I have been really happy to see, in the last few years, and more increasingly lately, people are becoming aware of Ayurveda- the thousands of years old mind-body health systems developed by the sages of India, which continue to be one of the worlds most sophisticated ways of treating illness. It is actually more than that; it is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realising their full human potential. An article on Ayurveda even appeared in Australian Vogue last week. I can see Ayurveda is going to become the next Organic – which can only be a good thing.
A couple of years ago, not long after my cancer treatment, I decided to go and do Panchakarma (in Ayurvedic medicine) a fivefold detoxification treatment involving massage, herbal therapy, and other procedures.
During this time I kept a diary – which I sent to a couple of friends each day, they have said that it was hilarious and that I should put my experience out there for anyone wanting to know what goes on during Panchakarma. I took a fun lighthearted approach – obviously not intending it for public viewing – but here it is, if you want to know what happens; The Panchakarma Diaries is my first hand account of what was literally running through my head during my first PK experience. Please note that I had no idea what the treatments consisted of, what herbs and the proper names were – I have since put the correct names in (brackets). This was my interpretation of what I thought the treatments consisted of – I have since done quite a lot of research and I have returned since and completed Panchakaram 2 more times and can’t recommend it highly enough. If you want more information you can find some here..
Dr Raju is the doctor I was with in India
This is my account when I had no idea what I was getting myself into… Please enjoy – The Panchakarma Diaries..
Check in 10am
Starting weight – 100kg
I have paid for the Luxury Room – let me say this, it is worth every cent. The Maharishi Ayurveda Hospital in New Delhi is just that… A Hospital… The luxury rooms have a nice day bed – as well as your normal bed and heaps of space to put your things away. The bathroom is really nice as well – very important when you know that you will be spending a fair bit of time in there!!
Another girl I know Hannah is staying here in the “normal suites” and there is a padlock on the door and it looks like she is in a mental asylum from the 60’s – or earlier!! The room itself is not too bad – but there are no luxury items like a nice bed cover on your bed or a kettle in the room, no hot and cold water bottles etc.. But in saying that if I was only here for a couple of days and wanted to save some $$ it is cozy enough.
Lunch 12pm – Lunch consists of Ayurvedic food specially prepared for people having treatment – it is quite bland – was so glad to have had the Chinese feast at the hotel the night before arriving this morning for my treatments.
1.30pm – First and Second treatment.
Most of the treatments consist of 3 per day. One morning / afternoon and night. As this was my first day, and I also arrived today, I will get 2 to catch up and get started on the program.
It starts with the massage a Aby-something (Abhyanga)done by two people simultaneously and there is oil. Lots and lots of oil, but it feels absolutely amazing; this goes on front and back for 90mins. The next 30minutes you lay there covered in oil and they put this contraption over you and turn the steam on – (which is under the bed you are lying on) – and you steam for 30 minutes – while at the same time – they are pouring buttermilk over your head while dripping what seems like warm honey onto the 3rd eye- it is a divine sensation and never want it to stop. I am transcending on the table.
After the treatment you are sent back to your room to have a shower – and it does take a while to get all the oil and stuff off you, then it was time for a bit of relaxation.
Dinner is much of the same as lunch. They do have different dishes but when nothing has any flavour it doesn’t leave you wanting much although it is all Organic and Ayurvedic, Lucky they have big papayas in the fruit basket, so have filled up on that, not sure if I am breaking the rules already?? But I needed something with some flavor.
Third treatment – Oil Enema
After all of the massaging of the toxins to the extremities it is time for some elimination. At 8pm, there is a knock on my door and the technician is standing there with a tube and a few other things that I am too scared to now look at.
They come in – turn your bed down and put down some cloth. You are told to prepare for bed before they arrive I didn’t know what that meant – it was my first night.
You sit on the bed with the hot water bottle on your stomach for a while, then you are told to roll over onto your side and the technician puts the hot water bottle onto your lower back – then your pants get ripped down a bit and it is now warming up your arse!!!
Next minute – your arse cheeks are parted a small tube is inserted (not very far) – and you feel a warm sensation. Oil is now being put in – this is the part I knew about from someone who had been previously, and I was also dreading the most – but it was all over in about 30sec – he was very gentle, and actually it was very easy and painless.
He then puts a cloth soaked in oil over your head which you leave on for 1 hour – then puts oil drops in both ears – with cotton wool to keep it in – and then some cool packs for your eyes. You are to lay there for an hour before moving.
After an hour I get up and get ready for bed and manage to get some sleep while the oil enema is doing its work. You are told to try and leave it in all night – which I was surprisingly able to do. It wasn’t the most restful night sleep – but I did sleep.
Awoke at 7.40am and realised that I still had the oil in me – so was time to release, and what a release it was and it felt amazing. It did go on for a bit – but I knew I was doing good. As soon as that was over, went down for breakfast – which was more really bland food. So hit up the papaya again. My next treatment isn’t until 10.45am
10.45 – 1st Treatment.
Weight – 98kg – whooooo hoooo have lost 2 kgs already.. so now I am starting to love this place and the food that I don’t eat.
Start with the oil massage again – I am hoping this happens everyday – it is quite a sensation having 2 people massage you at the same time.
Then I am pounded (firmly) – with what seems like honey and leaves that are put in a ball – this goes on – front and back for a while, but feels quite nice also.
Then I have the buttermilk treatment again – this time without the steam – and it is for an hour – it feels incredible and I drift in and out of consciousness. When that is over it is back to the room for another oily shower and then downstairs for some lunch – which I am please to say is a bit nicer..
2.30pm – 2nd treatment
Given a facemask – mud mask!! – and then they make a square thing out of clay like a dam, that goes around your heart – and a circle one that goes over your belly button, and then they pour hot oil into it – then leave you there for a while.. then they come back and reheat the oil and do it again.. After that has cooled it is taken out – and then the dams removed – you are made to walk back to your room with the mud mask. The thing is – you can’t see yourself so I had no idea what was on my face until I got back to my room walking past people and then looking into the mirror!!!
Holy Mother of God – did I just walk past people looking like this… I look like a swamp creature from a horror movie. Ok – I just need to go with the flow. I have also been feeling really lethargic today – just so so tired – it could be the culmination of the last 10 days on a meditation retreat in Rishikesh, although I wouldn’t think that was stressful, but maybe it was and now the tiredness is catching up with me.
Some rest time now – then dinner and another enema…
Tonight’s enema was less traumatic as I knew what to expect, and all was going well until about 2.20am when there was a rumble in the jungle and I had to go evacuate!! – Oh it felt so good but was now awake for an hour or so – then slept..
Up at 7.40 – and realise there was left overs from my 2.20am experience, so had to go get rid of whatever was left – I tell you what – I am hardly eating anything – so I am surprised by how much is still coming out.
Just met up with Hannah and we did a meditation in my room which was nice, she is one day ahead of me on the treatments so at least I can prepare myself a bit.
Apparently this afternoon I am to have a milk enema – Hannah and Penny (another friend I know in here) looked like death at dinner last night – so I am not looking forward to the 2nd treatment today…
Weight: 97 kg – whooo hoooo
Starting to think my New York friends were right – they kept teasing me that I was going to fat camp!! – maybe they were right – this really is fat camp!! I am enjoing the weight loss part of this..
Had the 2 person massage and the pounding with the herbs and honey… then the buttermilk and what I think is honey, over the head.. It’s funny – the food here is so bland – I would kill for some fucking honey on the food – instead they are slathering it all over you, it’s like the worst teasing ever – when I come back to my room to wash off – it takes all my will power not to lick my arms and wipe the honey off the top of my head and eat it.. But I don’t..
So I am sitting in my room all ready for this milk enema, the technicians come in and say – come to the treatment room – so I go down there and they give me the oil dams on the chest and stomach again – held in by clay things they make – so i am thinking whoo hoo No enema for me.. Once this is finished – they say –
“OK now back to your room for milk enema”!!
They appear 5mins later – with a doctor who is holding this big thermometer – I am thinking where the hell are you thinking you are sticking that?? He stuck it in the milk… phew… but he did proceed to stand in front of me while my pants were pulled down and the tube stuck up my arse and milk being poured in – he was telling me how he has trained over 1000 people to meditate and he was happy I was a meditator – this is all well and good but a bit of privacy might have been alright… This is not a place for the prudish that is for sure.. a lot of people have seen me naked here..
So I am able to hold this in for about 10mins – then I am running to the bathroom.. So much relief I am feeling quite good and have only had the one good evacuation.. Things seem to be going well, and I’m feeling lighter!!
Is the oil enema again – apparently we get them every night, they are actually quite easy and you can hold them in most of the night with no problem.
Weight – 97kg – no weight lost today 🙁 – what’s going on, I was on such a roll, and I had the milk enema yesterday.. Shit.. I’ve plateaued already!!
All my treatments were the same as Day 3 – so nothing much to report.. although the milk enema I had – I managed to keep in for quite a while – apparently that is really good – so I get a gold star for that effort…
Weight – 97 AGAIN!!!!! – Damn It..
Today is the day that anyone having the PK experience is all leading up to… the BIG BASTI day… this is what the last few days have been priming my body for…the day when you have a big enema with herbs etc. to cleanse you on the inside.
I am feeling sore and a bit cranky today. This morning a couple of us woke up early 5.45am – and thought – let’s do yoga for the first time. We turn up at yoga, and its not on, on Sunday. I have no fucking idea what day it is how am I supposed to know it’s Sunday..Luckily for us Rose, my other friend also having this shared experience with me is a yoga teacher… problem solved, so we did a bit of light yoga.
I am also not allowed to eat today – not that that matters, as I am not eating much anyway.
Still get my amazing massage and pounding first – but no buttermilk today.. Then I am sent back to my room to prepare for the BIG BASTI….
I am a little scared and my sphincter is tensing at the thought of it – but it has to be done.. I have 2 of these while I am here..
I hear the walking down the corridor and then the there is a knock at the door, this time the doctor comes in again. So now I have 4 technicians in my room – I lay on the bed with a hot water bottle on my stomach, then my pants are ripped down (there is no gentleness I need to take this like a man!!) I turned to the technician and asked him to be gentle again – they laughed a lot, I need them to concentrate, why did I make this into a joke.. I decide that I will look at how much liquid is about to go in me, and there is a lot – maybe I shouldn’t have looked – Oh well, too late now..
In goes the hose – I am rubbing my arm trying to stay relaxed while the techs are pouring it in.. The doctor is once again talking to me like we are sitting across having dinner, obviously this is normal for him, for me I am horrified, but after about 1 minute all the liquid is in…..
I lay on my back – water bottle on my stomach – hoping that they are about to leave me in peace…
This was not to be…. I ask how long am I suppose to hold this in, they say.. when you feel the need you just GO..
I was like.. OK – I think I need to go… OK, you go to bathroom.. So I run to the bathroom and they follow me in — WTF – — the doctor and two other technicians are now standing at my sink, and proceed to talk to me about Cricket… Seriously – you want to have this conversation NOW… I try to answer them while I am expelling the liquid.. God only knows what my face looked like.. They seriously do not give a shit!!! The girls don’t have this problem – I think it is just because I am a man… so weird. After a few cramps and feeling that , the $1 coin I swallowed as a kid has now been dislodged and come out.. They ask is everything OK, I ask for some privacy while I wipe my arse!!! – They leave – I wipe in peace..
I must admit I feel lighter and so much cleaner.. I am not allowed to eat today – just some congee – which is basically rice in water and he said I can have Chai.. I was like – you have fucking Chai here and you are just telling me now!!!!! he said – yes Chai – no problem… This is an Ayurvedic version (no caffeine), but still nice.
I leave and go for a walk outside today – not venturing too far from a bathroom just in case, but it all goes well.
A really nice oil treatment on my stomach and heart and a face mask – it goes for an hour and has totally blissed me out.. I was feeling a bit cranky today – but the basti and the other treatments have sorted me out… or was it the Chai.. we will never know….
Another oil enema – I tell you what once you start having these every day, your body just gets used to it. It happens about 7.45pm every night and then I just lay there for a bit feeling it working it’s magic, and then leave it in for the rest of the night. So far no accidents!!!
Weight – 97kg – AGAIN – after all that – no food and massive clean out!!
Apparently this is a normal phenomenon – the plateau before the next weight loss begins – although even though I am not losing actual kg’s, my stomach is flatter than it has been in a long time and I can once again see my ribs – so it’s not about the weight.. I wish I had have done my measurements before I started now – as I am sure I am losing inches!!!
After my day of not eating yesterday – this morning I can eat, the food is growing on me, and I am starting to understand the reason for the Ayurvedic diet, it is all starting to fall into place, logically
Treatment 1 – Oil bath..
This is the one I have been waiting for – so you lie in this box and they continually pour hot oil over you for about 30mins – while massaging as well. This is suppose to oil all the joints and it was a really amazing experience. After that I got a buttermilk head bath again although they must have had the “new guy” on today and sometimes when he refilled the buttermilk it was a bit on the cold side, so wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences today.. I didn’t say anything but if I get him again tomorrow – he is going to be told!!
Lunch today was the best so far – they had Kofta balls in a tomato Jus.. My chapatti was made fresh and I opened it at the top and put the balls in and made like a sandwich – then I closed my eyes and pretended I was eating a meatball sandwich. I did this twice, this is the first time I have felt full since I have been here.
Had the clay dams again..
We had a talk this afternoon – which ended up being an infomercial for products they sell to take home to continue your treatment. It was actually really interesting explaining about the treatments and what was being treated – so there was some benefit maybe it is my detoxing that is causing me to be less tolerant, or the fact I work in TV, and am subjected to commercials every day.
The Oil Enema – Which has now become so normal, I am starting to wonder if I will ever be able to sleep without one ever again..
Tomorrow is another big day – a BIG BASTI day… so no eating again for me tomorrow – this is the one that is suppose to remove 80% of the toxins..
To be Continued…..