Understanding my Practice as Bhūta vidya
The blueprint of my psyche-therapeutic practice lies in my interest in the anthropology of consciousness. Initially, as a student of anthropology, I was very impressed with how pre-modern cultures and civilisations always looked at the meanderings of the stars to understand their destinies and observed the seasons of nature to heal their body-minds. Over time, the ancients came to delineate clear patterns in the sky and on the earth that spelled health and illness, fortune and misfortune.
Deeply impressed with the wisdom of the deep past, I can describe my practitioner’s journey from being a young intern at a methadone support clinic in Tenderloin, San Francisco to my present private practice in South Mumbai, as one of wanting to personally create a working therapeutic modality that integrated Western psychology with the Vedic arts of Jyotiṣa and Āyurveda.
I feel Jyotiṣa and Āyurveda have afforded me great depths to expand my psychotherapeutic tool kit to observe bio-energetic patterns: patterns in myself, in my clients, in nature, and in the world around me. Over time, I have come to appreciate that the patterns in a person’s life affect the bio-energetic configurations of their body, mind and consciousness.
The extent to which the patterns in an individual’s life synchronise with the rhythms of nature predicates the scope of their well-being. It has been my observation that for most of us living in an urban environment with trash, noise, overcrowding, and all kinds of pollution, we are most clearly out touch with the natural world and our deepest selves. We are in a subconscious state of eco-trauma, where we are dealing with the brutal pain of witnessing the assault on the biosphere.
Registering the world around us be potentially taken over by COVID-19, environmental degradation and socio-economic injustice imparts a sense of desolation. It might make one self-harm, overeat, overconsume, feel depressed, anxious, stressed, or angry, smoke, drink, take sleeping tablets, browse meaningless websites, flip from one social media platform to another, dissociate on gadgets and subliminally struggle with the latent existential insecurity of falling into the dark abyss of the void.
Whatever we are entertaining in our minds, the likelihood that we will continue to entertain that is very strong, unless we bring awareness to the energetics of what is arising in our body, mind and consciousness. Here, I feel learning Bhūta vidya could be a valuable tool to safeguard oneself from the perils of dis-ease, mentally, physically and spiritually.
Bhūta vidya, then, is about linking one’s personal story to the story of the cosmos by learning to understand oneself as a bioenergetic process that is also an "environmental interaction" (Gendlin). It’s about learning to know how one’s mental and digestive health are interrelated, as is one’s experience of time and space, psyche and spirit, day and night, pain and pleasure, nature and culture. Bhūta vidya is about cultivating an awareness of when we are out of balance and learning the tools to bring us back into harmony. What imbalances one, balances another, and there are no hard and fast rules here. It’s about knowing what’s right for you. Once you understand what idiosyncratically imbalances you, you learn what balances you—what herbs, what foods, what movements, what times, what thoughts, what feelings, what moon phases, what fragrances, what asanas, what pranayamas, what activities, what company, what seasons, what colours . . . and you learn to choose only that which balances you. In this way, life becomes a dance where we are constantly bringing ourselves back to balance when everything around us is trying to imbalance us.