Day 20 of Panchakarma – more non-European flavours & a miracle!

First off – apologies to all the vegetarians, vegans and anyone who loves healthy food. My last post included an offending image for some. But stotties (and other carb-laden foods) remind me of my childhood in the North East of England. The years when, I’m sure, my penchant for all things stodgy began.

Right, back to India and this Panchakarma lark. Attending the clinic twice a day for hours on end eats into a lot of time each day. There’s not much of the day left to crack on with other projects – some of which have deadlines. So for the past two days I’ve been eating breakfast at a new restaurant where I can do work rather than cycle home and cook my own breakfast. My Panchakarma Comrade mentioned the restaurant to me because they have an Ayurvedic-friendly menu. Sure enough they cooked my food in ghee and kept things simple. The first day I had a rather delicious kitcheree and paratha. Yesterday I went for a smaller meal – the ragi roti as pictured. When it arrived it looked like a delicious dark chocolate pancake of some sort. Sadly not (although munching on that much chocolate would have felt a lot less delicious by the end). I don’t use ragi, but after yesterday’s roti I have a new-found appreciation for the grain. (In case you missed my mention of ragi in an earlier post – ragi is a whole grain/cereal and a type of millet that originates from Africa). May have to add that to my slim culinary repertoire.

I’ve no doubt my telling you that ‘Panchakarma’ is a Sanskrit word will not come as a surprise. ‘Pancha’ means five and ‘karma’ means action, so a Panchakarma treatment consists of five core treatments. However, my earlier understanding of the word karma was the law of cause and effect, which can mean all the affects occurring in our lives in all sorts of ways. So, fancifully perhaps, I had linked that understanding of karma with the recent experience that I’m not just having a physical cleanse but also a karmic one. Seriously, I feel there is a depth of healing taking place that is hard to imagine given I’ve only been on the overall treatment programme three weeks, the core Panchakarma treatment a mere nine days.

Initially I thought I was getting rid of crappy build up from the past few years. But as the treatment progresses I get the sense that the cleanse is so deep, layers of gunk from decades ago are getting hauled out for examination and release. I feel as though I have Ayurveda elves sifting through my body machinations – like one of those factory conveyor belts and as bits of me pass under the hands of the Ayurvedic elves all the unhealthy, unnecessary deadweight is being chucked off the conveyor belt and out of my body, out of existence almost.

So apart from the visible signs both good (weight loss, muscles and flesh firming), not so great (dry, flaky skin), and that uncomfortable pain in my lower abdomen now mostly gone, last night’s discovery was, ta dah, a miracle!

I was lounging around on the sofa when I happened to point my toes (I know, who the fuck goes around pointing toes? but if you’ve ever done a lot of dance or some such it’s not so strange) and had another one of those “Oh my god, it doesn’t hurt” moments.

Under the ball of my right foot I’ve had what I assumed was a bony growth, a hard lump at the base of one toe. It’s been there for about 15 years and can give me problems when I’m standing or walking for too long (see, I told you I was speeding towards decrepitude faster than Humpty- Dumpty fell of his wall). Because of the location of the hard lump, it also restricts movement in my foot, giving me a cramp-like sensation when I point the toes, rotate that foot or ankle, or even, on those rare occasions I bother, to massage my foot. I figured I was stuck with the bony growth and it would eventually get worse to the point of surgery. But no! Woohoo – Miracle! My toes, my foot pointed and no pain. No cramping. Nothing in fact. That my friends, that is a bloody miracle. I’m flabbigasted (OK, not enough to not write about it, but still – AMAZING!).

I’ll be honest, I’ve been griping about my days being consumed by treatment time, but when small miracles like disappearing lumps happen, a rapid regain of flexibility  and an overall reduction in pain are showing up – I reckon I best shut up and put up.

I wish you a day where your miracles appear too – they are out there…..!

Day 19 of Panchakarma – a drool-worthy stottie & more improvements

I saw the photo on Facebook. I drooled. All the kinds of food I’m not allowed to eat just now – not that anything like that is available here in India of course. But still. A mouthful of quality, thick-cut ham, peas pudding and a soft and tasty stottie (North East England bread) would be smashing…

Today’s post is a brief update – mostly about improvements:

Yesterday morning when I was clambering out of bed I stopped mid-clamber because I was suddenly aware something was different. The different was that my left knee didn’t immediately click. I’ve had a clicky left knee for about 30 years. Sometimes that knee gives me trouble, trouble that can also affect the left hip. Occasionally I hobble rather than stride, but overall the trouble is mild. One activity my left knee hates is lying face down on a massage table. Always after a massage I hobble. I can mitigate against that by using a rolled up towel to support the knee joint. Since my first massage with Dr A’s harem that’s what I’ve been doing, along with them starting on my back rather than doing my front first. That way my knee has a chance to recover from lying face down on it. Nevertheless, the massages seem to be easing out the underlying orthopaedic problem. Likewise my dodgy shoulders and cervical spine. For about 10 years, I’ve gradually felt more and more crippled by the lack of movement due to muscle tension and joint pain around there. At times the pain on movement has been sharp and excruciating. That’s also easing off. Thank fuck quite frankly.

Sadly my skin is feeling less lovely. I’m hoping that will improve as more toxins get shoved out of my body, obviously through my skin as well as those other regular methods.

Speaking of which, the last couple of days I’ve been evacuating my enema medicine a bit quickly. I’m now spending less time walking around and more time staying put on the massage bench, bum in the air, while I let that dark-brown, oily liquid do its thing.

Another strange thing is my periods. I seem to be having a perpetual, but not quite proper period. Dr A says I’m going through menopausal changes. Given my periods having been changing of late that could be true. What might also be true is that I have a Mirena coil fitted – that went in the same time the troublesome fibroid was removed back in 2013 – and that might also be the cause. I’m not worried about that, but it’ll be interesting to see what unfolds gynaecologically over the coming months.

Also yesterday I had a bit of a run-in with Dr A. As already mentioned, I have a flabby belly. Clearly I’d like it to be more trim. Some exercise would surely help. But I don’t got a lot of time just now – I spend a lot of hours at the clinic while also trying to fit the rest of my life in around those treatment times. Consequently exercise is one of those things that is down the priority list. Not uncommon. Anyways, Dr A was thinking of me when she bought an exercise gadget. I hate exercise gadgets. On the whole they are useless and a waste of money, especially when they are cheap versions. This was a cheap version of a pulley system. Despite my telling Dr A that I think such gizmos are crap, I played along for a while, a short while. The gizmo was attached to the window grille, a yoga mat placed on the floor, Dr A instructed me to lie on my belly while she tried to figure out how to get the thing on me. All the while I’m complaining while she’s faffing with the thing. I get up and tell her to demonstrate first. She gets on her back, not her front as she’d asked me to do. At that point I walked away. Kindly but firmly and said, “No. I hate these things. I will not use it.” She acquiesced.

I see this interaction as an improvement too. I have been far too pliable to the will of others, especially those who appear to have some authority over me – such as a doctor-patient, boss-employee relationship. What a pathetic fuckwit I’ve been. Why do I do it? Mostly because I’m a kind, considerate person; like to give people the benefit of the doubt. But the benefit people get from me frequently ends up with me being the loser. That is not a win-win situation. But not this time. I feel proud of myself for being firm without being unkind, and certainly without being unkind to me. Was it a win-win? Maybe not, but at least the loss was not just in my direction this time.

On that note, I’ll leave you with this I recently lifted from a Tweet:
“… you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself.
Surely you see that.”
(excerpt taken from ‘And I Always Thought’ – Bertolt Brecht Poems 1913-1956)

Day 18 of Panchakarma – hot herb balls & a painful third nipple

As mentioned in a previous post, when the core Panchakarma programme began I thought I wouldn’t post so frequently as the daily procedures weren’t going to vary. Needless to say, what has been various are my responses to those treatments as well as additional new discoveries and delights. So far I’ve written mostly of my improvements, but today I discovered a down side to those hot herb balls used during the rub-a-dub-dubs.

Confession time: I have a third nipple.

Before you get freaked out, grossed out, or start thinking I’m some kind of human anomaly (although truth be told, that could be the case), a third nipple is not uncommon. I learned that alarming fact about 30 years ago. At the time I was horrified and distraught at the notion of my having a third nipple, until I read further and discovered such a thing is fairly normal. Mine is situated on the left side of my wide, but not deep, cleavage – almost on a line with my nipples proper. So if you’ve got something that looks like a mole somewhere on your chest, chances are high that you too have a third nipple.

Anyways, last night in the shower I noticed the colour of that spot was different, whereas it has always been a soft brown it was looking kind of red and inflamed. Sure enough today during the massage, when the hot balls were being tapped and rubbed in circles on my chest, that point felt sore. I made the three harem women laugh when I explained it was my third nipple. I’m guessing they thought I was just joking. Of course I was joking, but about a true thing. From tomorrow, a sticking plaster to cover it might the thing to ensure it’s free from injury while it heals.

Other than that, I think further progress is now becoming more subtle. After the initial speedy weight loss (although slight, it was rapid), the brighter eyes and clearer brain the changes now taking place will, I suspect, be about consolidating those improvements so that the benefits last way beyond the end of the programme. That said, I can see that undergoing a similar programme every two years or so would keep a person’s body  and mind strong, resilient and supple.

Many people who do go through various intensive Ayurvedic treatment programmes, including Panchakarma, go residential. A two-week or month-long stay in an Ayurvedic hospital under constant supervision must be a sure fire way to bust through the toxins, dis-eases and whatnots we acquire and accumulate through the daily grind. The idea of doing that residential thing appeals. And why the hell not? A more genteel approach to the ignominy of enemas and all that. Certainly there’d be more attention and less stress with having all your food and dietary needs handled for you. However, the way I’m taking this treatment means I also get to practice my new and improved lifestyle away from the clinic but also while I’m undergoing an intense treatment programme unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Although there’s less luxury this way, somehow the approach feels more balanced. Here’s hoping anyways.

Once again that time of day is upon me when I need to do a few exercises, wash down the body, cook, and relax this evening with my lovely Mr D.
Until next time, next discovery or next embarrassing admission – stay strong.

Day 17 of Panchakarma – on the theme of dough

Not a lot to report for Day 17. I managed to have hot food for both my breakfast and supper. Supper was the bowl of rice, sautéd onion and cauliflower, and something saucy with mushrooms and other veg. The food felt healthy going down. The taste was unexpected.

The Culinary Swing Towards Asia
Mostly the results of my recent culinary efforts have tasted different from my usual output. Not only have I had to ditch the olive oil for ghee, I’ve started using different flavourings. Ordinarily my style of cooking tends towards a Mediterranean theme. Now, in my attempts to tow the Ayurvedic line, the slow swing towards an Indian style has picked up. For example, I don’t know what fenugreek is (methi in India), but I’ve started adding powdered fenugreek to dishes sometimes – and discovering that it has a slightly bitter flavour. Cumin (jeera in India) has always been part of my stock, but just in powdered form. I’m now incorporating the seeds too. For example yesterday, instead of plain chapatis for my (late) breakfast I added both cumin seeds and powder to the mix. What I didn’t add enough of was salt. But the chapatis tasted great. And to keep me sweet, I had one with a drizzle of honey.

That Enema Thing
At Dr A’s clinic yesterday, the enema came in the douche bucket and the liquid looked dark and oily. I swear, when it’s going in I feel I’m going to expel the thing along with more than just medical liquid. Even though I’m making every effort to relax (I think that might be some kind of oxymoron – effort & relax?!) my anxiety rises with the worry about what’s doing down. I stay on my side and try to ensure some absorption has happened before I get up. Also, at the first hint of movement around my back passage I head straight for the toilet. If I’m a bit premature I just walk around outside for a little longer before trotting back to the loo. And phewie, at least no accidents at the clinic. No, that came later. When I was home for breakfast I managed to misinterpret things and once more *shock, horror* I pooped my pants. Damn! Fortunately, my Panchakarma Comrade and I have fun sharing our various mishaps and incidents as they unfold. Mixed in with the embarrassment is plenty of hilarity.

Another Cooking Lesson
After my massage Dr A demonstrated a new recipe – I’m calling it the jazzed-up paratha. Ingredients included whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, turmeric, dried-leaf methi/fenugreek, a red-chilli powder (but which was not particularly spicy) and salt. Water added, the ingredients mixed then kneaded into a soft dough – as with a chapati. Not long after Dr A had started putting the ingredients into a bowl a few of the harem also gathered round to observe. When Dr A got to kneading the dough (a crucial element of the process to make the paratha light and crisp) I pointed out to the youngest harem member that during the last part of the massage I had been like the dough with four pairs of hands pummelling and pulling me as the medicinal sand was rubbed into my flesh.

The Daily Rub-a-dub-dub – two types of dough get kneaded
Seriously, that is so what it feels like – my blubber is kneaded as hands grab flesh and pull it in a different direction from the one it normally clings to. Hands working against each other horizontally across my body. Thigh flesh, belly blubber, hip wobble rubbed and knead under the fine sand. “Rub-a-dub-dub,” as my Panchakarma Comrade says. And rub-a-dub-dub the dough too. Needless to say, under Dr A’s expert hands and years of experience, the paratha tasted dee-licious. The two paratha I ate kept my hunger monsters occupied right up until supper. Which means the rub-a-dub-dubs of doughy flesh and edible dough are all working their magic – although I’m not looking to be crispy, just lighter.

Onwards – Hope and Trepidation
Day 18 will mark my seventh day on the core part of the Panchakarma treatment – the head decongesting, the medicine administration up the bum, the two-hour massages – and will mean I’m a third of the way through. Clearly, given the improvements so far, I’m hopeful for more and better, but I’m guarded about that expectation. Because we all know what happens with expectations, right? They rarely match up with reality. So with caution and trepidation I am hopeful of how I’m going to feel at the end of the treatment programme. The image that springs to mind is of Dr A’s previous patient (Dr A’s first Panchakarma patient here in Tiru). I happened to pass her on my cycle as she walked up the lane away from the clinic for the last time. She was free and she looked great. As I called out “Free at last,” she threw her arms outward, a smile brightened her already beautiful face and the joy of healthy freedom pulsated from her. Sweet. Remembering that moment is a totem of sorts. Reminds me of what I’m aiming for, of what’s possible. I may not end up looking as awesome as she did, but I might, at the very least, feel as great as she did that day we passed each other in a shared moment of joy.

For today
Let me encourage you to take care of your own health, starting now, in whatever ways work for you. One small step for today, one giant leap towards your improved health.
Keep it real and, go to it!

Day 16 of Panchakarma – that slimming thing

“Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” That was what my Panchakarma Comrade said to me not long after we met at Dr A’s clinic. We say it to each other frequently. I feel like it’s become our motivation mantra.

That said, both of us are going through the Panchakarma ordeal for more reasons than weight loss. Dr A is not bothered about our weight, loss or otherwise – more important is our health and how that benefits us. But – and in the spirit of ‘keeping it real’ – there’s no getting away from the truth that slimming down is one of those much-loved side effects of these kinds of treatments. I’m dee-lighted to report that my clothes are no longer clinging to or, worse still, ruching around the bulges. The struggle to pull my tunics over my weighty shoulders, down my blubbery back and over hips a pregnant hippo would be proud of has been less arduous the last few days.

Obviously the eating less (especially a significant reduction in sugar intake), cycling back and forth between home and the clinic every day (about a 12 minute distance each way), and having two-hour massages will do that to a body. And this body surely and sorely needed it.

Speaking of massages – towards the end of yesterday’s not only were two people working my body but four. Four pairs of hands worked that fine sand (not actually sand, but precious medicine) into my body. That was pampering. The kind of pampering not many of us give ourselves. Mostly those with money, time and the intention can indulge in those kinds of regular body treats, which is why they frequently look to be in such great shape. Ordinarily, my time and money banks are not replete enough to indulge. But this time round, my mind and body were in a weak condition, a condition that seemed to be presenting me with a bleak future in all sorts of ways. Surrendering to the need for help, for powerful intervention was necessary. So although those four-handed (sometimes eight-handed) massages seem like a luxury, they are a crucial part of the treatment programme that is taking me to better physical and mental health.

An update on noticeable improvements:
– Weight loss (nothing tastes as good as thin feels – SO TRUE!)
– Waist is almost discernible again
– Spine feels looser and elongated
– Skin on my neck no longer looks like a dried out old turtle’s
– Bags under my eyes look like a few more Airbus passengers and their luggage have been chucked out

Yesterday Dr A gave me a couple of stretching exercises to start incorporating into my day. I’ll be doing them in a moment. During today’s massage she informed me that the gristly bit at the top of my inside thigh is a “fat bubble”. Fat bubbles get formed in different parts of the body. Ordinarily fatty foods get dispersed throughout the body (I can definitely vouch for that). What I didn’t know was that sometimes the fat gets deposited as hard lumps in different parts of the body. Weird but true. Knowing that has put a whole new spin on eating cheese that’s for sure. When I next do, and I’m sure I will, I’ll be thinking of the fat bubble that might get deposited some place. I’m not finding that a pleasant notion.

I’m also still chucking out toxins through my skin. But no surprises there given how toxic I’ve become in the last few years. I reckon if I’d undergone this programme not long after my last surgical operation (2013) I would never have ended up in the morass of poor health the way I did. Hindsight, eh!

And so now, instead of that scrummy morning coffee (yes, I am still hankering after a good one) it’s the hot lemon water. Now, for a quick snack it’s a homemade chapati. And tonight’s supper will be brown rice, sautéd cauliflower and onions, and something saucy with mushrooms.

Right, better go to it. I’ve got exercises and cooking to do because: “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” and for me, thin feels like good health. “Get thee begone you foul fat bubbles. Begone I say.”

So whatever you’re feeling (thin, fat or anything else), have a healthy, happy day – however you do it.

P.S. Also in the spirit of keeping things as close to real as possible – the numbering of my days on the Panchakarma programme started with the first day of treatment so does include the few days of rest I had before the main part of the programme began:
Preparation = 5 days
Rest = 2 days
Purge = 1 day
Rest = 3 days
Panchakarma start date = Friday 10th February

Day 15 of Panchakarma – the harem + *shock, horror* more (hilarious) surrender

Sticking with the theme of enemas, because, well why not? I am undergoing an Ayurvedic treatment programme after all (but if you don’t have the stomach for it – look away now).

So, those buckets of medicine are being inserted into a part of the body that can absorb liquid and medication – hence the use of suppositories. Apparently, administering medication up the bum, in liquid form via an enema in this case, allows the body to soak up the medicine effectively. When the body has absorbed as much as it can what’s left is expelled. However, the take up on the inside needs some encouragement in the form of practice (the path to improvement always includes practice of some sort, right). And so the body needs some time to understand what’s happening and get involved in the game – my body is still in the early stages of practicing the enema game.

Yesterday morning, when I was given one of the buckets of medicine I hadn’t computed all that. I didn’t understand that my body was not yet in the habit of  absorbing liquid through the lower end of my colon. That said, yesterday I was keen to keep the liquid inside for as long as possible. When the first hint of a downward movement came I figured I could wait a moment. I was wrong.

The second hint came less than a minute later at which point I ran towards the loo – the way a lame goose might run – navigating the treatment room massage bench en route with a hand up against my backside and buttocks clenched.

But by the time I stepped into the loo I was already too late. I’d pooped my pants – literally. In truth mostly what got expelled was just runny medicine. My clothing was soiled.

As I washed up and rinsed out my knickers and trousers I felt embarrassed. I wondered what I could do about a change of clothes. Oh for the shame of it! The arrogance of it!! I thought I knew the signals from my backside. Clearly not. I thought I could make it from porch to perch on the loo with enough time. I was mistaken. Shamefully mistaken. But also, really bloody hilarious.

Having managed to rinse out my pants successfully I figured I could get home on my cycle without any further embarrassment because fortunately, despite the obvious wet crotch of my pants, I was wearing a thigh-length tunic.

And so the Ayurveda adventure continues in ways I’d not foreseen. With plenty of entertainment, at my expense, for both Dr A and my Panchakarma Comrade. I don’t mind playing my mishaps for laughs, but a bottom mishap was not the game I intended to get a laugh out of!! Hence more surrendering to the process.

As for that harem
When I started with Dr A she was working solo. She’s only recently set up her business here in Tiru and had been treating her patients on her own up until about a week ago when four lovely young Tamil women joined her team. Just in time for my Panchakarma Comrade and I to enjoy the luxury of many hands tapping, rubbing and generally pummelling our bodies. So despite the bottom mishaps, the addition of the harem is very welcome, even if it does mean the witnesses to my folly are now six women instead of just two!

Wishing you a mishap-free day.

Day 13 & 14 of Panchakarma -the low down on the down below

So, about those enemas – three so far. The first and third was with the giant baby toy syringe. The second was this…


My first bucket enema encounter

Daunting was the first word that came to mind.

Although having seen something similar taken into the treatment room a few days earlier for my Panchakarma Comrade I was not surprised – but still, daunted. Where the syringe and thin rubber tube were genteel, the douche bucket (for that is its name – I’ve seen the box) was less pleasant. In fact more like, “Oh God, that do not feel good”, as the tube end went in and I focused on my breathing, tried to relax, similar to all the usual thinking about anything other than the process when I’m getting a cervical smear taken. That said, the enema tube up the bum is still more comfortable than the smear. Anyways, once the colon decoction and tube are removed I relax a bit before getting up and moving around. Sitting is not an option. A wad of paper against the anus and the potential for a down-flow is not conducive to bums on seats. I waddle around waiting for the moment, the precise moment, when the down-flow feels imminent. I trot to the toilet. Once I’m cleaned up I’m free for a couple of hours, which is just as well because by the time I get my breakfast at about 10:30am I’m a Starvin’ Marvin.

I normally return to the clinic around 12:30.

As I cycled over yesterday I got stuck behind a small truck down a narrow lane. In the back of the truck, along with two men standing, was a large, dark-brown cow. There were dots of red and gold across its backside (I’m guessing the cow was on its way between owners and had just received blessings). The cow’s tail was raised, the bum was looking large and as the truck suddenly slowed I braked too late and was inches away from the ooze that dribbled from the cow, down the back gate of the truck and hit the road – splat!

Some 60 minutes later, lying on my front on the massage couch and having the backs of my legs and buttocks massaged I worried that after the morning’s enema my behind would behave in the same way as the cow’s. I can report all was well and I was able to relax into the massage.

So enemas. No they’re not anything like colonic irrigation. I’m not able to endorse the latter, jury’s out on the former. But I’m betting that getting things lubricated is going to have a lot more benefit for my sluggish guts than just a load of warm water swilled around up there. Here’s hoping.

Results so far:
– Some weight loss – but I’m not eating much sugary food and I’m cycling to and from the clinic twice a day
– Facial colour and tone seems have returned to something more normal – now sort of pinky-brown instead of the week-old dishwater look
– Under-eye bags (the ones that would fit an Airbus-load of luggage) seem to be less puffy (more like the Airbus lost a few passengers and their luggage en route)
– The alertness continues, even when I’m tired at the end of a long day it feels more like plain tiredness rather than a mix of apathy, or “Who gives a fuck” lethargy, or even “Huh? What you say?” befuddlement
– Lungs and airway already seem freer to expand and do their job

What I’m most curious about is that deep in my lower abdomen I still feel bloated and tight despite the reduced external bloat. However, in terms of the core Panchakarma treatment, I’m only three days in with another 18 days to go so it’ll be interesting to see what other changes come about in that time.


Found the book in a local bookshop. Thanks for the steer Panchakarma Comrade.

And to all you lovely folks out there, here’s something potentially worth remembering – learning to relax, to breathe deeply and consciously gets the blood flowing. During my steady breathing during the nasal steaming and smoke swilling I’m going to visualise my blood flowing right the way through. Go to it lovelies!

Day 12 of Panchakarma – now we’re getting serious

I kind of fucked up today. I’d misunderstood Dr A’s instructions around food and had breakfast before I saw her this morning. I didn’t realise I’d made a mistake until after the morning treatments. Here’s how things panned out:

Around 7:45 am this morning Dr A massaged my face for a few minutes with an oil that smelled like the ghee decoction of the first week. Then I sat at the table where a large covered metal pot of hot water was waiting for me. I made like a tent with my head under a couple of towels. Dr A instructed me to slowly and steadily breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth before she slid the lid away from the pot about an inch to release a puff of steam. My Panchakarma comrade had already gone through this a couple of times, so I knew to expect heat. The first part was no sweat, just warm, moist air. Gradually, Dr A exposed more steam as she pulled the lid further back, about an inch at a time, always making sure I was coping.

For anyone who has read my Ayurveda posts from the start, early on I mentioned Luke Coutinho – a nutrition guru. He recommended steaming with turmeric as a simple method for detoxing the lungs. I gave it a go. Because the water cooled quickly, I’d had to reboil it a couple of times to feel like I was getting the full steam effect. This morning, having the pot covered and steam gradually released was an excellent method. I got hot and sweaty. Loved it.

Next up I was up on the massage table on my back. Hands and feet covered. Dr A dropped two drops of medicine into each nostril. That was OK, what was less fun was lying on my back, using the same breathing pattern, while also trying really bloody hard not to swallow. I failed, mostly. After being on my back for about three or four minutes I sat up and spat into a small bucket Dr A handed me. Not a lot came up. I confess, at least half the time I swallowed – that automatic reflex over-rode my attempts to catch the mucous before it drizzled down my throat.

I sat out on the porch, chatting with my Panchakarma comrade while continuing to get the mucous out and into the bucket rather than back down my gullet.

Some 10-15 minutes later what followed was more nasal, or rather mucous, decongestion by way of smoke inhalation. A small light brown stick of something that Dr A burned the tip of to get smoking, was then wrapped in a leaf to create a nozzle of sorts. Gently I had to inhale the smoke into each nostril then exhale through my mouth. The first few times, again, I failed, spluttering and hating the sensation of smoke down the back of my throat. But I kind of got the hang of it.

My last treatment for the morning was a small enema. Dr A asked me very sweetly: “You OK for an enema?” compassion oozing with every word. “Yeah, sure. Why not?” I said. After all, I’m surrendered to the process, right?

She returned with a packet of long, thin tubes. “I show you I use a fresh tube for each patient” she said. She held one in her hand – it looked clean and unused. Good call on her part. Good to see the pink rubber tube in her hand before she inserted it. I nodded my understanding and agreement. Also good to see was the large syringe that looked like a toy for a giant baby. It was half full of sun-gold oil. I’d have squirmed inwardly more if I hadn’t already seen the litre of brown liquid the doctor had moments earlier given to my Panchakarma comrade.

Back in the treatment room we go with me on the massage bench, this time on my side with my lower leg straight, the upper leg bent and my bum exposed. Not quite the ignominious pose required of us ladies who go for cervical smears, but not far off.  And my bum? It’s not my best feature. I consoled myself with the thought that Dr A has seen a lot of backsides during her many years as an Ayurvedic practitioner. The sensation of having the rubber tube inserted, the oil gently pushed through and up, the tube removed and a wad of tissue paper placed against my anus was – how shall we say, all things considered? – genteel. Who’d have thought. But yes, yes indeed, genteel because the experience was not hideous, just functional. Not only that, given how expertly Dr A makes a chapati, she has the same level of confidence with her procedures and treatments that I feel I am, literally, in good hands.

Anyways, shortly after this – including some prancing as an excuse for dancing (I’d been told not to sit, move around) and a visit from a cow – Dr A told me I was free, free to go home and have breakfast.
– “But I’ve already had breakfast, before I came,” I said.
– “What?” she said.
– “I thought I was meant to,” I said.
– “No. No wonder it’s not working this morning,” she said.
Doh! Big fat double Doh!


Egg-white, brown rice & veg – a nutritious breakfast, but at the wrong time of day!

This afternoon I’ve had a two-hour, four-handed, hot-balls-of-herbs massage. Magic. The herbs had been wrapped and tied in tea towels, four of them. The massage began at my feet and shins with a small amount of oil poured onto my skin and rubbed in. The next bit was interesting.

Those herb balls? They were hot. Roasting.

They were heated by an assistant who exchanged a hot herb-ball with one of the masseuse as and when the one they were using cooled. Before using the fresh hot herb-ball, the masseuse tapped it against one of her palms to check the temperature before doing a tapping, shuffling slide across my skin. A new and gorgeous experience. Loads better than Monday’s adventure *wink, wink*. When my back was getting done, the herb-ball heat felt more intense. Hopefully without visibly flinching, my internal comment a few times was “Ah fuck”. Literally. But that heat, the subtle waft of herbs, hands pressing, rubbing, smoothing my flesh and – that heat. Magic. The last part was getting my whole body rubbed down using something that felt like the finest, softest sand. Looked like sand too. After that, all I had to do was rinse and dress. Fab.

For the next 20 days I will be going through more or less the same procedure. The quantity of nose drops each morning will increase: 4 drops in each nostril tomorrow; 6 the day after that: 8 drops thereafter until three days before the treatment completes.

I’m hoping that, if not tomorrow, soon after I’ll have mastered the art of expectorating. If I’ve got to do it, I’d like to appear vaguely elegant. Also those enemas, well let’s see. I may or may not report on those, not closely anyways.

Seeing as there is unlikely to be anything new to share I probably won’t post until the end of the 20 days. If anything comes up that’s relevant and potentially interesting for anyone I’ll give an update. Obviously, my wish is that come the beginning of March when the treatment programme is complete, I’ll be able to report on wonderful changes to my body and mind.

All-in, even though after the first week when I saw some changes there are now no significant new improvements to remark on (bar a small persistent spot at the side of my nose that has vanished and a probable ganglion on the inside of my left wrist has softened and reduced), this Ayurvedic treatment lark feels as though it is unfolding as a significant life affirmation. For example, frequently we’re told to wake up and greet the day with gratitude for being alive and all that. Fair-play. I endorse such a thing. Me though? Not so much. But that’s another story. However, this morning while I was eating my mistake breakfast, the rising sun glimmered through the trees and whispered across my skin – and I was grateful for that. Grateful that the sun continues to rise on all of us, wherever we are and whoever we are. 

So for now, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, however you are doing whatever you’re up to
– Keep it real
– Keep sharing the love
I’ll see you on the other side (of the treatment of course).

Day 11 of Panchakarma – a quick chapati lesson

Day 11 of Panchakarma has also been treatment-free. A rest day, but rest I did not. Free to crack on with a few things, I did just that throughout the morning. Around mid-day I buzzed off to town to buy more vegetables. I also swung by Dr A’s clinic. If you’re not into cooking much, or not fond of chapatis, look away now. Today’s wee update is all about the chapati…..

Dr A had finished her session with my Panchakarma comrade and was enjoying her first break since 6am. She remarked about how good I looked – I think she said something about glowing. But I’d just cycled 12 minutes in the noon sunshine. Nevertheless she checked my pulses and seemed to confirm, for herself, that the glow was the right kind. I then shared my joy about my beetroot chapati success.

Having told me last week that she would show me how to make chapatis, she trotted off to her kitchen and came back holding a bowl with wheat flour in one hand and a pinch of salt between the fingers of her other. One of her helpers followed with a cup of water and a jar of ghee. Dr A went about showing me her method by first dropping the salt into the flour then poured a small amount of water in and mixed. When the flour and water where sticking to one another she added ghee and got stuck into kneading. And so it went until the dough was firm, well-mixed and not sticking to the sides of the bowl or her hand. Exactly and precisely as I’d read about yesterday, but done with a fluid, graceful kneading action. Dr A’s hands look as though they know how to massage anything. 

After the kneading I followed her into her kitchen where she demonstrated the fine art of rolling a chapati. What I had failed to do was to oil, or ghee, the chapati as I rolled. She tore off a bit of dough, dipped it into a bowl of flour and put it on the rolling surface. She rolled the dough out into a circle, placed a dab of ghee in the middle, folded the circle in half and half again. The dough was now a triangle which she rolled, turned, rolled and turned. She did all that without the ladles of flour I’d used. The neat part was how she got the darn thing off the rolling surface. Using her fingers at first, she eased off an edge and got her fingers under, then placed her other hand opposite and proceeded to flip the dough back and forth between her hands all the while gently teasing the flattened dough up and away and then straight onto the hot tawa. Expert. Her graceful handling of the dough from start to finish had been beautiful to watch. Both intimidating and inspiring. Wish I’d videoed her doing it. The two chapatis were delicious. Light. Tasty. Flaky on the outside but with a soft, steamy middle layer because of the folding and ghee during the rolling process. A marvellous treat for all of me: mental – I’d learned the specifics of chapati-making; physical – I got to eat the finished product; emotional – chapati is comfort food and I felt taken care of.

All that said, I’m having a break from chapatis. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have another go.

In whatever form you have your culinary pleasures today – make them mindful.