Nidra Yog Foundation: Marma chikitsā is the precise art of touching an individ-
ual in exactly the right place at a critical moment in time,
for the purpose of healing. Marmāni serve as points of
access to the body’s innate intelligence, opening the
doorway to health and well-being. They are vehicles to
reach the ultimate goal of Āyurveda: perfect health,
firmly rooted in a vibrantly alive body and fully awak-
ened mind.
In this chapter, we discuss the rich and significant
spiritual dimensions of marmāni. Because marmāni are
intimately connected to thoughts, perceptions and emo-
tions as well as to the entire fabric of the physical body,
marma chikitsā can be a powerful ally on the spiritual
path, helping to settle the mind and enhance awareness
in such practices as meditation, prānāyāma (breath con-
trol) and yogāsana, and to free the mind and body of the
accumulated stresses and toxins that limit consciousness
and burden the heart.
The Spiritual Value of Touch
Touch begins on the physical level, but it can go
much deeper, traversing the media of thoughts, feelings,
and emotions. Touch—the skilled touch of a sincere
practitioner of the healing arts—can convey its message
of love through prāna into the manas, buddhi, smruti. It
can penetrate ahamkāra and speak its silent message
through chitta into the soul.1 Along the way, and espe-
cially at this deepest level, touch can engender radical
change in the neurochemistry. The human body is a
unique chemical laboratory; a touch through the energy
points of marmāni can open new pathways that affect
our inner pharmacy.
Certain marma therapies can not only enhance
thinking, feeling, and perception, they also have the
potential to evoke a state of choiceless, passive aware-
ness and transform it into a transcendental state of
samādhi. Thus, the total healing of body, mind and spirit
can happen through marma chikitsā.
Mahad: Innate Intelligence of the
Body – and the Universe
In Sānkhya philosophy, mahad or cosmic intelligence
creates order in the universe. It permeates every aspect
of creation from the gross to the subtle and from the
macrocosm to the microcosm, from the order governing
the vast galactic universe to the infinitesimal genetic
code guiding the unfoldment of life within every living
On the physical level, the body is shaped by mahad
to reflect the perfect harmony of structure and function.
The five elements govern structure, the three doshas rule
function, and the seven dhātus (bodily tissues) influence
both structure and function. This microcosmic mahad is
evident in the precise locations of the marmāni mapped
within the matrix of majjā dhātu, the nervous system.
On the mental level, cosmic intelligence manifests
as individual consciousness, which expresses itself as the
principal mental faculties: manas (sensory mind) and
buddhi (intellect). The marmāni are intimately connected
to the mind via majjā dhātu and mano vaha srotas (chan-
nels of the mind).
On the spiritual level mahad, which on the cosmic
scale is the flow of consciousness or intelligence that
facilitates harmony among all aspects of creation, is
given voice in the body through the flow of prāna. Prāna
is the breath that animates the organism and allows its
spirit to reside in the body. The entry of consciousness
into the marmāni allows communication within and
Nidra Yog Foundation: Universal Mind and Particular Mind:
Opening to Infinity
According to the Sānkhya philosophy of creation,
there is universal mind, called vibhu, and individual
mind, called anu. Universal mind is the ground mind,
and individual mind is particular mind. Universal mind
is vast, unbounded, infinitely creative and eternally pure,
unclouded consciousness. Particular mind is conditioned
mind, based upon its stockpile of thoughts, feelings, and
emotions stored in memory. Memory is the background
to all we think, feel and perceive, and imposes itself
upon the foreground of pure, direct experience. The
more the particular mind fails to apprehend the ground
mind, the more life becomes suffering. The root cause of
suffering is this division between the ground mind and
the particular mind. Through marma therapy, new path-
ways are opened within the mano vaha srotas, which
allow particular mind to transcend its conditioned state
and expand into universal mind. This unity of individual
mind and universal mind brings radical transformation
and total healing in the life of the individual.
Ground mind belongs to all. It operates through the
sun, the moon, rivers, mountains, oceans, the flowers
and the trees. In our daily perception, particular mind
creates division in which “you” become the observer and
“that” becomes the object, the thing to be observed.
When the observer is unaware of both the pure essence
of ground mind and its all-permeating presence within
all things, our powers of observation are very limited.
This limited observation creates judgment, criticism, like
and dislike and so on, based upon our particular back-
ground. The more our background dominates our experi-
ence, the more we lose the ground.
Particular mind freezes our perception. And because
of our frozen perception, we see our world as we see it
now. Marma therapy has the capacity to help us unfreeze
this perception, via the media of majjā dhātu and mano
vaha srotas. In this way marma chikitsā can improve the
quality of perception. It brings clarity. Clarity of percep-
tion becomes compassion; and compassion is love.
Marmāni and Mind/Body Medicine
Within one month, we have totally new skin, as far
as the atoms and cells are concerned. Our superficial self
dies and a new one takes shape. In the space of four
days, we have a completely new gastro-mucous lining.
In a period of six months, all the atoms of the liver are
replaced and we have an entirely new liver. Like these
constant changes in the body, everything in the universe
is changing. There is nothing permanent in this world.
Only change itself is permanent. These changes are hap-
pening on the vast screen of awareness, which is eternal,
timeless existence, the unchanging ground upon which
all change occurs.
At this time in history, important changes are taking
place in the Western scientific understanding of mind
and body, and of the nature of life itself. The old para-
digm, which held that mind lives in the brain, is giving
way to a new paradigm that says the brain lives in the
mind. The old paradigm assumed that mind is within the
body. The new paradigm asserts that the body is in the
mind. According to the old paradigm, mind and body are
separate and distinct, the concrete, solid, material body
being “real” and the abstract, non-physical mind grudg-
ingly accorded a shadowy sort of existence. The new
paradigm says that we cannot separate body from mind.
The body is crystallized mind, and mind is the energy
aspect of the body. To speak of mind and body as two
distinct entities is simply not true, and creates confusion
and separation. That is why we speak today of mind-
body medicine.
Āyurveda has always recognized this. From the
Āyurvedic perspective, going back thousands of years,
we really should speak of mind-body or bodymind,
because they are one. Anything that happens in mind
influences the body, and vice versa. Mind is a flow of
thought, as a river is a flow of water. As the water, so the
river. If the water is clear, the river is clear. If the water is
polluted, the river is polluted. Likewise, as the thought,
so the mind. If our thoughts breathe fear, mind becomes
fearful. If angry thoughts flow or flood through the
mind, the mind becomes anger. On the other hand, if
thought is clear, mind is clear. As a change in the water is
a change in the river, a change in the nature of our
thoughts is a change in the mind. Moreover, every
change in our mental state is instantaneously reflected in
the chemistry and functioning of the body.
On the cutting edge of this newly emerging model,
in which the ancient understanding is being corroborated
by extensive research, mind and body are no longer con-
sidered two different vehicles of experience. Mind is not
a localized entity, to be sought somewhere in the electro-
chemical activity of the brain, but rather it pervades the
entire physical body from every cell to every fiber. Mind
and body are not just interconnected, but are one cohe-
sive entity with both physical and mental manifestations.
The term mano vaha srotas means “the pathway of
the mind.” Mano means mind, vaha implies carrying,
and srotas means pathway or channel. To describe the
mind as a lively channel of energy captures its reality as
fluid movement. Mano vaha srotas is not a “thing” but a
continuous flow or stream of consciousness. It is one of
Nidra Yog Foundation: Mano vaha srotas has its root in the heart, brain and
chakra system. The mind originates through these three
centers. The pathway of mano vaha srotas encompasses
the entire person, through what the Vedanta school of
Indian philosophy calls the five koshas—auric fields
representing five planes or sheaths of existence of vary-
ing density. Ranging from subtle to gross, these are:
 ānandamaya kosha (bliss body)
 vijñānamaya kosha (wisdom body)
 manomaya kosha (mental body)
 prānamaya kosha (breath body)
 annamaya kosha (physical or food body)
Nidra Yog Foundation: Stimulating Ūrdhva Skandha relieves these condi-
tions and facilitates the flow of prāna to the lungs and
upper chest. Hence, treatment here benefits many lung
conditions and may relieve hiccups, a disturbance of
udāna vāyu, the upward moving energy. Pressure on
Ūrdhva Skandha stimulates the downward flow of
Skandha is the name of one of the sons of Lord
Shiva and his wife Pārvatī, two important deities in Hin-
duism. (The other son is Ganesha.) In South India, the
deity Skandha is also known by the names Murga,
Kārttikeya and Subramanyam. He is often portrayed as a
warrior armed with bow and arrow who carries tremen-
dous responsibility. His bow rests on his shoulder and
touches Skandha marma.