Bhikkhu heals wounded minds
by Ranga Chandrarathne
@ Sunday Observer / 06Nov2005
The patients who are suffering from intense and unbearable pain due to various ailments have taken refuge in Buddhist meditation techniques to bear pain and cope with their ailments. A technique combining meditation and awareness of one's own body has healed their wounded minds and given them a glimpse of hope.
This has removed the agonising painful condition of patients and made them an active observer of their pains. A healing hand that visits the hospital has earned the respect and admiration of patients who suffer from diverse ailments including those with terminal illnesses.
Sariyuth Mugalan paramparawe, guna mini kiranai kaha sivure - (It is the rays and the fragrance of good deeds that the saffron-robe pervades the air, which was worn by the Monks of the Sariyuth-Mugalan generation)-Words of a popular song epitomises the selfless service rendered by the Bhikkhus from the time of the Buddha. This Bhikkhu is a student of the late Henpitagedara Gnanaseeha thera following the age-old tradition of the Buddhist Order.
The maiden rays of the sun slants across the Teaching Hospital at Peradeniya. It is not yet another day for the patients resident at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
What they most need is to get rid of the agonising pain, which has not only crushed their feeble mortal remains, but also their hearts. It is obvious that the painkillers alone cannot cure these patients.
However, they are all waiting eagerly for the arrival of a healing hand, a man who had himself been a patient at the Intensive Care Unit and who after being discharged, made up his mind with a firm determination that he would attend to the psychological needs of the patients.
A Bhikkhu of the Henpitagedara Gnanaseeha generation who visits the hospital daily to attend to the patients' needs is a talented painter who donates the proceedings from his paintings to his social welfare programs.
The Bhikkhu, who wishes to be anonymous, provides Buddhist counselling for needy patients at the ICU. Apart from counselling, the Bhikkhu had even donated wheel chairs from his personal funds for the patients.
Method of healing
I met him at the hospital. He explained to me the complex method of healing the mind with Buddhist counselling. He said that concentration of the mind can be developed with breathing exercises. "Here the most important thing is the knowledge that the patient knows that he is now able to keep his Seela. This makes him very strong, super strong.
There are so many variations according to the access we have to a patient's emotional and intellectual abilities. There could be times where there have been pain and silence and finding time for reflection is a very helpful thing, which they normally in their day-to-day life never do because they are used to covering up every kind of discomfort with the new sensation.
He further said that different types of music can be used to heal wounded minds. The monks can use various forms of music appealing to patients belonging to different religions. For the person who has a very advanced level of concentration power, he can easily relax with these tapestried sounds.
It can remove the heaviest of micro-hindrances, agitation and remorse with the cooling of Anapana Sati and he could get rid of these mental hindrances and with it he could definitely grasp some of the unbelievable truths which he is still struggling to accept.
Denials are very deeply rooted in patients; the denial of illness and denial of the end of life and so on. Pirith chanting and sermons by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda in CDs is very useful as it can be played several times, he said.
The Bhikkhu is of the view that as in ancient times, Bhikkhus visited the patients. As the patients are warded in hospital today, it is quite appropriate for a Bhikkhu to visit the hospital.
According to the Buddhist way of stress management, stress during an illness is recognised as a condition which springs from disliking transition ,from health to ill-health which results in pain, fear, dependency, lack of privacy and dignity. The common practice at the hospital for stress-relief is the use of painkillers (Analgesics), sedations, induced sleep (Anesthesia), antidepressant and Anxiolvetics.
These methods primarily block the transmission of signals in the nervous system by chemical and pharmacological agents.
However, there are also a host of alternative methods of healing, ranging from Aquatherapy, Aromatherapy, Energytherapy, Humor, Imagery, Massage, Music and relaxation.
The Buddhist way of stress relief for minor pain is done by deviating attention from unpleasant sensations to a pleasant sensation.
It is typical that each and every one tries to cling on to pleasant experiences (cravings) while fighting with tooth and nail to get rid of unpleasant experiences (aversions).
This reaction itself causes stress and is based on the incorrect understanding of one's own experiences. One should understand the true nature of all sensual experiences, the Bhikkhu explained. The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in the University of Peradeniya, Dr. C.D.A. Gunasekara, Dr. Kumar Matotarachchi, Dr. Nandana Jayatilaka and staff of the ICU highly appreciate the service rendered by the Bhikkhu.
Benefits of meditation
lower pulse rate
lower blood pressure
sense of relaxation-known as the relaxation response or stress relief
slower breath rate
person gets more control over his life by gaining control over his mind and senses.
person becomes more aware of his true identity as a spiritual being and not as his identification such as his body, job, race, religion etc.
a person gets more in tune with his true identity and with the oversoul, universal energy, supreme truth ,Lord or whatever term you would like to use.
inner peacefulness-stress relief
Regular practice of the mantra meditation systematically unfolds one's full potential: enlivening the inner intelligence of the body, and developing higher states of consciousness.
This experience of the self-referral state enlivens orderliness, dynamism, and creativity within the meditator resulting in greater effectiveness and success in daily life.
Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses in many individuals.
Stress also affects the immune system, which protects us from many serious diseases.
Stress also contributes to the development of alcoholism, obesity, suicide, drug addiction, cigarette addiction, and other harmful behaviour.
Sudden stress increases the pumping action and rate of the heart and causes the arteries to constrict, thereby posing a risk for blocking blood flow to the heart.
Emotional effects of stress alter the heart rhythms and pose a risk for serious arrythmias in people with existing heart rhythm disturbances.
Stress causes blood to become stickier (possibly in preparation of potential injury), increasing the likelihood of an artery-clogging blood clot.
Stress may signal the body to release fat into the bloodstream, raising blood-cholesterol levels, at least temporarily.
In women, chronic stress may reduce estrogen levels, which are important for cardiac health.
Stressful events may cause men and women who have relatively low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin (and therefore a higher risk for depression or anger) to produce more of certain immune system proteins (called cytokines), which in high amounts cause inflammation and damage to cells, including possibly heart cells.[/quote]