By Mahesh Natarajan, COO, Ananda in the Himalayas
In my journey of a decade and a half at Ananda, I have seen personally the amazing physical transformations that our guests have gone through after a few weeks of immersive wellbeing programmes with our experts. I had seen some guests who would tend to gravitate more toward meditation and in the course of sessions would spend more time exploring their personal state of mind with the teachers. But mental and emotional health was still something vague, and what we believed got taken care of simply by improving the physical self and by virtue of simply being in the tranquil surroundings of Ananda.
Then as I started exploring this further, I started seeing a different side to people and their problems. I have seen guests, some of whom were incredibly successful people and very confident and seemingly positive, absolutely change once their defences were down and they allowed themselves to probe deeper into their emotions. Our yoga teachers would share with me instances of guests who would become very emotional during a Yoga Nidra or Antar Mouna session. The Yogis maintained that this was but a natural process; as the mind quietened with these practices, unresolved emotional conflicts bubbled up to the surface. Similarly therapists would share instances of emotional breakdowns during a reiki or energy healing session.
These and several other instances started a deeper thinking about this issue. We often talk about emotional wellbeing with hesitation. Emotional and mental health is still widely misunderstood, with no proper markers to gauge its strength or weakness. We have all been fixated with physical health for centuries, from the ideal physique, to miracle diets, to BMI scores, heart health and power yoga without understanding what lies at the core of optimum wellbeing. The more I read through yogic teachings or questioned our yogis, it seemed that ancient wisdom acknowledged that happy, experiencing positive emotions like love, joy or compassion, and feeling generally satisfied with life are qualities which we are innately blessed with….then where is this getting lost and why are so many people floundering despite being in otherwise good health?
The answers seemed to stare at us from the abyss. Our hustle culture that celebrates a relentless pursuit of success measured on some arbitrary terms pushes us over the edge. We don’t take time to disconnect, to genuinely relax and rejuvenate, or nurture ourselves fully, whether at work or at home. Digital stimuli has taken us far away from the simplicities of actual life and connection with nature. We wake and sleep with the help of alarms, eat in front of screens. Relationships with loved ones are fraught with expectations and disappointments. Is it then surprising at all that levels of depression, stress, burnout, and emotional imbalance are rapidly reaching pandemic levels?
Thankfully what was considered taboo even a few years ago is slowly but surely becoming a mainstream topic of conversation as more people realise that no healing is complete till we accept ourselves and the reality of our emotional and mental state. John Lennon described the heartache and desperate cry so aptly when he wrote the lyrics for the song Help six decades ago
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down, And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground, Won’t you please, please help me
It was glaringly clear that we had to address these issues and this led to creating a whole new platform of Emotional Healing or Ananda Bhava. Bhava as described in the Vedic scriptures was explained by our Yogis at Ananda: “Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha – our highest duty Dharma is to ourselves to be in a balanced state of mind”. Our bhavas are described as our emotional frame or state of mind, and if negativity, stress and depression becomes our frame it makes it extremely difficult for us to perform our duties whether dharmic, societal or other. At Ananda, this became a clarion call for a new direction and wellness pillar to build on.
A panel of resident-at-Ananda Emotional Healers with expertise in spiritual healing, hypnotherapy, clinical psychology and energy work was created to help our guests through this journey. Together this panel of Dr. Roma Singh, Chandana Ganguly and Dr. Preeti Sethi help guests understand themselves, their challenges and patterns from a deeper level of awareness and to create a life of emotional balance.
So what does a typical emotional healing journey at Ananda look like? When a guest comes to Ananda, they have certain blockages, certain challenges they face. The Emotional Healers begin to explore these from an emotional and energetic perspective to understand what could be the root cause and to assess exactly what our clients need and want.
These blocks show up in repeating patterns in our life. For example Physical blockages – health issues, chronic challenges, autoimmune conditions, Emotional blockages – inability to control emotions like anger, repeating emotional themes like guilt, insecurity, low self-esteem etc. Relationship blocks or disharmony, Mental blocks – lack of clarity, stress, tension, overthinking, lack of creativity.
The experts then use specialised techniques to help a person access greater parts of their own awareness or the subconscious mind – some of these techniques are Hypnosis, Regression, NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming. Some energy healing techniques including Reiki are also used.
Sometimes regression techniques take the client all the way back to childhood or even a past life. From birth onwards, we face a wide variety of experiences. Many situations affect us temporarily, while many affect us deeply. For example, many children are bullied in school over appearances, causing them to carry the trauma of that bullying experience into their adult lives, causing them to feel inferior and underperform. Issues of physical or verbal abuse could have caused deep scarring. It is important to address these situations so we may learn how to deal with them affectively. This is where the concept of emotional healing comes in to help.
Like many, even though I believed in all this entirely from conceptual level, I still had a fair dose of “subconscious pessimism” towards the process. So my first session started with visualisations with Dr. Roma trying to identify blocks in my body. During the beginning of the session half of me was urging the other half just to go through the motions even though I couldn’t feel anything change. And then out of the blue, as I was talking about some issues I felt this wave of warmth and relief sweep through my whole body and tears suddenly emerged from my closed eyes! I was stunned at this phenomenon that I couldn’t explain or planned for, yet very conscious that something had shifted inside. Many guests have spoken about equally or even more transformational changes as part of their sessions.
If you thought all of this has an impact only on the emotional side, think again. One of our clients who visisted Ananda regularly to address a chronic pain issue started seeing significant reduction in pain once he went through emotional healing sessions ! How was this possible? Clearly this is an empirical case of illness aggravated by emotional stress and manifesting in the body as psychogenic pain which could be tapped into only through a cathartic emotional healing process.
Therapies like Hypnotherapy and Regression address chronic ailments, fears, and stress, while Reiki and Chakra Cleansing clear the energetic body removing blockages. For intensive work, Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnotherapy, Inner child healing and Regression are used to delve into deep recesses of the mind to trace early formations for negative behaviours. Clients are guided through these processes and experiences in a very relaxed meditative manner which allows them to release the emotional blocks they face as well as develop confidence and strength to create or achieve the goals they have in mind. Our clients leave feeling lighter, more complete and connected with themselves. This is a peaceful and empowering experience.
The Ananda Bhava platform of Emotional Healing has been one of the most significant new facets of our wellness delivery in recent times. I am sure it will have a profound impact on the mental and spiritual wellbeing of our clients and will come to be a hallmark in integrative holistic healing.