Day 31 & 32 of Panchakarma – farewells and fresh beginnings

Folks. I’m done in, so this’ll be a brief post. But I’m delighted to say all ended well today. I’m done. Wooohooo!

Fond Farewells
In preparation for a thank you treat for the harem women, on the way home yesterday I popped into the local ladies handicrafts shop to buy cards and ribbon. After this morning’s treatments I picked up a length of strung jasmine outside the ashram where the woman who sells flowers is always smiley. Back home I wrote out cards, enclosed cash, attached ribbon and jasmine, and then pedalled back to the clinic for my last rub-a-dub-dub.

I had planned to dole out gifts after the treatment, but because one of the main harem massage therapists was leaving early I handed them out before we got started. As you can see, I wrote in Tamil the names of each of the three women I was giving cards to. We took photos, me and my Panchakarma Comrade. So now you can see the lovelies who’ve been pummelling, rubbing, tapping and using hot herb balls to do a (not-always so soft) soft shoe shuffle across my skin these last three weeks.

Version 2

Version 2

So that was my first Panchakarma treatment. In the next couple of days or so I’ll wrap things up properly, but as far as tomorrow goes – I intend to rest. It’ll be my first free day in three weeks. Whoop, whoop. Can’t wait!

Thank You
Thank you for keeping up with me. Having people check-in on the Panchakarma progress has been encouraging and much appreciated.

And a big shout out to Mr D who has been patient, caring, intrigued and supportive throughout.

Today, I thought I’d end this post with a poem by Mary Oliver:
– Wild Geese –
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Throughout my posting on the subject of my Panchakarma experience I feel:
– I’ve been telling you of my despair
– like “the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,” that I’ve now returned home to myself for a fresh beginning
– gratitude for your listening and creating a space in this quirky “family of things” out here in Facebook cyberspace

So anytime you need to, find someone to tell of your despair, of what your body loves, and (like the wild geese flying high in the clean blue air across the landscapes of your life), of all the ways in which the world calls to you, however harsh, however exciting.

Wherever you, however you feel, whatever your despair or your loves – travel well.

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Days 26 & 27 of Panchakarma – less of the ‘Tango’ effect, and other changes

With only five days left to go (woohoo!) I’m hanging in there. And with a change in schedule, hanging in is going to be a smidgeon easier.

Sadly my Panchakarma Comrade (who has been a joy to have as my companion through all this) is going through a difficult time and will be quitting her programme early. The knock-on effect for me was that my normal schedule shifted both yesterday and today. Although my treatments started later yesterday, the morning section flowed into a short breakfast break before going straight into the massage. And during the last part of the massage, instead of a red earth rub-a-dub-dub I got a gritty one. Ouch! on the sore skin parts. But I was relieved when I got out of the clinic around 1:30pm. Re-sult!

Unfortunately, because I’d been up so darn early (that 3:30pm/4:00am thing) I was feeling kinda knackered and headed straight home where, after a couple of mouthfuls of food and plenty of water, I showered and climbed onto my bed with my Ayurveda book. That was around 3pm. I fell asleep about an hour later. From there on in, bar a short break at 7:30pm for about thirty minutes, I stayed in bed until 4:30am the next morning. Almost 12 hours sleeping. I think that counts as being truly tired.

When I left the clinic yesterday, I got an assurance from Dr A that we could start today’s morning treatments early – 6:30am early. I made sure I got to the clinic on time. But wouldn’t ya know it, she had some guy there already. Bugger! I thought I could get an undistracted doctor to myself for a change. So much for that expectation. Fortunately, he wasn’t another new patient but some marketing chap. Phewie! But then Dr A wanted to chat. I said, with conviction, “I’d like to start the treatment now.” Her response? “Oh, no time pass. OK.” No. No friggin’ time pass. What I’d liked to have said (but am holding the comment in abeyance) is “I ain’t paying for time pass lady, I’s paying for treatments, innit?” So instead of starting my morning session around 8am I was done by 8:15am. That felt so goooood!

Cycling away from the clinic this morning I felt liberated knowing I had time to do stuff – leisurely grocery shopping, a bit of laundry, unhurried eating & digesting, and what-not. Truly fab. Even now, as I write, I breathe easier from the sense of space in both my life and my head the extra time gave me. The massage session today also started and ended earlier. Bliss. Hopefully, all being well, the next five days will be similar and I’ll feel less harassed about the endless waiting and quick turn-around between sessions. But it’s been a fight to get to this point and possibly would never have happened but for yesterday’s changed schedule (and possibly my previous complaints 😉).

Also during today’s massage rub-a-dub-dub the grit and the red earth powder were replaced by yet another medicine. Not as soft as the first fine sand, but not as rough as the grit. Seems there have been other medicine changes during the last week or so: the hot herb balls – which remain bloody hot – have different herbs; the enema gunk has been at different times reddish-brown or sewer-brown; even the nasal drops have changed, but are still deeply unpleasant.

I realise this is a bit early to do, but I’m going to do it anyway. A wee checks-and-balances thing.

The not-so-good:
Flappy bat wings? Check 😞
Pot belly? Check 😞
Cellulite? Check 😞
Hair fall? Check 😞
Wonky left knee? Check 😞

The okay-ish:
Orange glow? Uncheck! 😀
Scraggy neck? Uncheck-ish! 😀
Dark eye circles? Uncheck-ish! 😀

The fantastic:
Brighter eyes? Check 😍
Clearer brain? Check 😍
Reduced shoulder pains? Check 😍
Weight loss? Check 😍
More fluid spine & body? Check 😍

Come next Friday I’ll also be doing that body measurement thing – gulp! And then…. And then indeed. But for now, with extra space in my day, I’m feeling more inclined toward equanimity than a state of bonkersness. Although maybe, possibly, I already am bonkers (which could explain a few things…).

And if you’re feeling kinda bonkers yourself, for whatever reason (internally- or externally-driven) – you could try

  • kicking the crap out of a punch bag
  • sitting down with a good book
  • going to bed early (😉)
  • taking a scented bath in candle-light
  • meditating
  • doing nothing at all

Right now, I’m going to my own bed – got that early start in the morning. Yippee!

Days 23 to 25 of Panchakarma – orange is my favourite colour, but …

I’m turning orange. Or rather my skin is. And no, I’ve not been ‘Tangoed’ – but it’s starting to feel that way.

Since my last post I haven’t felt inclined to sit and tap away at a keyboard. Some days are just like that. Also, I’ve been well tired (waking around 3:30am can do that to a person) as well as a feeling a bit battle weary – but I’ll come to that in a moment. First, that orange thing.

A few days ago the sand rub down that comes as the last section of the massage changed. Where before it was a darkish sand colour, now the rub is with a similar kind of powder but much darker. The texture is almost the same but the colour reminds me of red earth. Also this stuff has an aroma to it. Since the change of medicine for the powder rub-down, I now also get sluiced with warm water by the harem while I’m still on the massage table, after which I tread carefully to the shower. I’m still kind of orange even after that.

As for feeling a tad battle weary. That’s a delicate issue to be airing publicly, but I will because I’ve already written honestly about the potentially funnier side of things.

Let’s start this way: A couple of days ago I tallied up the days I’d done and the exact end date of the treatment. When this is over I’ve got shit loads to do before I return to London, including visits out of town. I need to make arrangements. I need to know the date I’m free to get on with my life again. When I asked Dr A for confirmation I had to repeat my request, that I wanted to know she had the same date as me. I did not, do not, want any surprise additions. As it was, she seemed to be under the impression I would be doing an extra week. Fuck me but – NO!

I’ve also taken to arriving at the clinic later than the time specified by Dr A – by about 30 minutes – because otherwise I am just left sitting for about half an hour waiting for my treatment to begin. Even arriving late I can still be waiting. Pre- and post-treatment time the doctor always seems keen for me to sit and eat or drink with her. Again, no thanks. The little time I have outside attending the clinic is precious to me, as it would be to anyone with a life – which means everyone I know or can think of.

Another stress point is the pocket of time after the morning treatments where I dash home to cook, eat and digest breakfast before trotting back for the afternoon massage. Perhaps if during the many waiting times I was learning something relevant to the treatment process, or what to expect afterwards for example, then that time would be well-used. As things currently stand that’s not how it’s playing out.

Adding to my frustrations and weariness is the whole diet thing. Or to be more precise, the  lack of clear guidance.

Because I’m not residential in an Ayurvedic health resort the responsibility for my dietary intake rests with me. Ordinarily that would mean (having been on various healing diets over the years) I would have been given clear guidelines about what foods I can eat and therefore what to buy and how to cook it. The guidelines from Dr A have all been verbally given and even then on a drip-drip basis. She prefers to ask after the fact about what I have eaten only to find a way to tell me I’ve eaten the wrong thing or didn’t prepare it the correct way. So the other day, when there were no other distractions for her (of which there have been several this past week or more) I tried to pin her down over a few things and ask for clear guidelines. Her immediate response, and the one she repeated by interrupting me even as I was explaining what I needed, was “Don’t worry. You can come and ask me anytime.” Despite my asking her several times to listen and understand from my perspective I did not get what I wanted. I don’t want to have to seek her out every time I want a fucking meal. I don’t want to go begging her for information about what to shop for every time I go to the grocery store.

All of which means I’m feeling battle weary because communications with the doctor are like that – a lack of true listening, with the knock-on effect, of course and yet again in these situations, there is no win-win just loss-loss. I lose out on being heard or getting any kind of satisfactory outcome. My interlocutor (currently the doctor, but this is a recurring theme ain’t it folks) loses my respect and willingness. I become less compliant and less accommodating. We all lose. That actually makes me sad and, frankly, exhausted. I’m an introvert. I’m easily over-stimulated by interactions at the best of times, but when the people I’m interacting with are overbearing, domineering, pompous, know-it-alls who need to be right rather than happy, I retreat. I pull up bridges and deepen moats around the fortress in the forest I withdraw to.

As I write I am at the start of my last seven days. I’ve had doubts about continuing. I still have those doubts. How much more can be achieved in these next seven days when for the past few I’ve not noticed any significant changes? OK, significant may not be the thing. Other subtle changes might be going on. But still. Each day almost a duplicate of the last. Also, my skin is looking and feeling sore and overstimulated by the daily massages. I guess I thought my skin would be glowing and happy by now – it ain’t.

But the truth is that I’m probably going to see this through to the end. And here’s why:
– My spine feels looser and more straight
– The sharp pains I used to get at the top of my right shoulder have reduced
– Yesterday I started expectorating proper gunge instead of just mouth foam – seems it takes around 8-9 days for that to happen, I took longer
– The weight is staying off
– I guess I’m getting to practise the encouragement from Brecht “…you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself.”
– I usually see things through to the end

To close today’s catch-up post, I thought I’d leave you with some images I captured the last couple of days.
– Black-faced monkeys visiting a neighbour, who doled out bananas
– Peacocks at the main ashram
– A lovely bunch of coconuts Mr D is enjoying

2017-02-23-black-faced-monkey-3

2017-02-23-black-faced-monkey-2

2017-02-23-black-faced-monkey-4

2017-02-24-ashram-peackcok-white

lovely-bunch-of-coconuts

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing – stand tall, stay strong, be brave, find the beauty. Peace out.

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 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 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…

2017-02-11-todays-herbal-enema

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.

ayurveda-book

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!

Panchakarma Day 6 & 7 – the second stage

Panchakarma Day 6 & 7 included rewards, massages, initial improvements, and a lot of oil.

Folks, I gotta tell ya – I FEEL GOOD! Inside there’s a cèilidh kicking up a wild-fire of dee-light. And today is only Day 7. Awesome.

A quick reality check though. A caveat:

Today is only Day 7 of my Panchakarma, the chances are that sometime in the next month I may fall off the edge of the glee bridge that’s taking me to better health and into the stinky, slimy goo of frustration and bitterness below. But… that’s OK. I know that whatever comes is all part of the process. And who knows, I may just sail through this healing process. Dr A today told me I am a good patient, i.e. cooperative and willing. I’m certain my easy willingness is because I’ve seen and been on both sides of the patient/clinician relationship in various guises. Also, I’m bloody desperate.

But right now – to hell with all that. I FEEL GOOD!

Really. After months of scrapping myself through life like a bloated serpent feeding from the bottom of that stream of goo I feel as though I’m having some kind of rebirth. I think I feel this good from pure, unadulterated relief.

In a moment I’ll tell you about Panchakarma Day 6 & 7 activities and detail some of the positive changes I’ve noticed. But first, confession time…

I started my day WITH COFFEE! Yes, that hot, brown, smouldering beauty was all mine this morning. I’m both thrilled and shamed. Nah, not really – just outright dee-lighted. OK, enough of the cartwheeling. On to the important stuff. Let me give you the low-down on what happened yesterday and today.

Having had my last spicy, garlicky, ginger-laden rice soup on Friday night, Dr A told me to arrive at the clinic a little later than usual and she’d give me a sweet treat. She did tell me how to make it myself, and if I’d had the ingredients I might have, but in the end we agreed she would make it for me. So yesterday around 8:30am I tucked into a portion of home-made pudding. Dr A used a grain I’m not familiar with but reminded me of polenta, which is first pan-fried in ghee with some cloves. Once the grain turns a golden colour, hot water is added, along with some sugar, and cooked until the water is absorbed. Then Viola! Serve warm. That pudding was dee-li-cious. More so after five days of rice soup of course. I trundled off home and returned to the clinic around 10:45am for a massage. The massage had to be taken before 12pm because from noon onwards the sun is setting. By the time the massage finished I think it was just after, but anyhoo…

And so to the massage. Oily. That’s the first word that springs to mind. Consequently I was very glad to be wearing a – LOINCLOTH! Yep, Dr A tied a dark-red, cotton loincloth around my hips, a long flap of material hanging down the front. I removed my knickers and she helped tuck the material between my legs, over my buttocks and into the strip of material now tied at the side.

First I sat in a chair while she gave me a head massage. “So much hair fall,” she said. Sadly, not a news flash. Daily hair loss has been a concern for the past couple of years. I’m surprised I’ve any left on my head. Dr A then massaged my shoulders and neck. Next I was on the bench and my back for a full body massage there on in. And apart from my genitals, I do mean full. With oil poured over different parts of me in doses that’d make an Indian chef proud, and feeling more like an oil tanker had disgorged its contents all over me, her hands slid up and down, round and over all parts of me. From fingers, along arms, over breasts and down. I’ve never had my tits touched with such fluidity. Nothing sexual about it. (Note: my breasts are on the small side so if you’ve got hooters the experience might be different.) Onto my back and the tucked-in flap came down, the loincloth untied – I was butt naked. Along with a thorough back massage, I was butt massaged within a millimetre of my anus. It was hard fighting the natural urge to clench against it. To breathe in and go with the flow of her hands moving along my oil-soaked bod. But I did go with the flow. Remember? the good patient thing.

Afterwards I had a bucket bath. Dr A gave me something gritty in a small metal pot that I was to use to cleanse my body with. The stuff looked like finely-ground pumpkin seeds. I rubbed this into my body and rinsed it off. In another smaller pot was shampoo. After bathing I stepped out of the massage room and into mid-day sunshine feeling lighter, eased and super smooth. A short rest with a cup of hot water and I was on my way, free for the day to indulge. Yahoo. In fact, apart from another massage this morning, all weekend has been a fabulous reward for the previous five days. Going for dinner with Mr D last night felt like a celebration: I survived the medicine, I mostly enjoyed the rice soup, I kind of fasted for a couple of days, there are noticeable signs of improvement. What’s not to celebrate?

That’s probably why, this morning, I figured fuck it, I’m having coffee. That’s all I had too. No ragi biscuits, no other breakfast in fact. If I’d been hungry I would have eaten. But the coffee? That was fun.

Just before today’s massage Dr A said tomorrow would be less pleasant but after that things would be a little easier. Let’s see what she means. No, I did not ask. Better not to have any potential awfulness in mind for the next 24 hours, but rather allow myself the pleasure of being free to eat whatever the hell I like today. For lunch I had a croissant and mango lassi. Bonkers of course. Had a sugar rush. So guess what, I’ve been back on the hot water all afternoon. Ha, ha!

So from Day 1 through to Day 7 the key word has been oilation. Day 1 through 5 was internal oilation, via a decoction. Day 6 & 7 have been external. I think the next phase is more oilation, this time via enema. Sesame oil was mentioned. Cripes!

And now for a wee report on those positive changes:

  • Previously my arms looked as though they belonged to an old hag – think one of the witches from MacBeth – now they have some life, firmness, proper flesh under the skin.
  • The skin itself is softer with a sheen I’ve not seen for I don’t know how long.
  • My belly bloat is reduced. The hideous abdomen discomfort the same.
  • The weird indent in my left cheek has plumped out.
  • While at the same time my whole face has slimmed down a tad and my face seems to have opened up.
  • I walked over to Dr A’s clinic this morning, some 25 minute walk. Last time I walked that distance about a month ago it was hard going. Not so this morning. There was still the hip niggle, but not the knee. I cycled home with less fatigue in my thighs, more power getting up the inclines.
  • The inside of my mouth feels normal again after the metallic taste I had for most of last week.
  • Best of all, my brain, my mind. Life feels as though its flowing again. Previously, any lights on in there were few, behind dirty lanterns and all my wee neurones were working in near darkness, like a dark and musty room of men hunched over worn-out wooden desks scraping quill pens across crumbling parchment. As of yesterday, the fires have been lit, the lanterns cleaned and refreshed, the old fellas have pushed their work aside and are kicking back having a natter and feeling just fine. Sweet.

As for tonight me – I’m off out with Mr D for another scrummy supper at our favourite eatery, it’ll be my last for a few weeks.

Hope you’re enjoying your own weekend, wherever you are and whoever you’re with. And as much as you can, make it a good one – with or without any oil 😉

Day 4 of Panchakarma – hunger has returned

Today’s post is a short one as there are no significant updates. With Day 2 and Day 3 of Panchakarma consisting of concoction and a light supper each day, this morning my hunger monster’s kicked in. Craved coffee and ragi biscuits and bread. Fantasised about a hunk of bread to go with the ongoing doses of rice soup. That said, way to go me, I offered and made Mr D a fresh coffee today. He’s not been feeling too good the last couple of days – mostly self-inflicted, if you get my drift… – so I was rising above myself in all sorts of ways. My coffee is good and strong, made from fresh ground stuff I get at a local supermarket. I satisfied myself with feasting on the smell and visuals alone (insert martyred sigh here).

On another note, after this morning’s concoction-sipping I took myself off to the main ashram of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. The ashram gates are right on a busy main road, yet as soon as you walk through them the atmosphere changes to peaceful and serene. For about 20 minutes I wandered around the familiar spaces of the main samadhi hall and the adjoining one while the brahmin boys chanted Vedic hymns, their rhythmic sounds washing over everyone, whether standing, sitting in meditation, or circumambulating the shrines. A sweet slice of loveliness away from everything else going on and one of the pleasures of being here is having access to an ashram open to all throughout the day.

As an added bonus, shortly after I arrived into the ashram compound I had the good luck to see a white peacock displaying its tail feathers. In the photo is a white peacock but without long tail feathers. I took that photo in the ashram back in 2007. Today’s white beauty was a stunner. His feathers in open formation looked like silken lace.

So that’s the state of play for today. I’ll be back on the morrow.
Have a good evening all – and stay lovely.

Day 3 of Panchakarma – but feels longer.

Well, seems going without food until supper time was no bad thing (apart from causing Dr A some anxiety that is). So the fasting strategy worked – even if my brain didn’t.

When I arrived at the clinic last night Dr A’s first response on seeing me was “Oh, thank God.” With my not having shown up for lunch, even a late lunch, she’d been worried that something had happened to me. Apparently around 4pm she tried to call me on the number I left her during our first session – but it was missing two digits. Doh! Just shows how much my brain is mush at the moment. And all afternoon I’d been telling myself that if Dr A thought I should eat before supper-time she would ring me. She did. Obviously with an incomplete telephone number she wasn’t able to reach me. Double Doh! Apparently her concern was in part due to her assessment that I am currently over sensitive.

Anyways, turns out not eating all day on Day 2 of Panchakarma was just fine. Dr A felt my pulses and confirmed I’d not needed to eat, that in fact I was still not truly hungry. Apparently due to my not eating for so long (24 hours, bar the medicine, is a long time for me), the morning medicine had had a great chance to do its work. In fact, although I’d been feeling crappy most of the day, with a heavy head that felt as though clumps of iron ore had been welded in there, about an hour or so before supper-time I started to feel freer from that weight – though some iron clumps remain. With yesterday evening’s lift came relief and hope and gratitude for taking on this drastic month-long Panchakarma.

So for my one meal of the day I tucked into more rice soup, thicker this time with extra dahl (lentils of a more digestible kind apparently). I ate most of it. Dr A advised that afterwards I should walk around a bit at home to help me sleep better. She also asked me to message her when I got back home. I did both. I’m trying to be a good patient.

Day 3 of Panchakarma this morning and another woman joined me for the morning concoction. Day 1 for her. She’s due to do a 45-day programme. Yowser!

I especially feel Yowser! when contemplating a 45-day programme as I’m feeling as if I’ve been on my programme for longer than three days, seems more like a week. That could be a bad thing. If I feel like I’ve been ‘working it’ when in fact only three days have passed I’m potentially going to struggle with motivation at some point. And this ain’t one of those programmes I can opt out of in the middle – got to see it through to completion. On the flip side is the possibility that I am so comfortable with this approach that I’ve made a wise choice to go for it. Obviously I’m hoping the latter is true.

Yesterday the doctor asked me to keep a journal. I’m to make a record of my thoughts and feelings throughout the day. As most of us will know, a physical detox can also affect other aspects of ourselves. Our mental, emotional, spiritual parts also become clogged up, worn down and sometimes feel like a pair of overused and unloved boots relegated to the back of a rotting, overgrown garden shed. (Or is that just me…?)

But this is only Day 3 of Panchakarma and in truth the journal writing is less easy to do than I’d have thought. I’m still feeling tired and lethargic. Writing, reading, flicking through social media, even reading about the ongoing horrors spewing across the globe from Washington DC fill up the time I’d much rather spend sleeping. And writing this post helps keep me awake. These activities not only distract me from falling asleep, they also keep me away from the thoughts and feelings Dr A would like me to connect with and disclose.

Perhaps I’m just being resistant. Perhaps I’m not yet ready to walk down that dark, lonely, echoey corridor, to open doors and delve into places and spaces where possible, and probable, horrors are waiting to be unleashed. (I’m imagining Freddie Kruger. I’m seeing ravaged hell-workers. I’m thinking pustulating zombies. I’m imaging endless sinewy, claw-like hands with pointy talons.) More probable (than zombies) is that whatever’s behind those doors is simply clamouring to be acknowledge and heard. But I know I’m not quite ready for that, not feeling robust enough to dance with the demons of my delusions and derangements. I’ve no doubt the time will come when I’ll be ready to open doors, some at least.

This being Day 3 of Panchakarma I’m still slurping the hot water. Lunchtime has come and gone and I’m only kind of hungry. Maybe today will be another one fasting until supper-time.

Noticeable changes:

  1. My mouth still feels yukky with a sort of metallic taste, plaque forming too.
  2. Belly is still bloated, but without so much discomfort
  3. On a positive note, the flesh on my forearms looks different, in a good way. Feels firmer. How do I know? For about the past year I’ve noticed a weird groove on the inside, as if the skin was sagging. This afternoon that groove, slight as it was, is barely noticeable. Maybe that’s just a passing thing. But if this treatment manages to reverse some of the collagen loss from a few years ago that would be magical. Here’s hoping.
  4. Another positive is that this morning I was awake before the alarm went off. Bliss. Alarms – brilliant when necessary, but always hateful.

Anyways, for now, wherever you are and whoever you’re with, wishing you a great day and… enjoy your food! (No, seriously, I’m not obsessed, honest.)