My Panchakarma in Kerala, India Part 3 of 3

October 14th  Day 11

I had every intention to go to a yoga class. When my sleep became interrupted by the alarm I felt so tired I just rolled over and went to back to sleep. When I wake up for the second time my head feels thick. The back of my throat feels a little swollen. My morning routine is anything but routine. I notice the tightness in my legs and low back. Even after breakfast and a walk around the grounds I still feel a bit on edge.

During my time on the walk I encounter my first private conversation with an older German man. He introduces himself as Peter, I had seen him around the dining hall. When I introduced myself he immediately asked me why an American came all the way over here (India). We got to talking a bit. His wife is very skeptical so did not join him. He has an Indian friend, a a priest, and a sister-in-law refer this Ayurvedic Resort. They have shared some about Ayurveda with him, he was intrigued. It was his first time at the resort. He’s very pleased. He was so into American politics. The conversation quickly went to whatever he had read about Trump and Hilary. There was no hesitation to ask my feelings, as well to share his own. He said the European nation was very concerned, very concerned. With polite haste, I end the conversation and continue my walk of the grounds.

I love that the clinic, where you see the Doctors and receive therapies, are at the top of the resort. My bungalow is at the bottom of the resort, close to the beach. Reminds me of visiting Rob, my Ayurvedic practitioner at home…Making your way up the mountain, one step at a time.

I join Cathy for lunch. Sampling and delighting in the tastes of Ayurvedic cuisine.

I’m off to get ready for treatment. On my walk down I’m witnessing the conversation I had at lunch with Cathy. I shared some of the reasons why I came to the resort, to regain a sense of strength that I have missed since 2012, after two panic attacks my system was never the same. I have always maintained a pretty average weight for my frame. I never felt I had body image challenges. After high school I gained some weight, I had stopped doing 2 physical activities that I had done for most of my life and began to work more and go to college. I wanted to be healthier and trimmer, the way I was when I was more active, for the most part I never spent much time focusing or viewing my body negatively. I never dieted, I think I owned scale once in my life but was never obsessive over number. I realized a lot of the people I knew were riddled with body image challenges and would often question my body and choices as well. Have I adopted their body shame? Do I allow others to influence the way I see myself? It’s an interesting thought… When else have I allowed someone else to influence the way I feel about myself? The first thought, and it was a solid thought, was my intelligence. My Mom throughout my entire elementary education set high expectations and was never satisfied with the nearly perfect GPA I’d bring home. This can do a number on your self-esteem at a young age. For the past 5 years I’ve mourned my Mother in the healthiest way I know how- getting healthy myself. Falling in love with myself, learning how to care for my body, my mind and my heart. I am gaining self-esteem with every action. I have crafted my life creatively over the past 5 years to allow myself to pursue wholistic health practices and medicine. I’ve cultivated relationships with those who wake up, show up with their whole heart and do the best they can. I feel transformed. Is this a full circle moment?

A mantra begins to take form as I make my way into Treatment Day 11.

I am beautiful, healthy, strong, stable and flexible, kind and gentle.

Day 11 Treatment was the same as the previous day. Begins with the general therapy. The general massage is done with herbal oil or herbal powder. This massage improves blood and lymph circulation and numerous benefits to the nervous and digestive system. Typically lasts about 60 minutes.

Mamsa Kizhi follows. This therapy was one I was most curious about- as I had not seen it in any of my readings prior to arrival. When I asked the doctor in the beginning of my stay what it was they were vague is explaining what and how the meat was prepared for the treatment. Seeing how I was not a big meat eater prior to coming, and now practicing vegetarianism, I was aware of my discomfort with the thought of using meat in treatment. This is all an experience so regardless of my initial feelings of distaste, I open to the wonderment of the treatment.

Mamsa Pinda Sweda (Mamsa kizhi) per the health resort is a specialized therapy which is performed for the diseases related to Bones, muscles and nerves. Mamsa means (goat’s Meat), Pinda means a bolus. Sweda means Fomentation or sudation. The sweda or sudation given by using a bolus which is prepared by using mamsa (goat’s meat) along with medicated rice and other herbs is called as Mamsa Kizhi. It is a type of nourishing therapy. The mamsa (muscle) which is used for this purpose is processed with different medicine according to the condition of the patient and the disease. What challenged me most was the smell. It was a very strong animal smell that I was not used to in treatment. I realized half way through breathing through my mouth was best. The treatment felt dense and the therapist worked vigorously.

Sarvanga Kashaya Dhara per the health resort is a sedation therapy using herbal decoction. This is a process by which the body is made to perspire by means of pouring warm decoction from special herbs with a special vessel from a certain height in rhythmic manner and is rubbed into the body. This method removes ‘ama’ or toxins from the tissues and promotes fat metabolism, removes tension from muscles and alleviates pain and stiffness of the joints and muscles. After the Pinda Sweda this treatment was welcomed and enjoyed.

 

October 15th  Day 12

Came down with a head cold. I felt very crummy in the early morning. I called up to the Ayurveda clinic to speak to someone to let them know so we could reschedule my treatment or plan accordingly. They told me to take it easy and get some rest for the morning. To have a light lunch and to come my normal time for the Doctor to treat my condition.

I made it to lunch. I saw for Prasad and he immediately knew I was sick. I’m not sure if the staff informed him or if he could just tell by looking at me. He brought me rice soup with salt and pickled mango. The pickled stuff is insanely spicy. Then a small tomato veggie soup, paired with the crunchy cracker that is hot with peppercorns, Pappadum. The whole meal felt very warm and spicier than I was used to eating here. Prasad went to make me an herbal tea. Even though I was feeling terrible, I was excited to finally get some good herbal tea! I make my own formula at home that I love and have been missing the herbal decoction. The tea consists of black peppercorn, palm sugar, dry ginger, and Tulsi, also known as Krishna Basil/Holy Basil. Prasad pours me a glass and gives me the rest in a thermos. I am to take it with me and drink for the remainder of the day.

A sweet surprise awaits me after lunch. Lifts my spirits a bit.

I did not get my regularly scheduled treatment. Admittedly there is a part of me that is grateful that I got this head cold. I am getting the opportunity to see and experience how they would treat something like this. I’m just fascinated by the approach and use of herbs as medicine. Today I saw the doctor, we discussed my symptoms and we agreed that I would have a herbal inhalation treatment for today. The treatment reminded me of the standard Vicks inhalation treatment Mom would have done. The treatment was very similar, Sheela boiled some hot water that had herbs, covered it with gauze, draped my eyes in gauze as well, told me to lean over and inhale the aromatic steam. I did that for maybe 20 minutes. Some pleasant pops of the ears and jaw relieved some of my congestion. After the inhalation treatment, I gargled with turmeric water. Immediately after I felt clear, behind the eyes less pressure in my head. I was given some blue pills and a bottle of liquid to take after each meal. The Doctor also told me to rest but not to sleep, especially sweating while I slept.

The rest of the day is like a blur. I spent most of the afternoon gazing out the window, reclining of the bed, at times I did drift in and out of sleep.

I made it to dinner. I ate more off the Kapha menu, warm and spicy to help move out the congestion in my head. I excused myself early, sipping my herbal tea, ready for some much-needed sleep.

 

October 16th  Day 13

Slept well especially for having a head cold. Feel more like myself today. I still have some slight congestion in my nose, not as severe as yesterday, thank goodness.

I was enjoying breakfast by myself when an English lady approached me. She says to me, I hold too much here and brings her hands close to her chest. She says, I have too much stress in being perfect. To let it go. Do 70%. At places like this, where people decompress, de-stress they do not normally get sick. Be like the waves. Go with the flow. I’m to concentrated was her final statement… Such an interesting observation by a stranger. She excuses herself. I observe the multitude of thoughts arising as she is walking away. Is this easier for a woman in her 60’s to say and do, was she just like me when she was 30? Striving too much? I know I strive quite a bit back at home. In my career, as a teacher, I am highly concentrated on wanting things just so. In treatments, the space I craft considers the entire Being, all the senses are engaged, recognized and balances. When I teach, I enjoy the preparation and creation of teaching materials. I have been told when I have a passion I can be intense. What can I say, I like to experience and share with my whole heart. This momentary conversation with this woman was causing my inner landscape to mudslide with egocentric thoughts- I am probably 20-25 years her junior, this is the time for building, being passionate and creating something dimensional of value to sustain myself in this life… I’m not retired. I’m just starting. My lifelong experience has been one of great effort and striving for some level of perfection and completion. It is ingrained behavioral but could this aspect of my personality change? Where does this striving come from and does it serve me? Can I conduct myself with more ease and grace? Perhaps in the long run it will make me a better teacher. I let all these thoughts and hypotheticals move through my mind. As my reactive monkeys begin to settle I am more relaxed. From a less reactive state I reflect: Why was this conversation staying with me? Initially felt the resistance to her speaking to me in this way. Making an observation or judgment of me without even knowing my name. And perhaps because of her lack of knowing she could see the most honest reflection of me.

Took it easy for the day, got rest. Want this cold to move through.

Treatment today was the same as Day 12- steam inhalation and today felt well enough to receive an abhyanga massage.

During treatment, my therapist Sheela asked me about my tattoo I have on my left side torso. The words, “At peace”, I shared with her that it was in remembrance of my Mom. She immediately asked if I had siblings, if my dad remarried, how old was he,does he love alone? We’ve been treatment together for 13 days and she just now asked me…I reflected on family and the meaning of it within in her culture. Families stay and live together, caring for one another, side by side. The opposite appears to be the American culture in which I grew up in. Privacy is valued and many of us choose to have others care for our young and elderly.  Everything’s unfolding…the perfection of the universe.

Cathy and I broke away from the resort before dinner. We couldn’t contain ourselves. My curiosity was peaking and I know Cathy and her free spirit wanted to roam beyond the walls since day one! We exit through the two large wooden doors, down the street and onto the main thoroughfare. Talk about raw. Compared to the beauty inside the resort, beyond the walls is another way of life. India has many layers. Motorcycles, mopeds, city buses that have no windows, no sidewalks, trash…everywhere, shops in various colors and conditions run the length of the road in both directions. We ducked into a small covered area… a farmer’s market. Three small vendors. When I say vendors, there are no tents, signs, or tables just boxes on the dirt floor with some produce. There was enough to choose from. I’m realizing India folk have no problem getting close to the earth. And finally the smell of India that I’ve heard so much about. Because of my experience with horses I feel like I can tolerate and almost enjoy a certain level of earth smell. This is slightly above that but nothing unmanageable. People are alive and busy. Driving reminds me of being in Mexico however less organized, without cars, just city buses and mopeds. Cathy informed me many of the drivers may be drinking and to stand away from the road when you see them coming. We venture into a few shops. Many of the shops where was covered head to toe, so much to see, mostly figurines and jewelry. Varying experiences with shop owners. Some were persistent salesmen, others gave you your space.

Finally, a shop with fewer items. Less repetition, quality appeared higher end. The shop owner was unassuming and was patient and eager to share when we asked questions about her various pieces in his shop. He had quite an alluring collection of items. I have shopped stones, crystals and semi-precious stones in the states. I have acquired some very interesting pieces that I find to be modest and charming. He had much of the same in his shop in the way of jewelry. Tasteful, varying themes from metals to cut semi-precious faceted earrings to coral and shell necklaces made from an earlier time. The Signing Bowel Gallery was the shop, Rashid is the owner. He made us our first cup of traditional chai tea and we stayed awhile. He told us stories of history and mythology. Tapestries showing Buddhist teaching and Hindu deities are woven and dyed in bright colors. We experienced the range of metal signing bowls, the vibration intense. A nice selection of figurines, 2 or 3 well-crafted Ganesha, the one thing my husband requested I return home with. After spending some time reading on the different deities, I am attracted to Lakshmi or Saraswati as well as the elusive Lord Dhanvantari. I have yet to see him and I’ve asked all the shop owners. Very uncommon, Rashid says, especially in metal. He tells me he will look around. We asked if he had any semi-precious stones of a particular kind. Cathy found what the Joytish astrologer recommended for her. The search for my yellow sapphire was not as successful. Had some beautiful semi-precious beaded necklaces emerald yellow, sapphires, blue sapphires, and rubies. He had a sweet pair of Tibetan chimes that came in a caring case, two different sizes. Cathy and I both immediately delighted by them. We head out and make our way quickly back to the resort, the sun setting, my appetite is peaked.

Fulfilling dinner after a wonder full day.

 

October 17th   Day 14

After breakfast, I meet Cathy. She surprised me, apparently last night after dinner she snuck out went to the singing bowl gallery and bought her big singing bowl and the set of chines. She gifted me the smaller set of chimes. A remembrance for our time together there. She thanked me for sharing all that I knew on the Ayurveda subject and the wonderful experience.

We agree to make our way beyond the doors of the resort once again.

As we make our way past the shops, we are chatting, moving more quickly than I have since I arrived in India.  I felt my energy buzzing, feeding off the busy pace of the streets. It seemed my body and my mind were speeding up to go with the flow. We walked right past The Singing Bowl Gallery, only noticing when we heard the calls of a man’s voice behind us. Rashid, The Singing Bowl Gallery shop owner was standing outside his shop calling to us and waving his hands to come his way. We double back and enter in the charming shop. Thus far I have not commented much on the weather of the region. It is…warm. Some may say hot, too hot for their comfort. I tend to run a little on the cold side and can acclimate to temperature fluctuations well. Being out and about, further from the beach and with more activity it was hot and humid. I was looking forward to the relief of the modest air conditioner unit Rashid had in his shop. I am immediately met by a wave of heat and stagnation. Electric is out, no power means no air conditioning. The enclosed shop was beginning to feel like a sauna. He offers us tea, you cannot decline the hospitality, nor did we want to say no to the delicious tea, we agree to tea. Glancing toward one another, she and I acknowledge we are sweating through our cloths. He makes us a cup of tea on his gas burner. Kashmiri Tea (Kehwe) is made with saffron, cardamom and cinnamon. Yum. After tea we take more time in the shop, looking at his fine stones and jewelry. He had some beautiful and different figurines. I am up spending a little bit more than anticipated but well worth the money. I was reminded that, “I am here now! I can always make more money later”. Who knows when I will be back in India. I purchased a Vajra- the one I selected is representing the five elements which of course I love. Rashid goes on to explain that these symbolize the main male and female energies and are used in meditation. He showed me a few of the hand positions with the Vajra and what they meant. The first position he shared was the 67th position Sattwa- for meditation the thumb and index finger touch representing that male and female energy. The second position I am shown is Tara- which is the 68th position, this is to purify and clear negative energy, the Vajra is straight up in the palm. Lastly the third position Pani, which is the 69th position, the thumb and forefinger touch, representing water and future blessings. I found another small Vajra that is meant to be worn as a pendant, it is no larger than my little finger, in a warm gold finish. Purchased a medium-sized metal signing bowl. I sampled all the sizes and selected the size that spoke to me. I am excited to be cultivating some sound tools on this journey. I found the one thing that my husband asked me to bring back for him a Ganesha. I settled on a small figurine of Ganesha, seated on the lotus. The metal is mostly an iron composite but the forehead has a thin plating of silver. This small sliver of silver plating was smudged with a red powder, used in rituals and ceremonies.  One may anoint the Ganesha figurine to pay respect and ask for guidance and help. Despite all the amazing items Rashid had in his store there was something he did not have that I was looking for. Spices. I asked Rashid if he had a good spice connection. There were many herb and spice shops we passed on the way. No one them felt authentic and good quality. Rashid tells me, “Yes, I have the perfect connection, a way down the road, not sure if you would like to walk or take a ride.” We do not have time today to venture there, although, we tell Rashid we would love to do this tomorrow. He agrees that tomorrow he will close his shop to take us to his friend with the spice shop. Before we leave Rashid, he gifts us with two colorfully beaded bags to transport our goodies in.

We quickly make our way back to the resort so we can have lunch before our treatment. We set our colorful bags down at our table and make our way to the lunch buffet. My appetite is strong and I am immediately satiated. We are bubbling with joy as we eat. I admire the beauty and peace of the resort space. It is such a shift from the raw, colorful, bustling community just beyond the doors.

My last 2 days of treatment are the same. I have been looking forward to these treatment days as I was to finally receive the Ayurveda Foot Massage. To be clear, it does not mean my feet are getting massaged, rather the therapist would balance from a rope hanging from the ceiling, using her feet to do a full body massage. Before the foot massage I begin with Sheela, I am seated on the stool, beginning the same way we have since day 1.

Remya, my assistant therapist came in and took over to do the foot massage. Finally I have been waiting to experience this! This is known as the rejuvenation therapy massage. The rejuvenation therapy is a whole-body massage with herbal oil done by hand and foot for 90 minutes. According to the resort this is good for rejuvenating the body to reduce mental tension, sexual weakness, and to improve vitality. I will say this treatment was INVIGORATING. There was a cushioned large mat on the floor, like my shiatsu mat, this one was draped with a thin white sheet. I lay down on the mat face up. Remya proceeded to grab the rope that is hanging overhead, she balances herself and begins. The sequence and flow was similar to the work on the table I have received, except this time it was delivered by her feet not her hands, and substantially more pressure. One of the things I found most interesting was when they got to the abdomen and chest she did not change pressure too much. There was strong pressure in the abdomen and sternum and out the shoulders. When she was done and I was asked to stand I felt ironed out. A deep sense of grounding and stillness.

Sheela returned and finished the general massage with Remya.

Sheela remained to complete my treatment with a face massage and face pack.

This evening there was a special event planned. We were getting some light rains in so the entertainment and dining was moved into the dining hall. Seating was tight, felt like we were transported to an open air late night café. Food was delightful, entertainment was intensely wild. This classical performance of mime, movement and drums to tell an incredible story of Hindu Mythology.

 

October 18th  Day 15

Very bizarre dreams. Vivid, with many of my family members and pets. What was most apparent was the number of lions and lioness that were in the dream. The stronger treatment that day before must have got something moving. My dream was busy, full of processing and observing. After documenting my long dream, I am hungry. I make my way to the dining hall for my last breakfast. I had to get the Apaam with Banana Stew. My favorite breakfast of my stay.

Feeling this growing excitement and mild anxiety of our return home, I am determined to make the most of my last day. I begin to jot down a list of items we must do before leaving. Spice shop, settle account at the pharmacy, final consult with the Ayurvedic Doctor and of course the last day of treatment!

I get the opportunity to tour the grounds.

Cathy and I once again make our way to the Singing Bowl Gallery. Rashid tells us he’s informed his friend at the spice shop that we would be coming by this morning. Rashid closes shop and we begin to walk. 10 or 15 minutes later we arrive at a small spice shop. Upon entering you are meet a thick layer of fragrance. The nose is going in so many directions; deciphering, deciding, recognizing plants. The young man that owns the shop is tall, thin, with kind eyes. He offers us tea. Of course, we say yes. He proceeds to make us tea, educating us on Kashmiri Saffron and how it is the finest on the market. He wants us to observe the difference in quality of saffron so he pours 2 glasses of warm water. One with the fine Kashmiri saffron, the other with what is commonly sold as fine saffron. We observed how slowly with time to steep that one has become a pale pink color and the other a deep, pale amber color.

After enjoying the tea we take a tour of the shop. I begin to touch and smell the spices and herbs that are available. My mind is recalling all my Ayurvedic cooking herbs I use at home. I want to stock up on my basics; fennel, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom. My small pile is building, we are both given baskets for our goodies.

Not only does he have spices and herbs he also has essential oils. I smell a few oils, especially the rose, jasmine and sandalwood. I was not in the market to buy and know from my studies that there is a high level of adulteration. I did purchase a few soaps as gifts and a collection of spices. Even for the amount that I brought back the price was out of this world. I would’ve spent easily five times more at home. The best part was when we asked about Turmeric. Cathy and I both wanted to buy some Turmeric. He was out. He sent his assistant out to ground fresh turmeric for us. Wonderful. After an hour or so we are complete. We check out and thank the shop owner for his time. He walks us outside, informing us he had already called for a Rickshaw to get us back to Rashid’s shop. This is my first time in a Rickshaw. The three of us squeeze into the back and off we go.

Once back at the Singing Bowl Gallery, Cathy and I make one last look around the shop for any last-minute finds. Rashid brought in some figurines of Dhanvantari from other sources and shops. I’d earlier requested this when he initially asked me what I was looking for. A lot of what he had to show me was wood. I was wanting something metal. With the humidity in the South, many of the figurines that are made there are wade from wood. They are quite beautiful but way too large and a little garish looking for my taste. Not having any luck with the Lord Dhanvantari this time around. Rashid had gathered a small collection of Saraswati and Lakshmi for me to look at. The Saraswati I chose was the green variation.

What can I say I love green it’s my favorite color and will always remind me of the lushness of India. Was also attracted to a small Lakshmi. I indulged a bit on my last day. My final purchases were a small modest pair of moonstone earrings and a moonstone pendant. Moonstone is native to India. I found it quite interesting because I’m not normally attracted to Moonstone however of all the other phenomenal pieces he had, I kept coming back to this milky iridescent moonstone.

We say our final goodbyes to Rashid, we connect of What’s App, and promise to come back to visit him on our next trip to Somatheeram.

We made our way back for a light lunch before treatment. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the Beetroot Kitchadi. WOW. The color was out of this world. I understood Kitchadi at something a little different. After speaking with Prasad I understand that the various regions have variations in their Kitchadi preparations. It tastes as good as it looks.

Prior to treatment I see the Doctor. I have done this every day before my treatments. Usually the visit is just a check in- my vitals, pulse, how am I eliminating, digesting, eating and sleeping. Today was more thorough. We reviewed my initial questionnaire and the conditions I addressed upon arriving. Dr. Sobhana asks, “How are you feeling now?”. “Happy, Alive, Peaceful and Hungry. I am reminded to take it slow upon my return and to draw from my memories and time as an Inner Resource for peace and well being. I feel as though my appetite has returned and I am hungrier for authentic living than ever before. I feel stronger, sharper, clearer. In a way, I feel as though I have been polished. The heaviness of grief and loss finally sloughed away by the nurturing and caring I received. I agree to come back when I can. Of course, I will! Why wouldn’t I?!? 15 days of amazing views, healing food, treatments, yoga, meditation and culture- what’s not to love.

I sit to wait for Sheela to come for me. I am aware that this is the last time we will meet at 2 in the afternoon. A repeat of the treatment the day before. Another chance to experience the intensity of the foot massage. I do in fact feel rejuvenated. As I observe for the last time the ritual of cleaning up after the treatment, I experience a bitter sweet sensation. I am so blessed to have received such deep and important work by these two women- Sheela and Remya. I wonder if they know how special they are. On the last day of treatment, I savor my last walk from the treatment room to the clinic with Sheela. We make our way slowly, arms wrapped around each other, past the Yoga Hall, the Pharmacy, the Dining Hall and finally we arrive to the Clinic. I find my seat and this time I am brought a fresh coconut instead of the tea.

We exchange a hug and both still say I will see you tomorrow. She says to come back and see me and of course I would always ask for her. Sheela is much shorter than me, a slightly stocky build, her smile is wide and she has a sparkle in her eye. She is so beautiful to me in this moment.

After spending some time at the clinic gazing out at the horizon, smelling the salt of the ocean and aromatics of the resort, a take in the full experience of treatment. I have sat in this chair the last 15 days. Some days were better than others. Some days were filled with conversation, others silence. I am forever grateful that I had the time and opportunity to come to India. To spend 15 days unwinding and being with the healing treatments has been life changing.

I was fortunate to catch Prasad on his way out of the resort. We exchanged goodbyes. I hope to see his kind eyes in the future.

They last night is spent savory every last bite of dinner and packing…. yes….the art and science of packing…

October 19th  Day 16

To my delight there was one more breakfast. Yes! The car was to take us to the airport at 7:30. That was enough time to get into the dining hall at 7, find the Apaam chef and get him to fire up 2 fresh ones for Cathy and myself. I savor each sweet, warm bite. The herbal water sipped slowly. I wonder when I will have these tastes again.

We make our way to the lobby, walking by the pond….and how will this look when I return. Completed and full of fish no doubt.

Our car arrives. We travel swiftly to the airport. It is an interesting experience to arrive in the dark of the early morning, unable to see what’s beyond the dimly lit streets. Then to leave, in the light of dawn….it’s like truly seeing for the first time.

We arrive at the airport. It is the shortest and least complicated airport experience of my life. We paid a menial amount to have our small checked bag wrapped with plastic so there would be no breaking in on the journey home. I spend the last of my rupee at a small book store.

Ayurvedic Cook Book

The plane is empty, apparently they don’t have a lot of people flying out of the country. Everyone on board gets their own 3-4 seat rows so we are all sleeping on this journey back home.

I write some before I settle in for the long journey home.

How do I finish the end to this magical experience? What was this trip all about?

I was reminded that I am surrounded by Angels. Like the resort, we are all putting in an effort, doing our best and all with varying levels of grace and gratitude for this space that has been provided by the Creator. Even now after an entire season has passed, I still feel deeply connected and touched by the environment of my trip to India. Throughout this sharing I have laughed, and cried tears of joy. I am longing to return. To receive the healing aromatic treatments of Ayurveda. There was this sustained sense of joy, beyond what I have known thus far. Everywhere you turn, some small glimmer of creation. Uncaused joy, moment to moment. The warmth…humidity…the jasmine…my goodness the jasmine…coconut water from the coconut…molasses rich smell of the oil in treatment…flavors of everything I ate and drank…music…colors…the life. Seeing through the eyes of my heart in India…it’s beyond words. Until next time India.

Self Love with Self Abhyanga

Feeling Stressed? Want More Energy & Peace of Mind?

A hectic and stressful lifestyle and improper foods/food habits may be at the root cause of imbalance in your body and mind. Ayurveda is here to help!

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that translates to “The Science of Life”. This knowledge was originated more than 5000 years ago and is often called the “Mother of All Healing”. The teachings stem from ancient Vedic culture and was taught for thousands of years. Western healing system such as Homeopathy, Polarity and Food as Medicine are rooted in Ayurveda. The emphasis is on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to the balance in one’s life, Ayurveda maintains that all life must be supported by the balance of energy. The knowledge of Ayurveda empowers the individual to take their health into their own hands. One may gain perspective by learning about their Dosha; a unique balance that makes a healthy body and mind. The body, mind and spirit is treated wholistically- each an important piece in maintaining a healthy whole.

Abhyanga Massage

Abhyanga Oil Therapy Massage is a restorative, nourishing therapy. Pouring of a warm herbal blend of oil all over the body, followed by a soothing and rhythmic therapeutic Ayurvedic massage. Every oil therapy uses authentic oils and herbs which are carefully selected and customized for you. These herbal infused oils focus on detoxifying your body and eliminating the stored-up cellular waste. Health and longevity depend upon the proper nourishment, assimilation and elimination of the body tissues as well as the mind. Improper metabolism and circulation causes waste products to accumulated in the different systems of the body, such as the nervous, circulatory and muscular systems. Through proper oleation and massage of the entire body, the metabolic and enzymatic functions are stimulated to assist the body to detox, reducing stress and allowing it to work at its optimum potential.

Benefits:

  • Promotes health, longevity, sound sleep
  • Decreases fatigue and stress
  • Increases circulation and nourishment to the organ system
  • Gives strength and stamina to the muscular system, relives stiff muscles and joints
  • Softens cell membranes and promotes osmosis for hydration
  • Removes metabolic waste by-products, detoxifying
  • Increases metabolism and proper digestion
  • Enhances complexion and luster of skin

Before: please let loved ones know you will be receiving a blissful treatment, unplug from all electronics. Avoid eating an hour and a half prior to receiving the treatment. Shower to ensure skin is clean and ready for warm herbal oil application.

During: warm herbal oil will be applied over the entire body (even the head and face unless specified by client to the therapist). Once oil has been massaged into the skin there will be a period of 15 minutes for relaxation and total absorption of the warm herbal oil. A guided meditation will unlock any remaining mental tension in the mind allowing the mind and body to rest into being.

After: wait if you can (at least an hour) to allow the oils to absorb into the body. A warm shower or bath to open the tissues and channels of the body, allowing a small amount to remain to nourish and protect the skin. Use little or no soap and towel off, patting any excess oil form the skin. Spend the remainder of your day unplugged, be sure to hydrate, have a light meal and early to bed.

WARNING: after treatments it may be common to experience states of bliss, openness, receptivity, love, kindness, and joy. 🙂

My Panchakarma in Kerala, India Part 2 of 3

October 9th   Day 6

After a few hours of restful sleep and a much needed shower, I slowly made my way up the steps to get my delicious after purge breakfast- rice soup with salt. Yum! At this point I’d eat anything. Feeling empty after the purge. I had minimal energy. I would say it’s like the first day back after a flu where you feel somewhat normal. Just hungry.

Enjoyed the light breakfast. It was satisfying. Would be nice to learn how to make this at home, it would be a gentle option on the digestive tract. Spent the rest if the morning in the recreational room reading, soaking in the view and having wonderful conversation.

Lunch was also preselected. Our lunch after purging was a light brothy soup with rice, and looked like 2 different kinds of mung beans, salt and ginger chutney (of which I ate minimal of- too hot for my taste). Soup was fantastic and much needed.

Treatment today was similar to some of the treatments I’d previously received.They do not do work that is too aggressive on the system due to the purge the night before. The body is treated with kindness as it regains its energy reserves. A special massage, she didn’t do any seated massage to begin with. I began face up on the table. The usual with warm oil. Then face massage and herbal face pack. At one point, I fell asleep. I am not sure for how long. It was deeply relaxing. Body was wanting rest after light sleep the night before.

Then for the Dhanyamla Dhara also know as Herbal Dhara. As described by the health resort warm herbal liquid is poured all over the body and rhythmic way using a special vessel. The special vessel looks like a small copper teapot without a top. This is done for about 45 minutes to an hour. It is very effective for Hemiplegia and paralysis. Two therapist did a continual poor of warm herbal water over my body repeatedly in synchronicity. Began in a sitting position on the Droni, the traditional Ayurveda treatment table. It is wood, one piece, no seams, incredible craftsmanship. The wood is made from a single piece of Strychnos Nuxvomica wood. The 2 therapists did a few rounds of pouring over my upper body, shoulders, back, torso and down my crossed legs. Then on my back, repeated the process down the length of my body. Did both sides of my body as well, similar to their herbal poultice the day before. The treatment is completed with the sequence repeated on my back. The treatment was soothing, cooling and relaxing. Felt like all the toxic, unwanted energy was being washed away.

The rest of the evening and into dinner I am serene. I rest deeply that night.

 

October 10th   Day 7

When I wake up I am inspired. Breakfast as always was warm and satisfying.

I spent the late morning meditating in the vacant yoga hall.

India truly is alive, raw, real. It begins to awaken in you the realizations of where in your life you may not be real, raw, alive. That can be hard for some to swallow. Desiring this authenticity, it fuels me to live in this state upon my return home. How does that look for my life? I don’t know. How does that look for the life of my partner? I don’t know. What I do know is I desire to find out.

The more I am here the less I write. I am more in the observing than the doing. I know I will write, just not at this moment. Being outside all day is the best medicine.

Lunch is delicious. Carrot rice, Veggie Shabnam Curry, Paneer Matar Masala and Sesame Chapati

Day 7,8,9 had the same treatment protocol.

In the beginning my therapist, Sheela, gives me some dark brown liquid to drink before treatment, it helps Vata to eliminate anything the purgation did not. The tandem Abhyanga is better than I ever imagined. I have wanted a tandem Abhyanga treatment for a few years and today was the day!

Abhyanga: as described by the health resort this is a special type of oil massage in which strokes are given according to the circulatory channels for 45 minutes. This treatment is very useful for sleeplessness, fatigue and other Vata predominant diseases. I do this treatment as a solo therapist for some of my client back home. The tandem style is deeply effective. It does feel like one person.

The mat on the table is removed and I sit on the Droni, solid wood table, a small lip maybe 2.5-4 inches. It is slightly deeper at the bottom so the excess oil moves down toward your feet and out a small whole at the bottom of the table. They stick a piece of linen in so the oil pools toward the foot of the table and scoop up the oil to be warmed and reapplied.

Pizichil; as described by the health resort among one of the rare special treatments of Kerala. In this treatment, lukewarm herbal oils are applied all over the body by 2 to 4 therapist. In a special rhythmic way continuously for about 60 to 90 minutes. I begin in a sitting position. Oil pour over my arms, back, chest, then down the legs. This sequence repeats many times, then I recline back, I am face up and the poor starts again. From my belly up the chest and down the arms, then just down the arms, then to the legs and a few long pours down the length of my body. Repeating many times. Now onto the right side, it is so oily it’s like a slip and slide. Multiple rounds on both side- one therapist behind me focusing on my back and one leg and the other on my arms, front and bent leg. Then one more time on the back. Face up again the sequence is repeated and then the delicious end part. They squeeze and drip the remaining oil onto various points and joints of the body 3xs each- my belly, my ribs, my chest, my shoulders, my elbows, my wrists and hands. Then the move to my hips, my knees and then feet. You are then squeegeed off with long leaves, the access oil slides right off. You carefully climb out of the table with the help of your therapist and sit patiently while they gather up the excess oil, wash and wipe down the table.

The table mat is put back on and you lie face up for Shirodhara. Yes, more oil. 40 minutes of a continual warm oil pour across the forehead slowly back and forth. I’m asleep in no time, drifting in and out. Coming back to the room shortly before this portion of the treatment is complete. My head and hair saturated with oil. Sheela wrings out my long hair and before wrapping my head up in a towel she applies a small amount of Rasnadi Choornam.

Nasyam is next- three drops of herbal oil in the nose- each nostril and inhale. This is a very strong treatment for me. A lot of warm uncomfortable sensation. I once had a near drowning incident and am not a fan of things up my nose. Nasyam: as described by the health resort is a treatment in which herbal juices medicated oils etc. are applied through the nose. This treatment is highly effective for certain kinds of headache, paralysis, mental disorders and some types of skin diseases.

Lastly and certainly not least Vasthi. Vasthi: as described by the health resort known as medicated therapeutic procedure in which certain herbal oils herbal extracts etc. are applied through the rectum daily for a period of 5 to 25 days. This treatment is effective for arthritis, paralysis, hemiplegia, numbness, gastric complaints, rheumatism, and chronic constipation. About 50ml of oil. You lie on your side, a gentle administering and you are told to inhale deeply through the mouth three times. Onto your back quickly and the therapist helps you in moving the legs knees to chest three times. Best to hold it in as long as possible. Some can only for a short time, others for the remainder of the day.

After these treatment, you are given the herbal tea to drink except this time it is much stronger than the days prior. Tea is warm with a strong ginger taste.

A delicious dinner and entertainment. We were blessed to have dancers come to perform classical dance.

 

October 11th   Day 8

Vedic Astrologer
I booked a Vedic Astrologer to come and read for my chart. He was a nice, older man. He mentions he is opening a facility that will teach Hatha & Ashtanga yoga along with his Astrology, Palmistry, Medical Intuitive and Gem Reading- all of which he does.

I know very little about Astrology- Vedic, Western, Chinese….I am always fascinated when I hear astrology information or when I have received readings in the past. Since this is a Vedic Astrology story I will share some of what I know on Vedic Astrology.

Jyotish, Vedic Astrology, can be translated as the science of Light. This highly accurate mathematical system helps one to understand the karma of an individual based upon the position of the planets at the time of a person’s birth. A short orientation in Karma may be helpful here. As a Westerner, I had a gross misunderstanding of the concept in terms of Eastern philosophy. Karma is the physical force of action and reaction that creates our experience of the world. Karma is nonjudgmental and purely a mirror reflecting to us the results of our actions. Ayurveda utilizes Jyotish to determine why a patient may be ill and the appropriate time to administer medicines, mantras, and other devotional practices.

I have the session recorded. A lot of things were spot on. Confirmation of career path and me being born with the gift and talent of words- right and pure communication through spirituality teaching, advising, journalist he says. Also medical field and business, Venus influence will involve tourism and travel and to incorporate that into work/business. That I do not work for others.  Career will always be good he says and always very creative and in the creative realms. I will be doing 3 jobs. That with my abilities in communication I help others. That I will at a minimum speak 3 languages. Mentioned a few things to be cautious of with my health during future periods. Gave me some advice on which meditation practices would be best for these- mantra and working with chakras at different times of day. He speaks more on family, relationships, assets. Very interesting at the end mentions the thoughts and the speech. The communication is pure, I was born into that. The mind has a dual nature. Very positive and can be very negative. This is why pranayama and mediation is so important. Will purify the negative thoughts so I remain pure. These practices are best in early morning so I am set for the day. In the evenings I must meditation and use the fire of the navel chakra to burn away all the negative energies that I come into contact throughout my day. He likened me to a bright light at night- the bugs flock to it. To protect and care for myself. That really stood out. There was so much more, I am going to spend more time with my recording in the coming months.

Treatment: same as the prior day. I am Vata Prakruti and tend to show signs of Vata vitiation, especially my skin and nervous system, all the warm oil used throughout the treatment is divine.

 

October 12th  Day 9

Woke up from very vivid dream this morning. I have not been dreaming much since I’ve been here- at all that I can remember actually.

Over the course of my stay I have been on an herbal protocol given by the Doctors after the first day assessment.

Indukantham  KS  Lohasava

Indukantham kashayam is an Ayurvedic medicine in water decoction form.  It is mainly used in treating fever and abdominal disorders. It improves strength and immunity.

Calms Vata and Pitta.

It is prepared from the following herbal powder mixture

Putika – Holoptelea integrifolia, Daru – Cedrus deodara, Dashamoola – group of ten herbs , Bilva – Aegle marmelos, Agnimantha – Premna mucronate, Shyonaka – Oroxylum indicum, Patala – Stereospermum suaveolens, Gambhari – Gmelina arborea, Brihati – Solanum indicum, Kantakari – Solanum xanthocarpum, Gokshura – Tribulus terrestris, Shalaparni – Desmodium gangeticum, Prishnaparni – Uraria picta, Pippali fruit and root- Long pepper – Piper longum, Chavya – Piper chaba Hunter / brachystachyum, Chitraka – Plumbago zeylanica, Nagara – Ginger – Zingiber officinalis, Yavakshara – Kshara of Hordeum vulgare

All these ingredients, smelled and tasted medicinal. It was suggested I take 25ml before breakfast and dinner daily for the duration of my stay.

 

Chyavana Prasam

Chyawanprash is a delicious nutritive jam that has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years, offering a wide range of health benefits. In Sanskrit, the word, “prash” refers to a specially prepared food. It is said that two ancient sages of Ayurveda concocted this particular formula to restore youth to the elderly sage, Chyawan—thus the name, “chyawanprash”. The transliteration from Sanskrit to English has resulted in a variety of spelling variations, including: chyavanprash, chyavanaprasam, and chyavanaprjasha. These are also known as herbal jams, the most famous of which is Chyavanaprasam Chyawanprash.)  Rasayanas  (revitalizers) are most often administered in the form of Lehyams. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, herbs, when prepared in this manner, retain their efficacy indefinitely. Most importantly, the addition of ghee, honey and raw sugar serves to enhance and magnify the powers of these herbs. Ghee (clarified butter) is considered by Ayurveda to be one of the best of all nutritive substances. Raw honey increases Agni, the digestive fire, and, combined with ghee, speeds the herbal properties to deep and subtle tissues of the body. Raw sugar tonifies and cools the tissues. A properly prepared Lehyam acts directly to feed Ojas, the subtle essence of the body which is the foundation of health.

Information gathered from: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/herbs/chyawanprash/

I have had and purchased Chyvana Prasam many times at home from my practitioner. This is my preferred brand.

It is delicious. When I want a warm treat, I heat some almond milk and add a teaspoon. It resembles a chai latte.

It was suggested I take 1tsp after breakfast and dinner daily for the duration of my stay.

 

Ashta Varnam KS Tab

Ashtavargam Kashayam is a very famous Ayurvedic medicine in liquid or tablet form. It is based on Kerala Ayurveda practice. Ashtavargam kashayam benefits Vata diseases like joint diseases, bloating, arthritis, rheumatism etc.

Astavargam Kashayam Ingredients: Bala – Sida rotusa / Sida cordifolia, Sahachara – Strobilanthes ciliates, Eranda – Ricinus communis, Ginger, Rasna – Pluchea lanceolate, Devadaru – Cedrus deodara, Nirgundi  – Vitex negundo, Garlic

It was suggested I take 2 tablets before dinner daily for the duration of my stay.

 

Spirulina Tablet

Spirulina is a supplement that is very common in the USA. Many of you might know what it is and the many benefits. Here is a small taste-

Spirulina is actually a bacteria, or a blue-green algae that’s found in pristine freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers. It is most commonly recognized as one of the world’s most nutritionally complete superfoods, as it offers health benefits to practically every organ and bodily function.

Benefits of Spirulina: modulates the immune response, reduces inflammation, improves digestion, naturally detoxes the body. Spirulina is a good source of vitamins B-1(thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3(nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid), B-12 (cobalamin), vitamin E, and vitamin K1 and K2. It is also a source of potassium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc
It is a rich source of antioxidants and protein.

It was suggested I take 2 tablets before breakfast and dinner daily for the duration of my stay.

All of the herbal medicines were included in the package.

Treatment: same as the last 2 days. I am enjoying the sense of calm and ground I am feeling in my nervous system. I have never had some much oil administered topically and internally, it does have a nutritive quality. I feel full, supported, fluid and flexible.

Dinner was delightful. We had live music guests. The Vena and Tapas Drums.

 

October 13th  Day 10

Over the last few days I spend my morning time in quiet contemplation in the yoga studio when there is no class. When I am feeling more social I sit with my friend and travel companion, Cathy, reading and discussing yoga and Ayurveda in the Recreation Room that overlooks the ocean. All you see if top of the palms which merge into the oceanic horizon line.

In the Recreation Room there is a large wall statue of dancing Shiva.  .

Growing up I had no set religion or spiritual upbringing so I find these statues and deities interesting. There is something powerful about them. I have been reading up on a few of the devis and devas. I’d like to bring a few back with me to use in practice at home. It is hard not to be attracted to the mysticism of this place.

New treatment protocol today. I will say I have grown fond of the oil treatments and hope to have more throughout the remainder of my stay.

Today begins with the general therapy. The general massage is done with herbal oil or herbal powder. This massage improves blood and lymph circulation and numerous benefits to the nervous and digestive system. Typically lasts about 60 minutes.

Mamsa Kizhi follows. This therapy was one I was most curious about- as I had not seen it in any of my readings prior to arrival. When I asked the doctor in the beginning of my stay what it was they were vague is explaining what and how the meat was prepared for the treatment. Seeing how I was not a big meat eater prior to coming, and now practicing vegetarianism at the resort I was aware of my discomfort with the thought of using meat in treatment. This is all an experience so regardless of my initial feelings of distaste I open to the wonderment of the treatment.

Mamsa Pinda Sweda (Mamsa kizhi) per the health resort is a specialized therapy which is performed for the diseases related to Bones, muscles and nerves. Mamsa means (goat’s Meat), Pinda means a bolus. Sweda means Fomentation or sudation. The sweda or sudation given by using a bolus which is prepared by using mamsa (goat’s meat) along with medicated rice and other herbs is called as Mamsa Kizhi. It is a type of nourishing therapy. The mamsa which is used for this purpose is processed with different medicine according to the condition of the patient and the disease. What challenged me most was the smell. It was a very strong animal smell that I was not used to in treatment. I realized half way through breathing through my mouth was best. The treatment felt dense and the therapist worked vigorously.

Sarvanga Kashaya Dhara per the health resort is a sedation therapy using herbal decoction. This is a process by which the body is made to perspire by means of pouring warm decoction from special herbs with a special vessel from a certain height in rhythmic manner and is rubbed into the body. This method removes ‘ama’ or toxins from the tissues and promotes fat metabolism, removes tension from muscles and alleviates pain and stiffness of the joints and muscles, Fibromyalgia etc. After the Pinda Sweda this treatment was welcomed and enjoyed.

Early to dining hall. Wanted to read and relax before cooking demo.

I was greeted by Prasad. He was speaking with another guest, an Italian mother. He invited me to join them. Any opportunity to sit with Prasad and listen to his knowledge, I am blessed!  “Time to study, I will tell you what you need to know”, he says. The Italian women shared she is there to lose weight. He shares how to lose weight- Simple reduce 5 White Things. White Salt, white sugar, white rice (Basmati OK), white milk (milk is for babies), and white butter (ghee OK). He begins to draw a picture of man in a sitting position. “Sit like this at least 10 minutes day”, he says. He shares a sweet story of a yoga teacher who sits atop of a mountain. The journey to this teacher is four days deep into the jungle. Students finally arrive. The teacher says, “Go, go back home. Why you wander? You have all that you need inside, go.”

The story is a good one, however the magic is Prasad. He has such a way with people. I observe him speaking with the Italian woman. He is teaching and encouraging. “I do not learn this from books. It is passed down from my family”, Prasad shares. The Italian woman is pleased, excuses herself, joyfully.

Prasad and I continue to talk. He turns to me, “Anything to ask? Why are you here?”.

I tell him Vata is high and stressed, very busy and disorganized back home.

“No space between thoughts?”, he asks.

“Yes!”  I say.

“My friend” ,he says, “no need for stress. Work, save some money, study. No worries in the past or future- forget it. We are all seeking. At church, at yoga, all seeking all the time. We all have this energy, it is life. What is the average life expectancy?” he asked me.

I wrangle with giving him my American answer (75-90) versus giving him an answer for talking India.

Prasad conitunes, “40 to 60 is the average life expectancy in India. How much time do we spend sleeping? 30 years! How much time is spent living? So, do not worry about this and that. Live. Do not worry over others, there worries, their choices- it is not for me. Just live the same as the tree, as the we are all the same.”

He speaks with such intensity, he has eyes that shimmer, always, especially when he is sharing. We are friends he says. Study, work and save. Come to India, visit, spend time. Live. He is truly a gem. I believe he sees all beings as friends. He takes moments with each guest to teach and share the knowledge that was shared to him. He inspires me. It is not in the magnitude or quantity of the teaching, it is the depth, the truth in these little gems. One day he may be sharing what order to eat, the next day about losing weight, the next day about living. He touches each guest in his own magical way. He is such a gift to this place and to me. The depth of his experiences, his wisdom, I feel like I’ve had a conversation with love.

That evening there was a wonderful cooking demo at dinner. 3 small dishes, one was a repeat from last week, Beans Thoran. 2 new ones, Veggie Korma (a favorite from back home) and Lemon Rice.

Lemon Rice

Ingredients

  • 2tsp Sunflower Oil or Ghee
  • ¼ tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • ¼ tsp Curry Leaves fresh
  • ¼ tsp Lentils Yellow Dal
  • 1 tsp Cashews
  • 1 tsp Golden Raisins
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Lime Juice
  • 2 cups pre-cooked Basmati Rice

Instruction: Heat pan, add 2tsp Sunflower Oil or Ghee. Add brown mustard seed, wait for them to pop. Add curry leaves, lentils and swirl all around. This will become aromatic herbal oil. Add cashews and golden raisins, sauté in pan, coating the raisins and cashews, lightly toasted. Move pan off heat add turmeric powder, salt and lime juice, mixing all ingredients in pan. Pan back on medium/high heat, add rice and sauté. After a minute or two, when all rice is coated and ingredients are thoroughly mixed removed heat and enjoy.

Veggie Korma and Beans Thoran was prepared and sampled.

The chef was the same as the first demo we had. He is enjoyable to watch. He moves mindfully, speaks clearly and gently. He answers questions from the guests with ease. It is beautiful to see someone living their dharma. Again, the smells of all the herbs and spices-simply incredible. All 3 dishes were delicious and something I would make at home.

 

Part 3 of 3 Coming Soon

My Panchakarma in Kerala, India Part 1 of 3

It became clear to me in early 2015 that the study and practice of Ayurveda would impact my life in a profoundly healthy way. After practicing a Ayurvedic diet and implementing lifestyle practices that were better suited for my biological makeup I knew I wanted to undergo a series of treatments known as Panchakarma. I felt called to do so in the South of India, Kerala. After months of research and weighing my options I booked my trip for Fall 2016 and waited without waiting for October 3rd to arrive- departure day.

This blog entry- a rather lengthy one will be welcomed in three parts, much like the Panchakarma treatment. Before I begin my 15 day share I wanted to share some basics to help orientate you, the curious soul. There is more depth and detail regarding the topics I’ll be writing about. If you find yourself looking for more information, see my sources at the end of the blog. I encourage additional readings on the topic as well as seeking out your local Ayurveda workshops and practitioners to learn more.

Let us begin…

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that translates to “The Science of Life”. This knowledge was originated more than 5000 years ago and is often called the “Mother of All Healing”. The guiding philosophy of Ayurveda is Samkhya. Samkhya describes the creation of the Universe which began with the sound of Om. Energy and matter came into being and from them arose the Five Great Elements. Ayurveda maintains that all life must be supported by the balance of these elemental energies. The emphasis is on prevention and encourages the maintenance of health through close attention to the balance in one’s life.  The knowledge of Ayurveda empowers the individual to take their health into their own hands. One may gain perspective by learning about their Dosha; a unique balance that makes a healthy body and mind. Maintaining this unique balance may prove challenging as we are in a constant state of order and dis-order within the body and mind. Western healing system such as Homeopathy, Polarity and Food as Medicine are rooted in Ayurveda. While Western modern medicine tends to be more allopathic focusing on symptoms of dis-ease. In Ayurveda Medicine the body, mind and spirit is treated wholistically- each an important piece in maintaining a healthy whole.

*On a side note there is so much to share about this natural healing science before you arrive at Panchakarma. Again I encourage you if you’re curious to read and experience the practices of yoga and Ayurveda prior to receiving Panchakarma….or….forge your own path and do what you are called to do.

What is Panchakarma?

The short answer is Panchakarma is the science of rejuvenation with the aim to eliminate the cause of disease from the body mind and soul. During this three-part process the body is purified, supported and nourished in order to allow the body to freely express its natural rejuvenative abilities. Through these five (pancha) actions (karma) or procedures the body eliminate ama (toxins) that have accumulated and restore health to the dhatus (tissues of the body). There are three parts to Panchakarma-

Purvakarma (Purva “Before”, Karma “Actions”): therapies include: snehana (oleation) internal and external. The application of herbal medicated oils induce the tissues to release accumulated toxins enhance secretions of the toxins and waste to the G-I track for elimination while lubricating protect the tissues of the body from damage while the toxins are being removed. Swedana is the application of therapeutic heat the body. The main purpose of this therapy is to produce sweat. Heat helps the density of the ama (toxins) to liquefy. The tissue expanding qualities of then facilitates the release of ama (toxins). There are a variety of other preparatory procedures that enhance elimination in purification while replenishing rejuvenating key areas of the body. These procedures are also done outside of the Panchakarma protocol. These preparatory their fees include Shirodhara, Pishinchhali, various Swedana therapies, lifestyle and diet recommendations.

Panchakarma (Pancha “5”, Karma “Actions”): the short and sweet version of this very extensive body of knowledge is better said by the experts. I referred to Sunil V. Joshi M.D. (Ayu) author of Ayurveda & Panchakarma the science of healing and rejuvenation-
“According to the Charaka Samhita, the body normally uses three routes to eliminate waste products and toxins: mouth, anus, and pours of skin. The three dashes act as the vehicle which carries ama either upward, downward or out to the periphery. Through dosha gati, the doshas move these impurities from the deep structures to the G-I tract and from the G.I. tract of the body’s three main outlets. Panchakarma’s curative and regenerating power lies in its ability to utilize and stimulate the natural movement of the doshas to eliminate toxins.”

He goes on to describe the related directions of elimination of the five actions therapies, how to properly prepare and what to expect if administered by a licensed practitioner. This book came highly recommended to me by my practitioner. A rented as my homework before my trip and refer to it throughout my stay.

Paschatkarma  (Paschat “Later”, Karma “Actions”): when something has been removed or eliminated there is a rebuilding process. Re-establishment practices and therapies assure healthy metabolic function, normalization of digestion and a healthy immune system. It is advised to follow a regular diet and lifestyle immediately after treatment.

There is a recommended diet that is a graduated style. The diet moves from liquid to solid which is designed to get you back to full digestive capacity and prevent the formation of new ama. This is referred to as Samsarajana Krama. Graduated lifestyle, referred to as Dinacharya, offer suggestions and practices for your daily routine as you get back into the swing of things. At the completion of treatment the nervous system is delicate, we want to be sure we do not overtax our system with any unneeded stressors. It is recommended to avoid any unnecessary travel, strenuous exercise, sexual activity, and excessive exposure to the elements; extreme weather conditions. A third practice known as Rasayana, or rejuvenation therapy, looks to herbs and minerals to increase the effectiveness of Panchakarma’s rejuvenating power. Rasayana is technically not part of the traditional Panchakrama therpies yet it does not make it any less potent. This is a special Ayurvedic science and I would recommend seeking a specialist for more information.

Post procedures are not to be taken lightly. Think of it this way- in this rebuilding process you want to provide the body, mind, and soul the high-quality food it needs to rebuild the system to an even more efficient level than it was before. When I refer to “food” I am speaking to actual food as well as anything we take in through the senses- sounds, touch, movement, smells, tastes, visual impressions. Offer yourself loving kindness at this time, it will transform your life.

Perhaps ask yourself what is your intention as you begin your Panchakarma journey.

Thank you for staying with me and yes that was the short answer 😉

Why go all the way to Kerala India to experience Pancha Karma?

After doing some research on places to visit in the states I was not going to get the authentic experience I was looking for at a price that I could reasonably afford. Besides I have yet to go to India, as a student of yoga philosophy and meditation I knew I wanted to experience Ayurveda and Panchakarma in this setting. After speaking with a few practitioners and hearing positive feedback, as well as research I had done online, I decided to visit Somatheeram for Panchakarma.

Web Address: http://www.somatheeram.org/en?gclid=CIjR6sXP8tECFd22wAodTCAO0g

This is my first big international trip. I had traveled to Mexico on a few occasions but never to the East. It was divine timing when a friend of mine I had met in my yoga training signed up to come with me and experience Panchakarma. She is an avid traveler and with much experience of the East gave me some peace of mind being a first timer. Prior to our trip we got together and watched a few documentaries and spoke about what we may be experiencing during our time in India. She also prepared me and taught me how to pack light and travel as a woman going to the East.

Then the day arrived October 2nd…Departure.

I travel into the future.

October 4th Day 1

I’m here in India. We arrived so early it was still dark.  The airport was small and busier than I expected for early morning. We exchanged some money and went outside to look for our ride. The health resort assured us there would be someone waiting for us. It did not take long to find our ride and off we went. After a 30-minute ride in the dark of the early morning, we arrive. A young gentleman met us at the entry after passing through two beautiful carved wooden doors. We were draped in a jasmine lay and given a fresh coconut to drink. We sat for a few moments, finished our refreshing coconut water, we were given minimal paperwork to fill out and then escorted to our rooms by flashlight.

Along the dimly lit path flowers and plants give off their aromatics. Sweet florals were in the air that early morning. After settling in and unpacking I turned on the switch to make hot water for the shower, a 5-minute wait. In those 5 minutes of nothing to do nowhere to be I feel homesick. Homesick for my husband, dogs and feeling like I have some purpose. This is common for me when traveling without my family. I know it is my Vata, fear of the unknown. I realize I’m attached to the day in day out tasks that fill my days back home. When I am wrapped up in the doing it is easy to lose sight of just being joyful. To prepare myself for my longest and farthest trip away from home I brought some small things to create an alter for myself. A source I can draw comfort and strength from. There are cards and pictures of loved ones and of course, essential oils. I will get strong and supple here, the magical tip of India. I will come home better than before, the same soul just more radiant.

I unpack, do some documentation of my space and walk the grounds as the sun rises.

Just in time…welcome the day.

While I was at the lobby after my phone call home letting my family know I arrived safely a beautiful young woman name Anita gave me a quick over view and map of the facilities. She shared they have classes during the day as well as cultural events in the evenings. They have something each day all things Yoga and Ayurveda! Herbal Garden Walk, Yoga Lecture, Cooking Demo, Ayurveda Intro- this is my kind of health resort! The dining hall is beautiful. Big, open, tall grass ceilings. Open on 3 sides with a view of the ocean. The breeze blows in and because of the dewy humidity I get a slight chill- yes some minor goosebumps in the midst of this heat and humidity.

Breakfast was a small sampling of porridge and something they call a Soma Special Breakfast- shredded coconut, golden raisins, sprouted mung bean, very small diced apple or pear (not sure), slivered almonds and cashews. Yum.

We were asked to report to the Ayurvedic clinic. The clinic is across from the Dining Hall. I counted one day- 122, 123 steps to the clinic from my room. This climb becomes easier as the days progress. Enjoyable even.

Once at the clinic we wait a short while before we are called in to see the Doctor. My main Doctor for my time at the resort is Dr. Sobhana, the Senior Medical Officer and Dr. Sameer, Medical Officer. Dr. Sobhana is a gentle woman, Kapha in nature. I am to fill out a questionnaire. Similar to one I had filled out prior to see Rob Talbert, my Ayurvedic practitioner at home. They both review and ask a series of questions. Some answers they want to know more information as well as an understanding of why I was at the resort. What were my intentions for my time with my health. My vitals were taken, pulse and blood pressure. An evaluation on my skin and tongue. Dr. Sameer stepped out of the room so Dr. Sobhana could do a palpation assessment. Reclined on a table she proceeded to palpate my abdomen and appendages. Checking for tenderness and pain. A treatment plan was created. I was given a card and some instructions that Dr. Sameer took time to explain to me. The recommendation of a Vata reducing diet as well as appropriate meditation and yoga practices while I was at the resort.

Lunch was a basmati rice with steamed carrot, green bean and cauliflower. I also tried 2 Vata diet dishes. One was what tasted to be potatoes in an herby paste- was slightly spicy and some delightful light green saucy thing with some soft orange thing (veggie? cheese? hard to say). Being a student of Ayurveda I am interested in experimenting and observing what I eat, what flavor I like and how I digest.

For treatment, we made our way back to the clinic. I saw my 2 Doctors, my vitals taken again. I was introduced to my therapist, Sheela. She would be my main therapist and doing most of the treatments for the 15 days. She is short, grounded and strong. She has a bright smile that shows in her eyes. I am to follow her to the treatment room. She gathers a bundle of linens, under her arm they go and some oil for the treatment that has been formulated for me. The room is private ad faces an inner courtyard. This space is for women only, no male therapist or guests in the area. She instructs me to undress and sit on a stool facing out to the courtyard. The general massage is done with herbal oil or herbal powder. This massage improves blood and lymph circulation and numerous benefits to the nervous and digestive system. Typically lasts about 60 minutes. Sheela goes through this 60 minute flow, beginning with me seated on the chair. Table work is to follow. All massage strokes are done in a rhythmic motion, symmetrical on both sides.

At the end of the general massage I also received a face pack which was followed with a light facial massage.

Once the treatments are complete I am asked to sit in the stool again, gazing into the courtyard. Sheela and another therapist gathers the linens and clean down the floor, walls and table. Once the room is clean I follow her back to the clinic. I sit and she prepares my Vata tea. I am encouraged to sit and spend some time with the oils before showering. A minimum of an hour
After my session I sat in the oils for about 30 minutes taking in the view from my patio. I had to shower and get to dinner, I was famished.

Made my way to the dining hall early, was hungry after my service. Apparently dinner isn’t served until 7, I snuck in at 6:35 to eat. Thank goodness. Satisfied!  My travel companion joined me as I was finishing up. We had some light conversation. I went back to my room early with a thermos of herbal water. I wanted to read my treatment layout and the paperwork they gave me after the assessment.

After a long and exciting ride across the globe I am tired. I drift off to sleep easily. Slept well woke up a few times to use the restroom. The bed is more like 2 very thick mats put together or two very thin mattresses pushed together. Center isn’t so great. That’s ok. With the heat and humidity we are given a top sheet for covering, something to get used to as I am used to multiple layers that provide a certain weight back at home.

October 5th Day 2

Up at 6:20, just in time to miss the 6:30 pranayama and meditation. I wasn’t going to get out of the room fast enough. What a delight this place is, during the early morning hours I can hear soft music playing at sunrise. I have tried to capture the sound in a video.with no success. It seemed like a song from another world that just permeated the edges of my Awareness.

I decided to lounge outside and enjoy the cooler weather of the morning while drinking my left over herbal water from yesterday. One of the things that I find intriguing is the amount of wooden boats on the beach. Every morning I watch the men from the village bringing the boat in, all working together for common cause- food. It is almost mesmerizing to watch this flow.

Got to attend my first yoga and meditation class here. I went to the Chakra Meditation  from 10-10:45 and beginners yoga from 11:15-12:30. It was the same teacher for both. The first class was enjoyable. He explained the 7 major chakras- location, name, mantra, color, lotus petal number (which related to how many Nadis pass through) and a very brief explanation of the energy.

Root- base of the spine, Lam, red, 4 petal lotus, foundation
Sacral- behind genitals, Vam, Orange, 6 lotus flower, creativity
Solar- Ram, yellow, 8 lotus petal, service, wealth, giving, “your wealth is your service” (this simple statement resonated with me in a big way)
Heart- Yam, green, 12 lotus petals, love
Throat- Ham, light blue, 16 lotus petals, communication
Third eye- Aum, indigo, 2 lotus petals (2 major Nadis), intuition
Crown- Aum, white, 1000 petal lotus, bliss

We then did a chanting exercise, sitting up right, eyes closed. We began at the root and chanted 7 time the mantra, going up to the crown and down again to the base. Then we rested a few minutes in savasana. He began with chanting a lovely prayer. He also chanted the prayer in the beginning of the yoga class. The chant at the end- Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu.

One thing that really stuck out to me with the beginning prayer the second time I heard it I became a little emotional and teary eyed. Very beautiful.

The beginners yoga class was so very simple. I often forget how simple can be effective. We did a traditional SNA, a little different on the inhale in the beginning you backbend some, also there is no half lift after you fold forward. We did some gentle joint rotation to start followed by 3 SNA, tadasana (mountain), virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2), trikonasana (triangle), uttanasana (forward fold), balasana (child’s pose), we cradled one leg and rocked while sitting and then the other, shalabasana (boat), apanasana (knees to chest) and savasana (corpse). I like that he instructed in between each posture to stop and close your eyes and to be aware of your body. He instructed us after our 3 SNA to move into savanasa which we remained for maybe 3-5 minutes.
It was simple and enjoyable.

Had a light lunch before my service.

Gazing at the view of the ocean, sitting in my red robe waiting for my therapist I feel totally at peace. A short time after arriving my therapist approaches me with a small cup in her hand. The cup is glass and see-through, filled 2/3 with liquid. You can see there is an oily substance as there is separation between the two liquids in the glass. This is my first taste at herbal ghee. I finished a small glass with one or two swallows it is much easier and less flavorful than I expected it to be. Once I’m done with the herbal ghee Sheela takes me back to the treatment room we were in on day one.

Treatment started the same as the day before with the general massage. At the end of the general massage I also received the facial massage. Sheela explaining to me that they like to use sesame for the body and coconut for the face, depending on the dosha and the doctors suggestions of course. She takes a strip of linen cloth to make a headband, which she then fastens behind my ear, across my forehead and behind my other ear.  I’ve been anticipating Shirodhara for quite some time and knew it was on my schedule of services for the day. Shirodhara is a treatment that uses herbal oils or medicated milk in a continuous flow on the forehead. The treatment takes anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes. The liquids are warmed, making the treatment relaxing. This treatment is mainly for insomnia, loss of memory, headaches, and muscle tension.

I was fortunate enough to experience my first session with medicated milk. Slowly back and forth treatment lasted for 30 minute. All I can say is… Wow. My mind would allow random thought and then I invite stillness back and forth until my mind completely let go of thinking… I was aware of a coolness in my head that I have never felt before. I can only liken it to the brain unplugging going off-line or more into sleep mode for regeneration. I tried for quite some time to stay awake, after 10 minutes of this sensation I drifted off into a deep sleep. I woke up to Sheela wrapping my head in a linen cloth, attempting to gather an excess moisture from my hair.

Another therapist came into the room preparing for the next treatment. This treatment resembled the general massage in terms of stroked however the application on medicated oils was quite different. Kizhi is a treatment with herbal leaves or powder that are made into boluses, dipped in warm medicated oil and applied on the whole body or specific part. This treatment is effective for osteoarthritis, spondylosis, and sports injuries. Once this treatment was completed Sheela wrapped my head in the towel adding some Rasnadi Choornam to the top of my head to draw out excess heat from my body.

We walk back to the clinic together. Sheela hands me my glass of Vata reducing herbal tea, still a mild ginger flavor. We exchange “I see you later”. Sitting with my tea, I am aware of a major shift in my mind- much cooler, less stimulated but still awake and aware.

I had some time before dinner to marinate in the oils. Before I went back to my room I went to the recreation area. Every day all the doctors and interns sit in the rec room for an hour to answer any questions. I arrive on the dot and am the only client there. I join the circle and ask my question-Q.While I am seated in the beginning of the session why do my legs get all tingly and go numb? Dr. Sobhana, the Senior Medical Officer, answer to my questions was nerve function. There is a blockage and that will begin to change while I’m here.

Hung out on the lounge chair outside my room and watched the sun beginning to set. Showered and walked to dinner.

Dinner was carrot basmati rice with a large helping of a veggie style stew, a familiar taste to something I’ve had at home. I sampled one of the green soups it was okay. Thin consistency, unlike the soups I am used to back home. Chapati, trying for the first time here. Looks and tastes a little like a wheat tortillas, thin and light. A good tool for scooping and dipping the rest of the goodies on the plate. All this delicious food and incredible entertainment.

We had musicians come in to play for us at dinner.
It was the sitar, tapas drum and
chime, a trio of men. All three musicians and their instruments were unique and sounded magical to my ears. I was acutely aware in this moment sitting under the stars the red tablecloth, twinkly light, deliciously colorful food and music… I’m in perfect harmony with the aliveness of the environment that surrounds me.

 

October 6th Day 3

Woke up early for 6:30 AM pranayama and meditation class with Yoga Teacher Shajahan. Teacher is neat. Small man, thin, middle aged. He chants prayers in the beginning of class. The Gayatri Mantra, which I am familiar with so I got to join in. Then 3 rounds of Kapalbhati, stretch out the legs and shake, followed by Nadi Shodhan alternate nostril breathing- feels like 7 rounds- stretch the legs, working the bandhas starting with Jalandhara Bandha – throat lock. Hands come forward so we are slightly bent forward. Inhale, exhale chin to chest and hold 3 rounds. Adding abdominal lock next, Uddiyana Bandha on the exhale bringing the abdomen toward the spine and holding (also incorporating throat lock). 3 rounds. Then root lock, Mula Bandha. 3 rounds on the inhale pulling up perineum and hold. Stretch legs and finishing with fire breath. Again hands come forward so you are leaning slightly inhale and exhale- hold and begin the back and forth on the belly. 2 rounds. Final savasana for rest. He sings his instructions. At first it was weird on the ears and now there is a comfort to it. Nothing like I experienced at the schools and studios in the states. Before leaving he asked what school I studied with. I did mention I teach yoga nidra and he lit up- eyes got sparkly and he said “ah yes going out into the universe- lovely”.

A break for breakfast before his intermediate class started. Was so
hungry by the time class was over. I ordered the delicious upon with banana stew from yesterday and some other samplings. A small tasting of the vegetable yellow curry as I expected very flavorful not too spicy. A small bite of the mashed potatoes with nutmeg, simple and complementary.

The intermediate yoga class focused on working joints and stretching from standing position. 3 rounds of traditional SNAs. Moved into various standing and seated postures. Also did some leg lifts and on stomach shalabasana to strengthen the back. I like that in between the more invigorating postures he would have us move into savasana and rest and observe the body a few minutes. After class he spoke with me about my awareness and enjoyment in my postures.

After my yoga class I joined my travel companion in the dining hall for lunch. She was with Prasad, a kind gentleman who helps with meal selection and education of the guests on Ayurveda and nutrition. He becomes a kindred soul and teacher on this journey for me….just a little foreshadowing. This was our first time really speaking, he was excited to share with me his knowledge. Before I knew it my plate was filled with familiar and not so familiar foods. Before I found my seat Prasad was giving me instruction on how to properly enjoy for maximum digestive benefit. I tried a new beet dish which was delicious. He also showed me the center table that had all the accouterments for the meal. I tried vegetable riata for the first time, tasted like yogurt with some finely sliced onions and peppers. He then offered me pickled gooseberry…WOW…talk about fermented… Not my favorite but packed with vitamin C.

I ate quickly, showered and made my way to treatment.

The treatment for day three was the same as the day prior. Very much enjoyed the herbal milk treatment feel so relaxed after. Looking forward to a few more days of this same treatment protocol.

That evening there was a wonderful cooking demo at dinner. 3 small dishes.

Beans Thoran

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp Coconut Oil
  • ¼ tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
  • ¼ tsp Curry Leaves fresh
  • ½ tsp Lentils Yellow Dal
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Diced Onion
  • 2 tsp Fresh Grated Coconut & Fresh Garlic finely chopped and crushed together
  • 1 cup French Green Beans chopped

Instruction: Heat pan, add coconut oil. Add brown mustard seed, wait for them to pop. Add curry leaves, lentils, turmeric powder and swirl all around. This will be very aromatic herbal oil. Add diced onion and sauté, do not caramelize. Add french green beans and sauté. After a minute or two you will add a little warm water to tenderize beans. Add fresh grated coconut mixed with fresh garlic. Cook another few minutes and enjoy.

Coriander Rice and a Beet Curry was prepared and sampled.

The chef was a gentle young man. The smells of all the herbs and spices-simply incredible. Taste of all three was divine and didn’t take long to make.
Back to the room for bed.

October 7th Day 4

Slept well. Took morning pranayama again with the teacher from yesterday. Today will be a lot like yesterday in terms of activities and schedule. People asked me what I would be doing all day: sleeping, eating, reading, meditating, yoga, eating, pranayama, having cultural experiences, Ayurvedic treatments, and more eating. It is relaxing when all you do is show up and be present. You could do as much or as little as you want.

Appam with banana stew again for breakfast. Sweet taste, warm,
and filling. Some light reading after breakfast. I brought only 2 books with me. The first was the book I referenced above Ayurveda & Panchakarma by Sunil V. Joshi M.D. (Ayu). The second and the one I have with me this morning is Desire by Daniel Odier.

The back of the book states; Nothing can match the explosive energy created in the body by pure desire. For millennia, Tantric adepts have harnessed this force as a means of attaining the summits of the mystical life. The energies fueled by passion are used to nourish the inner flame that burns away the egotistical perception of the mind. Desire explores the subtle techniques of Tantra that enable the seeker to attain the triple mastery of the breath, thought, and the natural processes of the body. Tantrics believe that the body is the temple and divinity lies at its heart. In order to arrive at profound awareness, the body needs to be perfectly tuned and working toward a state of perfect fluidity. Desire reveals many of the secret practices….

I came to these readings of Kashmir Shaivism through my yoga nidra certification with iRest. A part of the iRest teachings Is study of the major philosophies of yogic knowledge: Samkhya, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism.

Practiced an intermediate yoga before lunch. Really like it. I find that I prefer the traditional sun salutation over the version I commonly do back home.  After class teacher and I spoke a bit about our practices. He is very magnetized to my travel companion and I. Both of us have very different practices yet both very strong and deep in their own way. A lot of the Europeans that are here are not regular students, when he gets to teach people with a regular practice it’s exciting for him. I understand this. I feel the same way when a fellow meditator or essential oil enthusiast shows up in one of my groups.

People told me India would change me. I can feel myself moving into a more authentic place with my practices. Allowing all the other “stuff” that does not serve me to fall away- I needed to experience this way of being.

Treatment was wonderful as always, the series of treatments I have been getting is nourishing and deeply relaxing. Sheela my therapist was nice enough to show me what was inside the herbal boluses. Thin linen with lightly chopped herbal leaves that were cooked slightly in oil, lemon, garlic and turmeric powder. Beneficial for the joints. Would also make sense as to why my body odor is a bit more fragrant since this series of treatments.

Showered and had a nice dinner. Reading some of my Desire book before bed. Wow. There were a few entries that were VERY moving. Beautiful…it is such a way of being that goes beyond anything I could imagine. Looking forward to continuing that book while I’m here.

October 8th Day 5

Woke up with tightness in the belly. Sometimes I can feel this holding on in my gut and that was there. I was uncomfortable in the early hours of the morning. Tossing and turning, I got out of bed. My morning routine complete I went to recline on the chair outside. Maybe some fresh air would help. There was this underlying buzz in my body that felt unsettled not at ease. Read a bit and focused on my breathing. A natural invitation into yoga nidra.

Went to breakfast, sometimes a warm meal hits the spot and shifts my mood.

Breakfast

Porridge and banana stew, Cinnamon pancake, Soma special breakfast- fresh grated pomegranate, coconut, almond, cashew, sprouted mung bean, small diced apple and banana.

After eating feeling a little less anxious physically, still tired and stomach is still a little tight.

I make my way down the steps to the lower yoga room. I know there is time in between classes and will have this space to myself for my own practice. Traditional sun salutations, gentle stretching and pranayama. My practice is focused around awareness so the movement and the breath
all done with an effortless witnessing quality. During these private practices as I rest back in savasana to feel my body and breath the mind relaxed. I become inspired in these moments. A quiet calm sense of knowing reveals itself.

Musing in the Yoga Hall, India…after
spending some time in quiet contemplation I am illuminated. I could create this in my backyard. Instead of finding a space I will create it. What studio is open air what studio is alive rustic natural??We are all surrounded by walls, windows and air-conditioning. As a society we are starving for nature. To be connected to the elements. To remember that we are the elements in action just like the trees, the flowers, the fruit. It is a natural balance, living in the support of the environment in which we live. In Southern California we are blessed with mild weather and yet we build mansions tucked away from everything…just beyond the windows and doors that keep us safe… Does it keep us safe? The desire to control has left a false sense of safety of which countless of dollars are spent trying to maintain. How do we bridge the gap? How do we become alive again?

I had requested a private tour of the herb garden and Ayurveda lecture. Our treatment time was the same time every day and it happened to land during the times these 2 offerings were available. I was not about to miss out on this experience. I came here to learn and have firsthand experience. The resort was more than accommodating. We were shown to the private office Dr. Sobhana, the Senior Medical Officer and my Doctor during my stay there. She spent an hour with us going through the foundations of the elements and Doshas, all fascinating and supported what I had studied prior. She focused the rest of her talk on food and diet since my travel companion and I are healthy food and lifestyle fans. My notebook if full of scribbled notes. Some might see a compiling of words and what seems to be a grocery list, to my eyes it’s all connected. Loved the lecture and the opportunity to ask questions.

To sum it up…

Ayurveda teaches us how to live. The daily and seasonal routine, what to eat, best exercise practices, sleep patterns, etc. and preserves health and even cures diseases. Ayurveda addresses the multiple layers of a person- the mind, body and spirit. The five elements joined together to create the three biological energies, the Doshas. In the deep knowledge of the body and the energies that support the tissues. Nutrition is more than a fat, carb and protein, rather it is the energetics of what and how we eat. Food nourishes the 7 dhatus, tissues of the body. Food can be seen the five elemental qualities. Agni is the fire of the digestive system that burns the food making it usable by the body. Ojas is our vital energy, our life force and also may be seen as the immunity. The buildup of toxins is caused ama and can often be seen on the tongue. Malas are another waste product we humans produced. Examples of malas are sweat, urine and stool. Proper elimination is key to optimal health. When the various channels become blocked they form malnourished tissue and can be responsible for creating disease. The body is another representation of the five elements. Each cell containing within the five elements. Any given point we are decreasing and/or increasing developments in the body because we are living breathing organisms. We are constantly taking in stimuli whether it be food, visual stimuli, fragrant air, exercise, even a scary movie.

Doshic qualities are now discussed and what their dietary habits would look like to keep them in healthy optimal functioning.

After our lecture we were escorted through the herbal garden by
her intern. The intern looked to be in her mid 20’s. I had a thought, “If I moved here I would be doing what she is doing, we may even be friends.” She went through various plants in the garden. She recalled from memory what each plants actions were and how to use them in formulas for certain ailments. We could smell and touch, she gave us a few leaves from various plants. I still have a few small leaves in my journal from this time of course they are dried and pressed now, no odor even remains but that’s okay the memories deeply imprinted. What was this moment like…I can feel the uneven cobblestone underneath my feet… the warm humid air… and the smell of spices, the kitchen just beyond the garden. Delicious moment.

Lunch

Raw Banana Thoran

Pulao Rice

Shal Thadka

Veg Riatha

Treatment was very nice. Same as the previous days. I received a face mask to use in my room to help with my skin breakouts. Have a few spots that are very inflamed and irritated, purging is good. The skin is our largest detox organ. Yes, this seemingly border and boundary of our physical body is a living breathing system.

Had a light dinner to make purging night less extreme. I was given a brown oily liquid, about an ounce and a half at the clinic after treatment. Instructions were to mix with half a glass of water. Taste was barely present however the texture was quite thick. Finally got it down. Followed by a few more glasses of warm water. About 45 minutes after experienced mild cramping and then eliminated, waking up about every few hours and continued to eliminate. I got a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Until we meet again. Part 2 of 3 coming soon.

Sounds of the Soul

There is nothing like hearing your favorite song, the sound of a loved one’s voice, the subtle sounds of nature.

Ever since I was a little girl I found comfort in listening to my mother read to me. My bedtime stories were always a delight-  Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree being by far my favorite. Upon reflecting, it wasn’t so much the stories it was the way my Mother read them. She brought them to life. Using the subtle tones of her voice, inflections and questions in perfect order, she turned a story into a symphony. With the sound of her voice I was able to go far beyond myself, my room, the world around me and enter into magical lands full of color, excitement and adventure. I believe storytelling is an art. As a iRest practitioner and meditation facilitator delivery and language are of the utmost importance. When I write a script I speak it out loud so I may hear the words as they are to be received.  When I go scriptless I am subtly aware of timing, language, delivery…they are at the edges of my awareness.

How is sound healing and the comfort one may experience during storytelling related? Sound has been a tool used by various cultures for thousands of years. Mantra yoga uses outer toning and chanting to awaken our own inner sounds illuminating our path to self-realization.  Vocal toning, medicine melodies, drums, rattles, bowls and tuning forks all carry the same intention- to shift us from a place of dis-ease to ease. Balance. The Tibetan beliefs that our most important musical instrument is our voice resonated with me deeply. The Tibetan shamans use their head and chest as resonance chambers for the entire physical body. The repeated chanting of vowels creates a reverberation so when chanting ceases the sound continues to echo within the mind and body. Through the law of entrainment, a synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles, we are able to restore the vibrational pattern of the physical and subtle body through sound. Rhythm and frequency make it possible to downshift our normal waking consciousness (beta) to a relaxed (alpha), meditative (theta) or deeper state where one may experience internal healing (delta) achieved during deep sleep and iRest yoga nidra meditation.

I recently facilitated sound healing at a group for women who are in recovery for chemical dependence, ptsd and trauma. We began with Brahmari, a pranayama practice often referred to as the Bee Breath, followed by vocal toning for the chakras. What I found to be most interesting was the unease the group experienced in finding their own voice. Many were present and listened to the tone of my voice but were unable to participate.  During our group closing some expressed challenges hearing their own voice. There was laughter during the practice as well,  to release nervous energy I’m sure (I see the same occurrence in bodywork from time to time). I too had this experience when discovering my own voice a few years back. I was introduced to Sanskrit chanting by my Ayurveda Practitioner about 18 months ago. Chanting is now a part of our opening and closing to our time together. At first I was timid, quiet- insecure about Sanskrit pronunciation. Over time the words began to flow. Beyond the words and sound is the vibrational quality of the chants. A sense of ease, well-being, stillness, peace all present in my Awareness.

I encourage all to incorporate sound into their self-care practices. Practice non-attachment, if you get facials or massage regularly give sound healing a try. There is more to be said for the science and art of sound. It’s remarkable and mystical healing qualities continue to amaze.  Ted Andrew says it best, “Voice belongs to the physical body, but it is the instrument of the spiritual self.”

How do you experience sound? For me sound becomes sensation within and around my body. Through the mind’s eye I see songs and sounds as colors and patterns, sometimes fluid…wave like and at other times my body experiences a sense of undoing, unraveling as if the song is revealing a deeper part of my self… may be a sensation of bliss, an unresolved hurt, raw emotions. Whatever it is it is subtle and soft, welcomed naturally by my entire being; physical, mental, emotional, spiritually. Whole.

Tell me your sound story. E-mail your thoughts, images, videos, songs, any and all creative channels welcome.

by Denie Shae

Sense the Body, Sense the Spirit

Sensing the Body, Sensing the Spirit

“When you come to innocent, unconditional listening, your body goes spontaneously into deep peace.” – Jean Klein

Bodysensing: exploring into the Sheath of Sensation, annamaya kosha, the nature of physical sensation.

Welcome, Recognize, Realize
We welcome the physical body into our Awareness as vibrant tactile sensation. We recognize sensation as messengers, or pointers to deeper perceptions or underlying attitudes. iRest meditation, bodysensing in particular, invites active-passive noting of what is arising, all the while remaining the Witness. Through guided meditative inquiry into the nature of our physical body and the sensations that arise we have the potential to realize the body as expansive radiance. Our mighty mind has the capacity to make us believe we are separate- from others, animals, the environment and sometimes even our own physical body. We may get caught in the vicious monkey mind, denying the body its voice. We may adopt the attitude that we are limited by space, contracted, allowing the skin to define the boundaries of our body. The truth is that we are anything but contracted. The body is multidimensional vibration that is without center or periphery and a rich source of feedback. We may have grown numb to the infinite sensations that form the radiance of the body. Subtle messengers over time grow into the cries of dis-ease or pain. By the time we recognize these gross sensations we may resort to extreme measures for the process in healing.

Listening and welcoming are fundamental tools in most meditation practices. During iRest meditation we learn how to listen and welcome all that we are and all that life is, without intention to change anything. As we orient our focus toward objects we use iRest to deeply explore the energetic nature of objects, not just the name or concept.
2nd Century Sage, Patanjali explains in the yoga sutras a fourfold process of welcoming. Vitarka, Vichara, Ananda, Asmita or as my teacher calls them, the 4 Brothers.

  1. Vitarka- grosser aspects of an object, conceptualize through name and form (i.e. ‘rose’)
  2. Vichara- subtler energies the underline the gross (i.e. ‘deeper sense of rose’)
  3. Ananda- subtle currents of vibration we experience when we come into deeper contact with an object, subtle form is revealed, joy and harmony show up (i.e. possibly the joy one gets out of deeply experiencing a rose)
  4. Asmita- subtlest resonance that represent the ‘separate’ identity of each object, essential character (i.e. ‘rosey, roseness’)

The way we relate mentally, our concepts (Vitarka) of the body are not our actual body. During iRest we locate a part of the body by first naming it, however the name is not our actual experience. We move beyond the name, which may keep us at a distance, so that we may experience the actual vibration (Vichara) of the body. As we awaken to this subtle nature of sensation feelings of joy (Ananda) emerge and a deepening or knowing (Asmita) of the body’s essential character as radiant sensation born from True Nature.

Ancient yogic scholars understood the relationship between the body and mind. Current modern medicine are discovering what yogis have known for centuries- each sensation, feeling, emotion, thought and image reflexes to particular parts of the brain.

The Homunculus or “Little Man” represents a neural map or hologram of the physical body that reflects the relative sensory and motor space our body parts are assigned to in the cerebral cortex of the brain. Come again? For those less anatomy savvy- the size of the body part represents the amount of brain power behind it- that is putting it loosely.

There is a Motor and a Sensory Homunculus. The Motor Cortex is comprised of pathways from the brain which control voluntary movement. The Sensory Cortex is comprised of receptors in the brain the receive input from the body (the senses) and is essential for our sense of touch.

Color Homunculus

Neurophysiologists can alter the body by stimulating nerve endings that lie deep in the brain. During iRest we stimulate these same nerve pathways and nerve ends which affect profound changes in the brain, physical body, emotions and mental state.  All of this is achieved by moving our attention through our body in a particular order to effectively induce deep relaxation by affecting the sensory (incoming) and motor (outgoing) nerve endings that reflex to the brain. Relax the brain by working with the body, and relax the body by working with the brain.

The practice of bodysensing fosters an appreciation for the body and invites an opportunity for healing. Unconditional kindness toward oneself during this listening process ensures a strong foundation and framework as we inquiry within. As we fine tune our sensitivity to tactile sensation we pave the way for our heightened awareness to feelings, emotions, cognitions, images, memories, joy and bliss. In my personal practice, with individual and group clients I have seen a remarkable transformation of anxiety and chronic pain after one session.  I invite you to become creative caretakers of this temple of vibration and experience first-hand the benefits of minding the body.

For more information on bodysensing, iRest and meditation please visit me online! www.givingtreeessentials.com

Information sourced from Dr. Richard Miller iRest teachings and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Gentle Spring Detox

Spring Renewal Detox

A natural detox should always be safe, gentle and effective.

 The Reasons for Seasons

It is natural law that we are a species that is governed by cycles.

Cycles of the moon and sun determines our day and night activities. Our bodies have a natural birth, thrive, decay and death cycle. The seasons dictate how and where we live, what we eat and our activities. A spring detox is a natural want and need after a hibernated internal winter. We strive for balance, as spring blossoms we require more energy to do the things we need, our long winter sleep is over and we emerge with a new spark. Going with the flow of nature and it’s cycles will allow you to implement easy, gentle and effective practices and rituals that keep you smooth sailing rather than fighting the current.

Detox All Of You- You Deserve It!

 * Before you Begin: Determine the length of your detox. 10 days is a good start, this amount of time will have results.

Body 

– Eat Whole Foods- Buy what you can touch, vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, legumes, fresh herbs, ghee, olive oil, almond milk, herbal teas, quinoa, oats, and brown rice.

– Go Green- Add green drinks, high in chlorophyll that feed the blood and restores balance.

– Hydrate- Drink 2-3 liters of water a day.

– Eliminate Allergens- Sugar, dairy, caffeine, wheat/gluten, eggs, animal products, corn, soy and alcohol.

– Move Your Beautiful Body – Gentle and restorative yoga, stretching, walking in nature. (remember your body is working hard to rid toxins, take rest).

– Take a Breather- Pause throughout your day to notice the quality, pace and evenness of your breath.

– Listen To Your Body- Do what resonated with you, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

Mind

– 5 Minute Meditations- For more information see my Why Meditate flyer. 5 minutes a day will have profound benefits such as increased concentration and feeling of well-being and peace.

– Release Quantum Toxins- When we engage in meditative practices that quiet the “monkey mind” we are able to reprogram our negative patterns and bring us back into the present moment.

– Check In With You- Your internal rhythm, slow down if need be.

– Daily Affirmations- Write your own, pick from my list  search books or the web for inspirational affirmations.

– Create a Mantra- Practice a few times a day. Have on hand for challenging times, it will keep you focused on your truth. Hang it up where you can see it.

– Practice random acts of kindness- Not only is it beneficial for both parties, it is contagious.

Soul

– Ahimsa- A yogic philosophy term that translates to non-harming or non-violence.  The essence of ahimsa is non-violence of our own heart. We  practice how to meet our inner violence nonviolently and how to express our negativity without hurting anyone, including ourselves.

– Gratitude Journal- Keep a gratitude journal by your bed. Write 3 things you’re grateful for in the morning and/or at night.This exercise opens the heart, increases your compassion and mindfulness.

-Pray- If it is in your personal practice to pray, pray. Maybe you are already a daily prayer person if not try it for 10 days and see how you feel. If you do not pray or have not prayed in the past do what I do, take 5 minutes out to gaze at something in nature. Just observe it. It is a calming and connective practice to observe something bigger than yourself.

As evolved species we need time to adjust to eating differently, ridding the toxins in our body and mind and establish new mindful habits. When we live to nourish our body you become fully alive. You radiate and buzz with vitality and resilience. You inspire, you love and you live.

by Denie Shae

True Aromatherapy

It is always my intention to provide the purest quality essential oils that I can get my hands on! I have the same standards when it comes to my carrier oils, salts and any other blending mediums. My personal mentors in the Aromatherapy craft have a respect and unwavering beliefs that plants have a potent power to heal. This ideal has been inspirational throughout my studies and in my practice of creating enlightened blends for health and wellness.
​​I invite you to read and better understand the magical healing powers of plants.

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Q. WHAT IS TRUE AROMATHERAPY?

A. Aromatherapy is the practice of using naturally extracted essences to promote the health and restoration of your mind, body, emotions and overall well-being. These essences, commonly referred to as essential oils, contain the healing properties, life force, of the aromatic plant. Essential oils can harmonize and balance your body and mind while clearing and healing emotions and spirit. True aromatherapy never uses synthetic aromatic substances because there is virtually no therapeutic benefit, merely imitation fragrance. 

Q. HOW DOES IT WORK?

INHALE

Essential oils work on many different levels, one of the most common is through smell, inhalation. Sense of smell is one of the most complex and sensitive of the five senses. As you inhale an essence millions of your olfactory receptors become excited and your cilia, tiny hair like nerve cells, transmit this information directly to the limbic system. 

The limbic system is a group of deep, and most primitive, brain structures that are involved in the sense of smell, emotions and triggering of memories. The limbic system helps assisting in regulating the hormonal activities of the endocrine system, i.e. appetite, bodily functions, insulin production, metabolism, stress levels, sex drive and temperature. The limbic system influences the immune system, nervous system, the neocortex area of the brain and affect conscious thoughts and reactions. 

Smells stimulate the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins in your brain which are responsible for sexual arousal, motor control, stress reduction, regulate alertness and sleepiness, relieve pain, and restore emotional equilibrium. 

When inhaled essential oils also enter the respiratory system and attach themselves to oxygen molecules which enter into your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, they are delivered to the cells and activates the body’s ability to heal and improve health. 

TOPICAL

Essential oils also work topically, through the skin. They can stimulate circulation, encourage cell regeneration, calm inflamed or irritated skin, and can soothe and relieve sore muscles. Tiny essential oil molecules can penetrate the sebaceous glands, work its way through the skin cell into the bloodstream and finally to your internal organs and lymphatic system. Your immune system will flourish as a result of many powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties of essential oils. Other essential oils boost immunity by reducing physical and emotional stress. 
INTERNAL

Essential oils are directly absorbed into the bloodstream when taken through the digestive system. Prior to taking essential oils internally one should advise or be supervised by an aromatherapy or phytotherapy professional. It is important to keep in mind essential oils are the most potent and highly concentrated form of the botanical plant and must be treated with respect and caution, especially with this particular delivery method. 

Q. WHAT CAN IT DO FOR YOU?

A. The benefits of pure essential oils and aromatherapy seem to be endless. You can use them for beauty, body care, hygiene, aches and pains, prevention, speed up or minimize the discomfort of an assortment of ailments, reduce stress, boost your immune system, regulate your mood, cleanse your environment, massage, and simply a delightful fragrance. 

Aromatherapy works with your body in a very natural and holistic way. It is supportive and complementary to many conventional and alternative therapies or treatments. In the midst of our digital/synthetic age essential oils can create a bond to nature that we often cannot find the time for. Man’s connection to the Earth is powerful and ancient. Whether you believe in Evolution or Adam and Eve, we as people have a long deep history with this earth, the plants, and animals. Essential oils are just one way to reconnect us with our long lost friend- our Earth.

by Denie Shae

What is Restorative Yoga Anyway?

You might be wondering what is restorative yoga? Or if you have experienced restorative yoga, what makes restorative yoga so restful?

To answer my first question yoga is a Sanskrit word and when defined means to “yolk” or to come together, to unite. “To tie the strands of the mind together”, “to attain what was previously unattainable”. Documenting yoga began with the Vedas, the oldest record of Indian culture, approximately 5,000 years ago. The deeper meaning throughout many of the great texts invites us to practice and experience ways of seeing and creating opportunities for us to recognize ourselves more clearly.

Patanjali, a great Indian sage, systematized yoga as a special darsana (or school of thought) and the 8 limbs were put down on paper. The 8 limbs can be viewed as steps on a path that are a means to liberate us from the physical body. It can be integrated into our lives so we can experience bliss in the world rather than remove ourselves from it.

Students of yoga are often told to view the 8 limbs as a tree. There is the trunk and then the branches (or limbs), all connected, all growing in proportion to one another. Each limb is essential for the optimal functioning of the body, mind and spirit. The details of the 8 limbs are vast and rich and will be shared at a later time. For now, back to restoratives.

Yogis all around the globe can thank B.K.S. Iyengar for his development of these deliciously relaxing and supportive postures. In his early teachings he experimented with props to aide students is postures when he noticed pain or injury compromised the proper and safe alignment of the pose. Iyengar went beyond that and began exploring and observing how these modified supported postures help people recover from illness and injury.

Flash-forward to today’s typical asana (pose) class is a series of active postures followed by a brief restorative pose, 99% of the time- Savasana. Anyone that has been to a yoga class has experienced this (hopefully). I have yet to attend a class where the teacher did not close in a Savasana or a similar restorative posture, at times they have been very short yet they have still been a part of every one of my practices.

In a Restorative yoga class, the entire time is dedicated to these healing restorative postures. You begin with props- lots and lots of props. Restorative practices use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students in passive poses so that the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. The props and proper alignment provides a completely supportive environment for total relaxation. A well-rounded restorative sequence will move the spine in all directions to ensure the maintenance of a healthy spine. Supported twists, backbends, forward bends and inversions move the column left, right, forward and back. Inverted postures reverse the effects of gravity by changing the relationship of the legs to gravity. Fluids that were in the lower extremities are now returned to the upper body allowing the circulatory system to recycle and pump new oxygenated blood throughout the entire body.

Ready To Practice? Here is The-Need-To Know Before You Go

Who: Everyone, all ages, races, female/male can and will benefit from a restorative practice. There are some contraindications to certain postures and should be modified by the teacher. Most teachers will ask prior to beginning a sequence if you have any medical conditions or injuries. Be sure to speak up so the teacher can modify as needed.

When’s a good time: Restorative is good all the time to counteract the effects of day-to-day stress and the negative pull gravity has on the body. They are especially beneficial at times of high stress such as: major life events (good or bad), change of job or residence, marriage, divorce, holidays, vacations, when ill or recovering from illness or injury.
All hours of the day, although most people find it more beneficial toward the end of the day. I like to sneak in a class midafternoon.  It is always best to wait awhile after eating before any exercise. Although this is a very gentle practice we are still twisting, inverting and lying down, none of which feel good after eating. I say try and hold out 2 hours before attending a restorative class.

What to bring: A yoga mat if you have one, most classes at a public studio will have props. If you own any props and prefer to use yours bring them along too.
Yoga invites us for brief time in our day to pause and be fully present in what we are doing. To unite the body, mind and spirit. Bring your intention to remain awake and aware throughout your practice. It is only an hour- all your thoughts will be there for you when you leave the mat.

How to show up: Yoga etiquette says to show up clean, un-fragranced and ready to practice. In my classes it tends to go like: show up clean/get ready to be fragranced (if you like)/and ready to relax. As a common courtesy to your neighbors on the mat showing up with clean hygiene is always respected and appreciated. I perfume myself everyday with essential oils, it’s my passion, it’s my self-care ritual I learn to be flexible with while practicing. When I go to a public class I apply a single drop on my solar plexus, just a few inches above my navel, I get the benefit of the oil without the perfuming quality the oils would have if I applied the drop to my wrists, neck or any exposed body part. Enough about oils let’s move on.
Lastly show up and do what you came to do- relax and renew. Always practice the yogic principle of ahimsa, or non-harming. I see too any people pushing themselves on the mat, during other forms of exercise, in all ways throughout their life- all you need to learn if nothing else from yoga is that there is no need to be hard on yourself. Especially not in a restorative class where the focus is on relaxing into the supportive environment that is created. There is nothing to judge, no body part to be critical of, and no posture you couldn’t master. You are simply being, observing the way the body relaxes, the mind calms, energy balances. Ahimsa reminds us to be kind and gentle to our bodies and our hearts. The best way to get the benefits is to be kind to yourself, relax and renew.

Where to practice: Find a yoga studio near you, ask friends or family if they practice or know anyone that practices and can refer a good studio. I’d like to say most studios offer restoratives however I cannot. As we are all unique and different so are studios. Some like it hot, some like it tough and others like it balanced. It may take some searching to find a restorative class near you, I promise it is worth the effort.
Another wonderful option is to seek out a private teacher, someone who is specializing in restoratives and inquire about their service.

Why: There are countless benefits that a restorative practice has. I always encourage people to try for themselves, so they have their first-hand experience. My slant is that it is simple, easy and it works.
Here are just a few benefits of what a frequent restorative practice can do:
-Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
-Body detoxification
-Improved immunity, digestion, circulation, & memory
-Lowers blood pressure & relaxes the nervous system
-Physical, mental, & emotional pain & tension relief
-Improved posture and increase in flexibility
-Clearing and balancing of energy systems
-Increases self-acceptance, mental awareness, & confidence
-Balances the brain hemispheres

If restorative yoga sounds like something you are interested in seek out local teachers and studios, see who is teaching this gentle and healing yoga practice and show up.

by Denie Shae

Hello world!

I have been putting it on the back burner for far too long. Words have a way of permeating my very being. Welcome to my space. From one of my favorite artists-

There is a voice inside of you

that whispers all day long.

“I feel that this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong.”

No teacher, preacher, parent, friend

or wise man can decide what is right for you-

Just listen to the voice that speaks inside.
– Shel Silverstein