A small thought on…. Meditation and Awareness

Meditation can help us come into touch with some of our inborn enlightened qualities like Unconditional Love, Faith, Strength to endure hardships, Peace of Mind and Forgiveness….

When we get to have – through meditation – a glimpse of our True Being, we feel a deep Peace of Mind. We become more aware of the twittering birds around us, as well as of the smell of the flowers that we cannot see because they are not near us…. all our senses seem to be awakened, and the Nature around us speaks a language we are able to understand – and yet we have never learned… a language of true Happiness, of Gratitude for the blessings all around us, a language of True Love.

Unfortunately, many times life brings us apart from our natural unity with the Universal Consciousness. Trying to always be present in the moment and remembering that we are not alone, is a way to tap into this Universal Awareness. How lovely it is to go walking in the park… seeing the green and listening to the twittering birds… or how lovely it is to walk along the seashore, only listening to the sound of Nature…. Let us be grateful for the Beauty of Nature that surrounds us: the plants, the animals, the flowers….

Peace of Mind, Joy and Feeling satisfied of what we have all give us a glimpse of Enlightenment or Fulfillment in life. Everyday life makes us forget who we truly are. Always remember that we are also Light and Pure Awareness. We need to experience this joy and peace through our True Selves, just like we need to breathe….. Being the Light we are is all that matters, because this is our unique Self.




A new approach to managing Pain according to Ayurveda

Last month of September Dr. Atul Rakshe, Ayurvedic Physician and Assistant Director at Institute of Indian Medicine in Pune, gave a workshop on Pain at “Associazione Operatori Ayurvedici” in Udine, Italy (www.assopea.it).

The ayurvedic approach to pain introduced by Dr. Rakshe was very interesting, as it suggests both an increase in the “pain threshold” and a reduction of the causes that produce pain.

The first aspect, that is the increase in the pain threshold, can be attained, among others, through practices like pranayama, or meditation, which reduces anxiety caused by pain. On the other hand, the causes that produce pain can be managed by eating sattvic food, for instance, as well as by panchakarma and the use of other ayurvedic techniques or herbal products which aim at balancing doshas and eliminating toxins from the body.

But Dr. Atul Rakshe also reminded that in Ayurveda pain is an indication of a Vata imbalance, and that aggravation of diseases is not only due to the normal physical causes, but also to the desires for material pleasures (ragas) and passions. As a matter of fact, in humankind there is a natural inclination to seek pleasure and avoid pain (kama), but as long as the mind clings to material pleasures (ragas) and desires, it is not possible to truly achieve wellbeing in its real sense. Therefore, Ayurveda aims also at attaining the state of vira or vairagya, that is detachment from the sensual world, with both its enjoyments and sufferings.

This means that the spiritual element is of utmost importance also in managing pain.

Thank you, Dr. Rakshe!

For those who are interested in knowing more about Dr. Atul Rakshe’s activity, his website is www.cozwecare.org.

The educational role of Yoga and Naturopathy

Both Yoga and Naturopathy play an educational role.

YOGA teaches body-mind-spirit connection through awareness of one’s body, which needs to be supported by the mind and spirit for good functioning.

To give a practical example, Vriksha-asana known as the “Tree pose” cannot be performed correctly without training the mind to concentrate in keeping that posture – therefore not to wander, otherwise one is apt to fall down. Who has experienced that pose long enough may agree that the spiritual part is consequential to the mental ability of concentrating. Body-mind balance necessarily brings to a connection with one’s inner world. At the same time, breathing – which is a body function – is involved in the ability to concentrate, which favours body-mind balance, and we know how it also plays a leading role in calming the mind and therefore drawing toward a state of meditation.

By experiencing Vriksha-asana we not only learn how to keep our body in balance, but indirectly we also learn how to train our mind to adjust to our body’s balance and how to connect to our inner world through mind-body balance.

A NATUROPATH is most of all an “Educator”. He teaches his clients body-mind-spirit connection in different ways. Awareness of one’s body is experienced through its limitations, whereas awareness of the power of one’s mind can be experienced through some of the techniques as well as the natural remedies that the Naturopath uses in his practice. Awareness of one’s spiritual path is consequential.

An example could well be a client complaining of a physical pain. A naturopath would try to understand the cause lying behind that pain, which could well bring to an emotional/mental problem to be dealt with. By facing that problem the client would learn much about his mind, and how it relates to his body, hindering his inner growth. Of course, self-healing is not always that easy, and most of the time the client would need to be supported by some natural remedies and advices on nutrition etc. But what I would like to stress here is the importance of learning the body-mind-spirit connection for a client who goes to a naturopath, and the need for a naturopath to teach his clients.

Yoga and Meditation to prevent and manage “destructive emotions”

Yoga has long been tested as a “therapeutic tool” for prevention and management of negative emotions. In fact, its major goal is to train the mind. Patanjali (the Father of Yoga, who compiled the Yoga Sutra) was comparing the Mind to a Monkey whose symptoms are lust, greed, jealousy, anger, ego, stress, depression and all those destructive emotions we suffer from because we gave all our powers to the mind and allowed it to be our master. Therefore, we are happy when the mind is happy, and depressed when it is depressed. In a way, we have come to believe that we are the mind itself.

Yoga, especially with its breathing techniques (pranayama), concentration and meditation slowly brings to the awareness that this “monkey mind” is responsible for our unhappiness, and therefore has to be trained in order to live a better quality of life. A busy mind that never stops thinking will inevitably bring about negative thoughts,  which are also responsible for our bad health. On the contrary, positive thoughts and calmness of the mind can make us see life in the right perspective, enable us to take the right decisions, be healthy.

Meditation has been tested to be a technique that, if regularly practiced, enables to take control of our mental activity, favours calmess of the mind and the development of positive emotions like love and compassion. To this purpose, it is worth mentioning the scientific tests reported on the book written by the Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman entitled “Destructive Emotions”. These tests were carried out in 2001 in a lab in Wisconsin University (USA) and basically consisted in asking a Buddhist monk to meditate, in order to understand if an individual is able to produce himself positive and lasting changes in his cerebral functions, whose impact on emotions would be more lasting than the use of drugs. And therefore, understand if individuals can train the mind in order to overcome destructive emotions, by managing their own emotions themselves, without necessarily being individuals who tend toward a spiritual life. The monk underwent different tests, like fMRI and EEG, after which there was evidence of the fact that the mind can be trained if practicing techniques like meditation, because tha structure of the brain can be changed. Moreover, there has been evidence of an improvement in mental and physical health. In short, the conclusion of the tests was that thanks to some methods apt to train the mind, it is possible to better control some negative emotions like anger and jealousy.

Let’s then start to train our monkey mind to silence….

Yoga and Naturopathy

Within the naturopathic sciences, yoga is considered one of the most complete as far as exercise is concerned. This is because a hatha yoga session, followed by pranayama and concentration techniques will integrate body-mind-spirit. As a matter of fact, the word yoga in Sanscrit means “union”, by actually meaning the union of Man with the Absolute, the Universe.

Therefore, in India yoga is first of all a philosophy of life, and he who practices hatha yoga has no desire or aspiration but the one of “centering himself”. If hatha yoga is especially concerned in giving more flexibility to the body, this is to make the person aware of his body, so that he would respect his body in all its functions. This awareness is important by itself, because it establishes a relationship between the “physical” body and the “rational” mind. On the other hand, pranayama exercises will help establish a relationship between the physical and rational side of our being with the spiritual side, through breathing exercises that make oneself aware of one’s life breath – prana -, whose energy is able to calm one’s mind and balance the body’s functions.

Concentration exercises which follow pranayama are a first step toward states of meditation. Pure meditation is nothing but “detachment” from one’s body and absence of thoughts in one’s mind, which brings to an “emptiness” that cannot be translated into words if not by a deep sense of internal peace, a detachment from all that surrounds and is “material”….