by yoga will never equal that of "aerobic exercise" but serious teachers and practitioners of yoga asanas laugh at this scepticism.
Prana is a Sanskrit word which means - "life giving force" - I don't know of any equivalent single English word. It is certainly not oxygen! I don't know if our present knowledge of science can explain this energy, but we accept its presence. When we acknowledge it, then it cannot be ignored nor relegated to the realm of mysticism, the paranormal or plain disbelief. "Faith healing" or "miracle healing" performed by many saints is believed to be Pranic/ Reiki healing. The practitioners of these systems believe that these were once widely practised in India, but were lost here, and moved to other countries like Tibet, Japan and the Philippines. They have now returned in their new avatar!
The three major sources of prana are the sun, air and ground. We are constantly taking in prana from all these sources to stay healthy. Water, plants and trees absorb prana from the ground. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain more prana than preserved food.
Pranic/ Reiki healing is based on the dual composition of the human body: the visible physical body and the invisible energy body called the bioplasmic body or aura. The bioplasmic energy body interpenetrates the visible physical body and extends beyond it by four to five inches in an ordinary person. Clairvoyants and some advanced Pranic and Reiki healers say they are able to see this aura. The presence of this energy around a living thing is now scientifically proved by Kirlian photography. It is seen that when a leaf is plucked its aura stays a while before it dissipates. A parallel to this example would be the phantom pain felt by amputees.
The aura is believed to increase with yoga, meditation, a proper lifestyle and positive thoughts. The aura/ bioplasmic body absorbs and distributes prana to the physical body. This to an extent is influenced by the mind. i.e. thought. Since the two bodies are closely connected, one affects the other. Clairvoyants say that the double of all the physical body organs is present in the aura also. The fine invisible bioplasmic channels or nadis carry prana and keep the person healthy in mind and body. There are major and minor chakras or the "swirling energy centres" in the aura that control and vitalise the organs in the physical body. Diseases are caused by the depletion or congestion of prana in these chakras. Pranic healers are trained to detect this and either "project" or remove the excess prana, as required.
Minor problems like simple burns, sprains and bleeding, can be treated by any one who has undergone a course in pranic/ reiki healing. Major illnesses, however, would require an experienced practitioner.
Traditional Reiki although similar to pranic healing in that it also deals with prana for healing, is different in its approach. Around 1860, during his research into Buddhist sutras in a Zen monastery near Kyoto, the Christian priest Dr. Mikao Usui rediscovered the Reiki form of healing. These sutras were written in Sanskrit by an unknown disciple of Gautama Buddha. They contain the exact description of the symbols, methods and formulae used by Buddha in healing. Dr. Usui personally tried out these hand positions in healing a number of people, before teaching them to his disciples. Reiki practitioners believe that the quality of prana used by them is far more refined than the one in pranic healing and is also divine.
In Reiki, palms are placed in major and minor chakra centres from head to toe and the practitioner who has been "initiated" by a qualified Master becomes a channel for this energy, which is believed to have its own intelligence. The advanced practitioners of Reiki use symbols to make the energy more effective. These symbols are learnt only from a Master. Arun Kumar, an M.Tech. in Electronics from IIT, Bombay, is one unusual example. Hailing from landowning gentry of Orissa, Arun came upon complementary therapies through his interest in yoga. After his studies he spent about five years in an ashram in Kerala. He is now a dedicated full-time "wandering teacher" who visits patients at home, apart from working at the Apollo Cancer Hospital, He is both a pranic healer and a reiki master besides practising several other healing systems. His experience has been that when such therapies are given along with regular treatment, the side effects are far less and the recovery much faster.
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