First posted on 30 December, 2010
Sarve bhavantu sukhinaha
Sarve santu Niraamayaaha
This verse from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad means:
“May everyone be happy, may everyone be well (without disease)”
But what does Niraamayaa actually mean?
One of our parents told me the true meaning of the Sanskrit word Niraamayaa. Although I did know that broadly it meant freedom from illness and a state of complete wellness, the actual meaning of the word is clearer when we break it up into nir+aamay. ‘Ama’ in sanskrit means ‘toxins’ or ‘impurity’. So nir-amay means a ‘toxin free state of purity’. This was such a revelation for me as this is exactly what we are striving for at Niraamayaa…..the children who come to us from the spiritual world are so pure, that they cannot take in anything that is not pure- like synthetic food, electromagnetic radiation, vaccines, antibiotics, allopathic medication, etc. We need to instead, try and purify their environment for them, serve fresh, home made food and last but not the least, purify our own heart and mind spaces for them so that everything that is fed to them as food and through the environment (that includes us) is ‘digestible’ to them….then they can reach the state of ‘niraamaya’…..
Everywhere we look these days; there is talk about wellness- Wellness spas, wellness stores, wellness foods, and so on. Why this sudden need for wellness? Perhaps we have realized that in our struggle to survive in this pressure-filled competitive world, we are compromising on our well being. Perhaps we are also realizing that as we are getting sucked in by the hypnotizing realm of technology, gadgetry and modern day living, we are somehow losing out on the human touch and are losing touch with Mother Nature.
The further we move from the comforting and harmonious rhythms of nature and rely on synthetic, unnatural products and ways of living, the further away we move from feeling well. This lack of well being manifests itself as physical, emotional and mental symptoms and syndromes. We wait for something drastic to happen before we awaken and realize how far away we have moved from being really well.
Especially when Mother Earth chooses to express her anguish through our children….whom we value more than anything else in the world.
There is increasing incidence today of children with various special needs- learning difficulties, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity and so on.
Increasing number of studies seems to be pointing to a deep connection between unhealthy lifestyles and habits to Child Mental Health issues. For instance there was an article in the Times recently linking speech delay in toddlers to homes where the child does not get enough language stimulation. There are also issues because children do not play enough. Parents say: “what can we do? We don’t have a choice! This is what everyone’s doing. It’s the norm today.” But is this norm the healthy for our children? Is there a better way to live? Don’t we want our children to lead healthy, productive, balanced lives not just for themselves, but also so that they can contribute to the community? And most importantly, are we willing to come out of our comfort zones for the sake of our children? Are we ready to make aware and conscious parenting choices?
This is the objective behind Niraamayaa, a “Centre for the well being of children and parents”- to help parents make the right choices. To provide them with healthy options for the well being of their children, irrespective of whether they have special needs or not.
In her experience of 15 years with children needing special care, Nirupama Rao the co-founder of Niraamayaa, a psychologist by qualification, has learnt that doing therapy directly with children is only one part of the job. Of equal importance is the home environment, lifestyles, dietary and sleep habits and last but not the least, the physical and emotional well-being of the parents themselves.
Hence, at Niraamayaa we believe in spending as much time with parents as is possible, through counselling and guidance as to the healthiest possible ways of raising children in today’s time and age, along with creative and rejuvenating activities which leave them feeling refreshed and cared for. This is done by way of workshops as well as individual counselling sessions.
Very often what we ‘want’ for our children is not the same as what they really ‘need’. What we ‘want’ is that they fulfil our expectations and perform to ease our anxiety; but what they really ‘need’ is for us to slow down, understand them, observe them and accept them for who they really are.
Our main purpose at Niraamayaa is to
- help parents understand children and their needs,
- to create awareness about the connection between child mental health and healthy life styles and
- to sensitize the society about the true needs of growing children- that children, at least in the first five or six years need to play, connect to nature, need good role models and need to really remain children for as long as they can, without the cares and pressures of adult life which they will have to face as adults anyway.
- To help children and even us adults to actually try at reach that state of ‘Niraamayaa’- the state of freedom from toxicity and the state of purity in body, mind, soul and spirit!!