Among the major streams of medicine, the practitioners of Allopathy, Homeopathy and Ayurveda often distrust the ‘rival’ streams. What actually works differs from person to person. My acute asthma was getting out of control and I had tried virtually every type of medication. The intensity of my attacks kept getting worse. After decades of struggle, I met Dr. Pramod Niphadkar (now deceased). While he put me on to inhalation doses and a few oral medicines, he clarified that I’d need to go beyond dependency on medicines to come to terms with my condition.
Besides diet and breathing exercises, Doctor Niphadkar actually hosted a Yoga workshop for patients. When I asked him, “Doc, I am a busy entrepreneur and find it difficult to adhere to such a strict exercise/yoga regime”, his reply was “If Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi could find time for Yoga, I am sure you are not busier than them.” That silenced me for good. I can say without exaggeration that it was the discipline (especially Yoga) which he gifted me, that kept me alive.
When the dreaded bipolar disorder struck me later, my inner resolve and this discipline helped me overcome it. Now, yoga and meditation are an integral part of me.
Why is it important to look beyond medication? I say, why not? We take treatment for illness. Why not aspire for wellness? Yoga is proven to have known long-term health benefits. The same applies for regular practice of meditation, which is a great stress buster.
At a workshop where I got to listen to the legendary founder of Talwalkar Gyms, Shri Talwalkar himself, the sprightly 75+ fitness guru revealed some key insights to us. “Fitness is just 10 % exercise, 90 % Diet.” Now, if we introspect, how many of us have ever really given a thought to what we do about that critical 90%? Are we just putting 3-4 meals in our stomachs without examining whether these are nutritious, balanced meals? Even if I am not a fitness fanatic, the food I eat is the basis of long-term wellness (and lifestyle illnesses). My body type and weight is distinct from yours. You might be physically active while my work is sedentary in nature. Our meals must reflect all these factors. Healthy eating goes a long way in shaping an energetic and healthy person. I had the good fortune of being subject to a torturous regimen due to my allergies (a gift of asthma). Thus, I don’t eat fried foods, shun fizzy drinks and avoid anything excessively sour or spicy. I have never smoked and gave up alcohol more than twenty-five years ago. No pain, no gain!
The most important element of holistic healing is the mind. Haven’t you heard this often enough, “It’s all in your mind?” That’s right. A majority of illnesses are psychosomatic in nature, meaning that the mind plays a major role in the manifestation of these in our bodies or making the symptoms worse. Hypertension, Asthma, Hyperacidity, Arthritic pain, Cardiac disease, for instance. We carry so much emotional baggage in these troubled times. Having been alienated from the joys of simple living comes at a heavy price. Excessive competition, financial worries, stressed relationships take a toll on our mental well-being. Meditation is a deep cleanser like no other. Practising it daily stills the troubled mind and prepares it to face new challenges each day.
Focusing on activities that bring us joy should engage more of our ‘prime time’— playing with children, listening to music, spending quality time with friends and family or whatever it is that relaxes and irons out stress points in each of us.
Let’s choose wellness of mind and body over illness. You are hearing this from a person who paid a heavy price to restore sanity and wellness. I, therefore, cherish my wellness even more now.
(This post had been earlier published on DNA Web Edition as one of my Fortnightly Columns)