Elaine, I asked my friend and homeopathic colleague, Kate Soudant, to help me with the interview for you.
Fine, the less I have to do, the better!
That’s the way my readers like it!
Interesting, well, Kate ended up getting inspired, and I hope we didn’t get carried away! Let me know what you think…
Hmm….I’ll start thinking about that right away….Have you seen my remote? Where’s my racing form?
INTERVIEW with Melissa Burch
Kate: First of all, I’d like to thank Homeopathy for Everyone for having us here! Melissa and I first met as participants in a 2 month intensive course in Mumbai, India where we studied and lived the Indian experience of homeopathy and medicine. For the first three weeks we attended the Ramakrishna Mission allopathic hospital each morning to offer us deeper medical and pathological study as well as provide comparisons to homeopathy. We were one of the first groups to receive a total emersion into the Bombay School of Homeopathy’s innovative new insights into case taking and prescribing that was and still are being developed by the well-known Dr. Rajan Sankaran. We were fortunate to have as our teachers, not only Dr. Sankaran, himself, but the Drs. Divya Chhabra, Jayesh Shah, Sunil Anand, Sudhir Baldota and Sujit Chaterjee as well as the next level of excellent new international Indian teachers and husband/wife teams – Drs’ Chauhan and the Joshi’s.
It was during this time that I learned about Melissa’s interesting background, and believe me it is interesting, but unfortunately we will not have time to go into that in detail…
What?! Excuse me, I couldn’t help overhearing; did you say you’re not going into Melissa’s interesting life in detail? What will our readers say, they’ll be devastated!
I had no idea! Well, sure, OK; Melissa, can you tell us a bit, or rather, quite a bit, about your background and how you got into homeopathy?
I’d be happy to. My early professional background was in journalism.
Oh my God! Did you say journalism? You were a journalist?
Elaine, I’m starting to see why your readers prefer to see less and less of you. Not that we don’t appreciate your enthusiam, but, at this rate, by the time I mention that I was in television…
You were in television???
You see what I mean? You know what? I think they’re calling you down at The Quiz!
You know, you’re right. I forgot, I have to decide between the kid who ate butter and the kid with the loud, barking cough! I’ll be right back!
Take your time! Take all the time in the world! So, after graduating from the London School of Journalism, I took an assignment as a war journalist in Afghanistan from 1981-83 – it was during the time when the Soviets invaded. I then returned to live in New York City and became an independent TV producer. One of the productions, where I was executive producer, was called ‘Women in Limbo Presents’ a national television series about women’s lives.
Soon after I had my son, Alex, and was doing research on health. I was a new mother not particularly interested in medicine per se, and especially not the responsibility of treating my newborn child if he got sick. There was a lot of controversy about vaccinations and I wanted to be sure to be safe and know what I should do to keep my son well.
Soon after I went to a lecture on homeopathy given by homeopath Robert Stuart. I was a total convert. I came to the lecture convinced the world was one way, and that cause and effect dominated mostly. Robert, however, was speaking about infinitesimal substances, not even measurable, saying that they will cure disease when prescribed according to the “law of similars”. He was talking about the realm of energy…saying things like ‘the body and mind are connected’. And other strange ideas like a person who feels like a king though dressed in rags might need Sulphur for his skin problems. This talk really caught my attention.
Kate: So then what did you do?
I began to read every book I could find on homeopathy, went to seminars and immediately enrolled in a school. And my husband became my first patient. I asked him if I could treat him, took his case whereby I dutifully asked him to list all his complaints, I added ones I had about him too (especially mind symptoms like ‘irritable when contradicted’). I charted them in a list of symptoms with the remedies, graded them 1, 2 or 3, based on severity, and added them all up. The remedy with the highest number on the chart was Phosphorus so I gave him a 30 c. No harm could be done with something that has nothing in it, right?
Within minutes my husband was on the bed, crying in pain because his stomach was hurting him, colic-like pains. I knew exactly what to do – gave him coffee and mint, one right after the other. The remedy was antidoted and the pain stopped. I went to class and told the teacher about my experience with my first patient. He said, “You did what? You antidoted the remedy? That was a good reaction your husband had.” It took me longer to realize that having a homeopathic aggravation means the remedy acted. This homeopathy really has to change one’s thinking. I only knew before that you get sick and you take medicine to make you feel better. I still had a lot to learn.
Kate: And you kept on prescribing?
Yes, and after several experiences along with taking remedies myself (prescribed by a homeopath) and even undergoing a family proving where we all took a new remedy, I finished my training. This all culminated in becoming a turning point when homeopathy, life and healing took a new direction.
Kate: So where does India fit in all of this?
I was becoming a New Age Healer, out there in that spirit, energy, psychic world and loving it. My focus became total enlightenment. I decided I must find a guru and had to go where I felt this will be possible – India.
When I turned 40, I made up my mind to really go to India. I had attended a few seminars with Indian homeopaths, Dr. Ranjan Sankaran and Dr. Jayesh Shah in New York and felt a resonance with their way of approaching homeopathy. I even had a plan to spend time at Dr. Shah’s clinic in Mumbai. But September 11th happened and my trip was changed. I still went to India, but later than I planned, and ended up staying in Auroville on the Eastern Coast of India near Pondicherry the entire time instead of visiting homeopaths in Mumbai.
I fell in love with Auroville which is an international community dedicated to spiritual, social and environmental values. It was founded on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Indian ‘guru’ and ‘saint’ called ‘Mother’. When I returned, I proposed the possibility of moving there and my husband and I were in total alignment. Thus, we moved our small family to India to seek a spiritual life.
Kate: So how did you get from moving to Auroville to continuing homeopathy?
At just that same time we were planning our move, I learned about a special two month program being offered in Mumbai by Dr. Sankaran’s Bombay School of Homeopathy – giving an in-depth course in medicine, pathology and his new method of homeopathy. I jumped at the chance and enrolled in the course. The timing was perfect as it coincided perfectly with our plans to move. This course gave me the basic foundations for following the ‘sensation’ method that Dr. Sankaran has been developing in the past 10 years or so. I was so taken with his ideas and this method, I was motivated to plan to put together a correspondence course of some kind so that other homeopaths could learn about the method and get a step-by-step introduction into the case taking method.
Kate: This all sounds so synchronistic….which is very homeopathic….
It gets more so…..during the course I had my case taken by Dr. Sudhir Baldota and I am convinced he prescribed my ‘similimum’, as I have not had to change remedies since – and that was back in 2003.
Anyway, when I finished the course and moved to Auroville, I met Dr. Nandita Shah who had also moved to Auroville. She was one of the original members of Dr. Sankaran’s Bombay group and was practicing the very same methods. I was privileged to develop a close friendship with Dr. Shah with whom I worked the entire time I lived in Auroville – for one and a half years. Nandita graciously let me sit in on her clinics in the morning and I took cases in the afternoons, taking patients to ‘source’ and spending evenings working on the cases with Nandita. We would meet nightly, analyze and study our cases in the context of the new method. Some worked and some didn’t but we learned a lot from our experiences.
Kate: This method often leads the homeopath to some unusual remedies. Did you have access to them, living in Auroville? Or how did you deal with getting the remedies?
Well, we did have some adventures. Based on our case taking, we found one patient whom we believed required the bird remedy, Egret. There were plenty of Egrets around, but how to get a feather or something to make a remedy with. We even went to a bird sanctuary where they were all over the place….but how to get a feather – AND make sure it was an Egret feather…it was quite an experience, let me tell you. I found one by tromping through the mud where there were egrets and cows and found a feather. A short time later, Nandita was camping and an Egret flew over her and dropped a feather right in her lap….just like that.
Kate: That also seems to happen in homeopathy- when you become open and aware to a remedy, all of a sudden you are inundated with the energy from that same remedy, haven’t you found that?
Homeopathy is truly an energetic medicine and brings out the energies of substances all around. In our chasing of remedies, we ended up doing a formal proving as well. Dr. Susan Sieben, Dr. Nandita Shah and myself did a proving of Sea Anemone while we were there. It is now written up and published.
But, to follow up on the synchronicity and expanding awareness of remedy energy, just when my husband and I were deciding whether to leave Auroville and return home or commit for a 5 year stay, Misha Norland came to visit Auroville with his two sons. In talking with Misha, I learned that he had been one of the provers of ‘my’ remedy (the one prescribed by Dr. Baldota) AND one of his sons was reading a book that was not only connected to ‘my’ remedy, but the book was about an actual friend of my father…
Kate: So did you stay or did you leave?
We decided to return to the States – something dramatic happened in the community at the same time and additionally we learned our housing had to be rearranged…it just became very obvious that it was time to leave.
Kate: So you had to start all over?
Not really. Before we moved to India, we bought into a co-housing property in Cambridge that we rented while we were away. It was available to us at the time, so we just moved to our new home – and have been there ever since. That was in 2004.
Kate: And you started a practice?
Yes, but I also got involved teaching. I wanted to share what I had learned about this new method and I began teaching workshops on how to ‘do’ the ‘Sensation Method’ in both New York City where I had originally trained and in Massachusetts where I live. Along side the workshops I organized monthly live clinics to focus on case taking and analysis. I also, together with Susanna Aikin, wrote “Dr. Rajan Sankaran’s Correspondence Course,” a four part manual on the Sensation Method.
Kate: The method seems to have taken off around the world and there are a lot of books about Dr. Sankaran’s method out there, but not many that give a step-by-step program to help people actually ‘do’ the method. Is that what you wrote the books for?
Yes, the idea occurred to me when I was taking the course in Mumbai and continued while I was in Auroville. I actually met with Dr. Sankaran a few times about it and he saw the workbooks. And, I ended up as one of the editors of his book, Insight Into Plants.
Kate: Now that you are back in the States, do you feel you are missing any of the new developments, say about taking patients to the ‘source’, Dr. Sankaran?
Not really, I have been back to India three times since I left – participating in Dr. Sankaran’s annual follow up seminars and workshops in Mumbai. There is a core group that attends every year, in fact, most are from Europe and they have developed their own group – the Samosa Group – that meets regularly to present and discuss cases. I keep up with that group too and have gone over to present in both Belgium and Germany for the past three years.
Kate: You seem to have a lot of contact(s) regarding the method with India and Europe. What have you found in American homeopathy in this context since you moved back to the States?
That is one of the reasons I decided to form Inner Health – there was very little knowledge of and/or support for homeopaths who had any kind of interest or understanding of the system. The US is such a large country and every year a few more homeopaths from the States go to India, or attend a seminar here in the US and become interested, but it is very hard to practice and keep up the momentum with no support. I decided to create this organization (Inner Health) that would offer that support – along with classes to teach the methods and keep American homeopaths up to speed on how this method is developing.
Kate: Tell me more about Inner Health…
I also discovered that many of my colleagues were having real problems setting up their practices. In my research, I discovered that homeopathy is not a lucrative practice worldwide – except for a few practitioners and those often have to supplement their private practice with teaching, lecture tours, publications, etc. So I focused on the business aspect as well. Now Inner Health is offering not only a full, comprehensive and complete package to help and support homeopaths set up practice, but we also provide another service called Homeopathic Services, to train, continue education and help those who are learning the new methods become proficient enough to practice the method with better success than the way they previously practiced.
Kate: Whew! You have been working hard since you came back from India. What is next on your plate?
Starting in March of 2007, I have been asked to do a weekly radio show for Voice America. This will be on Thursdays at 10 AM US Eastern Time.
We also have four new books on the boiler – one on clinical cases involving bird remedies, one for case management that will feature protocols (how to deal with all those tricky and difficult aspects that come up in a daily practice that stress us out, i.e. how to deal with suicidal patients, how to manage patients and their supplements, etc.). Another book in the works is compiling ten ‘source’ cases to show how to get there and how to identify ‘source’. And lastly I am planning on a series of books for clients, but that will be a surprise.
Our inter-active website is now up http://www.innerhealth.us/ and we have an E-Zine that people can subscribe to. We are also developing a new feature called Client Support Services to give even more support to working homeopaths and their clients.
The teaching and tele-conferencing continues and I will be shortly training teachers so we can get more proficient homeopaths nationwide. I will also do some coaching and supervision to get everything going. All of this information is available on the website.
Kate: Anything else?
Oh I am also presenting at the NCH Conference in Denver, CO in April. Inner Health will have a booth there to explain more about what we have to offer, so please stop by.
Kate: Thank you, Melissa, for your input, insight and invaluable dedication to sharing your gifts to homeopathy and those who wish to practice.
Hey everybody, I’m back! Did I miss anything?
No, not a thing, Elaine, nothing….
Kate: Nothing at all, really, just a lot of talk about India, and, uh…not being in India….
It sounds deadly! Maybe you should present a case!
Oh sure, we can do that! Here’s an interesting one:
Woman 47 years old with a chronic cough and pain in the abdomen.
The client says, “I have this pinch feeling inside my stomach and it worries me. I also cough and don’t sleep well. I would like to lose weight too.” The homeopath asks what bothers the client the most. She says it is the pain in the stomach. “I don’t know where this pinch thing inside me comes from. Right now I am not eating so many sweets. It is pinching inside me like a worm. It is like little bites. It is in this region on the left side, and I can feel two or three bites at the same time.”
The homeopath wants to understand the sensation that the client is experiencing as much as possible. “It comes, stays and then goes off. It is a pinch inside of me, little bites, like pins on the cloth. I just think my skin is pulling out. I can feel this one area is attacked. I feel that there is something strange in my body.”
The homeopath now understands that the client needs a remedy from the animal kingdom because the sensation the client experiences is the feeling of being attacked as if something is doing this to her. At this point the client can dissociate and name the qualities of the homeopathic substance required to bring her to better health and relieve the symptoms. She says, “It is growing in me, it maybe has little hands or fingers, and they try to bite me. They are hungry. It is something like a thin string, maybe the size is an inch and a half. There are three or four of them. They are pink.” The client is speaking completely from her imagination but describing the remedy Helodrilus caliginosus or the earthworm.
She continues, “I need to regenerate my body with a new kind of lifestyleâ€”change my habits, the way I should do things.” When she asked to talk about worms, she explains, “It is an animal that comes and cleans, and lives in an environment that is no good, but is good for them.” The client immediately relates the environment of the worms to her own: “A good environment is not much sugar, more exercise, and a not good environment is processed food microwaved, rushing all the time, not taking good care of yourself.”
After the remedy the pain in the abdomen went away, as well as did the cough. She began a much healthier lifestyle and lost weight. She has continued for years to repeat the remedy when needed, especially during acutes that have flared up from time to time and experienced immediate relief.
Our readers can pick up The Vital Sensation by Rajan Sankaran for the full explanation.
I nearly forgot! I recently did a 1 hour TeleTraining about the Sensation Method and maybe you could offer it as a link!
I don’t know, it sounds kind of risky….
Kate: The first Tele-Training was Melissa giving an overview of how to take a case to find the ‘Vital Sensation’ or ‘Vital Expression’ in order to recognize the kingdom, sub-kingdom and source. Click here to listen to the call:
Well, if you think no one will get hurt….Thanks for coming, Melissa and Kate; we hope to hear more from you again in the future!
Melissa Burch, CCH