The Nature Curist

Notes on the half day workshop

Arun Sharma started off as a farmer. His first three years of farming saw three droughts and his crops failing. His next venture was a brick kiln. The years that he ran the kiln, it rained like crazy and his bricks got regularly washed away. To compound matters, there was a strike at cement factories. The demand for bricks went down drastically. During one of these depression years, he was visiting Bombay where his dad was following his own dad’s footsteps in nature cure. (Arun’s grandpa, Lakshmana Sarma, is fondly called the father of nature cure in India.) Arun’s dad had to go out for some urgent work, so Arun was asked to become a substitute teacher. He had finally found his calling. And that’s what he’s been doing now for 40 years. Arun started his nature cure centre in the United States in 1982. His work is mostly with chronic patients. 

In allopathy, the trend is to specialise. Quick quiz question: How many medical specialisations can you remember? The list is much longer than that. And each specialisation requires a disease. So the effort is to keep on creating new names for diseases. And their willing brethren in the pharma industry are as keen to help – by creating new drugs to fight these new diseases. If these drugs were really so good, we should have actually seen a reduction in diseases, not addition. 

You can invite goondas to solve a dispute. They do end up solving this dispute fast, but they also end up becoming encroachers in your house for the rest of your life. Like these goondas, medicine is born out of fear. And now medicine’s status in our lives has become: Maan ya na maan, main tera mehman. No wonder, we see so few smiling faces nowadays. 

There’s always a better way. And naturopathy is leading the new azaadi movement: azaadi from drugs, doctors and disease. Just like darkness is simply the absence of light, disease is just an absence of health. Nature cure believes that a disease is life’s expression of it’s will to help. And by health we are looking at the unity of physical, mental and spiritual health. Nature cure makes no attempt to diagnose. Nature cure does not actually cure. It believes that the body is the best healer, and it’s job is to ensure that the body gets to focus on the process of healing, as the pran tries to remove toxins from the body.

It’s not how long you live, but how well you live that counts. The biggest responsibility that all of us have is to be swavlambi. Which is that we should not become a burden on others as we age. Because that is the definition of hell. Nature cure believes that health is a number that cannot be measured. One day a marathon runner went to a doctor to have a blood pressure checked. He was surprised to find that the BP was 90/70. The doctor immediately advised treatment. Actually, it’s the doctor who needs treatment. The marathoner is obviously in good health. And that BP is typical for people who have a good exercise regimen. Arun gave the example of Gandhi, whose sugar was always 180. The medical industry has been playing around with the numbers for a long time. Over the years, acceptable sugar levels has been going south, so that more and more population can now be labelled as diabetic. We spend the first half of our life to create our wealth. The next half we spend it all, to save our health. It’s good for the doctors’ business, but is it really good for society?

The venue of the talk was the green National Institute of Naturopathy, bang next to Pune Railway station. What is interesting about NIN is the connection to Gandhi. MKG used to run his own Nature Cure brigade from here. And surprisingly, in the times of plague, Gandhi had a  success rate which was better than allopathy. The director shared the story of how MKG worked with his wife Kasturba on her medical problems. Kasturba had excessive bleeding during her periods. Naturopathy recommended a reduction in salts and pulses. Kasturba remonstrated to MKG saying that it’s very easy to advise but difficult to implement. So for one year, our friend MKG vowed not to have any salt and pulses. Poor Kasturba obediently followed. Her bleeding stopped.

What enthuses the audience in Arun’s talks are the collective chanting that he does every once in a while. We started with one. The audience was supposed to chant 3 om s together, with the first one at the lowest pitch and the last one at the highest pitch. After this was done, Arun declared that the room was now Ek Omkar – we are all united together as one now. In the context of some friction in the audience over the choice of language in which the talk should be conducted, this unity was interesting.

We start work with a prayer to Ganesh. Which means that we have already decided what this first work is going to be. Hence the link between Ganesh and prioritisation. So let’s start with our first priority – aahar. When an object is broken, you repair it using the same material that the object is made of. The body is made up of aahar. So when It breaks down, the healing also has to be done through aahar

Mati, paani. dhup hawa,

Lakh dukho ki ek dawa

What is aahar? We usually associate aahar only with food. Air, Light are two components of aahar which we tend to neglect. But let’s start with food. We have forgotten what it is like to be hungry. Because our eating is falsely disciplined by our watches, whereas it should actually be regulated by our biological clocks. Because we eat with reference to a chronological clock, we have come to believe that hunger is a pain. It’s not. Hunger is a lightness in the body and happiness in the mind. 

The act of eating is a conflict between body and mind. The body wants food from nature. The mind wants foods that are processed. And the mind mostly wins – because in our instincts, the first test is always taste. Every human being is born with certain genetic programming. There is only a finite number of times your heart will beat. This is only a finite number of breaths that your lung will take in. And there is only finite kilograms of sugar that your body can consume. Spices, which incidentally include sugar, confuse our body chemistry. They make us eat, even when we are not hungry. In every wedding we attend, we philosophize that life and death is a cycle, but dawats are not! Kal kya hoga kisko pata, abhi zindagi ka lelo maaza. To vasulify our thousand rupees gift, we hog on 2000 rupees of junk food and then spend 5000 rupees on medical treatment. 

Food follows the order of creation. For any species, before it is formed, nature has made an arrangement for its food. Carnivores evolved only after herbivores. One carnivore never eats another carnivore. Our body can regulate intake for natural food, but it does not have the mechanism to regulate processed foods. Have you ever tried eating chocolate powder without sugar? Ingesting just a spoonful of coffee into your system? Which is why we end up overdoing processed foods. And this overdose is what leads to excess of acids.

A positive food is one that has got more nutrients and less waste. This is called pathya food. The best foods are those that can be eaten raw. Like fruits, which are actually predigested foods. The advantage of eating fruits and salads is that you don’t need anyone to make it for you. You can do it yourself. And food that you make for yourself is definitely more appetizing than food that is made by others for you. The next best foods are those which require light cooking. And the worst are those which can are either fried or can only be eaten spiced up. 

Arun had an interesting take on milk products. He recounted a very popular bhajan where Lord Krishna tells his mum. Mai nahi makhan khayo. He only got the butter for his friends. He extends this interpretation of Krishna avoiding butter to all dairy products. 80% of the food that we eat should be alkaline. Fruits and raw vegetables are a good source of alkaline food. But his advice is to not mix fruits. Eat only one type at a time. It helps digestion. And Arun is pragmatic, he knows that none of us can live in a regimen like this seven days a week. So he turns a blind eye to one cheat day per week.

Our digestion follows the circadian cycle. We can eat our heaviest meal when the sunlight is at its brightest. So not breakfast, but lunch should be our heaviest meal. The practical problem is that we are all office workers. And a heavy lunch would mean a siesta. Which is why we like to have light lunches and heavy dinners. This is not what our traditional lifestyle was. In earlier days our forefathers would get up at dawn, just have a drink of water and start work. They would finish work in the fields around noon, have a bath, have food, and a siesta. Some light work was ok after siesta, and by evening you were done with your last meal of the day. Leaving you with about four hours of activity to help digest the food before you slept.

Arun is an expert in using analogies to drive home points. One of them was related to body cleanliness, where he uses the analogy of body and house. In the houses of the olden days, people used to mostly sit on the floor, sometimes on a chatai. Later on we moved on to chairs. And now we sit on sofas. In our much smaller houses, we continue to fill them up with all kinds of furniture. We have become hoarders. There is no space left. Our maids come home to clean the house. Does she actually clean the floor below the furniture? She can’t. So this clutter is acting against hygiene. Isn’t the same true for our bodies? Don’t we need to keep some space inside for moving around.

Why do toxins accumulate in our body? Because our food lacks something. It could be water, it could be fibre, it could be just life. The last one needs some elaboration. Don’t plants also have a life. Isn’t the real life of a plant in the roots, and shouldn’t we avoid eating fruits, as some of the religions profess? Arun feels that life is in raw. As you process, the nutrients reduce and toxins increase. When toxins accumulate in the body, then that part of the body which has an excess of toxins gets an inflammation. We don’t need to treat this inflammation. We need to keep it in place. Arun looks down upon ayurvedic remedies like haldi et al, which people use to stop inflammations. If you want to cure, cure the cause, not the effect. Remedies are not solutions.

Life’s activity in an unclean body is disease. Isn’t it ironic that we can live with constipation and toxin creation, but we cannot live without food! When toxins accumulate, your body tries to warn you that there is something wrong. What is a toxin? Matter in the wrong place. Disease can be seen as an attempt by the body to set things right. Story time again. You are busy cleaning your house. And just then, the neighborhood kiranawala comes to make a delivery. You stop your work as you concentrate on stacking up all the stuff in the right places. And you forget the cleaning. 

This is what happens when you eat. The cleaning process stops, as the body gives a higher priority towards digesting the food that has come in. Because if left undigested, this food will create more trouble. And so it happens, that the cleanup message that the body was trying to tell you, through the pain, gets hidden as you get diverted. Food then is the evil diversion, the symbolic dust, that keeps on getting pushed below the carpet. This is the time that you need to give time to the body to heal itself. Fasting allows our body to concentrate on the cure. Remember that food is also poison. Your food can slowly eat you up, if you don’t follow the principles of right eating. 

The Indian spelling of fast is better spelled with an e between the f and the a. Traditional India is the real originator of fast foods. Arun told this interesting tale about his grandmother. He lived in a joint family with 16 members. Every ekadashi, the grandma would ask the daughter-in-laws what they have made for lunch. After hearing about all the goodies that were getting made, she would lament that all she had had during her ekadashi was only one idli. Omitting to mention the fact that it was the Kanchipuram idli, which is the equivalent of 12 normal idlis. Most of our fasts are charades. Eating is the best way of making a fast slow.

Pain and Gain are at opposite ends of our timelines. Anything that pains you in the short-term, is good for you in the long term. And vice versa. Sugar and exercise are cases in point. Hunger develops when there is some output, there is some exercise. Most of us have sedentary jobs. In his workshops, Arun always comes across wives who are doing advocacy on behalf of the husbands. But my husband goes for a walk 90 minutes everyday! Out of which 60 minutes are spent in gossip! Or the CEO husband who goes for his tennis everyday. He always plays doubles. And most of the time the delegation in the court is to his doubles partner! Nature cure is as much about exercise as it is about food. Arun considers true exercise as one that causes you to sweat. And he is a firm believer in age not being a constraint for that. Jo hilta hai, vah hila deta hai.

We then moved on to the next type of aahar, light. Light is not as simple as we make it out to be. In primary school, we were taught that light travels in a straight line. In secondary, light seemed to have got some magical properties of bending through refraction. And in college, we realised that it’s not just particles, but it’s also waves. There are some inner secrets that light has. It is these secrets of light that the Nature Curist uses.

Moving on from light to air. Imagine a long good train of purplish blood cells, loaded with carbon dioxide. The train enters your lungs. It stops. Carbon dioxide is unloaded, and oxygen is loaded. The cells on the train have now changed colour to a bright red. Arun likes telling stories to make a point. He talked about the sessions that he does in Calcutta. He stays as a guest of a Jain family. Their mansion has 129 rooms. And there is just a mother and daughter who stay there. They have 26 servants working for them. Once a year, on the occasion of Diwali, the extended Jain family comes down to Calcutta to celebrate together. And it is then that all these 129 rooms are opened up. There are always problems with a few rooms. The hinges are rusty. The rooms have never been opened during the last year. It requires a lot of effort on part of the servants, but eventually the doors do open. Our lungs are full of cells which are like rooms. If you don’t use them, you lose them. Or look at it another way, since we are not using the full capacity of our lungs most of the time, there is a lot of stale air that remains. And this stale air, like unused goods in our attics, tends to catch up dust and toxins. To detoxicate air, Arun advises Pranayam. Pranayam has got 5 steps in it. 

  • Slow breath in. 
  • Hold.
  • Slow exhalation through the nose.
  • Exhalation through the mouth.
  • Hold.

Holding your breath when you have inhaled helps improve posture and confidence. But what about holding your breath when you exhale? Arun believes that holding the lungs after exhalation gives a much needed rest to this vital organ. After all, we need to remember there is a finite number of breaths that we are going to be taking. And lungs will work better when they are given some intermittent rest. We need to do 5 sets of Pranayam, three times a day: when you wake up in the morning, sometime near the afternoon, and before you go to sleep at night. 

Another interesting breathing exercise happened post lunch. Stand up. Raise your hands. Breath in. Put your hands down. Breath out. He got the audience to do this three times, and most of them were woken up from their postprandial slumbers. Incidentally, lunch at NIN was millet khichdi, coconut chutney, chaas and a gur based dessert. The chai break was a nachni-gur drink.

We ended with a discussion on spiritual health. We all start life with a credit balance. This is given to us at our birth. Your good karmas add to this credit balance. When you are the recipients of others’ good karmas it gets debited from this balance. The aim in life is to maintain a healthy Karma credit balance. The Bible states ask and it shall be given. This is true. But there is a problem. Because we don’t know what to ask. So it’s best not to ask. Ojas is the capacity to receive. And tejas is the capacity to give. The best tejas is the one that is done without informing the recipient. Let’s spice up the spirituality with some more stories from Arun.

When Arun’s niece, Sita, was 6 years old, she refused to go to school. She was adamant, her mother even more so. Arun stepped in. He told Sita, ‘Look in the mirror. You are so beautiful. Can you see this beauty?’ ‘Yes’, said Sita. ‘Why are you so beautiful? It’s because you have a beautiful heart. You don’t want to hurt people. You want to help them. But people don’t know about it. Go to school and help someone, everyday.’ Sita had the most number of friends in school in the month that followed. 

When Arun was in 7th standard, he had a tough time with math. So one day he went to his dad and asked him, ‘I want a tutor.’  His dad’s reply, ‘Become one.’ The mystical answer took some time to get absorbed. Two days later, Arun went to his fourth grade teacher and asked her ‘Can I get some students who are weak in maths who I can teach?’ He got 4. He taught these kids during his lunch break. Not only was the teacher happy, but also the kids’ parents were overjoyed. The next week he repeated this with the fifth standard. And the week after that with the 6th standard. 6th grade was difficult, because he had to do a lot of homework before he got down to teaching. But in a month’s time, he was up to the mark in his 7th grade math.

In the question and answer session at the end, my question to Arun was related to compliance. I asked him what his experience has been about compliance for people who have attended his workshops. As expected, it was dismal. But then his point was that even if one out of hundred benefits, it’s acceptable. Alternatively out of hundred things that were spoken, if one gets adopted that also is acceptable. Arun went on to give the example of ISKCON. It was started in downtown New York, one of the most challenging places to be in the United States. And the biggest ISKCON ambassadors have come from the ex-convicts who attended these programs.

The high point was when one of the audience member sitting next to me, Nisha Koiri, got up and supplemented Arun’s answer. Nisha, a marketing professional, was detected with breast cancer in 2016. Allopathic doctors had given her 45 days to live. She had to choose between chemotherapy and nature cure. She chose the latter. And is doing well. Fasts every Monday. Has only salads for lunch. And has said no to chemotherapy. She has been so impressed with the treatment, that she isnow a qualified nature cure practitioner. You can get in touch with her on cancernaturallyhealing@gmail.com Please do catch up on her very interesting blog about her approach to cancer:  https://cancernaturallyhealing.wordpress.com/

The other person of interest for people interested in Nature Cure in Pune is Anand Kelkar. He can be contacted at 94033 99240.

 

Nature Cure Camp, Malavali, Mar 21 

The better half attended Arun’s week long Nature Cure camp in Malavli in Mar 2021. Here are her notes on the camp.

At Malavali station, I took a right turn to reach Osho Saraswati Ashram, located on the banks of the Indrayani river. Started with a round of pranayama anulom vilom and nadi Vipassana shodhan in the meditation hall. Returned to greet the dorm-mates, and exchanged notes on  reengineering by Sadhguru Sudarshan kriya by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar,etc along with fruit diets by THAC and recipes for millets etc.One point we all agreed upon – the past one year of covid had been stressful for all and had changed each of us in different ways.

The course started the next morning with a small jog. We reached the boating area of MTDC Karla. Stood on the bridge, looked at the mountains and greeted the rising sun. Chanted the Gayatri Mantra 27 times. Arun Sharma believes that gazing at the early morning sun improves eyesight. After coming back to the ashram, we headed to the terrace with our yoga mats. We did nadi shodhan pranayam with a focus on prolonging each step of the Pranayam. According to nature cure, you have to breathe slowly and not strain yourself. Nature cure is not in favour of violent Pranayam like kapalbhati and basrika

84,00,000 species on the earth do not discuss or treat disease. Every living being is endowed with a self repairing, self maintaining and self healing mechanism. The cure in nature cure is a misnomer, as nature cure does not cure disease. It only improves health. 

 

Signs of good health

  • Sound sleep
  • Keen hunger 
  • Contented mind
  • Absence of laziness
  • Fitness of the body to work
  • You should feel like working
  • Feeling of comfort in all parts of the body
  • Graceful moments of the body and a smiling face
  • When no part of your body is calling for your attention
  • Equal distribution of temperature all over the body
  • Effortless and timely elimination of toxins from the body

 

Guidelines for improving health

  • Positive food
  • Adequate rest
  • Ample exercise
  • Positive thoughts
  • Combine your skill and passion in an occupation to help others.

 

Elements of our Body

Aakash (space): Aakash or Cosmos is the systematic arrangement of planets so they do not collide with each other. Aakash literally means nothing. Space. How can Aakash or ether be a potency? If we reduce excess body weight, we create space in the body and improve vitality. Exercising also improves hunger and gets you to an optimum weight. The three elements that are lighter than Aakash are: mind, intellect and ego. 

Vayu (air):  Pranayaam is best done during the early mornings and in fasting as the body has no work of digestion. Aantar kumbhak opens the doorways in the lung and improves air exchange. In Bahya kumbhak pranayama, the lungs are resting and recuperating. This ensures that lungs work for a longer life span. 3 sessions of Pranayam should be done every day: in the morning, afternoon and evening. This practice should take you to a stage of samadhi i.e. not breathing, not thinking, but still being alive.

Agni (fire): Sunlight is an important part of nature cure. A sunbath is best done early morning, for a minimum of 20 minutes. You can follow that up with sun gazing, which is a great eye exercise. Our subdermal ergosterol, on exposure to the sun, gets converted to Vitamin D. Other vitamins also get converted to their active enzyme forms in the presence of sunlight. 

Jal (water): Arun believes that water should not be boiled. According to the Upanishads, water should be kept in sunlight for 3 hours, after which it should be strained through a muslin cloth and stored in an earthen pot. Water is also used for therapies like spinal bath, immersion bath. For patients with psoriasis, Arun recommends a sunbath with the patient lying in a tub of water. Constipation is the root cause of all diseases. Arun Sharma uses water at room temperature for giving enema . He calls this tona, as he believes this increases the tone of the colon. He recommends enema should also be used during fever, dysmenorrhoea and headache. The headache due to addiction for tea /coffee, that most of the participants had during the first day of the camp, was immediately relieved by the tona – JADUTONA. 

Prithvi (earth): The prithvi tattva cannot be directly consumed by us. But it gives us plants which give us food. Of these, we use plants cultivated on the earth as food and medicine. Besides these, the others are indirect foods..Lighter foods are: Pranayam (Air), Sun Bath (Fire), Hydrotherapy (Water)and Ether / Aakash (Space). The lighter the food, the better it nourishes our body. In homeopathy also, the subtler the medicine, the higher the potency. 

 

Tenets of Nature Cure

  • Unity: The law of unity states that in all diseases the cure is one. The cause of all diseases is one. The treatment of all diseases is one. Food and medicine are one. Health and disease are one. There is no disease. It is only an absence of health.
  • Universality: Father Priestneiz in Germany saw a deer who had injured his leg. The deer kept his leg in water, alternating with sitting in the sun or shade and remained hungry for 3 days..After the fourth day, the deer started eating grass and continued keeping its leg alternately in the sun and shade. By the seventh day, the deer was fine and it ran away on its four legs. Nature cure is used by all living beings to heal themselves and is a universal therapy.
  • Total approach: Arun believes that we should not treat a particular organ or disease, but the person as a whole. In this sense, nature cure is similar to homeopathy. You have to sow a seed of hope in every person and help them choose the correct occupation which she will like and will do passionately. This will bring success and self confidence. Physical, mental and spiritual health is all one. So you cannot treat them separately. Don’t let your mind get bored because then filth accumulates in the mind and that in turn causes mental and physical problems. Mental ill health impairs digestion. Tona and fasting help improve both physical and mental health. Sunlight is the best detox. Even allopathy acknowledges the existence of psychosomatic diseases and the role of sunlight in treating depression.
  • Self Reliance: Nature cure does not believe in dependence on doctors or instruments for lab tests. Nature cure believes that dependence on others for our health is a cause of misery, whereas self dependence is a cause of happiness. 
  • Law of dual effect: The law of dual effect states that every action has two reactions which are opposite to each other. The immediate reaction, which lasts for a short while is called preyas. The delayed reaction, which lasts for a longer time, is called shreyas. When we consume food the preyas is good, but shreyas is bad. On the other hand, when we exercise the preyas is bad as exercise causes pain, but the shreyas is good. To improve our health, we need to indulge in activities in which shreyas is good even if the preyas is bad. 
  • Non-violence: Nature care does not believe in violent therapies like surgery, chemotherapy, steam bath etc. 
  • Plant products: Nature cure believes that all the food we consume should we plant based. Hence it requires a totally vegan diet. Arun recommends coconut milk, peanut milk or almond milk instead of animal milk. He believes that we are snatching someone’s food by consuming dairy products. Even Ayurveda recommends avoidance of dairy products for diabetes.
  • Purity: Pure material is good for health. A simple check for purity: if something is good for animals, then it is good for us. 
  • Food: alone is your medicine.

 

Water

Water is a universal medicine. It has two qualities: osmosis and convection. Osmosis allows exchange of fluids.When we put a wet towel with grated cucumber on any part which is paining, it reduces the inflammation by causing cooling. Water is used in tona, spinal and pelvic baths. It is also primarily used for cooling in hydrotherapy. Convection current is used to treat patients. The temperature of water changes the body temperature. We use wet towels when a person has a fever or headache. Alternate hot and cold fomentation (bandaging) is used for patients who cannot breathe properly. It is done on the back for females. Always end with the cold towel as the lungs cannot be left expanded. 

Have a shower with cold water. In winters, use lukewarm water and end with cold water. When a patient is very sick use alternate hot and cold spinal baths. In cold weather, use lukewarm water for a spinal bath. Cover the patient with a blanket and keep the head covered with a wet towel. Piecemeal cold friction bath is used for patients with very high fever ( greater than 100 F). Cold towel is used to vigorously massage from the toes upwards in 9 inch slots. So the patient does not feel cold, but his temperature decreases. Massage is an  important part of nature therapy. Self massage is done from toe to head slowly with the correct directions. Magnetic currents produced by massaging relieve pain.

We should drink water very very slowly. Keep it in the mouth for one minute, till it comes to body temperature and then swallow. Drink water only when thirsty. Eat fruits like watermelon, which have more water content. Musk melons and cucumbers also have high water content. Consuming hot water weakens our whole system. Do not boil water. Natural water from springs in mountains is potable. To make water safe for drinking, keep in sunlight for 3 hours then strain it through cloth and then store in earthen pots.
Fasting

Types of fasting used in nature cure are: therapeutic fasting and progressive fasting. Fasting helps because it stops digestion, so all the energy required for digestion is given for elimination of toxic waste from the body. Thus the detoxification of the body occurs during fasting. Also there is conservation of energy during fasting, so it ends up being used in the proper places. Discipline makes fasting easier. Arun said that you should not give up on the practice of yoga and fasting. You can start with partial fasting, that is skip one meal and gradually increase the number of missed meals. Changes are easier to make in the morning meals and then later in the afternoon meals.

In chronic patients, we give light food for 5 days with advance notice so that they are mentally prepared. Sudden fasting in chronic diseases can cause a healing crisis, that is fever. In such cases tona, and spinal bath will help. To prevent this crisis, Arun’ s father  Ganesh Sharma started a non crisis diet plan. Set a rhythm for fasting so that the body is already prepared and does not go through a crisis. Say, in 48 days you fast every fourth or 6th day. For example, you can fast every Monday. This type of fasting is called installment fasting and it helps reduce inflammation and restores the patient from chronic disease back to normal health. Every 3 day fast has to be followed by a two days liquid diet, that is the first half day fast, which means you skip lunch. Next day you do a whole day fast. Liquid diet includes coconut water, fruit or herbal juice. Progressive fasting starts with half day fasts, and is increased gradually to 1 days and can go up to the 30 day fasts which we know are prevalent in the Jain community. In this fast, the body does not continuously eliminate toxins, but  takes rest after 3 days. So fast for three days then eat for three days and so on.

When a person is sick, use subtler  elements i.e. ether, air and fire. So the patient should fast, do pranayama and take sunbath.During fasting, the mind is set free. The samskaras or past experiences stored in the intellect in the form of files are deleted during bahya kumbhak of pranayam.

 

Food

Shiksha Bina chikitsa nahin. So after fasting let us discuss food. The principles of eating that we should follow are: meet bhook, heet bhook, reet bhook and ashok bhook.  This implies: eat in moderation, eat foods congenial to our body chemistry, eat seasonal fruits and finally eat without any emotions in your mind. 

According to the Bhagavad Gita, food is categorised into satvik, rajasik and tamasik. Satvik foods are cleansing foods that have fibre, water and life. If satvik food is allocated four points, rajasik has two points and tamasik has minus 4 points. Rajsik foods are characterised by strong tastes: bitter, sour, chilli, hot tea, cold ice cream. When you wish to have negative foods, chew it more number of times so it will not harm you. Increase your exercise so that you can occasionally eat negative foods and still maintain good health. 

We need 80% alkaline and 20% acidic food in our diet. However we eat 80 to 90% acidic food which causes inflammation in the body and eventually causes disease. Satvik foods are alkaline and include raw vegetables that have a subtle taste but contain lots of water.  Fruits like papaya and watermelons are also alkaline, hence satvik. Fermented foods are also satvik. Next we have rajasik foods, which are nourishing, but do not have fibre, water or life: acidic foods like fruits, nuts and grains. Food that needs to be avoided are the tamasik foods: putrefied stale food, leftover food, cow’s urine et al. Satvik foods give us wisdom; rajasik foods increase our kaam, krodh, madh, lobh, moh and matsar (sexual drive, anger, pride, attachment and jealousy) so should be consumed less. 

Arun emphasised that all therapies work only with a change in lifestyle. We need to Drink solids, convert solids to liquids before swallowing. And Eat liquids, keep liquids in mouth and slowly gulp down. We should eat food only when hungry. Eat mindfully, that is, peacefully, slowly chewing our food. Arnold Fletcher submitted a dissertation which said that nobody can overeat if they chew their food thoroughly. Do not eat food in haste. When we chew food, it increases the surface area of food and brings the food to an optimal temperature. When we chew food slowly in the mouth, ptyalin enzyme is released which converts carbohydrates to simple sugars. This is how satiety is achieved with less food.  

It is not the food in your life but life in your food that matters. Vegetable salads are an important meal as they have life, water and fibre. Coconut water is very good for promoting hair growth and also maintaining electrolyte balance in the body. Milk is an animal food and should only be consumed by infants from their mother. Add salt only after you finish cooking. Use sendha namak. If you are a true nature cure believer, you don’t have to worry too much about the salt. The real nature cure followers only eat one cooked meal in a day. Arun recommends that this cooked meal should be had at night, because though it is dead food, it helps get a good night’s sleep.

Lemon is acidic, but when put in the mouth it reacts with saliva, and turns alkaline. As lemon reduces the body’s alkaline reserve, Arun does not recommend its use. An alkaline environment is required in the body. This helps in the digestion of carbohydrates in the mouth, proteins in the stomach and fats in the small intestine. As lemon reduces the alkaline reserve of the body, he does not recommend the use of lemon. 

Arun Sharma does not recommend using turmeric in cooking. His logic is that turmeric reduces inflammation and hence reduces healing in the body. He believes that inflammation is the body’s mechanism to restore itself back to health. Ash gourd juice is very useful in patients with diabetes and hypertension, as it promotes insulin secretion. 

 

Philosophy of Nature Cure

Arun Sharma ended with an emphasis on family meetings, where each member appreciates the good qualities of other members. He insists that negative things should be stated in a different way. Meditate before the meeting so you talk responsibly. If anger and other negative emotions exist, a person will fall ill. We should respect ourselves, before we receive love and respect from others. Knowing the truth and believing in it will give us confidence. This confidence and clarity of mind will enhance  our mental health and teach us to be disciplined and follow the right path. It will give us the strength to prevent abuse to oneself from others in a very gentle and firm manner. Disease is dis-ease. It occurs due to boredom and dissatisfaction. Find your calling and put your heart and soul into it. Then disease will vanish. 

An instruction that the participants were given at the start: Don’t get along any medicines to this workshop. So there was this motley group of diabetics, chronic high BP patients and even a few cancer patients who had trooped in, sans their medicines. I love the hair transplant ads that you see  behind autorickshaws. The bald guy transformed into a handsome fully haired personality after the transplant. So what have been the after-effects of the camp? 

One of the other interesting instructions that Arun gave the participants: avoid testing. Measuring your BP every morning is only going to increase it further. (Remember the physics dictum: the act of observation changes what is being observed.) But Dr Gill, being a pathologist, was particularly unhappy with what she construes as a pet pe laat marna. So though she did stop her morning BP check-ups, she got tempted to do what is called a CRP – a general marker for internal inflammation. A low CRP means good internal health. Her CRP levels have generally fluctuated in the teens – and moved one decimal point to the left after the camp. Looks like all the raw food is helping cool her body down. As a corollary, her family and lab team will testify that the cooled body has resulted in a cooled mind!