Siddha Marma Therapy
मरयते इति मर्मनि ॥ “Marayate iti marmani” is a Sanskrit phrase which can be translated as “likelihood of death or serious damage to health if there is infliction to these points, these are thus marma”. Going directly to the Sanskrit sutra of the science of marma helps us to feel the context of this ancient science. It instills in the mind the principle in ancient health systems that that which can kill us can also help us live, that what is poison in one dose, is medicine in another. This intrinsic connection between life and death, the ultimate source energy of eternal beingness, is at the heart of Marma therapy.
The word Marma comes from the root word म्रु mru, or मर्र् marr and means ‘death’ or ‘to hit’. Marma means a vital point, a vulnerable spot, or a secret place in the body which when stimulated can bring vital life energy to the body and when struck or disturbed with force can severely injure or kill a person. There are 107 marma points in the body, the elusive 108th point being the mind which is considered a point as a whole. They are incredibly powerful junctions in the body where two or more tissues such as bone, muscle, vein, arteries and nerves meet. Because they are so sensitive, both the martial artists and the healing artists of ancient India taught on their importance to understanding vital life energy (praña प्रञ).
The system of Marmas (Marmani in the correct sanskrit plural) comes from what is called the Siddha system of medicine. Siddha is considered as the oldest medical system in the acknowledged universe. It is intimately related with Ayurveda, sometimes considered its predecessor. Like most ancient systems, there is a highly mystical history associated with it. Siddha is believed to have been revealed, or channeled from Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati by the dedicated yogic sages of ancient India. Through extensive and disciplined practice of yogic meditation the sages made direct contact with Supreme Consciousness and were shown how the vital energy system of the Human being flows from the Divine realm to the manifested realm of the body and the five elements. From this knowledge of divine origin the entire system of Siddha (perfection/ heavenly bliss) came into form. The system includes teachings on marma, diet, doshas, herbs, minerals, and much more to encompass a complete healing science. The teachings were eventually transcribed onto palm leaves, and are to this day protected and preserved in temples and private homes of the lineage carriers in Southern India.
Though the history of Siddha Marma is highly mystical, it’s application is profoundly practical and can assist modern day people in addressing their abundance of physical, psychological and spiritual imbalances. Because this Siddha Marma healing relates directly to the most subtle aspect of one’s being, one’s vital life force, it goes directly to the source of the problem. Rather than focusing on masking the symptoms of a condition the way modern allopathic medicine often does, Marma therapy works to balance the subtle energies which are disturbed and are the sources of the conditions.
As an example, in the case of an increasingly common condition called ‘frozen shoulder’ the allopathic medicine treatment is to inject cortisone shots (a steroid) into the site to locally relieve the pain and stiffness. A patient will need to repeatedly come for the injections, and the source of the cortisone is usually synthesized in a laboratory with many possible side-effects. The steroids are not effective in curing the condition, and serve only as a temporary relief of the symptoms. In Marma therapy, this condition would be addressed by three particular marma points in the body to reset the energy flow in that area of the body and re-instill a state of energetic homeostasis. One point is located in the base of the neck, just above the c-7 vertebrae and works on the nerve that flows down into the shoulder. The other two points are located around the shoulder, and work to reset the energy flow here. By daily treatment of the points for a course of ~21 days the condition can be reversed completely naturally. Some highly skilled and intuitive marma therapists can even re-set the energy flow in a frozen shoulder patient within just a few minutes. (view this video for a live demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLKVWkFtZs0)
The holistic way that Marma therapy approaches ailments of the body includes relating the condition to the emotional and psychological bodies of the patient. With the re-awakening of consciousness globally we are beginning to recognize the various aspects of the human being as mind-body and soul, and to understand that the emotions we experience in our lives are stored and related to the physical body as a whole (not just in the brain). Different organs are linked with different emotions, and left unresolved cause disease states in the corresponding organs.
For example, anger relates directly to the liver. When anger is continuously felt inside, and left unexpressed due to a socially/psychologically unsupported environment, the anger festers in the liver and causes heat and excessive bile production. The stress on the liver causes the blood to become hot and acidic which left unattended leads to all kinds of skin disorders from acne to full blown psoriasis. Marma therapy treatment of specific points relating to the liver can elicit an emotional release in the patient where the toxic festering anger (source of the symptom) can be let go of in the safe and sacred space of a therapeutic session. This release of the stagnant emotion allows the liver to re-calibrate itself and begin to function normally again relieving both the symptom and the source of the problem.
Like all holistic medicine systems, Siddha Marma therapy works optimally as a preventative therapy. Both Siddha and Ayurveda advocate the importance of maintaining well being before the onset of disease. It is easier to ward off disease then to reverse it. A vital aspect of maintaining the optimal health of the human being to prevent any disease occurring in the first place is to ensure the harmony between the various organ systems. By stimulating blood and energy flow to all the organs and tissues, marma therapy serves as a holistic ‘body tuning’ of sorts. When the 7 stages of tissues (the ‘saptadhatu’: from plasma to blood, muscle, fat, bone, nerve and sperm/ovum) are all functioning harmoniously, when the body is “in tune”, the physical body is in good health. When the physical body is in good health, the soul can naturally and easily fulfill its potential. This soul health is the eternal nectar of life.
This is truly the essential aim of the ancient Spiritual Sciences. Siddha Medicine offers tools to bring health to the body, so that the further spiritual aim of enlightenment may be accessed. As we all can know from experience, when one is ill it is much harder to focus the mind in meditation. Thus it is essential to take care of the body for ease of spiritual evolution. To maintain the harmony of the body is one’s personal duty in life. It is through the honouring of one’s body, which is seen as the temple one is given by God upon incarnation, that one’s soul destiny can be manifested. From a Spiritual world view, the material plane is completely interdependent with the spiritual planes. To fulfill one’s spiritual evolution the body must be optimized. Siddha Marma Therapy provides a valuable assistance in this pursuit of complete well being.
Looking into the physical to go beyond the physical is a general theme in the ancient Spiritual Sciences. As we see in the systems of hatha yoga so popularized (albeit often loosely at best following any actual traditions) in the West, moving into one’s body intimately plays a vital role in deeper awareness of more subtle states of consciousness beyond the body. Likewise, by becoming intimately aware of these vital physical points in the body, the marma, we can move more easily into subtler aspects of who we are.
Noticing subtle energy shifts in the body, emotions which surface, or referal type sensations during marma therapy sessions helps both the giver and the receiver of the therapy become more and more attuned to the unseen. It is this intimate connection between spirit and matter within the practice of Marma that, to me, holds the most profound potential for ultimate healing. For to truly heal oneself, is to truly see oneself, not just as the limited being with the pains and pleasures, joys and sorrows, but as the limitless Self which flows through the entire Infinite spectrum of possibility. Any therapy which helps one gain access to these deeper realms of awareness, to me, is truly therapeutic. For the physical body will surely die, and it is only the limitless Self which will continue. To be truly healthy, in an infinite sense, requires this evolution of identity. Therapy which stays solely within the physical dimension is, from a Spiritual perspective, a bit like a skipping record.
Homage to the Sages, the Rishis, who brought the knowledge to the people. Homage to the teachers who translated it to me. Homage to You, for your consciousness being here now. May we all awaken, together, in a good way.