Meditating rejuvenates ones energy level and zeal, so you can feel enlightened, far from the metaphysical world. A meditation course in Lumbini, Bhairahawa or in Bouddha, Kathmandu will help you explore in-depth and find a new human within you. There are specialized centers offering meditation course, accommodation, and food.
Yoga classes will contribute to the development of a healthy body, a healthy mind, and healthy thought. It also helps one achieve balanced, harmonious and integrated development of all the aspects of their personalities. Yoga is a pathway to true, happy, and healthy living. Yogic training eventually prepares one for spiritual awakening, the supreme aim of human life.
Ayurveda dates back to the Vedic period. Vedas are the oldest recorded documents of human civilization. Ayurveda, the life science, is also the oldest authentically recorded science in existence today. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, when translated means “the science of life” or “a natural way of living”.
The objective of Ayurveda is to achieve the highest goal of life, the inner and outer dynamic harmony. The dimensions of health are defined as bodily, sensorial, mental, and spiritual health. Traditional and indigenous knowledge has been used for centuries by indigenous and local communities under local laws, customs and traditions. Fundamentally, they follow the Ayurvedic, ethno-botanical, ethno-traditional, tantrik, spiritual and Amchi knowledge. As described in Ayurveda, the Himalayan herbs and medicinal plants are used for healthy body and happy mind. These are used in different forms such as toiletries and cosmetics, incense and aromatic substances, health promoting agents, supplements and medicines, natural manures, pesticides, environmental cleaning and protection, food, food additives and drinks, etc.
More than 80 per cent of the total population of the country still rely on Ayurveda and Ayurveda based traditional medicine. Ayurveda and the traditional medical wisdom and practices are prevalent in the communities and are totally dependent on locally available medicinal herbs, knowledge, technology and their application. It has deep history in taxonomical, pharmacological, and clinical studies of drugs. It is still the primary form of treatment and is extensively used.
Astrology also has its origin in 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 Raashi.
Astrology plays a significant role in a Nepali person’s life especially when it comes time to get married. The moment a child is born in Nepal, the exact time of birth is noted and 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 in a particular Raashi. Besides highlighting the positive as well as negative aspects of one’s life that lead to achievements and failures, when it comes to facing difficult times, the Nepali people go to their astrologer with their Cheena for advice and act accordingly.
An astrologer reading one’s Cheena, they say, can tell quite accurately what fate has in store for the person. A good astrologer also tells you your past thus gaining your confidence. Astrology plays a part in every step of a Nepali’s life as the Cheena is consulted for all rituals during the rites of passage ceremonies. Astrologers are consulted on various occasions like rice feeding, sacred thread and weddings. Usually Hindus do not marry unless the Cheena of the bride and groom are compatible. This may be changing slowly as more Nepalis opt for a love marriage. Almost all religious festivals in Nepal are governed by astrological readings. Tika during Dashain, Bhai Tika during Tihar, etc are occasions when the astrologers determine the auspicious hours for these festivities to take place. They also forecast the solar and lunar eclipses and their impact on people. Believers even determine when it is okay to start a journey or launch a business. Finally, when a person dies, his Cheena is taken to the crematorium or ghat along with his body.
Ayurveda dates back to the Vedic period. Vedas are the oldest recorded documents of human civilization. Ayurveda is the life science and also the oldest authentically recorded science in existence today. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, and when translated means “the science of life” or “a natural way of living”. The objective of Ayurveda is to achieve the highest goal of life: the inner and outer dynamic harmony. The dimensions of health are defined as bodily, sensorial, mental, and spiritual health. Traditional and indigenous knowledge has been used for centuries by indigenous and local communities following local laws, customs and traditions.
Nepal has a great tradition of Ayurveda, and it is considered to be part of the cultural and scientific heritage of the country. Traditional makers of ayurvedic medicines still carry on their practice using outdated tools. There is an Ayurvedic Hospital in Nardevi in the heart of Kathmandu. For researchers there is a huge amount of data on Ayurveda preserved on leafs and manuscripts in the National Archives. There is a wealth of knowledge here that has long been ignored and neglected.
Ayurveda, is thought of as a life science, and includes yoga, meditation and the natural and spiritual sciences. Ayurveda sees every person as a unique individual, and seeks to understand and to correct the existing imbalances and restore the innate intelligence and harmony of the person.
The objectives of Ayurveda are the development of awareness which leads to a state of desirelessness; the promotion of health and the achievement of longevity; the prevention of disease; and the curing of disease. The Ayurveda practitioner will first ask a series of questions to identify the person’s type. Only after this has been determined, is it possible to diagnose the problem and suggest a series of activities and practices to go with the Ayurvedic medicines.
In order to understand Ayurveda in depth, one should be treated by an Ayurveda practitioner or simply meet with various practitioners to understand the philosophy on a more intellectual level. Excursions can be organized to visit practitioners, to meet rural people who collect herbs, and to meet traditional healers such as Shamans or Jhankris as they are known in Nepal.
Nepal is a land full of legends, myths, magic and mystery. The confrontation between its millions of gods and goddesses on the one hand and the most powerful demons on the other, at various points gives a meaningful perspective to this magic and mystery. The former represents positive spirits, and the latter, negative ones. Between the two stands the faith-healer, who almost like a catalyst with his invocation and possession of positive spirits manages to drive away the negative spirits that are inflicting harm on his clients.
Faith healing in Nepal dates back to pre-historic times and is still widely practiced even in the capital city, Kathmandu. What’s even more surprising is the fact that they have taught many foreign students their craft especially, Americans. These students have gone back to their countries to start faith healing practice in the cities of well developed nations and seem to be gaining popularity.
The Jhankris or shamans wear garlands of tiny bells around their necks and tremble and chant at the beat of the drum or metal plate, which they play during the invocation and spirit possession. These performances can sometimes last the whole night. Sacrificing a rooster is common among these shamans. Some sacrifice a black goat depending upon the nature of the complication. Others are incredibly simple people, using a broomstick, some grains of husked rice, a pinch of ash, incense sticks and a couple of spoonfuls of water, charged with tantric spirits to come up with a miraculous cure.
Tantrism is also practiced in Nepal and especially within temples and monasteries. However, their secret nature leaves the general public in the dark about their practices although they are aware of something going on behind closed doors. There are many shrines within the Kathmandu valley that forbid anyone but the temple priests from entering the inner sanctum. These practices are considered dangerous and ordinary people do well to stay away.
Vipassana is one of the most ancient meditation techniques. Long lost to humanity, it was rediscovered by the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago. Vipassana means ‘to see things as they really are’. It is the process of self purification by self observation. One starts by observing natural breath as a means to concentrate. With this sharpened awareness, one proceeds to observe the changing nature of the body and mind and experience the universal truth of impermanence, suffering and attain a state of egolessness. The entire path (Dhamma) is a universal remedy for universal problems and has nothing to do with any organized religion or sectarianism. For this reason, it can be practiced freely by all without conflict of race, caste or religion; in any place, and at any time and will prove equally beneficial to all.
Vipassana is the ‘art of living’ which frees the individual from all the negativities of the mind, such as anger, greed and ignorance. It is a practice which develops positive, creative energy for the betterment of the individual and society. Regular ten-day courses are held at the Nepal Vipassana Center which is located in Budhanilkantha near the entrance to the Shivapuri National Park
It is believed that meditation rejuvenates one’s energy level and zeal, hence its popularity. It has gained a following worldwide and is taught in many parts of the world. A meditation course will help you relax and explore the spiritual side within yourself. There are many specialized centers offering meditation courses. Some of these institutions provide accommodation and food along with the classes while others only provide classes.
Yoga classes will contribute to the development of a healthy body, a healthy mind, and healthy thought. It also helps one achieve a balanced, harmonious and integrated development of all the aspects of their personalities. Yoga is a pathway to true, happy, and healthy living.
The Eight Fold Path of Yoga (not to be confused with Buddha’s Eight Fold Path), from sage Patanjali’s yoga sutra delves deeply into the morality of living and explores the human psyche. It consists of: Yama (self restraint), Niyama (self observance) Asana, Pranayama (breathing techniques), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (identification with pure consciousness).
To most people yoga means postures (Asanas) to develop flexibility, general body health and of course, awareness. However, this is merely the beginning. While yoga’s central theme remains the highest goal of the spiritual path, yogic practices can give direct and tangible benefits to everyone regardless of their spiritual aspirations.
Yoga and meditation are inter-related. Part of Lord Buddha’s contribution to humanity was to focus on meditation to develop Samadhi (while focusing on a platform of ethics and morality). You can choose whether to focus wholly on yoga, or more specifically on meditation, or get your fill of both of these.
There are many classes from which to choose. Kathmandu has many practitioners/Ayurvedic healers who hold yoga as a primary source for the treatment of illness. Refer to Ayurveda Section. Kathmandu is where most of the yoga institutions are concentrated and they have generated considerable interest. There are yoga centers everywhere and particularly around Thamel, the tourist district. Keep an eye out for notices on the bulletin boards of hotels and restaurants where you will find flyers and brochures detailing classes and courses on yoga.