Friday, December 29, 2006

Chapter 3: Ayerveda - mind body and soul

Sorry about the gaps between posts - work and Christmas sort of got in the way! I hope everyone had a good restful time, or if not restful, fun!

Back to the retreat where was a pretty set programme - you are examined by the ayurvedic doctor who looks at your tongue and asks about your symptoms and assesses your body type. Ayurveda is based on
three body types - kapha, pitta, and vata.

I'm Kapha Vata - this is worked out by your physical make up, but also personality takes a big part of it. I have a kapha inbalance which meant that I'd put on weight and was lethergic and also had mucus overproduction - this was all spot on in terms of symptoms I was having and how I was feeling. Because of my cancer treatment I was not treated in the way they would normally treat this - instead I was under orders of no weight loss, gentle yoga and lots of relaxing treatments.

It is a very complex philosophy ayurvedic doctors train as long as western doctors and often in India combine the training - they are also not dismissive of western medicine, so they don't treat cancer for example but instead try and prevent it or rebalance the body after conventional treatment. We were never told what was in the medicines exactly - just that they were a mixture of herbs specifically formulated for each person. They all had varying degrees of yukkiness, from ick, to omigodthatwasdisgusting!

The yoga was wonderful - mainly astanga, but different to what you get here - much more spiritual (hindu) with lots of prayers in sanskrit. (Left, our wonderful yoga teacher Ganesh with Jayne).

After that we had monkey feeding (see below right!) and breakfast and then the day proper started - we had our treatments. The first couple of days were massage which is done with lots of oil and two therapists (all of the treatments are). Then for
a few more days it was an oil bath where warm oil (a base of sesame oil with herbs) is dripped over you and rubbed in to your skin. Then for most people (not me) there's a steam bath and the day after that is purgation (or purgatory as we nicknamed it) which involves drinking medicated ghee and staying by a loo! I didn't do this as my body self purgates and in fact did so towards the end of the stay - which was part of the healing process.Then there's dhara which is oil slowly running onto the forehead, which is incredibly relaxing - it's hard to describe as each person's experience was different, but for me I found myself having vivid thoughts and actually wrote a poem as a result!

After treatment we rested and then had lunch. The afternoon was more resting (some of the treatments were quite exhasting in a way and after dhara you're not supposed to be stimualted), or yoga or trips to town etc. At 5.30 we had an hour of mediation.

We found that there was a lot of time for thought and reflection and in fact this was very useful to me - meeting so many wonderful people (more of them later!) in such an intense environment (intense in a good way) meant that we could share stories. In that time I realised that I am not coping with work and the negatitivity from some aspects of it. I love the company but not the job and it's not what I want to do. It's a bit of cliche, having a moment of clarity in India, but I think that it's a place that makes you realise what choices we have. And that karma does exist and it does happen. This out of focus dahlia is what I was looking at when I had my moment!

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year.

Om Shanti