I am, and my journey is, OF INDIA**.
Family and friends reading this may know, but I leave for India tomorrow. (I say as you—friends and family— laugh about how many Facebook posts you’ve already read re: “I’m going to India”, “Studying yoga where yoga was born”, “Booked a flight to India”, “Leaving for India in a month”, “This is happening…this week”, “Ok, so as of tomorrow I go off the technological radar”).
**"Of India" by Wade Imre Morissette, Alanis Morissette’s brother who has many a wonderful yoga and meditation tune, check him out on iTunes!**
So you’re well aware of my planning process, but are you aware of where it all started?
I’ve always been fascinated with traditional medical systems of wellness and healing. I know often when I say, “traditional” in the context of medicine in the United States, my mind (as I’m guessing any other M.D. student mind…) goes right to allopathic medicine as we are taught IS the way and HAS BEEN the way, the tradition. And it’s true – don’t get me wrong! The Germ Theory revolutionized the practice of medicine, reduced premature deaths and what we would now call “medical errors” due to contaminations and “unclean” practice. The discovery and implementation of antibiotic use with World War I was nothing short of a second wave rolling out from that major revolution. Though the concept of “the magic bullet” for every disease is an important key to health and—dare I say—key to life or death; one brilliant at cleaning the slate of disease*, it is not necessarily the key to health in the sense of wellness and balance in every day life.
*If the disease is of a targeted element –not so much in our modern age of chronic disease (roughly 75% of health care expenditures and arguable contribution to the top 3 to 5 causes of mortality in the U.S. annually), which is a compilation of lifestyle and environmental factors gone wrong.
*Let me note here that there is A New Germ Theory, which is the topic of a future discussion, but I think only emphasizes that to keep our “germs” (good or bad ones) balanced, we need wellness.
*Let me also note here, if s*** hits the fan – I want to be in an American “allopathic”, “western”, “whatever you want to call it”, hospital… I just–for now– want to discuss health when the fan is not being hit.
So—back to me—(medicine and statistics aside…back to my SELF-centeredness, which is–after all–the focus of theist post…although both medicine and stats ARE me as well…ok, anyway…) I’ve always been fascinated with traditional medical systems of wellness and healing. Could these systems hold a key that I/we in allopathic or “western” medicine are missing? (Yes, I say I/we because after 4 years of medical school training you become immersed in the culture of this system and the lines between I/we are blurred—most obviously when you realize you are regularly giving up essentials like food, bathroom breaks and sleep to be a part of it).
I began seeking an answer to this question with books; books that are controversial — I’m not ashamed to admit—by authors like Andrew Weil, MD entitled, “Spontaneous Healing”. These did hold some answer because, after all, they set me on my current path so who could argue that they were not at least in some way self-wellness books in the pure sense that the motivated me to ask more, seek more, explore more, INQUIRE MORE. They ignited part of my INQUSITIVE NATURE (ok if by now you’re reading this blog and you haven’t noticed this is my very being, you might want to pause here and take a second to revisit the “About” tab, which is entitled INQUISITIVE NATURE or my descriptions on my Twitter or Instagram accounts).
But I’m never satisfied with anecdotal writings. I need more in the way of evidence. When that doesn’t exist—I, at the least, need PERSONAL experience. SO, does this explain why from the beginning of my journey for self-wellness to reading books I’m brought to my present journey: a LITERAL journey of a thousand (no, make that 8,031) miles… a journey into the traditions of others. For the month of February, and maybe beyond, there will be a new I/we.
What does that entail? Heading to New Delhi to work with a group, Child and Family Health International (and a few awesome medical student buddies that you’ll hear more about later). At a glimpse, our journey might include:
During the program, participants will spend 2 weeks in Dehradun, rotating through various clinics as per the schedule provided by the CFHI medical Director and Local Coordinator. The schedule usually includes 2 or 3 clinical rotations per day, one in the morning and one in the evening, with a lunch break in between.
Transportation to Patti or Rishikesh must be availed by Sunday evening. In Patti, participants can expect to participate in the following activities:
2 Daily Yoga classes, one in the morning and another in the evening
Clinical work in the rural clinic „
Participation in health camps held at surrounding villages: students may go on 2 health camps during their week at Patti, usually on Tuesday and Thursday
Medicinal plant identification hikes in the mountains on Friday
Weekly hygiene scanning of students at School, on Monday
In Rishikesh, students will gain first hand exposure to naturopathy through lectures and clinical observation. Please note that many patients at this facility are undergoing deep spiritual healing and it may not be appropriate to have participants involved in certain treatments. Providers will include participants when it is appropriate.
A typical day will start at 8.00 AM with Yoga and Pranayam, followed by Breakfast. Thereafter students will either attend lectures or will be posted to the treatment centers where they will see the therapies and massages applied on the patients. The detailed program schedule will be provided upon the arrival at the Parmarth Ashram.
I am excited, nervous, feeling anxious, yet inquisitive. I/we am/are OF INDIA.
So, I pose to you… Does the journey toward a tradition of self-wellness start with a journey into the traditions of others? Stay tuned for more blog posts throughout my journey… and more visuals/pictures to follow as well!
1) CFHI Traditional Medicine – India: https://www.cfhi.org/web/index.php/program/show/id/113
2) CFHI Traditional Medicine – India, Program Guide
3) “A New Germ Theory” – The Atlantic:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/
4) Antibiotics and world war via “Wounding in World War One”: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/wounding-in-world-war-one