Originally, a long time ago, when there was no Corona, I had planned a trip to India to spend four weeks with Dr. Sundara at his Mountain Top Clinic. I wanted to go for a Panchakarma treatment and also deepen my (pulse) diagnostic skills at the same time. As you know, things turned out quite differently and travelling to India was not an option. However, I still needed a little break and went looking for an (affordable) option for Panchakarma treatments here in Germany.
What does Panchkarma actually mean? It is at the most important treatment within the traditional Ayurveda Medicine. It translates to "five actions". These 5 actions or treatments are used individually for a patient to free him from slag, to harmonize his constituent factors (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and to create a situation in the body where all cells communicate well again with each other, thus self-healing powers can be activated.
The Panchakarma treatment can be both used as prevention or treating chronic diseases. The main idea behind it is putting the patient on a simple and easily digestible diet and then treat him with different oily massage techniques every day. Thus, slag can migrate out of the tissues and accumulate again in the digestive tract. A doctor checks the progress every day and after approx. 10-17 days the time has come, and you will supported to release the slag from the digestive track. Afterwards you slowly regenerate with selected food, herbs and massages. The whole process takes time and progresses in a slow and clam manner. So far the theory.
Since the massages are a central element of the process and my experiences with Kerala masseurs have been very good, I decided to spend my vacation at Heritage Ayurveda in the Odenwald (central Germany). The site is completely run by a team from Kerala. The treatment offered there was a simple and gentle variation of the Panchakarma Treatment. That was fine for me, since I have the utmost respect towards natural "elimination procedures" (you never know what will come so far ...).
So off I went - right into the very green and very magical Odenwald. And here I stepped right into the middle of Kerala! I immediately felt very welcome and in good hands. The journey could begin.
The food was very good, but way too little! At least for one like me, who is blessed with a strong Pitta constitution. In the morning, we were served a plate of porridge with fresh fruit (without milk).
Lunch - an absolute highlight with vegetables, dhal and rice - took place at 12:30 pm. After that there was nothing for a long time - except cumin or fenugreek seed tea. Dinnertime at 5:30 p.m.: a soup. That was it. The meal times were strictly adhered to (happy Vata) and you were supposed to go to bed by 8:30 pm ....
In the morning, the doctor came and divided the illustrious group (we were 11) into those who were treated / massaged at 9:00 a.m. and those who were there at 11:00 a.m. After lunch it was announced who was allowed to inhale, to get nasal drops or who had to undergo an enema. Yeah ...
The effect of this treatment, food and day strucutre was felt on the second day. The coffee withdrawal showed its symptoms and the massages showed their effects. It was going downhill! The whole tiredness of the world came out of my pores, my head ached and my muscles ached in a way I had NEVER experienced before - and these were definitely not my first massages.
My companions and I met only over dinner and the conversations were rather taciturn in the beginning. Everyone was quite busy with themselves, and some tried telekinetically to increase the amount of food.
So learned little from my fellow companions at first. I spent the days trying not to disturb my body during the detox, just going for a sloooooow walks (doctor's advice) and reading/sleeping here and there. My condition gradually changed and after a good 1 week I had finally the feeling that things were going uphill again! The food was still fantastic and I wasn't that hungry anymore. And coffee ... who needs coffee?
Thinks started to look brighter and lighter every day, with small setbacks once in a while. We all felt similiarly and thus, we began to talk to each other having relaxed and interesting discussions. We all started to stay longer together after dinner, sipping cumin tea and got to know each other a bit better. There was one lady that after years of migraines (several days per month), had been symptom-free for a year after this two-week treatment, and now came back back regularly once per year so that it could stay like this. And then there was this fellow who had had a severe spinal surgery several months before. A large hematoma had developed postoperatively, causing pain and pressing on the nerves, so that he had to sit in a wheelchair first. He had been struggeling his way out of the wheelchair slowly and was finally able to walk a few steps with crutches in great pain. He came to Ayurveda Heritage, leavingcrutches and his strong painkillers at home. We were able to watch how he improved day by day, walking one more step every day. Although he was not adhering striclty to diet - he had secretly brought a small supply of cheese and sausages with him and always nibbled on them late in the evening behing closed doors.
The 'purgation day' was experienced differently by each person - some of us suffered so much that they were not able to get up for half a day, and others didn't feel a thing. Most of us just released their slag without much fuss. What remained was a good, light feeling and a great sensitivity in the perception of what works well for you and what should be neglected. Subir Dominic, the manager of the house, compared this feeling to a crystal and advised us to take care of this crystal, cleaning it regularly, so that it does not become dusty again.
I liked the metapher. I hope to kkep my crystal clean and thereby my intuition. It find this sesitivity similar to the feeling that can arise in pranayama. It's not easy, however, to keep the 'crystal' clean because old habits are difficult to tame. Who doesn't know this. In the process of taming Ayurveda (and yoga and Buddha ..) advises us to proceed with caution. Stringency and hardship do not necessarily lead to a good result, and certainly not in the long term. Just the same as too much laxity.
Ganesh Mohan, my teacher in yoga therapy, recently summarized it nicely and in this way:
"Our action-determining patterns (in yoga we call them 'samskaras') are unconscious and deeply hidden. Change towards more freedom requires a clear mind and awareness and the patience to take small steps."