“The world that environs us, that is around us, is also within us. We are made of it; we eat, drink, and breathe it; it is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.” – Wendell Berry
In our daily lives, somehow we get disconnected from the very elements that make us whole. All meetings are scheduled indoors, most days, weeks, months and sometime lives are spent living inside the four walls of a house and working in buildings made of concrete and steel. The quality of the air and sun in our lives determines the quality of our cells and tissues.
During the week long, Level 2 Nature Cure immersion with Dr.Arun Sharma, hosted by aKarma in Pollachi, India from April 8 to 13 2019, we found ourselves sitting in circles, adapting to outdoors , playing hide and seek with the summer sun , hearing the wind as it rustled through the leaves and enjoying its cooling touch!
The aKarma community periodically hosts Experiential Nature Cure courses that include class room sessions, therapies and cooking along with yoga and silence,.
From the view point of multiple intelligence, the learning environment is just as important as the content being taught. And we felt this acutely while we imbibed wisdom and sought deepening of our understanding of life and its intelligent functioning.
Many of the 16 participants are (aspiring) Nature Cure educators and/or therapists. The focus was to embrace and go beyond looking at Nature Cure as a set of positive food habits or as a set of therapies. The subtler aspects of encouraging positive thoughts and tapping into the creative intelligence were given importance to help oneself and others.
The class room sessions began early at 6 am as Dr Sharma had Level 1 classes scheduled at 10 am. The third morning, my body felt very tired, and I wanted to sleep longer. I reasoned out that missing a two hour class cannot be a big deal. Somehow my mind replayed the intense difficulties through which I had navigated to be able to attend the 6 day course, and off I went running to the class.
During the intense class session, where we were discussing the difference between gross and subtle techniques and tools in Nature Cure, I recall feeling gratitude for the presence of mind, which chose Learning over Sleeping.
The morning routine continues as at 8 am, we help out Level 1 participants with therapies. After breakfast and some personal time, we regroup at 10.30 am for a circle of sharing our understanding of the morning session. The next session will be at 12 noon with the teacher.
In the afternoon, we break for salad lunch at 1 pm and get back to reflections/practice sessions at 2 p.m. From 3 to 4 pm, we interact with Level 1 participants learning what they learnt and tracking health using aKarma software platform.
At 4 in the evening, we again have a 60-90 minute session with the teacher. And after helping with the cooked meal preparation (if needed) and serving food, we have our dinner around 6.30 pm and join the Satsangh with other participants or just go to bed. Rinse and repeat 🙂
We had interactive classroom discussions on topics like philosophy of nature cure, diagnosis, physiology of digestion, handling special situations and maintaining one’s own inner balance.
Dr Sharma shared his own case study of a healing crisis he went through.
On the practical side, we learnt how to do a physical examination quickly. We also learnt the art of gentle massage. Bruce Lipton says that Language was designed to hide vibrations and it’s true that in silence a lot can be communicated, especially compassion and empathy.
We had assignments on diagnosis where the emphasis is on diagnosing the person and not the disease. Another assignment was on making a project plan for work that makes us come alive.
Sample counseling sessions with Dr Sharma also helped us learn how to interact with people who reach out to us. The fundamental message was to convert a doctor-patient relationship to that of a learning journey.
The timing of our course was such that we could interact with two batches of Level 1 participants. And each of us got the opportunity to be a health buddy for 5 or 6 such participants. These interactions and connections enriched us mutually.
My most memorable lesson would be that before we begin to teach Nature Cure to others, we need to fully imbibe the practice, so that the teachings are reflected in our lives.
Some personal takeaways for me:
- The importance of Presence and Grounding, within one self.
- Personal practice of Grace in all that we do, from washing dishes, cleaning the sink after washing, collaborating and working with others on a project, listening and questioning, responding peacefully to conflict, etc speaks volumes of how we are as a person and similar qualities will reflect in our role as a Nature Cure Educator.
- Understanding what passions we have, and choosing to work on them consistently.
- Self-observation and reflection as a practice.
- The magic of touch, in terms of gentle massage.
- Health Profiling – Documenting our progress, experiences, cataloguing the healing crisis meticulously, with pictures and dates, such that they can be used for further research – Later on, the ambit of research can be extended to taking health profiles of all the people we educate.
Overall, the need to practice self-reflection, before, during and after a counselling session was the most significant learning, which fuelled my intention to develop a personal meditative practice, upon getting back home.
As we sat in a circle, one last time, we shared gratitude to nature, this science, the teachers, the space, volunteers and fellow participants who came together in a unique arrangement for this course to happen.
I’m especially grateful for the participation of all those who joined the Level 2 course, as the learning was a collective harvest of our experiences and energies.