Mukund Subramanian trained from a renowned healer, Omuro Toyo, in Aomori, Japan, in a distinct Garlic Moxibustion (Ninniku Okyu) technique, in the traditional apprenticeship system. His training took 12 years, which began in 1993 in the countryside of northeastern Japan, and continued through his time deepening his spiritual foundation and in practicing the work in Chennai, India and San Francisco. Holding a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University, having partially grown up and lived in Japan for over 12 years, Mukund comes from a family of Carnatic musicians in Chennai, India, whose belief in the power of devotion, resonance and healing greatly inspires his practice. Mukund has been treating patients since 2005. He has been teaching this healing art form in the traditional apprenticeship style to Toni Cupal exclusively, since 2012.
My encounter with Omuro Toyo began in 1989 when I was working as a journalist in Tokyo (having already lived in Japan for 7 years) and traveled to a festival of ancestor worship in the northeastern tip of the main island Honshu, in Shimokita Peninsula. While a healer in her early 60’s renowned for her work with cancer patients and numerous ailments, her sense of playfulness and yet captivating awareness in matters of healing, renewal and resting inspired me tremendously. I eagerly returned to meet her at the festival for 4 years, which then led me to begin working as an apprentice with her. This marked the beginning of a deep relationship that continued until her passing in 2011.
At Stanford, Mukund received the Robert Beyer Textor Award for Outstanding Anthropological Creativity for his work on the power of subtle emotional spaces and psychosomatic states created through the healer or seer, and client/patient, within the folk ritual practices of northeastern Japan. His work describes lived experiences through which memories, emotions, and cultural beliefs are embodied in a healer and seer’s journey, and later invoked as a part of their ritual and healing practices. His work also reveals the challenges that emerge when translating such folk practices into a larger national arena within Japan. At the same time, there is a profound cross cultural relevance that manifests through his personal experiences and gaze which guide the work. Mukund has been a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and has presented his work as a part of the Japan Forum lectures. Currently, he is completing a manuscript on emotion, intuition, and the art of healing. It is an exploration of our individual and collective journey to creatively heal and nurture healthy selves in the current global world.
Mukund is of Tamil origin and was born into a family that was dedicated to Carnatic music for generations. He learnt singing from his mother, Malini Subramanian, and aunt, Bama Rajagopalan. In his years of learning to sing in this tradition, his grandmother, the late Savitri Rajan (a Veena maestro of the Dhanammal tradition) always reminded him of the very essence that marks the earth or foundation, and the sky or pinnacle of this music tradition, as it manifests from within the body. She would say, the ability to fully come into and embody one’s tone and breath as resonating in unison with the Tambura (the drone) offered the soul for the raga and composition that unfolded. Over the years, this background led Mukund to formulate a yogic practice which instills mind-body alignment via vocal, tonal, and breathing exercises, with a foundation in visualization and meditation, called Resonance Yoga. From 2007 to 2010, Mukund along with Dina Amsterdam offered “Healing From Within” workshops at Yoga Tree in San Francisco.
Currently, Mukund and Toni Cupal together have founded a non-profit organization called Healing Cultures, that sustains and preserves the Art of Ninniku Okyu and the distinct practice of Intuitive Healing. Intuitive Healing is a distinct cross-cultural ritual, prayer, meditation and therapeutic practice that enables health assessment, energy enhancement, and an intuitive dialogue with the patient that has been created by Mukund, and deeply inspired and informed by his training and background in Japan and India, in conjunction with his background in Cultural Anthropology. It is a method to build intuition and enhance the capacity for healing cross-culturally. It creates a foundation for collaboration across various cultural traditions of healing while maintaining their integrity and distinction. It is a means of expanding and deepening the focus of “holistic medicine” to incorporate healing as a cultural system that can be built and sustained. As San Francisco Bay Area has become one home for Mukund for over 15 years, his ritual and prayer practice has offered the opportunity to meet, learn from and honor the Native American traditions and elders who have begun to so graciously support and help ground the Intuitive Healing practice. Mukund and Toni offer workshops and retreats both in the San Francisco Bay Area and Jackson, Wyoming, that combine ritual and prayer, meditation and chanting, and yoga taught by Toni.