What are we actually doing here?
I keep using the vague term ‘Ayurvedic ashram and treatments’ without going into any specifics. Lets start at the very beginning: Back in the ages, Ayurveda was one of the three sister sciences of Yoga, Ayurveda and Jyotish (Astrology). All three disciplines were taught and practiced cohesively. Of course as time went along, concepts and practices changed to suit the modern man’s needs.
Ayurveda treats the whole person, and each person as an individual. Even if two patients have identical disease and symptoms, they will most likely undergo very different treatment based on their individual physical and emotional constitution (dosha). And that is what makes Ayurveda so exceptional; it understands and differentiates the subtle nuances that make you unique, and then seeks to address your issues based on your particular needs. However there are no short cuts. You manifest symptoms of actual disease after about three years of it cooking in your body/mind; expecting a bunch of herbs to straighten the mess out in a few weeks is not going to happen. A full-on Ayurvedic system of cure, requires you to commit time to the treatment, plus modify your lifestyle so that you don’t recreate the conditions that led you to the place of disease originally.
Let me give an analogy to make things simpler. Compare your body to a fixer-upper home that you want to sell and make some profit. Western medicine would come in, do a quick paint job, remodel the bathrooms and kitchen, plant some flowers outside, and boom the house is ready to sell. However, an Ayurvedic doctor will not bother about the cosmetic changes at all; he will go and strengthen the foundation, change the pipes, fix the wiring, and make sure all systems are running smoothly. His thinking is to make the home strong and secure, after that, the people living in it perform the cosmetic touch ups as they need.
Now what is going on with us? Amar of course came here for a complete hard-core detoxification, which eventually we hope will help him lose some weight, clean out the pipes, and get all the sluggish systems up and running. After 2 days of simple massage, Dr. A, decided that Amar needed to go through the process of ‘Panchakarma’. There is enough data about this on the web, but I found that most of the data is commercialized and made to sound like a spa holiday. The first 5 mornings, Amar had to drink half a cup of medicated ghee which softens all the toxic built up, then he had to steam for 3 days (last day today) to release the toxins further, tomorrow he will be drink another concoction which will then release all the toxins, not just clear the bowels, but actually physically release all the stored toxins. The day after this elimination will be a rest day.
Then I am not sure, but there will probably be a massage or hot medicated water/milk pouring every day, which will release any remaining toxins in the blood, organs, skin and tissues. Another cleanse will follow. They are expecting him to lose about 10 lbs right away, but he will lose about 20 more lbs over the next three months – IF - he keeps up with very simple dietary modifications. More than the weight loss, the cleaning up of toxins from the system was so desperately needed. So I am very glad this happened.
As for me, I came here generally feeling physically and emotionally fatigued, poor digestion, muscles not feeling juicy and strong etc. After the first 2 days of simple massage (which he uses to assess your needs), I was prescribed a much gentler treatment because he thinks that my mansik (mental) constitution is too sensitive for difficult treatments (so bloody right). My systems, organs, tissues need to nourish and rejuvenate versus the classic Panchakarma. So I am going through the classic fixer-upper model, no cosmetic changes, just securing the crumbling foundation and fixing the pipes.
So far I have had a hot oil massage every day, followed by pouring of medicated hot water or milk or oil. Then there were 5 sessions of Shirodhara (oil and buttermilk pouring on the head) to calm my ‘Vata dosha’ down. And there are other treatments that I would rather not mention, but which are repairing and detoxifying the tissues and cells of my organs. So all in all, stronger from the inside but looking the same from the outside. I was really hoping to come away looking 10 years younger – too bad :-)
All romantic illusions aside, this is hard work. It takes a lot of commitment to be here undergoing all this is in a spartan, non-spa, basic environment. Your body feels all these changes with the physical toxins being released, you get rashes with the toxins coming out, headaches, you feel tired one day, energized another etc. Mentally also, stuff comes up! Everything that was tucked away in your mind/body gets woken up and you face some serious emotional release. It’s fantastic because you are basically locked away from all distractions, so you have ample time to ponder and chip away at whatever comes up. It is serious time for karmic evolution because you are almost starting a new life in a way.
So here we go!