Monday, March 26, 2007

A place of peace, concord and harmony

The Mother dreamed of "somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme truth; a place of peace, concord and harmony where all the fighting instinces of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the search for pleasure and material enjoyment."
She wrote much more about this dream and from it sprang a community which occupies a few thousand acres of land that radiates outward in the shape of a spiralling galaxy from a large golden meditation dome, the matrimandir, into four zones: International, Cultural, Residential and Industrial. The once red-earthed and barren platuea is now covered with dry tropical forests, agricultural projects, futuristic concrete buildings and good intentions. Its residents are engaged in "a wide variety of activities, including research into a cashless economy, environmental regeneration, organic farming, renewable energy, appropriate building technology, village development, handicrafts and small-scale industries, health care, education, cross-cultural communication and many other fields."
Reading the postings board at the information center one finds any number of classes pertaining to health and well-being, including all varieties of alternative healing modalities, many of which i'd never heard of. As an example, one gentleman teaches Watsu, shiatsu massage in the water. Some aurovillians, as they are called, are engaged in the cultivation of traditional Indian medicinal plants in order to reeducate the surrounding villagers about traditional remedies that have for the most part been lost to them. It was the occasion of several local healers coming together to explain their work that prompted me to extend my visit to Auroville by one day. Informed of this gathering by a young American now working at Martavum, or "healing forest", i found myself sitting around a large, rectangular slate table with six Canadian nurses, two german Aurovillians, three traditional healers (two women and one man) and Shivaraj, the enthusiastic coordinator of this enterprise. The Canadian nurses were traveling together through India for four weeks, two of which were spent in Auroville running workshops on "healing touch" and women empowerment. They seemed to view their trip as a great success and they seemed flush with excitement about the possibility of learning something from the locals in return. We sipped sweet, milky coffee and asked questions of the healers.
A word, first, about this "forest." Hans, the American, explained that this garden was in its infancy. Unlike the rather well developed Pichandikulum, on the other side of Auroville, the medicinal plants here were still awaiting the growth of the large trees that would provide necessary shade for their optimal growth. The signs to explain their utility were also in a stage of early development and did not yet say anything about the utility of the shrubs and trees they identified. The names, themselves, flowered with possibility: Calotropis Proceria, Pongumia Pinnata, Plumeria Rubra, Gauzuma Ulmifolia, Ervatemia Divancata, Helicteres Isora, Cassia Alata, Ficus Religiosa, Vetiveria Zizanoides, Catharanthus Roseus, Dodnea Viscosa, Acorus Calamus, Gymanaea Sylvestre, Garcinia Spicata. How different these lovely names to those of the pharmacueticals we must learn in the course of medical education?
Sagundala was a women in her 50s who at the age of 27 had a feeling that she could heal people. She makes special use of the Neem (Azadirachta indica, cousin of Mahogany) leaf and, while channeling Mahakali, the great and powerful Indian goddess (wife of Shiva), prays and fans the burning neem leaves. What occurs is a form of "aura cleansing" and she uses it to cure fever, body aches and general malaise. What other purposes it serves were lost in translation from this stout, confident Indian villager. She brought along the white and red powder seen on so many Indian foreheads and blessed us each with a dot between our eyes. I saw her take the hands of one of the German women and reduce the latter to tears as she closed her eyes and prayed, swaying back and forth...Posted by doubejsanders at 11:48 PM

Friday, March 16, 2007

Ecovillage Design Education

Most of the EDE courses had challenges with participants from diverse backgrounds having different expectations and where possible flexible participant centred approaches adapted activities to respond to this. It is however a real issue in the curriculum design and certification of such an inter-disciplinary course attracting people as diverse as highly skilled technicians, experienced group process workers and visionaries and dreamers from many roots including in the Findhorn course an educator who built labyrinths in New York City parks and an Iraqi architect inspired to rebuild peace villages in his devastated country.
Next year several more centres have been certified to run EDE programmes including two Asian courses at Auroville in India and our hosts Wongsanit; El Poncho, Hue Hue, UMAPAZ and Associacion Gaia in Latin America and two in Europe. In conjunction with the ongoing EDE courses a series of Four Keys text books are being compiled in the four core areas that will serve all future EDE hosts. This has been a huge amount of work for diligent Geese and is on the final run with publication of the first two books expected later this year. It was decided that a fifth key on process and how to deliver the EDE in an appropriate empowering and creative way will be added to this wealth of educational materials. Gaia Education-

Eye exercises

Holistic Nomad Join Ananda as she scours the planet for traditional medicinal and healing practices Thursday, March 15, 2007 It's a Miracle! I can See!
I have just completed a week at The School For Perfect Eyesight in Pondichery, Tamil Nadu.In only one little week of eye exercises and not wearing my glasses (a terrifying prospect in a city where you have no idea where you're going and you can't tell if that's a cow, a rickshaw, or an elephant coming towards you) I have reduced my prescription by 0.5 in each eye and completely reduced the cylindrical deviation to normal.
Impossible you think? Well I am living proof. Let me tell you all about it. We arrived at the school. A beautiful colonial building which is a part of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondichery. Within minutes our eye sight was being checked. Jose apparently was mildly crosseyed (not that I ever noticed) and my eyes went in the opposite direction. Who knew! No one ever pointed this out to me before! We were given a set of exercises to perform right away - 2 times a day for the next week.
The first torture I had to endure was horrific - a drop of honey in each eye while I swayed my body in the sun! I recommend no one try this - it burns like a mofo. (lucky Jose only had to put saline solution in his eyes). The other exercises were much simpler and even enjoyable. Playing with a tennis ball, reading itty bitty print in candle light, and looking at all kinds of charts.Who would've thought! After such a simple workout my eyes would actually improved, and I would have no problem walking the strange streets of Pondichery blind. And even though we cheated for 2 days (renting a scooter and going to visit nearby Auroville (which is a whole adventure onto itself) and thus wearing our spectacles the whole day) We both improved our vision significantly.
Another Allopathic myth busted. My optometrist (as lovely as he is) could be out of a job. And what does this cost you ask? Well besides the flight to India, the $3 a day for accomodation and the $3 a day for food and the occasional beer - we're talking nothing but what your own generous heart wishes to donate. And as we left we each receive a cute little package with an eye cup for washing our eyes, eye charts, an eye patch, and some sweet tasty honey (for my tea of course). Posted by Holistic Nomad at 8:42 AM Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,