There is a sense in the West – some would say uneasiness – that in our relentless pursuit of wealth, distraction and success we have lost something fundamental within ourselves.
It is certainly true that the pace of modern life often make it difficult to take a moment, relax, and enjoy the here and now, which is one of the reasons that meditation and mindfulness have become so popular.
For anyone who finds themselves agreeing with this sentiment, new book Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree by internationally-famed Indian homeopath, spiritual thinker and practitioner of holistic healing Dr Rajan Sankaran will be well worth a read.
In it, he chronicles his personal development from childhood to the present, illustrating how his lifelong quest for understanding – and his openness to the lessons that anyone or anything can impart if only we pay attention – have helped him overcome the challenges he has faced along the way.
These include losing his father at a young age and the savage attacks he has had to deal with from his peers within his profession, where his radical new approaches initially were met with censure.
The author tells his story with candour, warmth and humour, but Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree is more than a memoir. In his search for spiritual attainment, Dr Sankaran has discovered many truths and observations that he shares with readers to help them with their own personal transformation.
These are passed on through colorful and insightful anecdotes, following the firmly-rooted traditional Indian way of imparting wisdom.
What may surprise, however, is how diverse the author’s teachers and classrooms can be. While he finds a wealth of understanding from his mentor Dr Roheet Mehta and within the rich and complex field of Indian classical music and poetry, other teachers include a taxi driver he once shared a conversation with and even a stray dog.
As he explains in the chapter ‘The Night in the Black Forest’, Dr. Sankaran believes that we need to be receptive to the moment before us if we are to gain deeper awareness. He sums it up as follows: “There are times when I give my thinking and analysing a holiday and function from pure observation and awareness.”
Elsewhere, he similarly suggests that we could all benefit from breaking the habit of comparison and simply appreciate things for what they are: “Is that mountain as tall as the next? Which is the tallest of all?”
Ultimately, these practices will enable us to “find a way inward where peace and joy really abide,’ providing a compass to “to navigate the confusing maze of this alluring but ultimately unsatisfying world”.
This book is guaranteed to reward anyone with an interest in mindfulness, meditation and personal discovery.
And while the book is not about homeopathy, students of the subject will learn much from the many revelations that the author shares about his career and teachers.
All in all, Dr Sankaran’s elegant writing style and celebration of the possibilities within us make for a highly motivational and powerful read.
Dog, Yogi, Banyan Tree (Homoeopathic Medical Publishers) is out now in paperback, priced £21. For more information visit www.dogyogibanyantree.com.