Yoga, Medicine, and the Restorative Nature of Neural Networks
Post Author: Nava Gauranga dasa Date: 2008-01-31 02:32:46
Nityananada! Gauranga! Hare Krsna! Dear Swami Gaurangapada and devotees, please accept my simple obiesances.
Yoga practice has taught me many things about the nature of mind, and has had numerous over all effects on self awareness for me. My experience of yoga practice is a little unique and not so common in some specific ways.
Modern science seems to think that the organism of the brain is different to some other organs in the body. They think its power of self healing is very developed. Through self observation I have realized this to be true. I am of the opinion that if neural networks in the brain can be opened, re-opened, or enhanced, the networks can be cultivated and developed. Especially through meditation techniques etc.
Many people who encounter psychosis or other serious mental illnesses, from what I have seen, quite often do not recover very well. I perceive this is so because of the inability to see oneself as a transcendent observer. Most sufferers of these illnesses are so unwell that they are caught you might say, in the drama of the illness.
Its very interesting to note here, my experience with doctors. They will never, or very rarely share with the (so-called) ill patient, workings of the medicines they prescribe or workings of the psycholological brain states and function. I am specifically talking about psychiatry here. These doctors must have pre-judgment of the clients ability or inability to understand themselves at deeper levels. Possibly due to the morbid nature of psychosis etc.
Personally I take a medicine called Risperidone (risperdal). A very very low dosage is what I have chosen to take for some years now. I have observed the workings of this drug on various milligram dosages. And have noticed the various mind states. It is very advanced modern medicine and not prescribed so freely (very expensive). No doctor has been willing to share with me the nature of this drug. It is very potent and beneficial I find.
It is mainly used for pyschosis, schizophrenia, old age dementia, and in some cases autism. It was used in my case for so called psychotic symptoms (the nature of psychosis as illness is debatable). But I have noticed this drug has changed my brain workings in various multi-faceted ways, which I think the average GP and psychiatrist may not be well studied in.
For example. On higher doses Risperdal causes social anxiety in some. It did this to me for quite some years. I reduced the dosage gradually of my own volition, and all anxiety left. Autistic people often have the kind of anxiety I have lived with, and which was enhanced by a higher dosage of this drug. The disappointing thing is, the practicioners are not responsible enough to find the perfect dosage of these drugs which will enhance wellness and well being, but instead they use the drugs to shut down adverse effects of illness. Such is not infact the nature of these very modern medicines, so doctors are still working on an old model of old medicines (medicate and shutdown).
But if used wisely these modern drugs like Risperdal have various subtle, and very beneficial effects. For example, developed concentration, and awareness of one's environment and other humans (which is often diminished in autistic states). Infact yoga practice aligned with these treatments has excellent effect. The medicine is infact complimentary and enhances the yoga. Which is opposite to the medical model which says relaxation and yoga is the compliment. The model is back to front.
The most interesting observation I have found through yoga, is self observation in itself. My experience is quite unique, in that I walked through a long term illness and fully recovered. And attained a much more developed awareness than may have been if the crisis did not develop.
I am an advocate of medicines such as Risperdal if they are used properly. Hence I can reaffirm the importance of yoga practice in this regard. The interesting thing to note is psychiatrists tried to talk me out of yoga. Why? Because of the great mistake of perceiving the clients inabilities and morbid state. A great error indeed. And definately incorrect utilization of a substance like Risperdal.
A non government organization here asked me to be a co-ordinator for a Recovery Course (from Boston University) for people working their way through the mire of mental illness. Unfortunately the system is not ready for Krishna consciousness. Maybe due to the identification of the word religion with Krishna consciousness. So presently I have denied them access to my services. The 'good medicine' only works effectively in the 'correct dose and good administration'. Yoga is not secondary to western medicine, it is the 'good medicine'.
These are some things I have learnt on the journey. Thought it may be of interest to you all. The brain is surely a wonderful organism, and as doctors are discovering, its restorative ability is vast.
Your servant....Nava Gauranga dasa.
Post Author: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2008-01-31 06:01:07
Nityaananda! Gauraanga! Hare Krishna! Thank you Nava Gauranga dasa. This is a purely Ayurvedic medicine Mentat which may be helpful in such circumstances. Of course purely Ayurvedic medicines require a longer period for results but they act at the root. The Bhramari Pranayama performs an instant soothing, calming and peaceful effect on the mind. It can be performed both morning and evening. Shirshasana and Shavasana increase the blood flow to the brain and are also very beneficial in this regard.
Daaso'smi, Swami Gaurangapada.
Post Author: truthseeker Date: 2008-01-31 20:19:01
Nityananda!!! Gouranga!!! Hare Krishna!!! Please accept my humble obeisances.
Dear Navaranga Gouranga Das Prabhu, Thanks for this interesting post. Personally I have has two episodes of psychosis. Initialy when I was on the heavy dosage of risperidal I felt like dying almost. It was the worst experience ever. I was taking like 10mg. Then my doctor consequently reduced the dosage to like 4mg after observing my improvements. I dont like risperidal at all. It makes me feel dull and inhibits my enthusiasm.
Interestingly what got me into psychosis is Yoga and Meditation. I was performing yoga and meditation two times a day. Once in the early morning and once before the sunset. Three months of yoga and meditation put me into psychosis. I was becoming realy spiritual and reading lot of spiritual books and trying to understand my relationship with this universe. That was during summer of 2005.
Then after I got psychosis I gave up on this so called spiritual life and adopted my old ways of living like an animal. Then for six months I lived like that till I came in contact with a devotee.
I started to learn about Krishna concious philosophy and it started to make sense to me. Then I started strictly following Krishna Conciousness with all my heart. Then I again had second episode of psychosis. This was summer of 2006
So if you can see the pattern then you can see whenever I became serious in spiritual life I got attacked by psychosis and this time I was diagonoised with bipolar disorder. I am very dissappointed in spiritual life but still have not given up. Trying my best to stay on the path.
Risperidal overall I dont know how it works. But I dont like the way it makes me feel. Currently I am on 4mg dose and have stopped taking it.
Just thought I should share this.
Post Author: Nava Gauranga dasa Date: 2008-01-31 21:51:11
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna! Dear Truth Seeker, please accept my simple obiesances thx for sharing your experience.
10mg is a very very high dosage of Risperdal, as I mentioned in my first post the doctors use it to 'medicate and shutdown'. It is not surprising you felt so unwell and drained. Even 4mg is a moderately high dosage, which will have side-effects.
If you take up the karma/bhakti yoga path and develop your Krsna consciousness, there is one very important thing to do. I don't know if you do this but I will mention it anyhow.
Yoga is a holistic lifestyle. It is very important to live the 4 regulative principles as outlayed by Srila Prabhupada when practiscing yoga, or else there will be difficulty and disturbance.
And most essentially a wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, dahls, rices, and milk products, first offered to the Lord. This diet of prasadam clears the consciousness and the path of yoga becomes open. All yoga scriptures speak of the importance of regulation in lifestyle, and the difficulty if regulation is not followed.
Rising at a regular time in the morning. Taking rest at a regular time. And finding time for exercise and deep relaxation are all essential to wellness.
I have followed this process very closely and over time was able to reduce Risperdal from 2.5mg to 0.5mg gradually and sensibly. Infact Risperdal works well over an extended time (years), giving the mind time to heal and re-establish healthy neural networks. A person will know when it is time to reduce the medicine as he will feel at ease and at peace with his mind and being, and the world. Continual relapse into psychosis does not give the mind time to heal. Therefore the need for extended time of well-ness to search out the soul within!
Chanting of the Lord's Holy Names is essential also. Swami Gaurangapada suggested 4 years ago that I chant everyday 10 rounds of Nityananda and 10 rounds of Gauranga. He explained that their Lordships give so many blessings, water, fresh air, fresh food, gift of life etc.....that it is a small thing to do 30 minutes chanting a day to say thank you.
I took that instruction to heart Prabhu! And it was the most auspicious instruction in my life. Now the 4 regulations are second nature, I chant 64 rounds of Gauranga, 64 rounds of Nityananda, and 32 Rounds of the Hare Krsna Mahamantra each day normally, and if I miss I do more rounds in the following days.
This process that I have outlayed here has changed my life (there are no shortcuts), led me to full recovery of mental illness, and placed a spark in my heart for love of God. My wellness is the best it has been in 38 years. Life is a gift and the 'gift is Krsna consciousness'
The environment is nurturing if we can see with purified vision. Gurudeva said one time to me to try and see Sri GaurangaKrsna everywhere. By following the above process such realization will eventually manifest in the heart, bringing divine peace, even admist the trials of life.
I hope this sheds more light on the process I have followed. Thank you.
your servant Nava.
Post Author: Nava Gauranga dasa Date: 2008-02-01 02:57:43
Bhagavad Gita As It Is
Chapter 6 verse 24 by HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
TRANSLATION One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with determination and faith and not be deviated from the path. One should abandon, without exception, all material desires born of mental speculation and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind.
PURPORT The yoga practitioner should be determined and should patiently prosecute the practice without deviation. One should be sure of success at the end and pursue this course with great perseverance, not becoming discouraged if there is any delay in the attainment of success. Success is sure for the rigid practitioner. Regarding bhakti-yoga, Rüpa Gosvami says:
utsahan niscayad dhairyat tat-tat-karma-pravartanat sanga-tyagat sato vrtteh sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati “One can execute the process of bhakti-yoga successfully with full-hearted enthusiasm, perseverance, and determination, by following the prescribed duties in the association of devotees and by engaging completely in activities of goodness.?(Upadesamrta 3)
As for determination, one should follow the example of the sparrow who lost her eggs in the waves of the ocean. A sparrow laid her eggs on the shore of the ocean, but the big ocean carried away the eggs on its waves. The sparrow became very upset and asked the ocean to return her eggs. The ocean did not even consider her appeal. So the sparrow decided to dry up the ocean. She began to pick out the water in her small beak, and everyone laughed at her for her impossible determination. The news of her activity spread, and at last Garuda, the gigantic bird carrier of Lord Visnu, heard it. He became compassionate toward his small sister bird, and so he came to see the sparrow. Garuda was very pleased by the determination of the small sparrow, and he promised to help. Thus Garuda at once asked the ocean to return her eggs lest he himself take up the work of the sparrow. The ocean was frightened at this, and returned the eggs. Thus the sparrow became happy by the grace of Garuda. Similarly, the practice of yoga, especially bhakti-yoga in Krsna consciousness, may appear to be a very difficult job. But if anyone follows the principles with great determination, the Lord will surely help, for God helps those who help themselves.
Post Author: Hadai Nityananda dasa Date: 2008-02-01 03:16:44
Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krishna!
Dear Swamiji and devotees,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to the guru parampara. All glories to Sri Sri Nityananda Gauranga. All glories to Sri Sri Radha Krishna. All glories to the assembled devotees of the Lord.
Our medicine world of nowadays is so alienated from what it originally was. 3000 years ago in China doctors were paid as long as patients were healthy. The doctors task was to prevent sickness and he or she gave people advise of how to avoid the virus of the village next door. Nowadays doctors are waiting until you become sick. Your sickness is their income. When you don’t become sick they don’t eat. Of course I don’t believe that doctors purposely want you to become sick, but on the subconscious level they really need you to be sick just to maintain themselves.
On top of it most doctors nowadays don’t give a treatment anymore. Most are standing with a booklet in hand waiting to prescribe you one or another drug. Medicine is basically reduced to drug prescription. Whatever drug you are prescribed when you read the instructions you will find that all prescribed drugs have possible side-effects. Some have over 20 possible side-effects. And when you use a drug long enough it is almost sure you will respond to one of those side-effects. But no problem: there is a drug for that too! As soon as you are drawn into this world of prescribed drugs you are caught into a catch 22, a cycle from which escape seems impossible and this is what the pharmaceutical industry literally aims for.
Already in 1600 Voltaire said: “Doctors are entertainers while we heal ourselves.?There is so much truth in that. The way we are created is a sublime engineering that is unmatched by any technology that we ourselves have developed. Scientists cannot even ‘create?a blade of grass because its manufacturing is way beyond their limited understanding. We have to understand and believe that the ability to heal ourselves is inherently present within us. Our structure is naturally perfect in balance and only our false ego can distort it. This is of course very high upstream healing, because when we can flip our false ego around into our real ego, we vividly experience being an eternal servant of the Lord and transcendental love flows without restriction constantly throughout our entire being. But most of us are way more downstream and are caught up as if in a wild river in which we are avoiding logs and rocks and curves and?waterfalls! We are constantly trying to feel better by eradicating pain. We are way more busy avoiding pain than striving towards pleasure. For many of us the moments that pain is absent are the only moments of pleasure. How sad to be that far downstream and how extremely merciful of our Lordships to appear among us when we are in such despair. When we would be open to receive even a drop of that nectarian ocean of Their mercy the miracle of true healing takes place. And They are knocking on our door constantly. When do we open the door for Them? I mean really open the door?
Different medicine works for different people. I see this first hand all the time because my wife is an acupuncturist and naturopath. Although many people manifest the same sickness symptoms no treatment is the same because everybody has their own myriad of root causes. So the same sickness can be treaded in a large variety of ways and there is just not one pill for each sickness. That’s something the medicine industry wants us to believe but it is absolutely a falsification of the reality as it is. Of course the root of all roots is the alignment with our Lordships. Whatever we are when we are aligned with our Lordships is perfect. It is our false ego that says ‘it’s not perfect, I have to chance something?
We see that Nava Gauranga dasa Prabhu is happy with Risperdal while Vishwajit Prabhu is not. Same drug different experience. What works for Nava doesn’t work for Vishwajit, and maybe what works for Vishwajit doesn’t work for Nava. That’s because they have a different root cause. Their symptoms may appear the same but how those symptoms are rooted within their living organism is different. The best advise a doctor can give is to try different things and to see what works best. He can advise you in a certain direction but eventually it is judged within your own experience what works best.
Vishwajit it is very interesting to learn about your pattern with spirituality and getting attacked by psychosis. I have seen this pattern manifold in people how practiced TM (Transcendental Meditation) for a couple of years. Although most people experience nice benefits from practicing TM a small percentage of people get psychosis, schizophrenia, paranoide schizophrenia, and similar symptoms. Of course this is something not often discussed in TM circles and even ignored and I am sure there are other practices out there that have the same problems. My personal observations are that most of these people who have manifested a mental disorder because of some spiritual practice need grounding. As soon as they start a spiritual practice they become extremely spacy and in the beginning they feel really good and after a while (sometimes years) they collapse and feel attacked by ‘dark forces? To get grounded is actually quite simple. Just work with the ground, dig in the soil, breath in fresh air, plant and grow your own food and feel connected with nature. When you live in the city go regular out into the country and absorb the physical nature around you. These are all activities you can do fully Gauranga Krishna conscious and through your intensified contact with the physical nature you will see Their Lordships with new eyes and wonder.
I absolutely agree with Swamiji that our first resort should be natural remedies like he suggested Mentat. There is extensive research in the working of herbs and minerals and the wonderful thing is they have no side effects. They are also synergetic that means they are complete instead of chemical extraction. In this material manifestation the Lord has given us medicines right from the field and ready to go. We do not need to take His perfectly balanced synergetic medicines into laboratories and make them better. In many cases we do not even have to take herbs or minerals but just chance our diet. You are what you have eaten and you become what you eat. Many ‘problems?can be solved by just minor changes in diet but we have to develop the sensitivity to experience what they do in us. When I do not eat wheat for a few weeks what difference do I feel? Try to get sensitive to what happens in your body. Take little steps and make a diary of how you feel different. Only try one chance at a time for a few weeks because when you make many you don’t know what did what. Eventually you get a very good feel for what vitalizes you, what enhances your bhajana, your alertness, you ability to serve the Lord. When you evolve in this way, ultimately for His pleasure, He in His expansion as Paramatma located in your heart will help you to make the right decisions and to come to the right conclusions. He is the Guru within and is an expansion of Lord Nityananda and only by His mercy you will be allowed to engage in the service of Lord Gauranga Who reveals the Supreme love of Radhe Syama. When our immediate and ultimate goal is to please the Lord, He surely will clear the path and take away all obstacles to come to Him. The only thing we have to understand is that sometimes we experience the obstacles as blockages while in fact they are there to intensify our service for the Lord. He absolute knows what is best for us and when we pray for the best He will give. And then again: are we ready to receive?
Please forgive me my shortcomings.
Your aspiring servant,
Hadai Nityananda dasa
Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krishna!
Post Author: Nava Gauranga dasa Date: 2008-02-01 06:08:11
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!
Very nice advice Hadai, thx. Grounding is essential for many personality types, especially with the manifestation of subtle phenomena. Being well grounded we can exercise our gifts, well balanced, for the purpose of cultivation of love of God and service.
At some point in my recovery and spiritual unfoldment, I realized the choice to be well, was not only for me. But infact for the broader society also. I realized if I am in good health spiritually, mentally, and physically, my potential of being a better servant is greater. With this 'choice and responsibility' I realized it was essential to find the right keys to good health.
I have served quietly in the mental health area for one third of my life, mostly befriending people and listening, and offering support. As soon as the individual gains empowerment and vision, the right choices can then be made. Vision of society begins in one's heart, extends out to family, neighbours, friends, nation, world, and universes, up to the consummation in Krsna consciousness. To be empowered as a servant of the Vaisnava's is the greatest gift for human birth I feel. As humans in a conditioned state empowerment is essential and the 'choice of service' is the key!
I especially feel dealing in the mental health field a balance is needed, as you say each individual is unique. Extremes in choice of treatment exercised are often not so effective (even in the field of religion the same, in my humble opinion). I advocate a wholistic approach to well being. As you say we need doctors in the health field who are fully committed to wellness. It appears western medicine has much room for growth in this area.
Post Author: JagannathaGaurangadasa Date: 2008-02-01 10:18:39
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
Here is a link selling Mentat for much cheaper: http://www.favorfinesse.com/hhmentat.shtml You can get 12 60 capsule bottles for $70 plus free shipping and paypal. At 4 capsules a day that would be 2 bottles a month which would come out to a little under $12 per month. This is about 40% the cost of other stores.
Post Author: Nava Gauranga dasa Date: 2008-02-01 11:20:18
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!
Grof and Grof psychiatric team coined the phrase 'spiritual emergence crisis'. Even though I do not strictly follow all the philosophical thoughts of these two people their coined phrase and perspectives have been beneficial.
I served in an environment that was open to this thinking a few years back. It is not mainstream.
The website and related websites may be of interest to the discerning mind.
Post Author: Bhakta Igor Date: 2008-02-01 16:30:32
Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krsna 'Yoga practice has taught me many things about the nature of mind, and has had numerous over all effects on self awareness for me.'
Dear Nava Gauranga Prabhu dasa, did you also practiced some form of hatha or astanga yoga, or you refer in your post exclusively to Naam Bhakti Yoga?
"And then again: are we ready to receive? " Very good point! And do we really want to receive?
Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krsna
Post Author: Nava Gauranga dasa Date: 2008-02-01 21:46:27
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krsna!
"Dear Nava Gauranga Prabhu dasa, did you also practiced some form of hatha or astanga yoga, or you refer in your post exclusively to Naam Bhakti Yoga?" posted by Igor
Dear Igor thx for your question. I do not practice Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga or Pranayama (as such). Simply Naam Bhakti Yoga and Krsna consciousness.
There are several key things that awoke spontaneously over a period of time, and some even years before I deepened Naam Yoga. A deeper sense of Krsna consciousness arose in me purely by Naam. Srila BR Sridhara Dev Goswami has said, ''with higher vision we will see the environment as nurturing'. This has been my meditation for some years. Especially due to my background of chronic illness. But prior to my deeper practice of Krsna consciousness I had began to awaken to subtle phenomena dealing with prana and the subtle mind. http://www.spiritualemergence.org.au/
Initially this subtle phenomena was very disturbing but with Krsna consciousness and increasing awareness of love the so-called crisis awoke into a healthy emergence. Which is so fragile. Please see the above website. So infact the difference between psychotic states and healthy spiritual emergence and crisis is very fine. So it is very important for me to follow the process of Bhakti Yoga (please see my first response to Truth Seeker). Without Bhakti Yoga the awakening I have encountered would be very difficult. My organism seems to awaken rapidly, but love and being at ease has been the stable ground.
Bhakti Yoga is the king of yoga, as it deals with love in its purest refined form. A spiritual emergence also deals with ones unfoldment of love and states of developed awareness of the cosmos (the summum bonum).
Our organism is by nature made of love. And if there is some psychological block to this striving (emergence) of love the orgnanism may go through a crisis to unfold. Even Arjuna went through an existensial crisis.
The most difficult thing for me was awakening to subtle phenomena and some siddhis that were overwhelming. Such phenomena (crisis) is labeled illness in my western society (and not understood), and I was treated thus. But as I studied yoga and other cultures I began to realize my encounters were not illness. My ancestory on my mothers side is South American Indian. In this culture I would have been going through a shamanic journey. Western medical model in this area is sorely lacking, as it is also a reflection of the gross nature of materialism, a disconnection from nature (what is).
So Igor I do not practice pranayama as such, but am aware of many things that pranayama and hatha yoga may awaken.
What are my motivations for opening this discussion on Nitaai Yoga forum? Simply to document my encounters for future reference, and so that others on this spiritual emergence awakening may have some reference points. For example our friend 'truth seeker' may find some benefit from this discussion.
Igor my journey has been long and not easy. Infact the western medical model almost killed me with its medicine at one point. I developed a syndrome called 'neuro-leptic malignant syndrome' which kills one in four. The recovery from that was very hard. Also some of the side-effects such as anxiety developed more problems than the crisis itself. But I am not anti-western medicine like some. I feel people on either extreme are imbalanced to some degree. And their advice can do harm to the one in crisis. Those who have not experienced such a journey may not fully know the encounter.
Western medicine is very potent (hence its potential dangers). But in correct dosage and useage is very helpful for the westerner who may not be able to live a refined yogic lifestyle. We need balance actually, and joining of east, west, and indigenous culture in my humble opinion. As has been pointed out by Truth Seeker and Hadai Prabhu certain yogic practices also have their dangers. Spiritual emergence can be difficult for some.
But saying this Krsna is the giver of intelligence. Buddhi Yoga is non-different to Bhakti Yoga (Krsna consciousness). Buddhi was my saving grace. And Buddhi is a gift from God. Bhakti is a reciprocation of gifts and loving service. If seen with divine vision this world in which we live is saturated with bhakti and loving dealings. Love in its most subtlest forms is surely divine.
I hope my foolishness can be a blessing in some way to someone on the path to awakening love. In service.....Nava.