It has been a week since I completed an 8-day detox. This was not a stay-at-home and mix some lemon and apple cider vinegar cleanse type of thing, this was a go to a place get lulled into relaxation by the beautiful surroundings then get beaten up by treatments kinda deal.
I may be a tad bit dramatic here.
What I did is called panchakarma. It is an Ayurvedic detoxification process. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga – they kind of grew up together – which focuses on food, the physical body and its relationship to nature. Yoga, is the spiritual practice that is its companion.
You may be confused by that last sentence as yoga certainly seems like a physical exercise and in part it is, but that is just one small aspect of the philosophy. But we’ll get into that at another time.
Panchakarma translates to: pancha = five, karma = actions. There are five actions taken to help the body detoxify, but the actual detoxification is three weeks long (or forever). Here are the cliff notes:
Week One: The week before attending panchakarma I met with the doctor. Based on his assessment of my overall health he prescribed medicated ghee (an organic clarified butter with helpful herbs for my constitution), a powder to mix into hot water and drink before meals, and castor oil to drink at night. For 7 days.
Week Two: Go to the location of the panchakarma and receive the five actions, as well as; participate in breath work, meditation and yoga each morning; eat healthy balancing food provided throughout the day; and attend a lecture each evening.
The five actions in brief:
Abhyanga – a two-person lymphatic massage using a gallon of oil. Two people work on opposite sides of the body, in tandem, to help the lymph move through to carry toxins out of the body. There are other add-ons to the body work that I will share as they happen.
Swedana – Steaming out the impurities either through a canvas steamed dome that is lowered over the massage table or a steam box in which one sits with the head out.
Shirodhara – a continuous warm oil drip onto the third eye. You might see god, it’s that divine.
Vamana or Vierechana – Controlled Elimination. Depending on the individual’s constitution and level of impurities, they are administered herbs to either “gently” vomit or have “controlled” diarrhea.
Basti – enema. Do you want the name and number of this magical retreat yet? There are two types: a 2 ounce oleating enema that mostly gets absorbed into the colon, and the 12-ounce bag (think IV size) that is filled with a personalized prescription of oils and herbs. The results of this one are markedly different from the 2-ounce as you’ve likely already surmised.
Rakta Mokshana – Blood letting. Like leeches. We did not do this one. Apparently the FDA has rules about the health of leeches so we missed out.
Ok, I know that’s six and there are also nasya – medicated oil up the nose, and netra tarpin – eye drops. Just know we got the full package, plus some extras, minus the leeches.
Week Three: During week two diet and lifestyle practices have been discussed and then prescribed for home. In addition, some herbs or supplements may be recommended. And in all honesty, this third week is really a suggested way to continue eating and living for the next three months. Or forever. I am doing the vegan thing until May. At least. To the best of my ability. [Please note: chocolate, wine and coffee are all vegan.]
By now you may be wondering, Why? Why would you do this and why are you sharing this masochistic torture with me?
Because the results are amazing.
It is a complete reset. When I showed up at the center’s front door, I was stressed beyond my capacity to deal with it in a healthy manner, instead I was on the fuck it diet – eating whatever I wanted – and drinking way too much wine. I let go of all my helpful practices and even gave up riding my beloved bike, Ruby Blue. I was just too busy being overwhelmed and important to take care of myself. I was on auto-destruct but powering through.
I had to disrupt all my habits.
I had committed to the panchakarma six months before going. A couple of friends from California were going to do it and invited me join, so I say yes. One of my best yesses, I’d say.
The first few days of panchakarma I was still stuck in my head, anxious without an impossible list of tasks to complete, but by mid-week I had relaxed into the rhythm and surrendered to the schedule. I could feel the stress turning to vapor and leaving my body (it left in other ways too, but I don’t want to spoil it), I could feel my mind beginning to clear and my muscles and righteousness beginning to relax.
By the time I left, I had a clarity and focus I have not had in years. My body felt lighter and more open. I could breathe fully and smile easily. My skin was glowing.
Why would I want to give that up? Why would I ever want to go back to the old uptight pressure cooker I was? I wouldn’t. I don’t. I am doing all I can to maintain my peace and continue to heal body and mind.
What will follow the next few days is my day-by-day account of what I went through. It’s written in real time, as I was experiencing it, so it has all the snark that comes along with a sarcastic, stressed, overweight, toxic, middle-aged woman being asked to get naked so her body can be sanded, slathered and sweated for her own good.
Regardless of what that crazy bitch has to say, this clearer, calmer version of her, highly recommends the process and the amazing therapists and doctor of the Mind Body Wellness Center in Flagler Beach, Florida.