Ayurvedic Psychology – Body Therapy

Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Procrastination, Insomnia?

Treating the mind, through the mind is a bit like asking a convalescent person to join an exercise regime in the military. Well, it does make sense in the longterm, but where does the person find the energy and sensibility to make a good start? From one end the mind is disturbing and upsetting you, from the other end, the same mind is being asked to therapeutically heal yourself. It’s the classic chicken and egg story, who starts first?

The mind and emotions go hand in hand, one feeds the other.  A negative thought cycle can lead into a negative emotional cycle, and a negative emotional episode can provoke a negative and destructive thought spiral. If any of you have tried the numerous cognitive and mind therapies to break the cycle, you know how notoriously difficult  it is. The start and middle points are the most vulnerable. I have tried positive affirmations, Vedic mantras, psychotherapy, journalling, guided meditation, mindfulness and even hypnosis!  I do start, sometimes even greatly inspired, but sooner or later quit. I am sure if I stuck around, I would turn the corner. However my mind is always tricking me into slipping away. The only attribute that may successfully distinguish between the successful and failures is willpower. And this could be a function of the mind as well. Or is it an endowment received at birth?

I must admit all of the above techniques have helped with varying degrees of success. Psychotherapy was therapeutic and even highly insightful, but not providing the calm I was seeking.The most difficult were the positive affirmations and mantras to stick to. Guided meditation is very relaxing in the moment, but seems to vaporize when I step back into regular life. The most successful was the extended mindfulness practice, particularly the ten-day arduous Vipassana course I did in Toronto, where you meditate the whole day and are bound to complete and absolute silence for the whole stay, while all your other needs are taken care of. You do need your willpower, in great measure, to ensure you do not abandon the program and bolt away. I stuck around, and for that I am extremely proud. And I did receive a beautiful gold-pot at the end of the rainbow, after the ten-day stay. However, I doubt, without their rigorous regime I might have succeeded at all. In my home it is a complete disaster. Alas, the benefits slowly eroded away. Once again, the line between success and failure is probably only determined by the measure of willpower you possess.

Treating the mind through the body is a whole different ball game. It is like having a convalescent person having a mother nursing you back to health. I have found body therapy far more therapeutic. I still remember a deep massage therapy by a zealous therapist, who delighted in finding hidden knots in my back, and painfully kneading it loose. I almost gasped for breath in that one hour. However, I was basking in a warm glow for days after. But the most stunning therapy I had was at an Ayurvedic retreat in the Sivalik hills, in northern India. The one-week stay started with a shirodhara, which is warm herbal oil slow dripped on the forehead for an hour. The therapy itself was very relaxing. But what happened after was even stranger. I slept deeply and probably the most soundly in my whole life for almost 48 hours, barely making it to dinner in those two days. On the third day I felt whole, alive and happy. Not a single word of cognitive therapy was exchanged. That single treatment aroused a great curiosity in me for body-based therapies. Between Ayurveda and yoga therapy they have a whole treasure box of gems, that can firmly and steadily turn the tide on the truant mind. With the body-first approach, even the willpower can take a backseat and relax a bit. So if you are a bit like me, take the body-centric approach and move more easily towards mastery of your mind. 

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