Thursday, October 28, 2010

Getting things straight......

In this age of high mobility, faster career advancements and virtual travel, this is probably a stupid question to ask. But what kind of feeling or sense would you have developed if you lived in the same place, for say 60 years ? And more ? ......

You would know most of the people residing in your area, you would remember their families, and lets say, quirks and /or outstanding features of certain family members. You would know which parts of your area are more susceptible to seasonal variations and changes; you would certainly remember new constructions happening in places, now being considered important. There would be a sense of holding memories amidst the community that you lived in.

All this kind of "lit up" my mind , recently, when it occurred to me that the same would hold true for our bodies. I mean, just think. A large variety of useful organ members, residing and growing in the same area for , in my case, 60 years and counting. Some doing well physically, some undecided, some clearly on the way down, and some showing the sort of wear and tear that you see in crumbling walls, that still stand tall by sheer virtue of the goodwill coming from neighbors and the environment. This of course assumes that all these entities have a mind of their own.

And I was most delighted to discover that our body does not function autocratically under the dictatorship of the cranial brain . There is a sense of thinking, a sense of mind, a sense of "having its own mind" , in our abdomen. Its called the abdominal brain. Remember butterflies in the stomach, rushing to the loo in a stressful situation, losing appetite on hearing something terrible ?

In the highest traditions of management practices, there is delegation of work in our bodies, and there is more than one type nervous system in our body. The systems that allow brain messaging to enable us to recognize someone we have met before, are different from those that enable us to shout and instantly yank back our hands on unknowingly touching a hot griddle smeared with smoking oil. Lets not get carried away by names and titles of these things.

I have a firm belief , possibly yet to be investigated and ratified by, say, the NIH in Washington, that all our organs in the body are NOT just a chemical mass (like our potholed roads outside) , but have a mind, that listens, stores, reacts, and sometimes changes things.

In his late seventies, my father was diagnosed with a herniated disc/discs. At one point he couldn't even sit, and had to eat in a supine position, so painful was any movement. As a firm yoga practitioner since his childhood, he immediately rubbished things like surgery, and after initial analgesic doses of allopathy taken unwillingly, he started on a slow exercise regimen. He would often tell me, that one had to visualize in one's mind, that this situation would heal, that one would be active as before again, and he had a childlike adamant attitude about getting the best of this affliction , which he had to defeat. HE DID. Physiology is difficult to change at that age. The mind is not. And I think, somewhere, his spine and vertebrae sensed the strength of the thinking.

I have personal experience of suffering a particular problem which kept going from bad to worse over almost 25 years. All kinds of tests and pathological exams indicated no organic problem. Surgery and removal was a solution, but not something that appealed, because nothing was diseased, per se. Things reached epic proportions at a time when I was beset with many many difficult family responsibilities and it came to a point when energy, intense anemia, and movement became a worrisome issue. Ten years earlier, surgery had been a solution, I was younger, but I had refused, being a firm believer in the fact that if you had a worrisome child, you worked with him to improve, rather than give up on him and ignore him; and of course, each child was different, but got an equal chance.

I often visualized what was happening in the body, how surgery would traumatise the innards, what needed to happen etc. My doctor , who had advised me earlier and knew my family system, physiology and thinking, now convinced me to go in for surgery. I finally agreed and consulted the surgeon. She fixed a date , and asked me to get the preliminary checks up and stuff done. She then asked , since I had waited so long and tried so many meds, if I would be willing to try a specific regimen of a medicine which I had tried earlier, several times, but which was being newly marketed now. I agreed.

I couldn't believe it, when my problem , chronic over 25 years, simply disappeared , just like that, once I took that medicine as directed. One day it was there, and it simply disappeared. And has remained so 10 years down the line. Just like that. I like to think that certain parts of my physiology, were aware of my thinking, my empathy and respect for the anatomy, and the wild behaviour kind of ceased, when the body sensed that I had unimaginable stresses coming up, and this was the time to put their hand up, be counted, and help. The concerned organ probably had nightmares of being cut up in surgery ,and removed, and kind of gave up its willful behaviour. My doctor thinks this whole thing is amazing. But also believes in the power of "visualization".

I know folks who had intense intestinal digestive problems after some unavoidable treatments. An elderly gent has explained to me how he actually "conversed" with his intestines in his mind, cajoling them to be co-operative. He would do that several times a day, while carrying on with his meds and treatments. I guess his intestines listened. I mean we may be globalizing but his intestines behaved in traditional Indian style, listening and respecting elders.

20 years ago, two acquaintances, closely related to each other, both detected with cancer at the same time, in a chance check up. Both were in decent health, and in control of their bodies, as such. One of them insisted, he wouldn't agree to any surgery/chemo/treatments, because, he had a great belief in his health situation, and would face whatever, whenever. The other person, simply agreed to undergo radical surgery followed by assorted chemo and radiation treatment.

Both did fine for many years. Today, the one who did surgery, is no more after facing an uncontrolled spread of the Big C, and several drastic last minute treatments. The other person, continues to live, now afflicted , simply by intense old age. May be he had stronger thoughts throughout. Maybe he lived in resonance with his body. Maybe he infused his physiological set up with those thoughts. Which is not to run down proper cancer treatments. But it tells you the power of your mind.

In our childhood, we often heard folks shout at us, whenever we didn't appear to be sitting or standing straight. I remember being asked to stand against a wall, and remember the straightness of the spine, and to hold it that way. Particularly in the pubertal years, one often heard "Don't slouch", " Keep your spine straight", " Shoulders back"...... and someone would even poke you in the back if it looked like you were sliding into a slouch.

A few days ago, the potato basket in my kitchen accidentally overturned and the stuff went all over the floor. In an effort at stopping things from rolling under cupboards and stuff, I hastened to bend , probably in a completely unrecommended manner, particularly for people my age. I paid the price. Excruciating pain while straightening to stand up, inability to stand for a longish length of time, and wild applications of ointments resulting in aromas of methyl salicylate pervading in a season where sandalwood, camphor, and jasmines and roses would be the norm.

XRays happened. The doctors says that my spine, which should have been in a graceful "S" shape, has tended to straighten out.(!) Its more like a mathematical "integration" sign now. And the muscles of the back, are pushing themselves to the limit, trying to support the whole thing, causing my stiff and painful back. I hear words like Lordosis. Sounds royal. :-) And Kyphosis . Sounds terrible :-(.....

But I am convinced, that years of listening to folks shout at me about keeping my back straight, must have trained the vertebrae and the spine. Like me, they must be harking back to the old days. They probably remember . They also probably realize how incredibly stupid I have been in bending inappropriately for the potatoes. Those who don't listen are often taught a lesson.

I guess, I am getting mine now.....


  1. Pattu sari header !!! For Diwali ???? That reminds me that I need to buy a pattu sari for me... ;) :)

  2. I just love this post, Suranga. :) And I agree to it more so... :)

    It works - talking to body parts, like how me talking to my plants help it to grow....I dont know if its the talking, but the positive energy in my voice, urging it to grow well, is certainly helping. :) :)

    And I am so happy that your father's strength of thinking helped him so much. :)

    Why ??? They also say that music cures a lot of ailments...there are specific ragas for diff treatments and its really proving to be successful.

    Finally, it all comes down to the point, that the mind is capable of curing the bodily ailments, if and only if we believe in it totally !!!! :)

    After reading that, I am sitting with my back straight...thanks for the directive all the way from ur home... :)

    Take care of your back.... :)

  3. Beautiful post...inspiring to hear about how your problem got resolved. You know how my dad came back recently...through pure affirmations and visualisations. Thanks Suranga...I'm in a turmoil myself over a long-standing health issue...and keep losing faith in the visualisations...this post helped! I often think of the body as a bunch of interacting organs and systems too, each with a mind of their own.

  4. A fresh new thought. Each organ having a mind of its own! But 'I' believe too, that it's all in the mind. Of course, you need to rely on some treatments to get better, but the mind is really powerful. 'Optimism' itself is half the cure, right? And hey, thanks for reminding about the posture - I caught myself slouching over the machine ;p

  5. ...And hope your back is better now. Get well soon!

  6. I LOVE this post! I feel the same way and while I appreciate the doctor that I have, it's probably because he feels very much the way I do about one's health and body. I have a curvature of the spine which has gotten worse over the years and that means a certain amount of discomfort. But my greatest help as been the acupuncturist that I've been seeing once a week for nearly three years. It's just like a bit of a tune-up with not only the needles, but massage. But I'm doing pretty well in spite of my 77 years! Have a beautiful tomorrow and a lovely weekend!


  7. Completely agree. I talk to myself and have found out on many occasions that the body mind dialogue helps - body listens to mind positively!

  8. I have always maintained that we are not using half of the power of our brains and that the brain has healing power. How else can you explain the miracle healings?

    My Physiology teacher used to quote, "Man is both fearfully and wonderfully made." It's true.

  9. Found the post interesting . Am always amazed at the power of the mind-it can either be your best friend or your worst enemy-it's up to you ! Also I believe that the mind can manifest itself anywhere at all in the body.
    I have found the theory of cellular memory interesting when it is suggested that donated organs can pass on characteristics and behaviour patterns of the donor to the recipient. Don't think it's been validated but its food for thought
    Paul McKenna highly recommends the use of visualization in his best selling books and CDs on personal management

  10. Something powerful for you:

    I am at peace with myself. I love myself. I acknowledge myself. Who I am is a perfect creation. The creator is within me & I am the creator of my life. All manifestations of my life are a direct fallout of my saying so. I include the entire creation in my way of being and in my orbit. I invite the entire creation to come and express with me.

    § I choose to live a life full of vitality. I choose to have my body, mind & spirit all working perfectly at all times. I revoke and cancel any invitation ever given to any illness including this back ache. I request my body system to heal itself immediately.

    Let there be a fully self expressed Suranga, manifesting the glory of CREATOR within myself allowing my light to shine, so that others' light may also shine and they experience being glorious of their own worthiness. So it is now.

  11. Love this post. The comments have said all I would share - but better :)
    I talk to my body all the time. Sometimes it listens :)