MUNCIE — The East met the West on Saturday morning as John Peterson, a family-practice physician, introduced an audience of 20 to an ancient form of alternative medicine called Ayurveda.
Sitting in a conference room at the Family Practice Center, the participants listened attentively to Peterson as he talked about this 5,000-year-old philosophy that is often called the “mother of all healing.”
“(Ayurvedic medicine) fulfills a need,” Peterson said. “People are always looking for better ways to experience bliss and happiness,” and Ayurvedic medicine is a sure pathway, according to Peterson.
Ayurveda, a Sanskrit term meaning the science of life, originated in India, and it is based on three basic types of energy that are said to be present in everyone and everything. The goal of the philosophy is to bring balance to these types, which will result in increased energy, better appetite and digestion, and enhanced mental, emotional and physical well-being.
Although Eastern medicine is looked upon as an alternate source of healing in the West, it is slowly gaining acceptance, so much that even some medical schools have incorporated parts of the philosophy into their curriculum, calling it complementary medicine.
However, unlike allopathic medicine, which relies on medical and scientific studies, not a whole lot of research is done on the ancient methods, partly because of lack of funding.
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Meanwhile, some like Sister Virginia, who had traveled from Fort Wayne to attend Peterson’s class on Saturday, believe that alternative medicine “is about new ideas of treatment and simplicity, especially because of high cost of medications these days.”
Another major aspect of Ayurvedic medicine is transcendental meditation, which brings “pure awareness. You are alert but beyond content. It’s about silence,” Peterson explained. And achieving that pure awareness — something that Peterson does twice a day for an hour each time — is enlightenment, and it has a huge healing power.
In today’s society, everyone is so engrossed in the physical world, that awareness is completely overshadowed, Peterson explained.
Peterson’s wife, Vicki, who is a teacher of transcendental meditation in Muncie, introduced Peterson to Ayurvedic medicine before he started medical school.
And in 1985, eight years after he established his family practice in Muncie, Peterson completed the Maharishi Ayurveda Physician Training Program and incorporated it into his practice.
“Vedic medicine is about structuring bliss and happiness in physiology, and once you do that, health comes naturally,” he said. “And even if health isn’t perfect, it really doesn’t matter” because there is bliss.