Hariom,This post is about my Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatment in India: 2 weeks in a hospital and 3 weeks in a private clinic. Read about my experiences with treatments like purgation and induced vomiting, stopping medication for rheumatism and difficulties I faced during the process of the detoxification of body and mind. Other contents are change and growth, thoughts during meditation, our perverted relationship with our bodies, the 5 Koshas (bodies) in yoga philosophy, yogic diet and Ayurveda & Yoga as holistic concepts.
Panchakarma and Ayurveda
Panchakarma is an
ayurvedic treatment to detoxify. According to Ayurveda we are made of three doshas
(forces), known as vata (air), pitta (fire), and kapha (earth). We're all made up of a unique combination of these
three forces. This combination is our prakriti (nature). When there is an imbalance of
the doshas, we suffer from disease. Panchakarma helps to restore the balance.
But these are just a few words for something that´s very complex. Every treatment is highly customized and many factors are considered, so a good doctor is important. The decision to which hospital I wanted to go for a Panchakarma treatment was not easy. I wanted to go to India and I was looking for an authentic treatment, not a wellness stay. In the end I decided for a clinic in Kerala, the state which is known for ayurvedic treatments.
Panchakarma at an Indian Hospital
I was very enthusiastic when I got off the airplane and I was so excited about going to the hospital. But each day I faced more and more problems. Nevertheless I wanted to take the best out of this time and I tried to focus on the treatments. I had Dhara (two therapists poured warm medicated water over my whole body), Lepam (paste was applicated on the body parts that were inflamed), Choorna Pinda Swedam/ Podikkizhi (two therapist scrubbed my whole body with small medicated powder filled bags), Abhyangam (two therapists massaged my whole body with medicated oil) and Nasyam (oil was poured into my nose).
During the stay in the hospital I tried to reduce my medication. Soon I had to rise the dosage again, as the pain increased, the stiffness in my hand became worse, I couldn´t sleep anymore and had terrifying nightmares. Before leaving Germany one of my doctors already warned me that I might experience withdrawal syndromes if I reduce medication. So I knew that it was because of this and that helped me to cope with it and to realize that I had to take even smaller steps regarding reducing medication.
Detection of Thought Pattern, Decision to Leave + Thoughts during Meditation
After two weeks I really wanted to leave the hospital. The initial plan was to stay longer but there were many situations that made me feel very uncomfortable. But my mind reacted: “No, you can´t leave, you just have to be stronger, if you leave now, you are a quitter!” Suddenly I realized that this was not the first time I heard my mind telling me these kind of things when I felt that I should go out of a situation. I could detect it as a very old thought pattern which kept coming back to me. All of a sudden I could think immediately of many occasions when my mind was talking to me like this. It was a crazy feeling when I could detect this voice of my mind.
And something else happened. It is important to accept things or situations that you cannot change. Very important. But it is also important to change things or situations you can change. And I felt that I did not just internalize that but that I was capable to take action.
Change + GrowthIt is always possible to change direction if you feel that the way you are on is not your way or not your way anymore. To do something just because your ego or other people think that you have to do it makes no sense. If you feel that it´s wrong what you are doing, change. You are changing. You are growing. And it is not necessary to choose the way with the most resistance. And to choose another way has nothing to do with being weak. It is about being open and seeing the situations and things that suit you more, rather than staying stubbornly forever on the same way.
I started to look for a clinic. I could find one very quickly and could arrange to go there the next week.
Thoughts coming back
By the way, this negative thought pattern still keeps coming back to me. It´s not that easy, like: “Ok, I have seen that, now I am over that.” No. But the difference between then and now is that I can detect it and I am getting faster in detecting it. Additionally I start to detect more of these patterns and instead of listening to the voice, I open up, stop fighting and come back to flowing.
It nevertheless still costs me not to follow the voice and I often still follow it. But I am aware. One day, I was back from India just since a few weeks, I was taking a walk along a river in Germany, I detected this thought pattern and I could actually catch myself laughing at me. Catching my mind telling me again the same old things it keeps on telling me since such a long time just felt so ridiculous. In this moment I could stop taking my thoughts so seriously. In the end these are just thoughts. And I am not my thoughts. You are not your thoughts.
Thoughts + Meditation
Sometimes when I talk with somebody about meditation I hear: “No, I can´t meditate, I cannot stop my thoughts.” My answer to this always starts with “Don´t worry when thoughts arise during meditation, this is completely normal.” Actually it is not possible to “stop” our thoughts and this is also not the purpose of practicing meditation. What is possible, is to change our reaction to them, to take them not so seriously anymore, to witness them arising, to recognize them and to let them go.
What we can also do is to focus on the gaps between the breaths, between the inhalation and the exhalation. In this gap, there are no thoughts, the mind is still. We prolongate these gaps to finally fall into the silence. In the space between the breaths there is a complete surrender, everything lays in this gap, in this silence. In meditation it is the same as in music. In the end music is not about the music. In the end it is about the silence in between.
Virechena - Last Treatment and even more Clarity
The day before I left the hospital I had Virechena. Virechena means you get something to drink that induces purgation. Through massages etc. the days before you bring the toxins into your body center and then you release them with the purgation. I was alone during this process and had time for myself for what I was very grateful. The process was quite painful but when I was empty I started to feel a huge clarity. My body felt very clean inside and I felt light and especially my thoughts felt very light and clear. I could appreciate even more the detecting of this voice of my mind and I could see and appreciate that everybody in the clinic was giving everything that was possible for them to give me and that I took everything that was possible for me to take. I could let go any frustration I felt before. Even if the stay at this hospital was not what I was hoping for, I could take something with me. I could let go all kind of expectations, making it possible to take something with me. And I knew before that Panchakarma is not just a detoxification of the body but also of the mind, but at this moment I could clearly feel why.
Writing this blog entry I was rereading my diary entry of that day and I found these lines :“Is it possible that it was necessary to let arise all the feelings like anger, frustration, loneliness, sadness fear of pain and so many other faces of fear, everything I felt so intensively the last weeks? Might it have been necessary to let them arise, to let them go?” The next day I left exhausted but with a feeling of “letting go”.
Panchakarma at an Indian Clinic, Vamanam, Yogic Yleaning, Relation to our Bodies, the 5 Koshas (bodies), Yogic Diet, Dropping Medication
In the Indian private clinic I felt that I was in very good hands. The doctor was very carrying, the communication was very good and the treatment was extremely beneficial for me. I had Enema (a clyster is inserted in the anus) Shirodhara (oil is dripped on the forehead), steam bath (sitting in a wooden box with steam) and other treatments I already knew from the hospital, like Choorna Pinda Swedam, Lepam, Abhyangam, Nasyam and Virechena.
Another new treatment for me was Vamanam, induced vomiting. At 6 o´clock in the morning I was sitting outide, a bowl in front of me. I could hear a man vomiting downstairs and two very lovely female therapists were massaging my back and chatting about casual stuff while I was vomiting. During this process I realized how normal everything became to me and how the cleansing lost the connection with “disgusting”. We tend to have a very perverted relationship to our bodies and also to what´s going on inside our bodies. But it makes so much sense to clean our bodies also from the inside not just from the outside. Why is it ok to take a shower every day but not to care at all about the insides of our bodies?
There are also various techniques in yoga regarding cleaning. One is Shank Prakshalan. A very easy way to perform purgation, a cleaning of your intestine. It´s very important to do it the first time under supervision of somebody experienced. Afterwards you can perform it alone. It´s a very ancient technique and you just need salted water and you do yogic exercises. No money needed. I do this every change of the season to evacuate toxins.
Outer + Inner Body
We often have a very strange relationship to our bodies in general. We don´t like them, we cannot accept them, we fight against them. The outer body might be seen as a very faint illusion and this is true, but our body is nothing bad, quite the contrary. Through our outer body we get connected to our inner body. And our inner body, our true self, is the connection with bliss, with everything, the universe.
In Yoga it is said that we have 5 Koshas (bodies): Annamaya Kosha (physical body), Pranamaya Kosha (life force body), Manomaya Kosha (mind) Vigyanmaya Kosha (widsom) and Anandamaya Kosha (bliss body). One can imagine this like sheets or layers, the outermost layer is the physical body, and the innermost layer is the bliss body. In Yoga we work on all these sheets to connect to bliss, the universe, the true self, atman. But everything starts with the body, so we should accept our body and take care of it.
I could trust the very skilled doctor and therapists and could immerge into a very healing process. I did Yoga everyday (no asanas during intense cleansing days), took walks, took a lot of quiet time for myself and had mainly sattvic food. Food is an important pillar in ayurveda as well as in yoga.
Sattvic, Tamasic and Rajasic Food
In Ayurveda and Yoga we differ between sattvic, tamasic and rajasic food. Sattvic food promotes clarity and calmness of the mind. It is food that is full of prana (life force) that means food that´s “alive”, in other words natural, organically grown and as unrefined as possible. Tamasic food is food that is toxic for the body and that makes you dull and dark, like alcohol, tobacco, drugs, processed food or overeating in general. Rajasic food has the quality of actions, also stimulates aggression and imbalance of emotions. It includes food with a lot of flavor, very hot, bitter, sour, dry food, also meat and eggs. In the last post I was writing about “Ahimsa”. Ahimsa means non violence, it is a code of conduct and you can read about this in the book “Yoga Sutras” of Patanjali. This code of conduct is also applicable to the diet. So meat cannot be part of a yogic diet, as it would violate the code of conduct of non-violence. And fear of death permeates every cell of the body of an animal when it is slaughtered. You can read more about yogic diet in the recently mentioned book “Yoga Sutras” of Patanjali and other very important books such as “Bhagavad Gita” and “Hatha Yoga Pradipika”.
You are what you eat. Literally. What you put in your body influences you so deeply, not just on the physical level but it also influences your emotions, your mind, your thinking. When I change something in my diet I can experience it very clearly on all these levels, it´s significant!
I started again to reduce my medication, very slowly. At the end of the treatment I had stopped all my medication for rheumatism. I cannot put in words the gratefulness I felt. I never thought I would be able to live again without medication. And I was pain free! I could not even imagine being pain free again, not even WITH medication. Now I was pain free WITHOUT medication.
The carrying doctor and the lovely staff of the clinic in Varkala
Considering Panchakarma? Ayurveda and Yoga as Holistic Concepts
If you consider to undergo an authentic Panchakarma treatment, it is important to know that it is not a wellness stay. There are clinics which offer these kind of stays as well, this also has its purpose, just select what you are looking for.
Prepare yourself not “just” for a detoxification of your body but also of your mind. It might be a very intense process for your body and your mind. I can also recommend to have some time afterwards to recover.
Another thing I would like to emphasize is that Ayurveda is not only about going a few weeks somewhere for a therapy; it rather influences your whole life, your everyday life. A treatment does not only focus on the symptoms as we are used to in the western world where you get some pills, but it will consider everything: your environment, sleeping habits, your diet and many other factors. For me it is like yoga. Yoga also does not just mean to exercise on your mat. Yoga is everything. For me both are holistic concepts that influence and transform the whole life, creating space to heal. And these two concepts make a wonderful combination!
If you are planning to go or if you already are on this journey, I wish you a wonderful, profound healing process!
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. Feel free to comment this post and feel free to share your own experiences. Have a wonderful day