Vipassana Meditation and Psychosomatic Ilness - another Way to good health
A very grand looking meditation centre
Twice daily practice of meditation for nearly thirty years has proved to me it works
Now in the twenty-ninth year of my regular twice-daily practice of Vipassana Meditation, I feel I can agree that a bi-product of this technique is good health. I’m now seventy-eight and am fit and well and, to my knowledge, have no serious debilitating illnesses either physical or mental. So I turn once more to a book I purchased after my first ten-day Vipassana retreat back in 1986. The book is called the Vipassana Journal and comprises a great number of essays on Vipassana and its benefits. But I would particularly like to draw the reader’s attention to the observations made by doctors K.N. Dwivedi, Abhaykuma. K. Shah and Mr. Jean-Claude See, and their references to Psychic Health. I will start with Dr. Shah. Here is his opening couple of paragraphs in his essay, Vipassana and Psychosomatic Diseases, he states:
Not all meditation centres are grand and cathedral like
Every thought we put in our minds has its emotional component
“Manifestations of bodily disease are often the result of disturbances in the psyche. For example, when one’s desires are frustrated, this frustration will manifest as symptomatic complaints such as angio-neurotic oedema, urticarial rashes, high blood pressure, hyperactivity, peptic ulcers, diabetes mellitus, asthmatic attacks, eczematous conditions of the skin, palpitations, angina attacks of heart, ulcerative colitis, frequent loose motions, mucous colitis, et cetera, as well as hysterical diseases.”
He then goes on to say:
The root cause of psychotic illness: Aversion to WHAT IS
“The root cause of these problems is the psychotic process whereby aversion (my italics) is produced. This process of repeated reaction to aversion produces functional disturbances in various organs and glands, which in turn produces metabolic and hormonal imbalances. If this process continues for some time, it even produces pathological disturbances in various organs which can lead to ulceration, tensions, spasms and various mental disturbances.”
So where does Vipassana Meditation fit into these descriptions to act both as a preventative and a healing technique?
This meditation cente is pretty grand.
Balance and equanimity of mind is the key
“Vipassana is a form of meditation by which balance and equanimity of the mind process is brought about by awareness of sensations produced by the body by viewing them with mere (pure) observation without producing any attachment or aversion. This mental balance and equanimity leads to harmony and peace in bodily functions, resulting in relief from psychosomatic diseases. The gland which is primarily affected in the process of Vipassana is the suprarenal gland, which particularly produces various hormones in the body under stress.”
Our glandular system is brought into normal, healthy, regulation
So, with the regular daily practice of Vipassana, our glandular system is brought into normal, healthy regulation. This, in turn, allows natural bodily healing processes to occur and, once they are back to normal, the regular practice of Vipassana will help maintain that good health. This is not so much “mind over matter,” as sustained awareness by the real us (The Observer) which, in turn makes for changes in our bodily-stored emotions. As these negative and influencing emotions are ameliorated, both our minds and our bodies become purer. We find that, over time, our reactions to what our egos interpret ‘out there’ are no longer as strong as they once were. We are, in fact, growing in inner peace and serenity. We are strengthening and becoming more aware of who and what we really are and less and less indentified with the contents of our life story.
Another centre in another land
The goal is the total liberation of conditioned states
There are a great many benefits to be gained from the regular practice of Vipassana Meditation. However, we will continue on here with its benefits towards our overall health.
Let us now look at some of the remarks made by Jean-Claude See. Jean-Claude is a qualified practioner of Gestalt Therapy. He’d been practicing Vipassana for around five years when he wrote this.
“…Gestalt therapy, as well as all other known therapies, appeared to me more and more limited when compared with the striking therapeutic power of Vipassana. None of them really revealed the source of suffering as Vipassana did, and none were capable of leading to the real end of suffering as Vipassana can.
“Of course, Vipassana is not and doesn’t pretend to be a therapy. The goal is not to cure psychological symptoms; it is the total liberation of all conditioned states.”
He also says something quite significant:
Vipassana is not used for treatment, treatment can be a bi-product
“I am convinced that beyond the different techniques of psychotherapy, the only therapeutic factor is real love and compassion – non-egoistic, totally disinterested – which asks nothing in return.”
Finally to Dr. K. N. Dwivedi, who describes himself as a practioner of Preventative and Social Medicine.
“Vipassana is not used for treatment, treatment may be a by-product. The desire to get treated may become a hindrance on the path of Vipassana. However, a treated person may have improved capacity to undertake Vipassana. Vipassana can reduce the development of mental illness in a society and therefore reduces the need for psychiatry.”
And still another in a tropical land
How Vipassana helped with my health
From my own standpoint I can refer to only a couple of physical conditions which were cured – if that is the word – by the practice of Vipassana. In the first instance, I’d had a growth on my back which occasional used to itch. It had been there for years. It had grown there for no apparent reason. In 1986 it would have been about six millimeters in diameter. It did not give me a lot of trouble, though I was aware that such growths can continue to grow and even turn cancerous.
With our conditioned minds out of the way, healing is faster
Whilst deep in meditation at one of my earlier ten-day meditation retreats, as I was scanning my body from head to foot, foot to head as per the technique, on reaching the part of my back on which this growth occurred something quite unusual happened. I could feel energy coming in, sort of zigzag like from several areas of the back and focusing right on this growth. It was not unlike a gentle electrical flow. I simply observed what was happening. This went on for some time, perhaps half-a-minute. The next day, when I took my shower, I reached up to feel the lump or growth. It was no longer there. It had simply melted away. All there is to show for it all these years later is a simple white mark below which is something – not sure what you’d call it – a slight lump about one twentieth the size it was before that seemingly quite miraculous cure.
Meditators enjoying the serenity of an open space
Pure attention, pure breath, heals!
There is no doubt in my mind that my focused attention, as per the technique taught by the late Mr. S. N. Goenka, from whom I’d learned Vipassana, was the cause of a growth which had been there for many years to simply fade away.
The second occurrence was an abscess on the gum in front of one of my upper teeth. My attention was continually drawn to this and it was more than a just an annoyance. I was thinking seriously of visiting a dentist as soon as my ten-day Vipassana course was over and I’d be free to leave the camp. (We give our word that, once accepted into the camp we will stay for the full ten days)
Today, Vipassana as a cure for illness is studied world-wide
What happened was that as I kept up my regular scanning of my body, I would affix my full impartial attention – attention without thought or wish – on this abscessed area. Lo and behold, after two or three full days of meditation, it was gone – never to return.
One could say it would have cleared up anyway. But would it? Would it become cleared up in such a short period? My belief is that Vipassana Meditation was what healed it.
What I describe here happened way back in the 1980s. Today, Vipassana Meditation is being studied by medicos all round the world. One only has to type in Vipassana and Health or some such into Google Search and swag of sites will come up. So, if you really want to know more about Vipassana, its benefits and where it can lead all you have to do is ‘Google’ it.
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