Happiness on a Bed of Nails
By Rose-Marie Sorokin
Published in Kent Connexions 2009.
There is a sharp and prickly feeling in my back as I lay down on the Shakti Mat, the modern version of the Bed of Nails. I breathe deeply and an intense heat is spreading through my back and neck. There is a tingling and pulsating sensation all over my back and a feeling of energy flowing up and down my spine. I feel very deeply relaxed. I move into a meditative and blissful state and all the tension in my back and neck melts away.
I meet Om Mokshananda, the creator of the Shakti Mat, at a vegetarian restaurant on a sunny day in Gothenburg in Sweden. He has flown in from Stockholm, where he is based, for our meeting. I am curious to know more about this ‘healing’ mat and the man behind it. He has a serenity, warmth and calm about him that makes me feel immediately comfortable. It is obvious that he has practiced yoga and meditation for a long time.
Om tells me that one day, a few years ago, he decided that he had had enough of all the stresses and strains of modern society. He wanted to spend some time in silence and meditation and moved to India where he spent long periods of time in the Himalayas in solitude. He has a past as a circus artist and healer but found that time spent in silence was very important to him and helped him find inner peace and develop his spirituality to another level.
However, after some time in the Himalayan mountains, he realised that he needed to contribute to the world in a more direct and practical manner. He meditated on this and realised that he wanted to find something that would help people feel more peaceful and relaxed and that had a healing affect on both body and mind. He was looking for something that would be effective and easy to use and that everyone, regardless of fitness level or age, could use themselves at home. The idea of the Shakti Mat was born.
“I had tried acupuncture and acupressure in the past and realised that this was the principle the old Bed of Nails was based on. Yogis had used the Bed of Nails for thousands of years with excellent results, both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. These Indian seers had created a bed to free themselves from suffering (tension) and to reach deep inner peace. In many cultures across the globe treatments with nails or the bed of nails have been performed, from acupuncture in China to the Sámi custom of lying on juniper branches. No-one knows with certainty how far back the bed of nails has been used to heal and increase consciousness in humans, but I estimate at least a couple of thousand years,” says Om.
During the 1980’s the bed of nails re-emerged in Russia, where it was used in healthcare with great results. Extended research about the effects of the bed of nails where performed at Russian hospitals, which shows amazing results. The researchers discovered that the bed of nails promoted a decrease in inflammation, strengthened the immune system, showed promotion in tissue growth, increase in metabolic rate and decrease in stress levels. The Russian physicians where amazed that such a simple tool could have such an amazing effect on the physical body. But that is not all! Psychological changes occurred as well. Levels of aggression decreased and empathy increased. Depression disappeared and a general sense of well-being and happiness developed.
“I couldn’t understand how all this wonderful knowledge had been forgotten. I wanted to bring it back.” says Om. He started to design the Shakti Mat, based on ancient yogic and Vedic principles. The original bed of nails was constructed of wood and metal nails. Today the mat has been recreated in a versatile, more aesthetically pleasing, and user friendly design. The metal nails have been replaced with plastic and instead of wood there is a comfortable styrofoam padded cotton material. Each plastic button has 27 points. Each mat has 230 buttons. This gives you over 6000 points of contact with your skin, which most likely surpasses the old traditional models.
The points are placed in a perfect geometrical pattern called a Yantra. This geometry stimulates the acupressure points in the body and the flow of Prana or Chi (or vital force) increases between the acupressure points. This has a healing and balancing effect on the whole body and also on the mind.
At the back of the Shakti Mat is the beautiful Shree Yantra. This is perceived to be the most perfect geometrical form in Yoga and is said to be 70 times more powerful than pyramid shapes. Both sides of the brain are stimulated and encourages a deep sense of peace and meditation. According to Vastu, which Feng Shui is based on, the Shree Yantra is the best geometrical shape to create balance and harmony in the home and create wellbeing for everyone in the family. The best place to hang the mat is in the North East part of your home.
“I had no idea when I created the Shakti Mat just how popular it would be” says Om. “People from all walks of life are now using it, from children to people in their 80’s. And it helps with all sorts of conditions such as back pain, neck pain, sciatica, insomnia, digestive problems, poor circulation, stress, fatigue, mood swings and depression. The applications are almost endless as it encourages the body’s self healing mechanism”.
I ask him how exactly it works. “From a physical viewpoint the acupressure points stimulate the release of endorphins (a family of neuropeptides concentrated in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus involved with pain relief, the body’s response to stress and determining mood; membrane receptors for endorphins are found in large quantities in pain pathways of the nervous system) and a range of other calming hormones. It also increases the blood and lymph circulation which has a detoxifying, stimulating and healing effect. The release of endorphins triggers a self-healing mechanism in the body and also blocks pain. The result is a sense of deep relaxation and well-being, even high levels of happiness. From a more esoteric viewpoint it increases the flow of Prana or Life Force/Energy through the body helping the user to reach inner peace and a higher level of consciousness.
My meeting with Om back in the Summer was the start of a wonderful adventure as we agreed that I and my partner Tim would start spreading the word about the Shakti Mat in the UK. Since then the Shakti Mat has helped thousands of people and it’s benefits have mainly spread by word of mouth. We have hardly advertised at all. People try the mat and love it and then they tell their friends, colleagues and family. It spreads naturally and it feels great to sell a product that really helps people and makes a difference. I love the Shakti Mat myself and use it every day. I have not had any tension in my body since starting to use the mat and I feel calm and relaxed even if I have a busy day.
Yoga teachers and practitioners also seem especially drawn to the Shakti Mat as it can help with improving our yoga practice. As you get used to the Shakti Mat in the various basic positions, for example lying down on it on your back (for tension in the back or neck and for insomnia) or using it on your abdomen (for digestive problems), you can then progress onto doing some yoga postures on the mat, like the Tree Pose (Vrksasana) or Seated Forward Bend (Pascimatanasana). This will take your practice on to a whole new level! However, it is important to stay with the basic positions first and get used to these as the mat has a powerful healing affect.
For more information and to order a Shakti Mat please visit www.shaktimat.co.uk or contact Rose-Marie Sorokin on 01622 715576, email email@example.com
Copyright: Rose-Marie Sorokin 2009.