by Acharya Mo Quanten & Dr Patrick Quanten MD
Yoga means integration or wholeness. The yogic concept of the working of the body and mind is that there is a balance and integration in the functioning of each person and that each person has an inherent power of adaptation. Yoga provides ways and means of helping your body and mind to maintain a state of balance, or to regain it if it is disturbed. This imbalance is not going to be rectified by a symptomatic approach to illness. Removing symptoms, covering up symptoms or altering symptoms does nothing for a person's healing process. However, it is difficult in our Western culture, and specifically on a small isolated island like Alderney, to help people realise that orthodox medicine is not keeping it's promise of alleviating suffering and reducing illness. Having to shift "responsibility" from the army of white-coats to the individual is hard work and meets with resistance from both ends.
The physiotherapy side of medicine, i.e. joint, muscle and tendon problems, can be more successfully dealt with using a combination of Ayurvedic massage and relaxing exercises. The massage, done with compassion and love, allows an interaction by physical means (pressure, rubbing, etc.) as well as an energetic influx which is of great benefit to reduce inflammation and restore tissues to normality. The benefit of a yoga based exercise program lies in the use of slow, gradual movements which leaves the muscles relaxed; the use of proper breathing, making more oxygen available during the exercises; and the knowledge that the postures stimulate and balance internal organs, endocrine glands, circulation, etc.
People who have predominantly musculo-skeletal complaints, usually connect well with a treatment that attacks the painful places. To speed up the physical healing process, especially in very long-standing problems, we make use of additional therapies such as Osteopathy and Shiatzu. Magneto therapy also is very useful as an adjunct to the self-therapy that is undoubtedly needed to make a long lasting difference.
Asthma and cardiac problems, as well as lethargy by various names, benefit greatly from simple breathing exercises. It is important to explain properly the role of oxygen intake and consumption in a way that most people can understand. Added bonuses include a better posture, a clearer mind and a better energy distribution throughout the body. Aromatherapy plays an important part via inhalations in the maintenance of clean airways, with an additional benefit on calming the nervous system.
Internal and metabolic problems are approached from an educational angle. Upper respiratory problems, digestive problems, hormonal imbalances, skin problems, recurrent infections, endocrine problems, etc. all require a much more meaningful explanation than simple description of what is happening, which is the "explanation" provided by orthodox medicine. A lot of people find out that symptom control can be very satisfactory at first, but that at some point this will prove to be inadequate and even irritating because people start to realise that the medication is not "curing" them, that it is not getting rid of the problem. Trying to identify the relevant links for each individual is important, mainly because those are the only things the person is likely to relate to. Once the connection and understanding has been achieved, there is a fair chance that some changes can be made to improve the condition long term. Lifestyle changes, diet readjustments correlating with the individual's constitution and the particular dosha's of the illness play an essential part in this process. Guidelines can be found in Yoga and Ayurveda. Herbal and Homeopathic preparations are used as a way of influencing people's imbalances, as well as Aromatherapy in additions to bath water, massages and inhalants. As long as people can understand the wider impact of all these approaches, they are likely to stick with them. It is not necessary, in fact sometimes counterproductive, to name and label everything you suggest in order to remind people that they are in principle against "a bit of black magic". Rather remind them that that was what granny used to say and do!
In our culture, no healing advice or treatment can be complete without taking into consideration the virtually constant assault on the mind. To minimise the effect of this there is no other way but to change what we are doing. This usually meets with stiff opposition from the individual since it erodes his/her belief system; everything you work for, the systems and structures you believe in, the values you stand for, all of it is staring you in the face in it's full technicolor glory of negativity. Telling people to "meditate", or to "look for the real answers inside" is meaningless to most people who visit a GP Practice. However, you might find a way in by showing people how to "be still", how to reduce the mind chatter by refraining from attachment to thought, how to level out the peak influences of emotions which are, to a large extent, contributing to the imbalance in one's life.
In any healing environment the individual should be the centre point. Nothing is of any use unless the individual is ready to accept, has become open to whatever healing form is offered. And the other way around, whatever step on the way to healing the individual is ready for, is going to be beneficial. So, let people decide how far they want to go and in what direction, but be prepared to accompany them and support them. We have found that the Yoga way, with its all embracing levels, is providing us with a road map that has the potential of guiding everybody into heaven. We use most aspects of Yoga, some in adapted ways, to increase people's knowledge about life, so that they might find their own way quicker and easier. Yoga not only has given this Medical Practice a blue print for management and operational services, but it has also provided us with a workable book of rules to spread the Word and to show people another reality.
Mo Quanten — Yoga Acharya
Dr Patrick Quanten MD – General Practitioner