BUDDHIST PSYCHOTHERAPY: A CURATIVE AND PREVENTIVE MEASURE FOR PSYCHOSOMATIC DISORDERS
 
Lal, R., Purvanchal University, India
 
Psychosomatic disorders are characterized by genuine physical symptoms that are caused or worsened by emotional factors. The principal feature of these disorders is that psyche or mind has an untoward effect on the soma or body. Psycho-somatics, which studies the relationship between mind and body, is considered to be the kingpin of health sciences. Psychosomatic disorders have traditionally been treated with psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Among the therapeutic techniques emphasized in behaviour modification are muscle relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnosis, yoga and massage. Modern psychotherapy is mostly administered in the consultation room. The Buddha has advocated the selection of an appropriate environment ( patirupadesa) for anyone to be in, especially at the time of meditation. The system of Buddhist psychotherapy is systematization of meditation for a therapeutic purpose. The teachings of the Buddha have a universal appeal because they deal with the fundamental problems of man, irrespective of factors such as religion, colour, caste and creed.Therefore the theory of Buddhist psychotherapy could be applicable universally. The objectives of the Buddhist psychotherapy are: reduction of tension in the patient, exploring the mind- particularly the unconscious, catharsis- the purging of the unconscious, socialization- reestablishment of normal behaviour, meditation for the purpose of developing awareness.Buddhist psychotherapy follows six steps of treatment : (I) development of preliminary contacts with the patient so that communication is made easy- a general discussion on the doctrines of anicca (impermanency) and dukkha (suffering); (ii) concentrationon, and understanding of, the body and its functions (Kayanupassana).(iii) concentration on, and understanding of, the sendations and feelings (Vedananupassana)(iv) concentration on, and understanding of, thought processes (the mind)- probing into the conscious as well as the unconscious layers of the patient's mind, relevant to the illness (cittanupassana). (v) analysis and interpretation of unearthed unconscious material in terms of psycho-dynamics brought to light by the Buddha (Dhammanupassana) (vi) Re-orientation, socialization, and development of self-aeareness in the patient to bring out desired behavioural changes. The Buddha is truly called ' Maha Bhisaka'- the great physician, for having given to the world , the technique of Vipassana. Vipassana is one of India's most ancient technique of meditation. 2500 years ago it was re-discovered by the Gautam Buddha and taught by him as a universal remedy for universal ills.Vipassana is a Pali word meaning insight seeing things as they really are. It is not a blind faith or philosophy. Vipassana means to see things as they really are, to explore the reality within. Vipassana is a practical method of mental purification through self- observation. This process of self observation purifies the mind of the impurities of illusions and delusions. Its goal is to purify the mind, to eliminate the tensions and negativities that make us miserable. It is universal remedy for a universal problem. It has nothing to do with any organised religion or sectarianinsm. For this reason, it can be practiced freely by all without conflict with race, caste or religion, in any place, at any time and can prove equally beneficial to one and all. Vipassana is taught in ten -day residential courses under the guidance of a qualified teacher. A student must stay within the course site, suspend all rites and rituals, surrender to the teacher and the technique and maintain Noble Silence. There are three steps to the training. First, he undertakes to abstain from actions which causes him harm by undertaking five moral precepts: abstention from killing, stealing, lying, sexual activity and the use of intoxicants. This allows the mind to calm down sufficiently to proceed with the next step. For three and a half days, the student practices Anapana meditation by observing the natural breath to concentrate the mind. One then proceeds to Vipassana. The choiceless, effortless, equanimous observation of body sensations leads to mental purification and the realisation of the universal truths of impermanence, suffering and egolessness. Some case studies will prove that Buddhist Psychotherapy is useful in the treatment of psychosomatic disorders like spondylitis, headache, migraine, peptic ulcer syndrome, colitis, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular problems.