Originally published in BRANCHES Magazine
When i took the Hippocratic oath at the end of medical school I promised to "do no harm" and to give my patients the highest quality of medical care. This also means taking care of myself: "Physician, heal thyself!" I committed to regular meditation twice a day and a healthy daily routine. It makes the practice of medicine more fun and I think I do a better job.
In the early 1980s I heard about a comprehensive natural health care system which comes from the same 5,000 year old Vedic traditions as the Transcendental Meditation® technique. I took the first Maharishi Ayur-Veda® physician training course in 1985. Since Ayur-Veda considers the whole universe to be a manifestation of Pure Consciousness or spirit, I can't imagine medical care without spirituality.
A patient visit begins with taking the Ayur-Vedic pulse, which allows both the doctor and the patient to experience a taste of the Transcendent, Pure Awareness, the underlying Silence. An impulse of consciousness gives rise to thoughts and then words. The words resonate with the patient, who responds honestly, without fear. Her words settle into the silence, interacting with the subtle impulses of her pulse and the patient responds, taking communication to an even deeper level. Some healing occurs. The patient is relieved and comforted by the settled attention she receives and then gives back to herself. The doctor feels refreshed. While taking the patient's pulse he spontaneously refers to his own pulse, a self-referral process that infuses bliss into his physiology. It's always the joy of the doctor to be able to take the pulse.
The sense of touch is the only sense that can experience itself. Touch is therefore a path for the self-referral flow of awareness. The pulse of someone else gives deep knowledge from the heart of that person. When we took our own pulse our body can speak to us in the language of the heart and bring self-knowledge and self-healing.
It sounds mystical but Ayur-Vedic pulse can by systematically learned by anyone. It is taken with three fingers on the radial pulse at three different levels of pressure. The three fingers that take the pulse correspond to the three doshas, or governing factors: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata governs movement, Pitta governs metabolism, and Kapha governs structure. We are born with a unique combination of these doshas that make up our constitution.
The deep pulse contains information about our constitution and gives insight into our likes and dislikes, dietary needs, emotional style and predisposition to imbalances. The mid-level of the pulse gives information about the health of the tissues. The superficial level of the pulse reveals imbalances in different area of the mind/body/spirit. Imbalances such as fatigue, anxiety, unhappiness, indigestion, constipation, back pain, skin irritation, sinus congestion and joint pain are easily detected in the superficial pulse.
Preparing a dynamic activity by first resorting to deep Silence is a practical strategy advised by sages from the earliest Vedic times. The Bhagavad-Gita records a conversation between the Lord Krishna, an embodiment of Pure Consciousness, and the great warrior, Arjuna, just before a great battle between the forces of evil and the forces of good. Arjuna was suspended between the opposing impulses of his heart and mind and refused to fight. Lord Krishna instructed him to become established in Being, Pure Awareness, and then perform the action.
This advise for practical life is as valid for a healer engaged in the battle against disease today as it was for an archer on an ancient battlefield.
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