SERGEI Krivov has a way with body movements that might lead you to believe that he is an eighth dan in karate. In reality, however, Krikov is an exponent of eco-yoga, the central theme of which is to listen to ones own body. Says the 30-year-old Russian: "When you stretch your body, you are following instructions which your body proposes. The main thing is to achieve harmony with your astral body environment." The eco-yoga practitioner has evolved a series of exercises that increases energy levels and keeps one in sync with the bodys requirements. One of these is non-breathing therapy.
Curious? Well, Krikov was just one of the 100-odd alternative medicine practitioners who had gathered in Delhi recently from all over the world to attend the First World Polypathy Congress organised by Professor P.R. Trivedi, chairman of the Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment. Polypathy is essentially new jargon for the old term integrated medicine. What it essentially seeks to legitimise is the right of the patient to get cured using more than one system of t reatment. At hand were psychotherapists from Venezuela and France, Indians advocating systems of health like Magneto therapy and Reiki amidst dozen others and Tibetan lamas with their own brand of healing. The therapies listed in the background material provided by the organisers made interesting reading. You could choose between megavitamin therapy, sleep therapy, miasm, transactional therapy, pyramid power, naturopathy and a host of others. The list ran out of steam at 105.
One of the zaniest and most sought after healers was Dr V. Vinay Vinekar from the Institute of Universal Consciousness in Bangalore. One of his specialisations: training babies still in their mothers womb. He does it by regulating the mothers environment, exposing the foetus to a special kind of music and introducing the mother to meditation and special diets. Says Vinekar, whos trained 30 babies with his techniques: "Research shows that theres no need for pregnant women to even vomit. Women basically get conditioned like that by their environment. I just try to break it down using meditation as a tool." One of Vinekars quotes: "Meditation is just a via media to get on to your next move."
The Polypathy Congress didnt run short of interesting healers with interesting quotes. Or backgrounds. There was Jose Luis Ziritt, 40, from Caracas in Venezuela who quit a career as a petroleum engineer to become a psychotherapist. A Ph. D in Physics, Ziritt now runs a healing centre at Caracas. Says he: "Illness is like an alarm you have. Patients come to me with big depressions or fears. Pain is just a warning." Ziritt teaches his patients how to conscious breathe, achievable by hyperventilating: fast breathing while lying down for up to half an hour. Says he: "Conscious breathing brings your subconscious to the conscious level. Its not hypnosis. The patients aware of what is happening. Your mind tells you what to do so as not to get ill anymore."
While Ziritts patients come to him with mental problems, Dr R.K. Sood in Delhi uses magneto therapy to cure tangible ailments like headaches and spinal cord problems. Since 1976, Sood has also developed healing aids using magnets which include spectacles to improve your eyesight and even horseshoe magnets around your neck to cure cervical spondilitis. Says Sood: "My equipment normalises the negative vibrations in the patients body cells using magnetic resonance. "
Polypathy is based on fundamental determinants like minimum and cheap medicine, patient acceptability, non-toxic side effects and non-interference with natural processes. But its main use lies in offering cures to patients in alien medical systems which allopathy might fail to offer. Says Trivedi: "Patients dont have biases to particular forms of healing. They will subscribe to any system that offers a cure . "
Adds Professor Jamil Ahmed from Jamia Hamdard: "Allopathy is very good at controlling bacteriological infections but a lit-tle weak in liver and spleen ailments. Ayurveda and Unani systems can step in here. AIDS treatment, for instance, has to have a polypathic approach to succeed."
The Jamia institute claims it has developed a successful cure for thalassaemia using gold, silver and copper. The centre has already treated 13 patients with very low haemoglobin levels. Another area in which they boast of encouraging results is in chronic renal failure. Says Ahmad: "Allopathy gives up hope for patients whose urea levels shoot up. But we have treated 33 patients who have come to us after dialysis. Our medicine is a mixture of goat kidneys and herbs." Even as the Congress had a lot to offer to the sincere alternative medicine buff it had more than a fair share of therapists with high idiosyncrasies. High on the list was S.L. Sharma, a Reiki practitioner. Sharma kept measuring the auras of people attending the meet. He didnt even spare Lama Gangchen Tulku Rinpoche, who was chairing most of the sessions. A sample: "You see that lama. He has an aura about an inch thick. The swami next to him has a four-inch spread." Of course, Sharma had an aura about two feet thick and he could also send a blast of energy into playing children to make them more joyful.
Then there was Gregory Berglund, a former US military officer who as a mentally ill officer controlled nuclear weapons in the UK for three years. Now a psychotherapist, Bergland is a cog in a movement known as the Network Against Psychiatric Assault. While presenting a paper, he wanted to know the number of schizophrenics in India and made a few pungent remarks against the assembled therapists. A sample: " Lets not talk about therapies but who are the therapists. There are a lot of zany things coming through these days in the name of therapy. Psychoanalysis has become a very addictive system. People fall in love with it. An important question that needs to be answered is whether the therapists themselves have been healed or being a healer is itself an attempt at self-healing."
But the cake went to Narasimhacharya, a faith healer. Demonstrating his faith healing techniques, he called upon a young girl to note a weekday down that Trivedi whispered in her ear. Attempting to mind read the day, his telepathic prowess went haywire and he couldnt get the right mental signals even on a third attempt. "Faith," he said at the start of his lecture, "created and destroyed everything." His own demonstration, of course, sprung a leak in the assembled audiences faith.