Sunday, 31 July 2011

Magic of Sri Lankan full Moon

Published in Deccan Chronicle
Monday, Aug 01, 2011 Last Update: 12:13 AM IST
Magic of full moon
• July 31, 2011
• By Chitra Ramaswamy

Bonhomie and mirth prevail and there is colour everywhere. Music and laughter rent asunder the Sri Lankan air. Tableaux decked in a riot of colours, holding aloft statuettes of the Buddha, rhythmically snail their way along the alleys and streets to the beating of drums and soul-wrenching music. Cycles, draped in a rich array of sparkling artificial flowers, are ridden by youngsters who delicately balance themselves in slow motion to keep pace with the procession.

Pandals of various sizes, colours and shapes decorated with streamers and ripe bananas are pitched up every few kilometres. Men and women of all ages wave out to passersby, inviting them to partake of a cup of drink or a small meal of rice and curry. The dagobas or temples reverberate with Bathi Gee Cart or carol singing, spreading the message of peace. It is the month of June and the occasion for celebration is Poson Poya, the full moon day of the month.

With the adoption of the lunar calendar, Buddhists hold in veneration the full moon. Every full moon day, termed Poya in Sinhalese, is declared a national holiday and is a day of religious observance. Poya is derived from Pali and Sanskrit from the term uposatha, from upa and vas, meaning ‘to fast’. The day is marked with festive fervour, gaiety, sharing, caring and a display of genuine generosity, regardless of caste, creed, class and community.

Though every full moon day is a holy day, for Sri Lankan Buddhists some are more significant than others. The full moon days of May (Vesak), June (Poson), August (Esala) and December (Unduvap) are observed with greater pomp and pageantry. Poson, (June), the so-called “flowerless” (pu-sun-poson) month is observed with enthusiasm and religious fervour for it was on this day that Ashoka’s son Arahat Mahinda reached the island and appeared on the Mihintala rock. Poson celebrates the occasion of Mahinda’s meeting with the King of Lanka Devanampiya Thissa who was on a deer-hunting expedition. It was the period when Buddhism was formally established in Sri Lanka, making it an epoch-crafting event, a turning point in the history of the island country. Since then Mihintalawa has been declared a sanctuary portraying Sri Lanka’s nature-friendly attitude. Mahinda brought more than a new religion to Lanka; he established the beginnings of a Sinhala culture that reached glorious heights with its transformed social attitudes.

A whiff of fresh air blew life into the development of art and architecture, giving rise to gargantuan structures with aesthetic beauty, especially in the white-domed Dagobas of Buddhism.

Though the main activities of Poson are centred at Mihintala and Anuradhapura, celebrations are rampant throughout the island. The occasion reaffirms yet again, devotion and concern for life of all earthly beings. Processions referred to as Mihundu Peraheras and carnivals, break the monotony of routine and life seems to regain its colour with entertainment activities lined up for the day. Staunch Buddhists observe the day by waking up early in the morning and following a bath, are attired in white, ready to visit the dagoba of their choice. They spend the entire day in meditation, listening to sermons and participating in religious discussions.

If the streets of Sri Lanka are pulsating with festivities, celebrations assume a quiet, meditative tone in the dagobas where devotees attired in white, sit in silent prayer, taking breaks for meals on the temple premises itself.

Full moon days demand strict abstinence from alcohol, beef, gambling and cinema in Sri Lanka, reveals our guide, Gamini. He adds, “Even tourists are not allowed these things on poya days; even our hotels do not serve alcohol to the guests and anyone found flouting these rules is punishable by law.”

HOW TO REACH: Colombo is the international gateway for direct flights from Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. There are several flights available between Colombo and Chennai, Trichy, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai.

travel tip: You must have a passport with you all the time; it is the most basic travel document. Ensure that it will be valid for the entire period you intend to remain overseas.

The writer is a travel enthusiast

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Hone Brain Power through the Abacus

Honing Brain Capacity Through the Abacu

The enthusiasm and excitement is high as the young ones call out answers to ‘complex’ problems within the batting of an eyelid: adding up five sets of three digit numbers! Complex indeed, for these kids are four year olds! And all thanks to the training that they receive in Mental Arithmetic at one of the centres of Universal Concept of Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) in Chennai.

It takes only a few seconds to solve a problem like 228.9605 divided by 5894.31425 and get the quotient 0.00388442 by a young lad of 10 or 12 years! He is no whizkid. And what more, almost anyone can master such calculations: provided they start young, put in hours of practice, mental dexterity and develop Herculean powers of concentration!

Speed is the name of the game in today’s dizzy paced existence of cut throat competition. The result is stress, stress and more stress, throwing the human body open to the scourge of depression, disease, discomfort and death. Speed without strain and stress, then, is the need of the hour. UC MAS an international concept, may be the answer to our stress-ridden societies, according to Ms.Chitra Ravindran, course instructor and Franchisee for 2 centres imparting training in the system at Chennai.

Basically the system originated from China, and is now prevailing in Malaysia, Bangkok, Hongkong, UK, USA, India and Thailand. The methodology according to Ms.Ravindran is Zhusuan which makes use of the abacus which has been modified to develop and enhance the mental capabilities of children as young as 4 year old, upto 12 years.

Children weave their fingers deftly over beads arranged in a certain order on the abacus. The top half of the abacus has13 rows of single beads representing multiples of five in each rod and the lower rods have four beads, which indicate single digits. The basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division literally become child’s play as they youngsters are trained in speedy use of fingers to make big calculations appear easy. What more, learning takes place in a fun and adventurous manner. The secret lies in proper finger technique, with each, the thumb, index finger and the middle fingers used in a particular way.

The objective is to exploit and enhance the limitless potentialities of the human brain. And this is best done in the early years when learning is pronounced and easy to master. Training with the abacus helps the children train their memory and habituates their mind to work diligently from the early years. Says Ms.Ranvindran, “This concept (UC MAS)Universal Concept Mental Arithmetic system is for the children of age group 4 to 12 years because it has been proved that 80% of the brain is developed by 8 years and rest 20% by 12 years. This course mainly aims at developing brain skills of a child where they are taught to push the beads in the ABACUS. From the day 1 they are taught addition and subtraction. The course comprises of 10 levels and each level is of three months’ duration with a weekly of two hours. Many writing skills are also practiced like Direct Viewing , Indirect Viewing, Image Writing and Dictation all of which develop Mind Hand Coordination.”

“Children will be using both the hands , so we aim in developing left brain as well as the right brain, because right hand governs the left brain and the left hand the right brain. The development of intellect does not depend on physical maturity. Allowing them to work and compete together helps the children to face competition without any fear and helps them gear themselves to work under time related pressures.”

Says Ms.Ravindran, “,Learning in this way, the children are able to work with time frames and time pressures and this actually eases their stress levels as they progress to higher classes in school and are subsequently in a position to tackle the pressures of life without crumbling under them. The idea of UCMAS is to get children to understand absorb, assimilate, retain and recall, matter that has been taught, in good time.”

The system not only reduces dependence on calculators but also helps in developing self-reliance, memory and application. Since the operation of abacus involves co-ordinated action of sight, sound and movement of the hands, it enhances the development of the brain. In fact, the tool acts as a bridge between the three developmental stages of the brain – the physical, logical and visual aspects – through the growing years. By mobilizing the learning initiative of children in mathematical concept and giving free reins to developing their right brain, UCMAS indeed allows children to think on their toes. While Zhusuan is a system of calculation using the concept of abacus operation, Mental arithmetic is developed in later stages, utilizing the concept of Zhusuan without physically using the hand and abacus. Visualisation of beads and zhusuan concept is firmly implanted in the brain and used when calculating equations.

Ms.Ravindran who has taken franchise from UCMAS, Malaysia in 1999, for two of the 20 centres in Chennai, says, “So far I have trained 75 children and the highest level the children have reached in my center is Level 6. The outcome is visible at the end of 12 classes, that is at the end of Level 1 itself. By this time the child would have definitely acquired the speed. Gradually, by the end of the fifth level, accuracy, concentration and listening are enhanced. In Direct viewing the children write the numbers from 0 to 9 within a minute; if a child is able to write 90 digits in a minute definitely we improve their speed by 20 to 30 more digits within the first level. In Indirect viewing the child will write the same numbers 0 to 9 for a minute without looking into the book. In Image writing the child will be holding the pencil in both the hands and will write the same numbers with both hands simultaneously. In Dictation we call out numbers at a particular speed and expect the children to write the same.”

The idea of UCMAS training is to give equal rein to the overall intelligence of the cerebrum, encompassing both, the right and left brain, training them simultaneously. For, creativity will be at its greatest only when both brains are communicating and co-operating with each other. “The creativity function from right brain needs to be boosted by the information stored in the left brain, implying that the mathematical and physical abilities have to work together with the space perception from the right brain in order for an individual to exploit his brain capacities.

Teachers who train students in the system, themselves undergo 10 levels of training before becoming instructors, according to Ms.Ravindran. In some countries including Malaysia, abacus learning has been introduced into the main stream education in schools.


Health Insurance - Read Between the Lines

Published in City Times

Health Insurance …What to look for in a cover

Dinesh was certain it would never happen to him or any of his family members. Well, if it did, he felt he would cross the bridge when he got there! But Dinesh woke up to a rude shock when he was diagnosed with a serious health problem which sent his medical expenses skyrocketing. So much so, Dinesh had to dip into his savings to pay his bills! He had no insurance cover!

There are many others like Dinesh who prefer not to think about unexpected catastrophes or illnesses, that always happens to some other unfortunate soul. But, what if you or a family member did have that accident or come down with that serious illness? If you’ve not taken appropriate measures to cover yourself and your family against such unforeseen contingencies, you could be fighting a losing battle with financial crunches compounding your medical problems! For, with escalating health care costs, it is impossible to predict the sum total of your medical bills if you become victim of serious malady or accident.

Dr.S.Surendran Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon, Welcare Hospital, emphasizes the need for every individual - child and adult - to be covered by insurance. “What I want to emphasize is, think about insurance when you are healthy, not when you become unhealthy. For children, I would strongly recommend insurance cover for the simple reason that they are more vulnerable to fall ill, accidents and injuries. The accidents need not be major – they may be a simple fall in the bath or playground and a few broken bones! Similarly, for chest, gastric and other conditions like dehydration, they might need hospitalization. I don’t mean to say that every child is going to get these, but it’s worth having an insurance cover for them, especially in view of the fact that even simple antibiotics and other drugs are expensive in the region.”

Besides stressing the importance of having insurance cover, Dr.Surendran highlights essential points to be taken into account by individuals and families while seeking such cover. In the first instance, choosing the appropriate coverage is far more complicated than what meets the eye. This is because health insurance policies vary widely and provide coverage for various aspects of health care including physicians’ visits, medicines, investigations, hospitalization, et al.

While some general packages are available, other packages include certain unique features and obviously, the price tags vary accordingly, pretty much widely as well. Emphasizing the quality of health care in the UAE, Dr.Surendran reveals, “It is true that the cost of medical care in this region is slightly dear, but the quality we give is very good. You don’t need to go to the West at all because everything is available here itself. I think most of the people do have an insurance cover which is provided by their employers.”

But herein lies the catch: because organizations provide insurance coverage to their employees, “the employees don’t bother to get a copy of the papers to become well versed with the clauses included or excluded in the policy! The best and first thing that every employee should do is to get these papers from the respective insurance companies or from the Human Resource Department of their respective workplace and go through the legalities of the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ of the cover. This is absolutely necessary because there are various grades of cover which each company has. So it is important for every employee to make himself aware of the extent of his cover as per the policy,” emphasizes Dr.Surendran.

Dr.Surendran advices every employee or individual covered by insurance, to check, verify and become fully conversant with every aspect of the policy, particularly those in fine print, which often get ignored. “Firstly, every policy holder or individual who wishes to get insurance cover, should first and most basically look at what he needs from such a cover. The three major areas which need to be covered and which insurance companies offering health cover generally do, are: inpatient treatment, outpatient consultation and pharmaceuticals, that is cover for medications. While most health care providers do cover these three areas, restrictions in terms of ceilings are variously placed, depending on the kind of cover taken. It is therefore very important to check out and ascertain these specifics:
• Is your doctor or hospital, a member of the plan under which you seek cover?
• Should you need to seek consultation with a Specialist, are you covered for it; if yes, what is the amount for which you are covered.
• Is there a co-payment clause featured in your policy? That is, do you have to pay a fraction of the cost of seeking a specialist or service and the rest is paid by the insurance company.
• How many outpatient consultations does your policy allow you within a given period of time?
• Does your plan require you to choose and use a primary care physician? How easy is it to change the physician if you wish to do so at a later date?
• Does it offer complete coverage for hospitalization? Or is there a coverage limit on basic expenses as hospital room, et al?
• Does it provide full coverage for all your family members as well?
• What are the kind of investigations that your policy covers you for? What is the ceiling level on these?
• If surgery is need are you covered for surgical expenses including the surgeons' fees and related costs associated with surgery?
• What is the inpatient cover for elective procedures and for emergencies?
• Does it provide emergency medical evacuation service? That is does it cover cost of air lifting you, say from an accident site, which might make the difference between life and death in some instances?
• What is the ceiling on hospitalization? Apart from room and board, does it cover incidental services costs?
• Does your insurance company give you the facility to upgrade the cover, which obviously will be at a higher premium?
• Do you have to pay if you go outside the network for care?
• Does it cover you only in your current country of residence? Or does it allow you to choose the country in which you wish to receive treatment?
• Does the plan exclude or limit treatment for pre-existing conditions?
• Standard policies may not cover dental problems, eye check ups, mental illnesses, pregnancy, alcohol and dangerous-sports related disorders or injuries. However, should you need cover for these areas, make sure to add them on to.

While taking a health insurance policy, it is important not only to know what is available, but more importantly, policy seekers should know what is NOT available and what are the limits set, emphasizes Dr.Surendran. Even if you are covered by organization as part of its group insurance, it is your right to know the areas you are covered for, with all the set limits. Unless you find out exactly what is, and what isn't covered, you could have a very unpleasant surprise when you need your employer's plan to save the day. If you plan to cover yourself individually, remember that once you choose a health care plan, it is your responsibility to understand the plan and to play by its rules.

No matter which type of health insurance you buy, you have to make sure it offers the right kind of coverage. In addition, apart from the periodic premium that you pay, you need to know if you are required to incur other out-of-pocket costs. This is very important to know since these ‘little’ costs can really add up. Check to see if the health insurance plan requires you to pay any, some or all of the following:

Co-payment: that is, an amount you will have to pay each time you visit a health insurance provider.
Deductible: this is an amount you will have to pay toward your medical expenses before the insurance company begins to pay claims.
Coinsurance: This refers to the percentage of your medical costs you will have to pay after you reach any deductibles that apply.

Dr.Surendran highlights another important aspect with respect to second opinion. “Sometimes, an insurance company itself may send a patient to seek second opinion; else, it is better in certain instances that the patient himself seeks a second opinion. In such cases, it is always better that the patient first speaks to his insurance company to see if he is covered for this – the second opinion.”

Some international companies cover certain things which some of the local insurance companies might not cover. This will be of particular importance to individuals whose job entails a lot of travel. Another aspect which employees need to find out about, is work-related injury, emphasizes Dr.Surendran. “Though most companies would undertake responsibility for this, nevertheless it is in the interests of the individuals, to know well before hand, whether they are covered and the extent of the cover.”

An important factor to bear in mind and make oneself aware of, relates to claims getting denied, cautions Dr.Surendran. “Suppose you’ve had a treatment and despite the doctors’ recommendations, the insurance company does not approve payment or cover fir it, as does happen sometimes, you have the right to find out why you have been denied it. The insurance company is bound to give you an explanation. However, this is where reading the fine print is important. A patient may think he’s been covered while actually he is not!”

What part do doctors and hospitals play in the insurance scenario? The onus of providing good quality care, appropriately, is the cornerstone of treatment as far as the medical fraternity and institutions are concerned. “Hence, as and when required, we give our recommendations to the insurance companies – whether for investigative procedures, be they elective or emergency. Though normally we do get approval for emergencies, they too could be disclaimed by the company. Basically, patients should look at doctors as facilitators who bring your case forward to the insurance company.”


Dance Therapy

Published in Panorama

Dance as Therapy

“Most people don't nourish their body with movement, as much as they do their minds”, says Hyderabad-based Tripura Kashyap, Director of Apoorva Dance Theatre, a product of Kalakshetra and one of India’s first trained dance therapists who studied Dance Therapy at The Hancock Centre for Movement Arts and Therapies Inc Centre, a non profit organization established in 1983. The Centre is also a supporting agency of the Marian Chase Foundation, the charitable branch of the American Dance Therapy Association.

Strangely enough, Ms.Kashyaps’s stint with dance (Bharatnatyam) began as a treatment for squint, at the tender age of six. “Since there are a lot of eye movements associated with dancing, particularly Bharatnatyam, someone suggested to my parents that they initiate me into it. Believe it or not, my squint disappeared complete within six months of learning! Therapy began for me there itself!” reveals Kashyap.

The idea of dance as a therapy was born out of Kashyap’s personal experience with her brother, Pawan, affected with cerebral palsy. She reveals, “Pawan, who was wheelchair bound, would start thumping his wheelcahir and almost jump out of it whenever he heard music.” That sent Kashyap’s mind ticking: why not use dance for therapeutic purposes. But she did not know how to go about this for she was not entirely satisfied with Bharatnatyam as a form of self expression. They found the dance form too rigid and codified, thematically restrictive. To widen her horizons, she joined hands with path-breaking ace choreographer, Chennai-based Chandralekha, who sought to link Bharatnatyam with Yoga, kalari and various other physical disciplines, to create an integrated style of her own, doing away with dance costumes. However, Kahyap’s quest for dealing with disabled individuals through dance bore fruit through a chance meeting with Dr.Grace Valentine, Dance Therapist from the US, who invited her to study Dance Therapy at the Hancock Centre, Wisconsin.

Ms.Kashyap explains that Dance Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which incorporates creative and expressive movement that help individuals to develop emotional stability, healthy self image and improved communication skills. The movements involved enable people to understand themselves better, to explore and express past and present issues in both, verbal and non verbal ways.

Dance therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement as a process to enhance the emotional, physical, cognitive and social integration of an individual. The therapy is based on the premise that body movement reflects the inner state of the human. Hence, by moving the body through guided therapy, it is possible to set the healing process in motion. Simply put, dance therapy seeks to harmonise the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level of the human.

The therapy is very effectively being used to treat issues relating to the realms of the mind where people suffer from a sense of poor identity, have a low self image and esteem, suffer from shyness, anxiety, tension and depression, have problems interacting with others, are unable to forge relationships with people, suffer from other emotional, cognitive and neurological problems, besides actual physical and physiological ailments.

Since her return to India from the US in 1989, globe-trotting Kashyap has been working with people with disabilities. Bangalore-based until recently, Kashyap engaged herself in helping schizophrenic adults at Atmashakti, and hearing-impaired children at Hamsadhwani, Bangalore. She further undertook mobility training programs at the National Association of the Blind and did other and therapy for autistic children.

Kashyap received the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992 to explore various Indian dance forms and styles, to seek the therapeutic elements present in them. She traveled across India, training special educators to use movement therapy and also compiled a handbook with 40 activities they could use as starting points. Kashyap explains, “Most Indian dance forms have some therapeutic potentials embedded in them but you can’t use the dances the way they are; you have to extract specific elements from them and use it for your therapy session. And this is what I have done. The goal of dance therapy is to help people express their own, what I call as personal movement vocabulary. Everyone has this, and the idea is to use various strategies to help them bring out the material.”

As part of therapy, Kashyap uses background scores from Tibetan and other meditation chants, to do certain kinds of movements. Little bit of Tai Chi exercises are integrated as part of therapy wherein breathing and movement are exercised, the aim being to elongate the breathing pattern. “Using movement will actually help people to breathe better; most people breathe from the chest but it is best to breathe from the stomach,” reveals Kashyap.

Every movement that is part of the Dance Movement Therapy, has a therapeutic potential, but which movement to be used when and for whom, depends on the disability itself, says Kashyap. “For instance, if I am working with mentally challenged children, I may not use Indian dance forms at all. I would use creative dance which is from the West, because there are certain things there that would help a child get to know its body better. A lot of these movements require the use of movement props like parachute, streamers, stretch rope – which are all from the West. So the goals for therapy dictate the kind of dance we use, which in turn is determined by individual disability.”

Kashyap uses a variety of movement props from Indian folk dances, including bamboo poles, kolattam and dandia sticks, scarves and cymbals with mentally challenged children. The movements are so integrated so as to enable these children to solve movement puzzles, improve group coordination and enhance memory for movement. With such pre-determined movement of the props, the children have been found to improve their eye-hand coordination and imitation skills.

Kashyap explains, “For instance, I found that using the footwork of Kathak, we were able to enhance the attention span of autistic children. The Karma tribal dance of Madhya Pradesh was found to be effective in visually impaired adults. The dance which involves holding hands in a line, serves as a contact dance, providing challenging tasks like moving backwards, making a circle and other geometric designs. These movements enhances the spatial awareness of the visually impaired, thereby reducing their fear of space around them and makes them more confident to deal with their bodies in a more relaxed way.”

Similarly, using modified movements from the technique of Chhau, helps hearing impaired children improve their balance and concentration. Kashyap reveals, “Working with the hearing impaired children is like working with normal children, because visually they are very good. The learn all the movements with the hand signals that I give them, except for that part where they can’t hear the music. But some of them hear the vibrations coming from the music; a drum is played along with the music so that they can hear the drum with their mind’s eye, mentally feel the vibrations from it. No only do they enjoy dancing, but we have observed that their confidence and self esteem improve and as a result they take greater interest in their studies.

Explaining metamorphical exercises, a very interesting therapeutic movement for normal people to lead healthier emotional lives, Kashyap says, “We have these huge cartons into which we get people to sit and tell us how they feel about the experience. We then get them to move inside the box and narrate their experience from this activity. Obviously, the feeling is one of claustrophobia that the people will profess to – something they feel in their real lives as a result of ‘boxing’ themselves. So we address their basic problem, by helping them break out of the ‘boxes’ they have created.

Gentle movements of dance therapy has been used by Kashyap to motivate senior citizens in old age homes who had hitherto confined themselves to bed, believing themselves to be sick and incapable of activity. Kashyap has also been working in association with Committed Community Development Trust, an NGO (Non governmental organizations) to train dancers to do dance as a therapy with HIV/AIDs children. “These children, a lot of them teenagers, don’t believe in themselves. They are very withdrawn and they face the trauma of seeing their friends die. Our aim is to give them an motional release through dance movements.”

However, Kashyap does not lay claim to dance therapy being a cure-all. “I wouldn’t say I could cure a schizophrenic with dance therapy; you can’t really do that. Because such a person needs much more, including psychotherapy and drugs as well. But what dance therapy can do is make the person more functional, to co-ordinate his body movement better, to enhance social skills, blood circulation, calm him down and relax.”


Thai Massage

Published in City Times

Yoga, Accupressure and Massage, Rolled into the Thai

It is all about aligning the body’s energies, of spiritual bonding, to become free of illness or get healed and enjoy good health. The origins of the Thai Massage go back to the times of Buddha. It is an effective therapy for treating various pathological and neurological conditions and promoting general well being explains Jennifer Lasrado, Health Club Manager, Renaissance Dubai Hotel.

Traditional Thai Massage about 2500 years old is a judicious blend of Yoga and Acupressure and massage and involves interactive manouevres between therapist and client. The Massage is done in quiet, meditative atmosphere with or without soft background music. When applied thus, space is created in the musculo-skeletal structure and the body begins to open and regain flexibility and ease of movement, while the mind gently returns to calm alertness. It is a whole and total approach to wellness that allows an individual to experience harmony with the rhythms of life. The best feature of the massage is that it indirectly provides for inner organ massage, oxygenation of blood and calming the mind – factors that Yoga helps achieve.

Two basic procedures form part of the Thai Massage: applying gentle pressure with the hands and feet, and a wide variety of passive stretching movements. Because of the passive range of motion on the part of the clients, Thai massage is often referred to as the Lazy Man’s Yoga. The massage carried out with the client lying down, usually on a mat, involves physically manipulating, stretching, stimulating and correcting the imbalances in his/her body through energy lines. By using a variety of stretching movements, Thai Massage helps open the joints in the body and bring balance to the body’s muscle groups.

The basis of Thai massage is same as of Ayurveda where the nadis or meridians on both sides of the vertebra are stimulated with thumb and palm pressures. There is a release of toxins from the joints, muscles and connective tissues and thereby an easing of tension. The energy body and the internal organs are stimulated by pressure on peripheral reflex points. The gentle rocking and rhythmic patterns of compression used by the therapists helps to relax and open the body’s natural energy flow. The massage makes possible greater ranges of muscle movement since the muscles become warmed and stretched, injuries may be prevented, relief from stress and sore, aching joints and muscles. There is overall wellbeing of the body because detoxification takes place as a result of the massage, explains Jennifer.

Thai Massage differs from other massage forms in that it does not use any oil or topical application and the clients remain fully clothed during the process. However, for best therapeutic effect, clothes hugging the skin are best suited, for this enables easy movements by the therapists.

Typical massage sessions may last from one to three hours. However, a complete massage session lasts three hours when all the twelve meridian points are stimulated. These massage movements help to adjust the body’s skeletal structure, increase flexibility, relieve muscular and joint tension, stimulate internal organs and balance the body’s energy system. The effect is relaxing and energizing at the same time. Says Jennifer, “Most of the clients who seek the massage are highly stressed out individuals and have great tension in their muscles, but cannot afford three hours of their time. So we undertake appropriate techniques that can be performed in an hour or two, to relieve them of their stress and make their body flexible. They feel very light after the session.”

The massage techniques are especially gentle for people suffering from rheumatism and arthritis in particular, reveals Jennifer. Thai massage is not recommended for individuals with a history of serious cardiac conditions. Similarly, the massage is not advised on individuals having elevated blood pressure at the time of going in for massage. Thai Massage is not meant for people with extreme conditions, whatever and with joint problems especially of the back of the knee. However, the therapy is extremely beneficial for people suffering from migraine and tension headaches.

Medical history of a prospective client is first taken and an evaluation of the general health condition is made prior to starting therapy, which is very much individualized. The detoxification process starts immediately after a session when a person drinks warm water. The water is necessary to flush out the toxins and to improve blood circulation in the kidneys, bladder and ureters. Over a period of two to three sessions that may be undertaken on three consecutive days, the toxins are eliminated from the body. The number of therapy sessions an individual requires depends on his condition.


Tachyon Energy

Published in Panorama

Towards a healthy equilibrium …. Tachyon Energy

As huge strides are being made in the field of science and medicine to find cures for some of the most dreaded diseases, alternative therapies are focusing on bringing back to balance the increasing disharmony between mankind and his surroundings, between man and nature. Healing with Tachyon Energy is based on the fact that all forms of matter, living and inanimate, is made up of energy and is a part of an “Energetic Continuum” – the flow of energies as they move down from the “source”. Obstructions can manifest on any frequency level within our Energetic Continuum of subtle bodies and it is these obstructions which cause dis-ease. Tachyon energy works by removing these obstructions and restoring us to a state of health, according to Dr.S.Ramesh, Trauma and Orthopedic Surgeon Rashid Hospital, and a practitioner of Tachyon Energy Healing.

Holistic approach to healing is the trend of the times, involving an integration of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states of the human. In this sense, “Tachyonized tools significantly contribute to achieving near-perfect energetic balance at all levels more rapidly. For instance, if you keep a TLC in a Boardroom, it’s spreading out energy to all sides of the room so that everybody in that room will be so amicable as to take a harmonious decision. If you place a TLC bar on a building 30 m high, it will energize all the homes and all the people living in that area!” says Dr.Ramesh.

What is Tachyon Energy and how does it effect healing? Tachyon is the omnipresent, free energy which is present in the environment everywhere. Everything that transpires in the human body, for example, already exists within Tachyon in perfect form, explains Dr.Ramesh. “It is always passing through us and around us and we can normally harness this energy to maintain a healthy state. That’s how we were born, to harness this energy. But with our programming, conditioning and stresses, we have blocked the flow of this energy; hence our state of dis-ease. The Subtle Organizing Energy Field (SOEFs) in our body convert Tachyon Energy into the specific frequencies needed by a particular organ or part of our body to restore health. In fact, it is not the Tachyon that heals, rather it provides the energy for the body to heal itself. The SOEF's use only that amount of Tachyon Energy necessary to re-balance unorganized areas of the body, eliminating the need to monitor dosage requirements.”

Is treatment with Tachyon time bound? Dr.Ramesh explains, “It is the energy field that decides how much it wants and when to stop. Healing process is an individual thing; your aura decides how much of healing it wants and how long it is going to take. As your pattern starts clearing and your mental clarity improves, automatically the process will stop. It could be anywhere from a few days to a year. If you’ve had a disease for 30 years, do you want it to heal in 30 minutes?”

Is there any kind of diet system that needs to be followed while undergoing treatment?
There is no restriction on anything, says Dr.Ramesh. However, as with every other therapy, the three energy forms - food, air, water, should be fresh and good. ”

A high point of healing with Tachyon Energy is its applicability to external factors that have an impact on health, over which we have no control as individuals. Dr.Ramesh clarifies, “Using the same antenna with which you heal yourself, you can re-energise the polluted environment; you can change the quality of the polluted water by charging it with the antenna. If both air and water are fresh there is hardly any chance for blocks to form! Even fruits and vegetables subject to pesticides, refrigeration, et al can be re-energised through the antenna and its nutritive value restored.”

Antenna for healing? Dr.Ramesh explains, “Antennas just help to source the energy from the surroundings. But the quality of energy being different in different places, treatment time may vary. For instance, if healing takes place in the Himalayas where air is so pure and the environment clean, time taken to heal will be less as compared to elsewhere where pollution levels are high.”

Dr.Ramesh elaborates on antenna-making, “You can make an antenna from any natural material. I can take a shirt or any piece of cloth and make an antenna of it, through a process called tachyonisation. Once you make an antenna it’s permanent, guaranteed for generations. You can even have tachyonized water, oil, et al. However, the cloth is affected by tear and wear; water, oil and like items can’t be eternally preserved. Hence Tachyonized Liquid Crystal bars (TLC) would be ideal. Crystals are very expensive because the process to make them take 3-4 or even 6 months sometimes. Then it has to be diamond cut and tachyonized. These 'antennae', when applied directly to the body, 'feed' the SOEF's, giving the body the tools and energy necessary to heal itself, and do it in a self regulating fashion.”

Is treatment with Tachyon energy, a cure-all? This system of healing is compatible with other forms of medicine and complements as well as substitutes other therapies to various degrees, says Dr.Ramesh. “However, where the problem is of a chronic nature, as in the case of hypertension, diabetes, cardiac problems, we do not get the patients off their current medication. But with continued Tachyon therapy, we can gradually reduce and even wean the patients off their medication completely”

“Similarly in the case of cancer patients”, continues Dr.Ramesh, “we ask them to continue whatever treatment they are going through medically. We complement this with Tachyon therapy. It will improve all the symptomatology of the first stage, the side effects stemming from conventional cancer therapies, it will make the patient emotionally calmer. This is the beginning phase of the treatment with Tachyon energy. Subsequently, we observe even the physical changes happening. Unfortunately, a Cancer patient doesn’t have time, and this treatment takes time. So one has to go along with both the treatments and we have been able to improve the quality of life and the survival rate. There are cases where we have seen a sudden regression of the tumor size and everything after putting the patient on Tachyon therapy.”

What about side effect from using Tachyon Energy? “They are nil,” emphasizes Dr.Ramesh. “In some instances, the detoxification process may bring on healing reactions but this is very short lived. For a very short time one may feel overwhelmed, but there will never be an adverse outcome.”

Dr.Ramesh has been conducting classes, seminars and workshops, training Tachyon healers in the UAE. One such program is the Wellness Program which involves Group Learning to vitalize the mind, body and conscious. The aim of the program is to enable everyone to source the energy to maintain health, to heal and keep the body sustained at the healthy state and thus minimize visits to the doctor. Explaining the program, Dr.Ramesh states, “We have all the tools available in our human body to actively source the energy. Our program re-educates a person to use this energy. So you don’t have to be sick to attend this Group therapy. A person in good state of health can come here to rejuvenate himself. The sick person on the other hand is going to rejuvenate himself after healing himself. This keeps you at your energy levels of what you had at 16-18 years of age, even at the age of 90!”

Citing other instances where the program can be used to good effect, he says, “Sitting at home, you can direct your energy to your child who is writing an exam so that he remains calm, balanced and peaceful while answering. We also teach children how to improve their mental abilities, memory, performance, how to energize themselves, particularly when they are nervous. There will be clarity of mind all the time, of vision, of breathing, and also health-wise, they are sound and their immune system is triggered.”


Rhythm of Life Yoga

Published in City Times

Getting into the “Rhythm of Life”

Lakshmi Ramesh had been suffering from sinusitis since her school days. She tried every kind of therapy – from Allopathy to Homoeopathy to Naturopathy to rid herself of the problem, but to no avail. Today, well into her thirties, she is glad to be free of the problem, all thanks to Rhythm of Life, (ROL)!

Lakshmi recommends Rhythm of Yoga to anybody and everybody, no matter they are ill or well saying, “It took me just 10 classes at the Rhythm Yoga and Fitness Center in Karama, under the expert guidance of ROL instructor, Sanjeev Krishnan, to get rid of a problem I had been suffering for years and had tried every possible system of medication, meditation and yoga without any effect. In fact, to my knowledge, ROL has helped a number of people who have had diabetes, blood pressure and spondylitis. This is not any magic or wonder that is happening; it’s all a natural process where our system is getting in tune with nature.”

Sanjeev Krishnan ROL instructor, who has mastered various aspects of several forms of Yoga has been involved in conducting ROL in Dubai for the last two years. With a professional license to do so, Sanjeev also comes under the Ministry of Health with a medical license and in that capacity his institution participated in the DSF last year under the Ministry of Health. His Rhythm Yoga and Fitness Centre conducted a programme in Al Seef Street on the occasion where they highlighted the Essence of Yoga to World Health and also won an award for their presentation. Some of the Dubai schools including The Modern High and the Millennium, had some of their students enrolled in Sanjeev’s sessions and a lot more schools and corporates are already evincing much interest in the programmes.

Sanjeev answers questions on ROL, which itself is based on certain Yogic principles.

What exactly is ROL all about?
Sanjeev: ROL is a well designed and structured programme that guides one to the depth of life, empowering you with knowledge that keeps you healthy – physically, mentally, emotionally and rids you of stress. It is based on the principles of Ashtanga Yoga and it paves the way to dynamic health and well being of an individual. It is based on the premise that each and every individual already has a rhythm which is unique to him, developed through his circumstances, experiences and perceptions and it is rhythm in harmony which ensures his well being. However, ill health, discomfort and stress-related problems ensue, when an individual’s rhythm is not in perfect mode. ROL programme enables individuals to get back their harmonious rhythm through a process of cleansing.

How exactly is this state of harmony brought about in this ten day course?
Sanjeev: As infants and children, we do not perceive life as a burden. However, as we grow up, we are ridden with fears, phobias and complexes so much so that we begin to look at life as a burden. We begin this ten day session by putting you back into a state wherein you start enjoying your state from the rock bottom and then you go up again. You understand what has really disturbed you through your growing years such that you are not in the perfect rhythm and why you are facing various problems or ailments. For instance, any pain or disease manifestation in the physical body, any feeling of tension or depression, shows there is something wrong in your habits or in the way you look at life. ROL helps you fine tune yourself back to harmony, stage by stage, wherein you become more aware of yourself and understand yourself better.

Does this mean the course is actually some kind of meditation?
Sanjeev: It is a combination of various factors and science of meditation is one aspect that we teach in this course. We give you the essentials of right food, right habits, make you aware on how you can strengthen your mind so that you may achieve your goals and objectives and we also teach the techniques of Pranayama or breathing right. We are all breathing, but how well do we breathe, we do not know. Which is why many of us may be heir to asthma and other breathing ailments. During the process of this course, many of these ailments disappear.

How is this programme different in its meditation and yoga aspects from other meditation and yoga programmes which have mushroomed all over the world?
Sanjeev: There are one hundred and eight types of meditation. In those meditational approaches, the individual is focusing on something – a form, a mantra, light, or whatever. In ROL meditation, we do not do anything; we are in a state of physical and mental quietness. Scientifically, whenever you are in a state of physical quietness, the body has a tendency to release the impurities and toxins from the system which has been accumulated over a period of time due to stress. So once these toxins get flushed out from the body through this form of meditation, your physical body is purified and you are free of ‘dis-ease’. Just fifteen minutes of ROL meditation, gives you relaxation of mind and body that is equivalent of three hours of deep sleep relaxation.

You also have a Thursday session for children. What is this all about?
Sanjeev: Yes, this is a special two hour session that we have for children between the ages of seven and eighteen years, split into two sessions: one for 7 – 12 year olds and the other for 13 – 18 year olds. In these sessions we basically teach children the intellectual aspects of education wherein they learn how to study the various subjects, without pressurizing themselves. Children today are carrying a heavy load on their shoulders, literally and figuratively, in terms of how much they are required to study in a fiercely competitive world. We teach them the behavioural approach of how to balance the mind and the body. The physical body is something that is limited for all of us; the mind on the other hand is unlimited. There is no end to our desires. But we do not strike a balance between the mind and the body which is why we become ‘sick’ and often destroy our physical body. We teach children from a young age itself, to really balance themselves, formulate a vision of what they really want to achieve and also not only teach them that failure is nothing but a foundation to success, but also instill this truth firmly in them. Besides this, children are taught the approach to studying and strike a balancer between the creative and logical hemispheres of the brain, so that they view it as an enjoyable experience.

In a nut shell, can you tell us the various benefits from ROL?
Sanjeev: Mind control, enhanced memory and concentration, mind and body co-ordination, building of positive attitudes, increased creative power, purification and balance of the physical and mental systems, prevention and relief from chronic ailments, weight reduction and self knowledge are some of ROL’s many and varied benefits.



Help, only a foot away

Do you suffer from constant headaches, insomnia, back pains or digestive disturbances? Help is only a few feet away! Yes, Foot Massage, Reflexology or Zone Therapy may be all that you need to rid yourself of these nagging, often stress-induced, problems.

Reflexology is a form of massage in which pressure is applied to certain parts of the feet and hands (most often, the feet) to relax the body and heal any of its organs, glands or other structures. The therapy works on the feet to help heal the whole person not just the prevailing symptoms. It is based on the scientific premise that the feet and hands are mirror images of the entire body and that they are connected to every part of the body through the nervous system. Hence body balance is restored when specific reflex points in the feet or hands are stimulated, explains Reflexologist Lizeh Hasan of Essensuals, Dubai.

Although reflexology has been practiced since ancient times in Egypt, China and India, it was founded as a scientific therapy only in 1915 by Dr.William Fitzgerald, an American ENT specialist. He termed it as Zone Therapy. Physiotherapist Eunice Ingham later refined the therapy in 1930 and called it Reflexology. She observed that congestion or tension in any part of the foot mirrored the very phenomena in a corresponding part of the body. Hence treating the relevant area of the feet could decongest the affected organs or tissues in the body. For example, the tip of the toes reflect the head, the arch of the foot corresponds to the kidneys, liver and pancreas, the ball of the foot represents the chest and heart regions, the heel area corresponds to the low back and intestines.

Pressure applied to the feet generates a signal through the peripheral nervous system from where it enters the central nervous system. Here it is processed in various parts of the brain and then relayed to the internal organs to effect the necessary adjustments wherever required. By the same logic chemicals such as endorphins are released which lead to reduced pain and stress, thereby setting the healing process in motion.

Most clients who seek reflexology sessions are victims of high levels of stress and tension that has come to characterize today’s living, says Lizeh. Needless to say, the therapy helps them on all three planes – physical, mental and emotional, by enhancing blood circulation, by oxygenating all cells of the body, by stimulating the lymphatic system to rid the body of all the accumulated toxins. It thus helps to energize and de-stress the individual, by restoring harmony and activates the organs and systems of the body to function properly. By restoring the body’s natural equilibrium, reflexology helps individuals who suffer from stress and related conditions, digestive disorders, different kinds of headaches including migraine, arthritis, back problems, menstrual disorders including PMS (Pre Menstrual Syndrome) and insomnia, to name a few.

Reflexology can treat a range of health problems, independently of any other system of medicine. However, it should not be treated as a substitute for conventional medicine, emphasizes Lizeh. “We do not claim Reflexology to be an alternative therapy. But we believe it can complement the conventional system of medicine and that it is compatible with all other forms of therapeutic systems. For instance, Reflexology may be highly beneficial and even self sufficient in the initial stages of hypertension, diabetes or cardiac conditions. But once these conditions have set in, alongside conventional medication, reflexology may be used to keep the blood pressure or sugar levels in check. Similarly, reflexology will not fix fractures or dislocated bones or conditions that necessarily require surgery. However, in these situations, regular use of Reflexology will enhance the main line of treatment by keeping the circulation stimulated and the lymph system active, thus hastening the healing process.

Reflexology has proved beneficial in the case of mentally challenged and autistic individuals. It helps calm aggressive and violent tendencies in them and enables them to interact better socially. However, it is more the “touch” and contact of the therapist that helps these cases, emphasizes Lizeh. “Reflexology helps calm even the normal adults who are prone to undue anger and aggression and exhibit quarrelsome, garrulous behaviour with family, friends or even at work.”

Reflexology is not recommended for pregnant women, particularly in the first trimester. However, the therapy is immensely beneficial for women close to labor since it eases the process and makes for safe delivery. The therapy is also not advised for epileptics, people with foot infections and patients with serious health problems including uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension or cardiac problems and cancer.

A typical reflexology session lasts for between 40 minutes to an hour. A six weekly course of one session per week is the normal recommendation though this may be extended depending upon the intensity, frequency and chronicity of a person’s condition. It is absolutely necessary to maintain a minimum interval of four days between one session and the next so as to allow the body to detoxify itself.

After a session or two, most individuals observe a sense of well being and relaxation. Some people may complain of feeling lethargic, sleepy or nauseous. But these are not signs to be feared since they are temporary and reflect the body’s response to the therapy, indicating that the healing process is taking place.

Clients are advised to take plenty of water following therapy to enable flushing of toxins from the body, to abstain from eating spicy food, drinking and smoking, at least for 24 hours following therapy. Also, they are advised to go slow on any exercise regimen and pay heed to the body’s signal and not push themselves beyond their limit.

However, once such a course is completed for a specific condition, people usually find it useful to continue with regular treatments in order to maintain general well being and also as a preventive against disease condition. The therapy is also a preventive since it strengthens the body’s immune system and healing capacity, both to fight infection and to help patients recuperate from chronic conditions. Since it promotes good health, even healthy individuals can have periodic reflexology sessions to keep themselves fit, opines Lizeh.


Qi Gong

Published in Eternal Solutions

Life Energy: Therapeutic Effect

As more and more individuals are becoming victims of stress, the modern bane which is at the root of a host of illnesses, alternative therapies are fast gaining ground, globally. Qi Gong, pronounced Chi kung, is a millennia old Chinese healing system, an exercise which draws upon your inner energy to tone muscles, regulate hormones, boost blood circulation and lift spirits, to set the healing process in motion on all four planes – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. According to Dr.Zou Wei Jia, a Qi Gong practitioner, who is also a renowned master of Kung Fu and Acupuncture, Qi Gong, in addition to being a treatment therapy which brings cure, is as much a preventive therapy that rejuvenates, heals and enhances overall well being by strengthening the immune system and building resistance to disease.

Qi Gong, meaning, working with the energy of life, builds energy using a combination of fluid movements, breathing exercises and visualization, to regulate the internal functions of the body, explains Dr.Jia. Healing with Qi Gong is based on the premise that disease arises when a person’s vital body energy is either stagnant or imbalanced. Therefore, exercises that promote and balance Qi, will restore health and harmony by a therapeutic process which requires no medication. The nucleus of Qi Gong is the exercise of Yi, which is consciousness, and Qi, which is the vital energy.

According to Dr.Jia, the movements of Qi Gong, through the regulation of the three postures – walking, sitting and lying – harvests energy and stimulates its flow through the body, thereby enhancing energy and flexibility levels. No wonder then, that Dr.Jia, a well built, short and stocky individual, manages to wriggle himself into the clothes of a one year old! Or for that matter, you can witness Dr.Jia smashing stones and metal planks with his bare hands> And if that’s not enough, you can watch Dr.Jia lying on a sheet of glass pieces and nails while a four tonne vehicle is driven over him! And all this is done merely by breathing techniques and fluids movements of Qi Gong!

Qi Gong beginners learn to ‘walk like the wind’ and stand in a variety of ways. There are various standing postures associated with Qi Gong, all of which deliver weight to the ground through the feet. Standing positions are accompanied by a host of hand positions, both of which are meant to exercise the skeletal muscles and induce Qi to descend quickly, which helps strengthen the body constitution, explains Dr.Jia. Sitting positions similarly include sitting cross-legged, sitting on a chair – but sitting to maintain the body in a stable state, as ‘sitting like a block’. The sitting postures are believed to relax the individual and bring him to a state of quiet so as to enhance the body’s ability to collect or activate the vital energy. The lying position of Qi Gong, likewise, is meant to set the body in a state of calm, restraining the mind and encouraging inner quiet and to regulate the function of the central nervous system.

The realms of treatment with Qi Gong are wide, meant to boost brain activity, heal, build muscle strength and endurance and to help shape the spirit. Therapy with Qi Gong, according to Dr.Jia, increases vascular circulation, improves co-ordination and tones and stretches muscles. It is highly effective in treating chronic pain and disorders of the digestive, respiratory, nervous and cardiovascular systems. The range of illnesses amenable to treatment with Qi Gong include sciatica, rheumatism, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic sprains, quadriplegia, tetraplegia, asthma, chronic gastritis, impotency, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia and various other ailments.

A sound complement to western system of medicine, Qi Gong ensures its practitioners, speedy recovery, fewer side effects and reduced drug regimen when they are on allopathic treatment. “The therapeutic effects of Qi Gong cannot be exaggerated but it is true that it is very effective for various addictions also,” reveals Dr.Jia.

Are there any categories of people in whom therapy with Qi Gong is contra-indicated? Dr.Jia advices that a vigorous form of the therapy is best not practiced by pregnant women; rather, they should keep to light forms of Qi Gong exercises. Also, Qi Gong exercises increase circulation and may suppress appetite in some people. So it is better to avoid the exercises by women during their monthly cycle and by individuals who may suffer from any kind of bleeding disorders and anorexia. Additional, the exercises help people to adapt quickly to changing weather conditions.

Dr.Jia explains that there are three ways in which healing through Qi Gong may be brought about. Through self practice. Secondly by external Qi Gong whereby there is emission of Qi by a master to the patient in whom the Qi is in a state of imbalance. Thirdly, by a combination of self healing and healing through a master.

While Qi Gong exercises can be done by anyone regardless of age, precautions should be taken, especially in the case of beginners, while doing them and they should be initiated into the system by recognized teachers and professionals in the art. Dr.Jia states, “Ideally you can start a child of 4 or 5 years on to Qi Gong exercises. Because learning is that much easier at these tender ages because the grasping power is also very good at this age.” Qi Gong exercises are generally recommended for between 5 – 20 minutes duration, to begin with and then go on up to 45 minutes to an hour per day. This could be done with breaks of a couple of minutes in between and change in posture. Also, Qi Gong exercises are best done, two hours before or after a meal.


Life Coaching

Published in City Times

It’s about knowing where you want to go

Most people today are so caught up in the momentum and activity of their present roles in life that they are not actually doing the activities that give them the most reward, both personally and financially, says Nic Woodthorpe-Wright, Life Coach in Dubai.

Nic is a qualified life coach and has been “actively involved in mentoring Dubai’s future leaders in the Sheikh Mohammed Leadership Development Program.” He has worked with several global and international companies at a senior management level before he decided to commit his skills, expertise and experience in the arena of personal development.

What is Life Coaching all about?
Nic: Life Coaching in essence is really about helping individuals get to ‘get the best out of themselves’. Human beings have a huge amount of potential and Life Coaching is about helping people tap into this huge reservoir of their innate abilities to desired effect, objectives or goals. It is about helping individuals tap into aspects of themselves that either they are not aware of, or, are aware of but are frustrated by not being able to get in touch with.

Is it some kind of a structured or systematic approach to people’s problems?
Nic: No, it doesn’t really deal with problems in that sense. Most people are not in control of their lives – their environment controls them. Most people are not happy with their current career, level of health, current relationships or the extent of their personal wealth. The majority of these people realize that a change would benefit their lives, but they still bury their heads in the sand because they don’t know how to go about bringing this change. Life Coaching is not about any structured learning programme at all. The reason for this is that the client is the key focus, the person I work with. I always work on a one-to-one basis, either face-to-face, through the telephone or even via the email if a client wishes to do so because he is residing in another place.

So how do you go about bringing this change?
Nic: Again, it is not the life coach who brings about the change. In order for the process to work, for it to be appropriate, it is the cline who is going to be driving the agenda. If it was I, the life coach who is driving the agenda, then we don’t develop focusing in the key areas that the individual wants to work on, defeating the very purpose of the process! It is a highly motivational and empowering approach that allows individuals to achieve more in a matter of months than sometimes has been achieved in years.

How does the process get initiated?
Nic: Life coaching operates on a one-to-one basis for individuals who desire positive change. The goals themselves may be related to their career, family, relationships, finance or health. The clients I see, will have an area that they know to be the key area of focus and that’s where we start from. This key area in most instances, will also be inter-related with other areas of lives. Since it is a client-driven approach, the life coach merely acts as a catalyst in terms of the individuals seeking their own solution. Because the life coach does not pretend to know more about the client in terms of the client’s life. So it’s important to understand that I’m not here to tell people how to live their lives. My role is to open up the idea to the client, to look at options, to get a clear understanding of his life, see where he is and to know where he wants to go from here. I do this after getting a little bit of history of the client to understand what has brought him to the present.

How is life coaching different from psychological counseling?
Nic: Psychological counseling involves a lot of psychotherapy which deals with people who have a problem and it predominantly works in the past, wherein the clients are asked to go back in time and recall things. But life coaching is future-oriented – we start with a basic understanding of the individual in the present and then we say, “hey, where do you want to go from here”! The people I work with are not people with problems per se. They are people who are frustrated by their environment and don’t quite know what they want to do from the present, but do know that they would be better off with change. Hence they seek expert advice so that they don’t waste years trying to chart a programme of change for themselves because they have no clear idea themselves about how to make this change.

So what are the broad ranges in terms of area where life coaching would appear productive for a client?
Nic: Life coaching can help you get out of the ‘rut’, get you clarity on what you truly desire, build your vision for the future and help speed up your journey to your desired goal, help you find your balance in life, work less and earn more, enable you to make better choices and decisions, improve your finances, personal and business relationships, make you more effective and productive and through all this help you minimize stress and cope or be rid of health problems.

Does the process work on hourly basis? Is yes, to what extent is the process time bound in terms of the number of hours or sessions required?
Nic: The sessions work on an hourly basis wherein the clients see me once a week, may be for about eight weeks in all. But as I said earlier, the process is entirely client-driven and how many sessions each person requires, is entirely individualistic, based on his needs and present state.


Holistic Healing with Osteopathy

Published in City Times

Holistic Healing with Osteopathy

Osteopathy, (derived from Greek: osteon meaning bones and pathos meaning suffering) was founded by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, M.D in 1874. The system involves finding the root cause of the problem leading to illness and weeding it out, instead of treating the symptoms alone. It is a holistic method of treatment that focuses on all aspects of an individual’s wellbeing: mind, body and spirit, explains Tim Mills, UK registered Osteopath at Orthosports Medical Centre, Jumeirah.

The emphasis of Osteopathy is on the structural and functional integrity of the body. Hence, Osteopaths diagnose and treat individuals to restore health by correcting mechanical imbalances within and between bodily structures including the muscles, bones, ligaments, organs and fascia or the thin tissue underneath the skin. This is achieved by improving, restoring and maintaining the harmonious functioning of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems of the body.

And this may be done with the help of all medical means including medication with drugs, patient education and manual body therapy and surgery as well. Though most of the manipulation techniques of osteopathy are unique, some of these massage movements are also used by physiotherapists, chiropractors and massage therapists.

Conditions commonly treated by Osteopaths are associated with various pains, strains, and injuries, especially related to sports. Besides, Osteopathy has been found to be very effective in the treatment of asthma, migraine, arthritis, tendonitis, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), digestive disturbances, ear infections, sinusitis, knee and joint pains, dizziness, back and neck pains, whiplash and postural problems. The basic idea is to bring to equilibrium, all system of the body. Because the form of treatment is gentle, the system benefits people of all ages. It can be safely practiced on children and babies with colic, insomnia and glue ear.
On the first visit, the Osteopath will first take a complete case history followed by a clinical example of the patient. The Osteopath will perform a series of movements and with his keenly developed sense of touch, palpates various areas of the body to identify points of weakness or excess strain. Further investigations like X-Ray, blood test, et al may be necessary in certain instances to confirm diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment. For 24 hours following treatment, it is advised not to indulge in heavy exercise so as to allow the tissues time to heal and settle to balance. Osteopathy is, however, not necessarily a cure-all: while some conditions in some individuals may be cured, in other instances, conditions are partially relieved or maintained in balance.

The treatment by osteopathy includes hundred different techniques encompassing soft tissue techniques, rhythmic passive joint mobilization and high velocity thrust techniques to enhance mobility and the range of movements of joints. For children and old people, gentle release techniques are adopted to enable the body to return to efficient normal function.

While chiropractic therapists manipulate an affected joint beyond its physiological and anatomical range of motion, Osteopaths look for restrictions in joint movement that occur within the normal range of motions and try to rectify them but do not manipulate them beyond their physiological or anatomical range of motion. This perhaps is the reason why adverse effects from therapy are barely evident. The true contra-indication to Osteopathy relates to medical emergencies and urgencies when it is not used. Also, it is not used on cancer patients and those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, says Mills.

In fact, Osteopathy can be safely practiced during the entire period of pregnancy without causing any untoward effect on the mother or child. It can be undertaken for easing the physical discomforts associated with pregnancy, to help reduce nausea, breathlessness and heart burn, prepare the mother for demands of labor and help her post-delivery recovery. It is claimed that even miscarriages can be averted in a small number of cases and the pregnancy stabilized to proceed to full term.

An integral part of the treatment plan involves home exercises and lifestyle modifications which complement the Osteopath’s treatment intended to promote the body’s self-healing mechanism to get re-activated or re-energized.

In most instances, considerable improvement from treatment is visible between two to six sessions of theray. A single session may be all that is required in some instances, though.


Floatation Therapy

Published in City Times

Step into your private sea and float your problems away

Can you imagine yourself floating in a 30 cm deep tank with 10 inches of water, warmed to a comfortable 35.5 degrees Celsius for an hour and coming out of it absolutely refreshed! Yes, this is precisely what Floatation Therapy does to you – it makes you feel refreshed, rejuvenated and de-stressed. Using Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy or Technique, (R.E.S.T), the approach is holistic in nature and brings relief in a range of health conditions, particularly those triggered by stress, says Dr.Pinky George, qualified Naturopath, Yoga and Stress Management Consultant, Mizan Naturopathy Centre, Abu Dhabi.

Floatation requires no special training - one does not need to know swimming - only a mind that is open to new experience. Essentially, it is spending an hour or so lying quietly in the dark, suspended in a warm solution of Epson salt which is so dense that you float effortlessly. The first and last 10 minutes of the session include some gentle music to help you relax and indicate the session is over. The music may be instrumental or even recitation from the Holy Quran as per the clients’ individual choice. Once inside the tank, the tank door is closed and the light switched off. However, if the clients so wish, they may continue to float with the door open or partially closed and the light on, should they feel more comfortable doing so. “Invariably, after a session or two, most people like to float in total darkness, with the light off and the door closed,” reveals Dr.George.

“Does it not sound strange that large number of people are actually paying enthusiastically to enter a state of sensory depravation, in a culture where status is earned by frantically exposing one’s senses to as many stimulations as possible? Isn’t this “seeking sensory depravation” ironical in a world where most people are so terrified of being alone, they would drop money just to sit around in a bar with people they can’t stand otherwise!” quizzes Dr.George.

Well, that’s exactly what floatation therapy is all about – it cuts you off from the outer world, provides you a chance to go ‘within’, be by yourself and seek your own balance and harmony in life. Floatation therapy offers people the chance of regaining physical, emotional or psychological health. While exercising and healthy eating are only part of healthy living, relaxing is equally, if not more imperative, to sound wellbeing. This is even more essentially in today’s highly pressurized society. Recent research has shown that up to 80% - 90% of people visit their GP due to a psychosomatic or stress related disorder.

Why would floating in a swimming pool not bring on the same effects as when you float in the tank? Dr.George responds, “Besides astronauts in space, this is the only situation you will encounter where your body is free from the forces of gravity. Every single muscle in the body goes into a state of relaxation. Because of the silence and darkness in the tank, you allow your mind to drift into the deepest state of relaxation possible which in turn balances the brain. It reduces the activity of the left logical side of the brain and increases activity on the right, creative side. So for the first time, both sides of your brain are in total harmony. Also, a large proportion of our energy, almost 85% and much of our brain, are devoted to dealing with and counteracting gravity. So when you in this Epsom solution floatation tank, you eliminate powerful and constant external stimulation, liberating large regions of the mind and great quantities of energy for novel, creative purposes.”

The weightless, temperature-balanced, fluid environment frees muscles, heart, nervous system and brain from 90% of their normal "housekeeping" workload. This unique stimulus-free environment triggers a profound "Relaxation Response" which is totally automatic, and which spreads to all levels of the body.

Scientific research experiments show that simply by focusing awareness in a certain way, a person can actually strengthen his or her immune system, lower blood pressure, slow heartbeat, release or inhibit the release of certain hormones, alleviate pain and alter the activity of the heart muscles, brain and mind, says Dr.George. The therapeutic benefits from floating are many and varied. “One hour of floating is equivalent to 4 hours of blissful sleep. Floating reduces stress, relieves muscle tension, especially in people pursuing sedentary lifestyles like computer professionals, those with desk jobs, people whose job requires them to drive a lot, for people who have stiffness around the neck, back and shoulders, chronic backache sufferers, those with joint pains, arthritis, migraine people who are victims to the burn-off syndrome, hypertension. Floating helps any problem which is psychosomatic and stress-related. It helps women with PMS, people suffering from insomnia, mild depression, people who need to slow down and people having jet lag. Floating is safe even for pregnant women during all trimesters, if they are normal and healthy, without any pregnancy-associated problems and if they themselves are comfortable floating.”

The sensory depravation associated with floating, brings about a gentle, pleasant, controllable and temporary shift in consciousness in anyone who floats. This shift in consciousness is healthy, educative and it can be manipulated, explored and used in a variety of ways to cause changes in our attitudes, physiology and behaviour that presents even after one emerges from the tank, explains Dr.George.

How does this therapy compare with meditation which also involves looking inwards and reaching a state of calm? Dr.George responds, “To reach deep levels of meditation, it takes much practice, repeated efforts to shut out sounds, light and other environmental stimuli. With floatation, one need not do that work. Undistracted, one starts concentrating immediately on one’s inner perceptions and delves deep into one’s mind.”

EEG changes indicate that individuals who floated in the float tanks for an hour, significantly increased their theta level. Theta waves offer access to free associated, insight, creative inspirations and hence is potentially very productive and opens the mind to learning, reveals Dr.George. “Research into the brain waves of the two hemispheres of floaters indicates that floating increases right brain function, thus enabling left-dominant people to gain access to the right brain more readily. This is the key to stress management – the balance between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Synchronisation of brain waves, hemispheric harmony, is one explanation for the increase in productivity, performance, efficiency and the generalized feeling of competence, confidence and wholeness experienced by floaters.”

The number of Floating sessions required by a person, like any other form of therapy, is very much individual. The ideal situation is to keep healthy, promote health and prevent disorders by regular exercise and floating is one such mode which impacts health in a positive way, says Dr.George.

It has been suggested that floatation could be introduced in schools because it helps learning, says Dr.George. This is based on the fact that when the mind is calm and relaxed, learning is rapid and clear. It enhances, concentration, memory, alertness and eases the learning process.
In conclusion Dr.George says, “By restricting sensory input in the tank, we increase sensory awareness! By becoming blind, we learn to see in a new and more powerful way; by giving up, letting go, we gain greater control and power over ourselves and ultimately over the external world. And once out of the tank after a float, we seem to perceive the world with startling directness, richness and clarity. There is no training required, no secret wisdom, no guru or special decoder ring, no weeks of discipline! That day is not far when float tank will evolve as an essential equipment for clinics, hospitals, health and fitness centres, stress management centres, offices, factories, de-addiction clinics, resorts of spas and homes.

Box Items

1.Origin of Floatation
Floating in a float chamber was invented by Dr.John Lily, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist in the 1950s. He experimented with physical isolutation during his training in psychoanalysis at the national Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Bethesda, Maryland. A longstanding question in neurophysiology had been the source of energy to the brain and its origins. One answer was that the energy sources are biological and internal and don’t depend upon the external environment. It was argued that if you cut off all stimuli to the brain, then it would go to sleep.

Dr. Lily decided to test this hypothesis. He did this by creating an environment that totally isolated an individual from external stimulation. From here he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain. Thus evolved the first floatation tank in a rather rudimentary form. From this form, today we have a variety of sophisticated floatation tanks including the most commonly used fiberglass tanks.

In 1982, the International R.E.S.T Investigators Society (IRIS) was founded. This brought together clinicians, researchers, floatation centre operators, tank manufacturers and other involved with floatation, to form a body for research, lectures and share experience. IRIS organizes a R.E.S.T conference tri-annually and makes information available to all interested.

NASA employs floatation to stimulate weightlessness.

2. The Floatation Tank – its safety and maintenance mechanisms
• To 10 inches of water, 700 lbs of Epsom salt is added.
• The water is maintained at skin temperature of 35.5 degrees Celsius.
• Two buttons to your left and one button to your right, allow you to control the tank’s door, call an attendant and control the in-built light present in the tank.
• An automatic filtration system guarantees purified water for every single floater.
• An extremely sensitive carbon filter ensures quality water for each floater.
• The water is well chlorinated and is checked to maintain the right percentage of alkalinity, PH and chlorine levels as required by floatation standards.
• Daily, weekly and monthly checklists are undertaken by trained personnel from the United Kingdom who strictly adheres to the operational and maintenance instructions as specified by the manufacturers.
• A centrally-controlled monitor in the clinic will allow the therapist to monitor clients in the float tank – to see if the tank door is shut, the light is off, to monitor the water temperature, to check whether clients are in or outside the float tank, to communicate with them if they require.
• A generator is present to make assurance doubly sure for floaters who may fear getting shut in the tank should power supply be cut off for some reason. The generator will supply uninterrupted power for two hours following power shut.

3. Float instructions and precautionary measures
• Ensure a shower before stepping into the float tank.
• If you have a cut, an abrasion on the skin or have just shaved or waxed, the salt can sting and cause slight itchiness. Therefore dry the area completely and apply a light layer of vaseline which is provided in the private room housing the floatation tank.
• While in the tank, make sure to wear the earplugs that are provided since the ears are below the surface of the solution. In rare cases, the Epsom salts can crystallize on the ear drum and can cause ear ache.
• Once into the tank, avoid touching your face or eyes since the salt can sting.
• After a float, take a shower and ensure that the salt is completely washed off the skin.

4. Contra-indications for floating

The therapy is contra-indicated in individuals who are schizophrenic, epileptics, people with acute and contagious skin disorder, patients who’ve had a recent stroke and individuals with unstable health conditions as in high risk cardiac patients.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Published in Eternal Solutions

Painless healing of painful problems

Vishaka had been suffering chronic acidity for over two decades. During this period she had totally abstained from eating bread which her system could not tolerate. A few rounds of energy tapping miraculously rid her of the problem. Not only did she resume eating bread but she also stopped all medication for the problem!

Rufina was plagued by intense guilt following divorce from her husband. She felt she had not done right by her children in taking this extreme measure. The profound guilty feeling incapacitated her from carrying on her everyday household chores. On a friend’s advice, she attended a course on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and within three rounds of ‘tapping’, she felt light-hearted and realized there was no need for her to feel guilty because she had done the best she could for her children under the most adverse situations!

There have been diverse instances and problems including those of debilitating phobias, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, grief, sexual or emotional abuse, addictions, aches and pain, physical and emotional, which have found incredible relief with EFT, says Rohini Singh Chopra, certified EFT Master and Healer. Simply put, EFT is the most painless way of dealing with very painful things, since, among other things, it works without forcing the recipient to repeatedly re-experience the negative emotional state,” says Singh.

Citing Vishaka’s case, Ms.Singh reveals, “What had led to this chronic acidity and indigestion in Vishaka? During the healing process it was revealed that she suffered a very deep rejection by her mother. Stomach is the seat of emotions and in Vishaka’s case, she had a profound hatred of her childhood and this emotion translated to her emotional problems. The tapping enabled her to release physical and emotional trauma and she experienced as an unlocking of the pent up negative feelings which had hitherto kept her trapped. Very often during this stage of energy release, people describe feelings of light headedness and a sense of freedom.”

What is EFT and how does it work? Singh explains, “EFT is an energy therapy which works basically by tapping on the end points of energy meridians and is a powerful tool for the quick relief from emotional distress and pain. Since there is an inevitable link between mind and body and all physical issues have some emotional basis to them, if you take care of the emotional link, the physical aches, pains and ailments, no matter how big, are suitably impacted and healing takes place.”

EFT holds that the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system which disturbs the free flow of energy. EFT, developed by Stanford Engineer Gary Craig, has roots in ancient Chinese medicine and the modern day system of Applied Kinesiology and it is rightly described as acupuncture sans needles since it uses the fingers to gently tap 12 points on the face, hands and torso, the energy meridians of the body, to straighten out the disrupted energy flow. The one-minute-wonder can actually effect healing in a minute, essentially by reprogramming the mind with positive affirmations and thinking, says Singh. She adds, “Of course, we don’t expect every problem and everybody to get healed in one minute! But such is the effect of this technique which is simple and easy for anyone to learn and practice.”

On a very physical level, what can EFT do? Well, EFT is capable of relieving chronic pain, pains from rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, allergic symptoms, and much more. Even diabetics can be off their medication totally; just about any ailment can find relief with this technique, assures Singh. “Victims of various phobias, children with dyslexia and ADDH, those suffering from Parkinson’s, hypertension, et al, have all been helped with EFT. “I myself have worked with Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis patients and have achieved good results. I also work with the Cancer Support Organisation in Delhi and the results are excellent. We have dealt with the purely physical pain of these patients. For instance, a woman had had her breast removed and she couldn’t move her arm. We tapped for that and it’s been magical that she was able to raise her arm in 20 minutes.”

But what about a cure for the cancer itself? Singh is candid on this issue. “It depends on what you are trying to heal. Healing has many connotations; for instance, there are 2-3 aspects of cancer healing. For one, the patient is already undergoing conventional therapy; you can’t step in and ask him to stop the therapy. What we can do is allay their fears w.r.t. the cancer therapy, chemotherapy in particular, the side effects of which are painful in terms of nausea, et al. Of course, the medication being too strong, we cannot help the falling off of hair resulting from the chemotherapy. EFT helps make the patients comfortable with whatever they are going through, give them a perspective which makes them comfortable with dying. This in itself is healing! However, there have been plenty of instances of cancer victims finding themselves cured of the malady!”

Adding a word of caution, Singh reveals, “However, we don’t view EFT as a substitute for any particular system of medicine. We view it as complementary to other therapies. For instance, if you fall down and break a bone, surgery or putting a cast is a must; EFT cannot take on this role. But what is does do is provide pain relief and augment the healing and recovery process.

Is the therapy contra-indicated in any instance or does it have any side effects? “Not at all,” assures Singh. “The worst that may happen is that it will have no effect on the individual. The success rate associated with the technique is 95% and in 5% of cases there’s been no response. This is because there are people who come for healing but don’t really want to get well! These are people holding on to illnesses for a variety of reasons which may include attention and sympathy seeking motives.”

But would EFT not be able to remove this block? “Yes, you can remove this block itself and that is exactly how we deal with addictions,” Singh is reassuring. “In the ultimate analysis, EFT is a tool for spiritual growth which can make you a more joyful person. It does this by allowing you to respond better and differently to situations that you can’t change. The way you think and your attitudes will be influenced by this tapping, for your own betterment as an individual.”

Even babies have grown in wombs with EFT, reveals Singh. “The circumstances in which EFT is used is so totally diverse and varied: it has been very successfully used in the USA on Vietnam War veterans and victims to help them get over the severe trauma. The technique works amazingly to enhance creativity. It’s been used in Golf and other sports, in the field of fine arts like music, dance, painting and writing to enhance these abilities.”

Sabina was plagued by a feeling of intense guilt following divorce from her husband. She felt it was not in the best interests of her children. Her guilt rendered her incapable of carrying on her routine chores. On a friend’s advice, she attended a course on Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and within three rounds of ‘tapping’, she felt light-hearted and realized there was no need for her to feel guilty because she had done the best she could for her children under the most adverse situations!

Karishma had been suffering chronic acidity for over fifteen years, during which period she had totally abstained from eating bread which her system could not tolerate. A few rounds of energy tapping, miraculously rid her of her problem so much so that she was not only able to consume bread, but was also off her medication for the problem!

There have been several such instances, diverse problems, problems of addiction, aches and pain, physical and emotional, which have found incredible relief with EFT

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a powerful technology for quickly resolving emotional distress. It is even capable of relieving physical complaints such as chronic pain, allergic symptoms, and much more. When effective, not only does it do this quickly, but it works without forcing the recipient to repeatedly re-experience the negative emotional state. This treatment is generally permanent, relatively easy to apply, boasts a higher than 80% success rate and is free of negative side effects.

EFT is a wonderful tool that can be learned very easily. The technique has been described as a psychological form of acupuncture but without the needles. It has roots in ancient Chinese medicine and the modern day system of Applied Kinesiology.

The Emotional Freedom Technique was developed by Stanford Engineer Gary Craig. All that was necessary was for the recipient to focus on the distressing emotion or memory and tap the energy points. This method then became known as ‘The Emotional Freedom Technique’.

When a person remembers a painful or traumatic incident it causes their energy system to disrupt. As the body recalls the memory, it also re-produces the original emotional state associated with that time. EFT works directly to re-balance the energy field; as a result, negative emotions are cleared and harmony is restored. Similarly, life-long phobias, compulsive behaviors and unhealthy patterns of belief can be eliminated.

The reason this treatment is so effective, is that it treats the problem directly by correcting imbalances in the body’s system. Once the imbalance is corrected, the negative emotion quickly resolves, leaving the person free of troubling emotions that may have been limiting their lives.

How does EFT Work?
By stimulating certain acupressure points, neural receptors under the skin convert that pressure to an electrical impulse that is transmitted to the brain. The person is then asked to connect to the physical pain, unpleasant emotion or just simply “tune in” to the uncomfortable memory or future event, whilst these energy points are gently tapped. This allows a release of physical and emotional trauma which is experienced as an unlocking of the negative feelings, and a release of the emotional intensity that has kept the person trapped. People often report a release of energy at this stage and describe feelings of light-headedness, yawning, sighing and a sense of freedom.

The EFT process can take from five minutes to half an hour depending on the number of aspects surrounding a problem. For instance if a marriage breaks down a person can be left with varied emotions such as anger, jealously, resentment, grief, regret, and even sometimes a sense of failure. These are all different aspects to the same problem, which may need to be addressed individually.

EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over five thousand years, but without the invasiveness of needles. Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the face and hands and voicing positive affirmations.