Healing the Gut with Beginners Mind
Healing the Gut With a Beginners Mind
“What is the difference between our cooking and that of the master chef? It’s not as if the master chef has some magical ingredients, some vegetables or herbs from another planet.Everything is already right here.”
One of the first people I treated after Palpandian taught me Varma Healing was a young man with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Frequent diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain had become so normal for him that his time spent in the bathroom at work was expected to be often and lengthy by both himself and his co-workers. The daily food he consumed was very poor - lots of fast food, candy, and more processed food in the evening. What concerned him was that even on those days that he cleaned up his food intake the symptoms would not abate. They had increased over the years.
When he came for treatments I discovered that any real changes in diet and lifestyle would be difficult for him. So, listening to how he described his daily routine and food choices I began to learn how to help him make some acceptable changes. Small ones for sure, but if a few small changes were incorporated over the long term, I felt this would be most beneficial. Instead of eliminating the most damaging foods altogether, I got him to agree to reduce them. And a few, like eggs, milk, and chocolate, to reduce a bit more. He was open to making some changes and so we began the treatments. Following a few Vasi Healing® treatments, his symptoms disappeared. After four weeks of doing three treatments weekly his digestion, complexion, and energy levels were greatly improved. Ten years later his symptoms have not returned.
In the years that followed, I got the chance to work with various GI issues. Some were more challenging than others. I found a commonality. There seemed to be an underlying anxiety component. As if a difficulty digesting life events in the mind over a long period of time would eventually overflow into the physical body in the form of not being capable of properly digesting food. IBS, colitis, malabsorption, candida, acid reflux (GERD), and the whole spectrum of IBD (irritable bowel disease), all appeared to show the same pattern. Poor diet, lifestyle choices, and anxiety. Working over the years with different people I had become familiar with how to proceed with each one.
It took a long time of hearing Palpandian repeat to me the same thing before I could muster the humility to even begin to incorporate into my being:
Always keep a beginners mind in all aspects of life
Over the years he had to repeat this in so many ways to me. Sometimes I needed scolding. My natural pitta nature would tend to rush to action and assumptions. Like a rash on the skin, my rashness needed the cooling effect of his constant reminding me to never assume or keep a feeling of understanding anything. When working with those suffering from disease, it has taken a long time for me to begin to adopt this attitude. About seven years after treating the gentleman who had suffered from severe IBS I had the opportunity to live what my Teacher had been patiently trying to get me to absorb.
Some years ago while on my annual trip to India I heard from a young man’s family that he was suffering from severe abdominal pain and constipation. Pain that had been unremittingly present for several months. Having been informed at this late hour of his crisis coupled with being on the other side of the world, I was not able to be of much help. Within a few days, he was admitted to the hospital. It was determined that he had a severe intestinal abscess and surgery was needed. Removing some of his intestines was the course followed.
He was a vegetarian most of his life but like many young vegans and vegetarians today his diet consisted of non-animal junk foods. Being of vata nature, his poor diet coupled with the long term anxiety had landed him squarely into the present circumstances. When I returned a few months after his surgery I went to see him. While he was now forced to live with a colostomy bag what was even more urgent was his attitude. Where previously he had suffered from severe anxiety, he was now in crisis mode. Unable to gain weight his body was wasting at an alarming rate.
When we spoke he related that everything he ate went right through him and so he was malnourished and losing weight such that the doctors wanted to readmit him to the hospital and feed him via TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition). Having already spent so much time in the hospital the thought of having to “live there,” was causing acute anxiety attacks.
Over the next few days, I spoke to the young man and his mother about how he should go about eating. Some well cooked (and previously soaked) rice. That was it. He balked at the idea of eating such a bland diet. I kept repeating myself and the basic logic behind it: easy to digest food that contained glucose was needed at the outset. And, over time we would introduce one item at a time. Then wait several days before adding anything else. He rebelled as he missed his previous yet indigestible diet of corn chips, pizza, veggie burgers, etc. At the same time, he really could not digest anything at all which he actually understood and so he was really affected psychologically.
To the young man's credit he slowly and over a long period adopted my suggestions. The bowel excreta slowly solidified. Then we would add a single new item and only one time. Then wait several days to observe the result. It was a slow trial and error process. Uncharted waters for me in guiding someone with this type of compromised system for sure. However, my Teacher had instructed me well over the years. Following the logic of the Siddha Vasi Healing® as taught to me by Palpandian, together the young man and myself found our way. His diet slowly expanded to the point that the colostomy bag was removed the following year while I was once more visiting my Teacher in India.
This time when I returned I found that while his anxiety had come down some, he was still very anxious about food and his lack of muscle and weight. We resumed our conversations about how to add one thing at a time and I guided him on new foods to add, as well as recipes and cooking methods. He asked for Vasi Healing® sessions. I told him that as I had just returned and that he had the colostomy bag removed recently I would let him know when the time was right. To my surprise, I awoke a few days later with a clear message to begin treating him.
Examining him just prior to beginning the treatment I was shocked at what I was seeing. He no longer had a belly button. The scar from the surgeries began just below the sternum and descended not far above the pubis. As it approached where the belly button was supposed to be, it veered dramatically to his left and continued downward. If anyone knows even a little bit about yoga or ancient healing anatomy then the importance of the belly button is understood. To not have one…well, I had never imagined such a thing. The belly button is our first and original communion with the world, with anything external. Prior to the umbilical cord being formed, we are self-contained and nourished by that immaculate life force, Vasi (Vaasi). As it is our most primal meeting with anything other than us, the life forces (Dasa Vayu) like to be in this area. No wonder he still had severe digestion issues and could not gain nourishment from any food.
Before any Vasi Healing session I stop to pray. This time as I began I knew I was in uncharted waters. How to treat this condition? I had never encountered it. Heck, I didn’t even know this was possible. After the prayer my mind was empty. Then a single movement arose spontaneously. A memory, like the smoke from an incense stick, rose from my own belly into my head.
“What is the difference between our cooking and that of the master chef? It’s not as if the master chef has some magical ingredients, some vegetables or herbs from another planet. Everything is already right here.”
These words spoken to me by Palpandian some years ago came out of nowhere. And then, without any other thought or desire to make sense of anything, I proceeded. What did I apply? The most basic thing I was ever taught. Actually, it was the very first thing he had instructed me in some six years prior to that time. Following that most basic application, I treated the young man with a few other Varma points and asked him to return for the next two consecutive days.
I heard from him that night. He complained that his stomach and particularly the muscles were in pain. Asking clarifying questions he admitted that it wasn’t the usual pain. Or actual pain at all. But a weird grumbling or growling coupled with what he described as “shaking.” The weirdness was troubling him as he had never experienced this before. When he came the next day for the treatment he stated that the weird feelings were still present and he was distressed because of the electrical buzzing he felt around the center of the abdomen. Lifting his shirt to begin the session it became clear as to what was happening.
The scar had moved, after the one Vasi Healing® treatment, to the center of his abdomen. Where it was previously on the left side, it was now in the middle, where only yesterday there was smooth and solid skin, was a belly button. A little misshapen as it was oval like a diamond shape, but there it was. After the treatment, he returned the following day for his third consecutive session and continued to complain about the weird feelings of the muscles on his lower abdomen.
They weren’t painful he admitted. Had he looked at his stomach and noticed anything I asked? It took a few more moments and a few more prodding questions but eventually, he admitted that the scar was in a different place. And that he had a belly button where before he had not since the surgery. I looked at him with an obvious expression of expectancy.
Finally, he asked, “So the feelings, the weird humming of the muscles, is like the body rearranging itself? Like reforming where they were before the surgery and giving back the belly button?”
“It would appear so,” I replied.
When faced with a big issue, one I’d never encountered, I could not reach for anything new or high or special in that circumstance. I did not know how to treat the situation. Usually, if we encounter a severe or big problem we often feel we need something equally big and special to overcome it. I was forced to rely on the same ingredients of treatment I had always used. Those most basic things that even the master chef uses are the same the home cook uses. And so it was in treating this severe and acute digestive disorder.
After many years of prodding, teaching, leading, scolding and encouraging, the words of my Teacher came through me into an action that helped someone. I think that in all our time together that is all he ever wished for, that someone, even one person, could be helped through what he was sharing with me. And it did! It really did change this young man's life. Today, some three years later he naturally and enthusiastically cooks his own beautiful and nutritious plant-based meals. And he loves it! So much so that he teaches him mom recipes and cooks special meals for his family. His diet and ability to digest different foods has expanded so much that it is hard for any of us to remember the dire circumstances he faced in the past.