Many travelers come to Nepal for meditation, yoga, astrology, retreats and to merge with the mighty Himalayas. Activities are mainly centered around the Kathmandu Valley, though Pokhara is becoming popular with more options becoming available. The following gives you a guideline of different spiritual activities and natural healing in Nepal.
Vipassana is one of the most ancient techniques. Long lost to people, it was rediscovered by Gautam Buddha more than 2500 years ago. Vipassana means 'to see things as they really are'. It is an art of living which frees the individual from all the negativities of mind, such as anger, greed and ignorance. It is a practice which develops positive, creative energy for the betterment of the individual and society.
The path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any religion. It can be practiced freely by anyone without conflict with race, caste or religion, in any place, and at any time and it will prove beneficial to everyone.
Like the other significant parts of the Nepali heritage Astrology too links its origin to the Vedas, the major source of virtually everything (for the Hindus) written thousands of years ago.
Mesh (Aries), Brish (Taurus), Mithun (Gemini), Karkat (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Tula (Libra), Brishchik (Scorpio), Dhanu (Sagittarius), Makar (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meen (Pisces) are the 12 signs of the zodiac, and in Nepali they are called Rashi.
In Nepal the moment a baby is born, the first thing they do is note down the exact time of birth. Then it is given to the astrologer, who according to the position of the different planets in the solar system at that precise moment prepares a Cheena (horoscope). Cheena is a rectangular chart, which indicates the degree of influence of the planets from the solar world on the people born to a particular Rashi. Highlighting the positive and negative aspects of ones life. When Nepali's are having a difficult time they go to their astrologer with their Cheena for consultation.
Astrologers are also consulted on various occasions like rice feeding, sacared thread and weddings. Tika in Dashain, Bhai Tika in Tihar, including a series of national festivals, are occasions when the astrologers are involved in choosing auspicious hours for these festivities to take place. When a person dies their Cheena is taken to the crematorium or ghat along with their dead body.
Yoga = 'Unity', 'Oneness'. Came from the Sanskrit word "YOG" which means "TO JOIN". To many, the thought of yoga has an image of postures (Asanas) to develop flexibility, general body health and awareness. This is just the beginning. While the main point is to reach the highest goal of the spiritual path, practicing yoga can give benefits to everyone regardless to their spiritual aims.
The Eight Fold Path of Yoga looks deeply into the morality of living. It consists of: Yama (self restraints), Niyama (self observances) Asana, Pranayama (breath techniques), Pratyhara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (identification with pure consciousness).
There is an inter-relationship between yoga and meditation and you can decide to focus more on either one or both together. The Himalayas have played a big role in self realization. It's isolation from the world and ideal environment makes Nepal an ideal place to practice yoga.
Nepal is the birth place of one of the greatest healers known, Shakyamuni Gautam Buddha. Today in the Kathmandu Valley many monasteries and schools is where the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha can be heard, the same as it was two and a half thousand years ago.
What makes Buddhism unique is its scientific and logical explanation of life, without an outside creator. The Buddha tells us we are responsible for our lives and environment, and that with practical methods we can achieve enlightenment in this very lifetime. Buddha's teachings of peace are practiced as a way of life and are more relevant today than ever before. Peace begins from within our own hearts and minds.
Two of the largest Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world are in the Kathmandu Valley. Bouddhanath and Swayambhunath Stupas attract thousands of Buddhists and visitors each day. Many monasteries and schools of Buddhism offer teachings for those wishing for peace of mind and happiness.
In ancient legends, it was taught that Shambala lies in the heart of the Himalaya and the Himalaya lie in the heart of many Buddhists, where Shambala exists. To see, experience and listen to the words of Buddha there are many places in Nepal and you will not be disappointed.
Ayurveda has been practiced in Nepal since the beginning of time. The Himalaya is the base of purity, clarity and harmony, which is the goal of every living creature. Nepal is one of the richest countries in flora ranging from tropical to alpine in such a small area. A lot of the flora is use for medicinal use and is considered part of the cultural heritage of the country.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word meaning "the science of life" or "a natural way of living". Ayurveda includes yoga, meditation and the natural and spiritual sciences. The objectives of Ayurveda are the development of awareness to lead to desirelessness, the promotion of health and long life, prevention and curing of disease, and to understand and to correct imbalances and restore harmony in the person.
Homoeopathy is a system of natural remedies made from animal, vegetable, and mineral extracts. These remedies are prepared so they are non toxic and do not cause side effects.
Homeopathy and Ayruveda have their similarities, but in homeopathy there is an unusual thing where different medicines are used often to treat the same condition in different people, and the same medicine to treat different conditions. In Homeopathy it is the patient that the practitioner looks at rather than the disease or illness. Ayurveda and Homeopathy can be used together.
The Ministry of Health has a homeopathic division, and practitioners and pharmacies can be found all over Kathmandu city.
Tibetan medicine is one of the oldest known medical traditions. It is a science, an art and a philosophy that provides a holistic approach to health care.
Diagnostic techniques in Tibetan Medicine includes visual observation, touch and interrogation.
Visual Observation : This involves checking the patients skin complexion, the color of blood, nails, faces, and other general conditions. Special attention is looked at the patients tongue and urine.
Touch : Pulse reading forms the most important touching method in Tibetan medicine. After ensuring an important set of preconditions, the physician proceeds with the pulse diagnosis. By placing the three middle fingers on the patient's radial arteries.
Interrogation: Interrogation forms an important clinical aspect of the diagnosis. There are three main elements to an interrogation. Determining the causative factors, determining the site of the illness, studying the signs and symptoms; this involves the doctor asking the patient about what sort of food and drink they have been consuming and what kind of physical and mental behaviors they have been experiencing.
Tibetan medicines take various forms, from decoctions, powders, general pills, precious pills, and syrups, and are prescribed in small doses - the emphasis Tibetan medicine places on gentle treatment.
Faith Healers and Tantric Healing in the Himalayas
The "Jhankris" are shamans, who, with garlands of bells around their necks dance and chant at the beat of the drum, which they play in the possession of spirits. The ritual sometimes involves sacrifice of either a rooster or a black goat. They are simple people, a broomstick, some grains of husked rice, a pinch of ash, incense sticks, water, charged with tantric spirits is all they need to come out with a miracle to heal.
India saw its great tantric period between the 7th and 13th centuries. The visit of Padmansambhaba, a great Indian spiritual master, during the 8th century, introduced his own type of Buddhism to Tibet After the 13th century came the Mugal invasion in India which was responsible for the tantric cult to come to Nepal and Tibet. When in Nepal "Gubhajus" who came from the highest priestly class of the Newars got his hands on to the cult. But it was the Lamas from the monasteries in Tibet who had access to it. Over the centuries tantrism has become a big part of faith healing both in Nepal and Tibet.