Vaidyagrāma & India 2023 - A Healing Journey
India Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Blog Post #1
ARRIVAL TO THE FAMILIAR SCENT OF BLISS AND FIRE
I left Phoenix AZ on January 9 for a 40 hour journey across the Earth. I departed on a Monday and arrived on a Wednesday.
I’ve decided to return to documenting my days here, as I still find it lovely to return to my first blog about it from 2015. Also, much to my surprise, many from my Social Media community enjoyed reading my writings each day and began to request them. So, Here I am.
This post includes back story and intros. The 1st couple of posts will be longer to introduce the environment.
I have been saving up my airline miles for years, knowing that on my travel here, I would only be able to travel business class, as these days I must be able to move around comfortably and have the ability to lie flat to sleep. My spinal issues have escalated in the last few years. The most recent and drastic change this past fall, after returning from Chicago. Each time I travel back home, I say I will take it easy, but yet, I am driven to carry lots of heavy equipment from place to place and up and down stairs – and now I am being reminded that I am no longer able to do that. (So, to my family at Soderworld, I hope to be able to be on the main level from now on!)
I currently have 5 lumbar / 1 cervical disc herniations that will never resolve. I was born with degenerative disc disease and these issues began when I was a teenager. The discs are broken and my vertebral bones have shifted. The only solution offered to me my conventional medicine in the US is quad level spinal fusion with a titanium rod to hold me place – and that means permanently. It takes a year to recover from this surgery and I will no longer be able to twist or bend from side to side, nor bend forward.
So, it will be immobilization to my spine.
No more getting up and down from the floor.
No more yoga.
My Yoga has kept me away from this surgery for 14 years and I am not ready for any of this yet.
This is also the reason for the shift in my Yoga Teacher Training program - moving to deeper study of the Darshan Philosophy, embodiment of practice, Ayurveda, offering more Restorative Classes, versus simply teaching Hatha or Vinyasa Asana. After you read this blog through – you will now why I teach/share authentic practices.
Redirecting back to I must fly Business Class….. and its pricey. So, those miles have been put to use
Even so, I am in a back brace and have a cane just in case.
1st flight was Phoenix AZ to London Heathrow – 10 Hours
2nd Flight was London to Mumbai, India – 11 Hours
3rd Flight Mumbai to Coimbatore – 2 Hours
For my 3rd flight, I wasn’t solo – and sat next to 2 people simply traveling from Mumbai to Coimbatore – One man traveling for work and a hilarious grandma going to visit her kids. I was tired and not hungry at this point, so when I refused the offer of food, she said to me – “Oh, but are you ill?” This struck up a conversation. I explained that I had been traveling 35 hours so far all the way from the US and just did not have an appetite… So both lit up and asked me all kinds of questions about who I am and why I am traveling to India. They were both surprised and intrigued to hear about my Ayurvedic life. We had a vibrant conversation about Ayurveda in the US. They gave me lots of well wishes as we departed.
Add all the hours needed for early arrival, check in, collecting baggage, rechecking, security, flight delays and layovers… and 40 hours later – I’ve lost most of my strength and am delirious from sleep deprivation - but the adrenaline is kicking in. I am here!
My driver, Dinesh Kumar, has come to retrieve me for a 1 hour ride to Vaidyagrama Healing Village (1 hour South of Coimbatore) on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. What a lovely young man. I express apologies for my silence since I am more than tired… and simply need to embrace this car ride. If you have never been in a car in India, you have not yet lived. HA!
Dinesh drives us as fast as possible through beeping cars, trucks, tuk-tuks, cows, people walking, commuter buses (decorated with strands of flowers) and the never-ending sound of beeping to get out of the way. We are also driving on the opposite side of the road with Dinesh is on the right side of the car – so it’s a sensory experience not to forget. We are stopped at a stop light and a person is walking by to collect money from cars. Without hesitation, Dinesh rolls the window down to hand out some coins. We start to chat a bit and he shares that he has been driving for Vaidyagrama for the last 2 years and also his father is a driver, having driven peeps back and forth from the airport for the last 12 years. A super lovely young man.
We arrive at my beloved Vaidyagrama Hospital. I am greeted by Aparna Sarma, with big round loving eyes. She beckons 2 Ladies (in Saris, of course) to come to collect my luggage and roll it away to my room. Dinesh will also be the driver picking up the 8 others in my group that will be joining me here over the next 7 weeks.
There are numerous people hanging out near the entrance chatting and smiling.
I am flushed with relief to be here.
It is almost 6 pm and I will have some dinner and attempt to stay awake as long as I can.
Gathering for prayers, my consultation with the doctor and any mingling will need to wait until tomorrow.
Now, it is the solitude of a hot shower and silence.
I get to the door of my room, remove my shoes and the warmth of Vaidyagrama fills me.
The entrance area has a large bench below 2 large rows of widows with a view of the jungle. I may open them anytime for gorgeous breeze to come through. There is a wood table with 2 chairs. This is where I will be eating in solitude for the length of my stay. On the table sits my cloth napkin and stainless steel cup, water bottle, cup and teapot. I may simply place the bottle/teapot outside my door when they need to be refilled. There is also a big wicker basket, should I need to add my clothes there for the laundry service (more on how the laundry is done here in my first blog from my first visit).
The big wooden door to my room will never be closed. It is open, closed only by a screen, so therapists may come and go, doctors may visit and food may be brought whenever needed.
I find a big armoire with full length mirror. Two twin beds, with one prepared for evening with the mosquito net dropped down. The linens are fresh and thick pure cotton. There is a seating area with floor to ceiling windows that I may open to create a terrace.
I find a completely natural wax candle, a stick of dhoop (natural incense) and a box of matches.
The bathroom is huge and in it hangs 1 pure cotton linen towel. Paper products as we know them do no exist here. No Toilet Paper, Tissues or Paper Towels. There is a bidet toilet, a bar of soap and said cotton towel.
Dinner is delivered at 6 pm Sharp. Rice, Beets and green beans.
The temperature of the room is the same on the body almost unable to detect.
The tropical birds singing.
The fires burning.
The chanting at the temple around the corner from my room.
The scent of bliss and fire.
India Thursday, January 12, 2023
Blog Post #2
I had a hot shower last night, unpacked my clothes and resisted falling asleep until 7:30 pm. That will be the only shower I take in there during my stay. From here going forward, I will be given a shower by my therapists. The beds are quite firm, so after all that travel, my back was already toast and then the bed had me turning all night trying to find a comfort. I woke at 2:30 am and was up for the duration. I spent more time to arrange my things, opened a book and took down some notes.
I am waiting for 6 am morning puja to start. You know it’s time when you begin to hear the flip flops in the darkness outside and everyone begins their walk to the prayer hall. This is the beloved time for me.
At 6 am, I have short walk to the prayer hall, but I am getting lost because Vaidyagrama has tripled in size since the last time I was here and it seems like a maze for a few seconds…. But there are now signs added to the walk ways and even a map, so I found my way easily. It still pitch dark outside but the hall is well lit. I come upon Dr. Ramadas, adding info to the signage for the day. I am so excited to greet him. What a big smile and vigorous shaking of hands and he greets me with “Oh Karla ji! So nice to see you”. We chat for just 2 minutes to exchange hellos, since he will be preparing for Agni Hotra, etc. in just moments. I find seat in a chair – unable to do the floor right now. Other patients begin to flow in and find a place seated on mats or wooden boards.
The prayer hall is a large, round room with a dome of terra cotta. The entire room is lined with open windows. There are rows of chairs and stacks of cushions, yoga mats, etc. It is absolutely silent as each person comes in and finds a place. The only thing you hear is the squeaking of the screen door and birds beginning their song. Dr Ramadas walks around lighting ghee lamps and incense and preparing Agni Hotra.
At exactly 6:15 am, we begin to chant AUM. We ground and settle and then in a waling and powerful voice, Dr. Ramadas begins chant. Like music to my ears. My first visit here left the sound of Dr. Ramadas voice in my head for months…. In fact, I don’t think it has ever left. I am not the only one who feels this way. His voice is a gift and he utilizes it with grace. Chants to the Universe, chants to Creation, chants to Dhanvantari. We meditate in silence, with only the sound of a ticking clock and the symphony of tropical birds in full morning song. After 1 hour, we conclude with Dr. Ramadas imparting blessings of Shiva with sacred fire (by directing the flame of the ghee lamp at each of us individually), offers prasad of water (from a copper spoon) and a spring of Holy Basil for us to eat / drink and places a bindi on the Anja Chaka of Sandalwood powder and red Kumkum… all while chanting “Om Shivaya Om Shivaya Om Shivaya Shankara Om Shivaya Om Shivaya Om Shivaya Namah Shiva”.
What a way to start a morning.
Each and everyday.
As we depart from the hall, Dr. Ramadas and I have more of a chance to catch up a bit and he also honors me with a small tour of the property, since it has grown so much since my last visit. There is now many additional patient blocks and covered pathways. Every walkway here is covered with a ‘pergola’ style covering, layered with terra cotta plates. This keeps the entire area cool and also keeps you out of the sun anytime you move from one place to another. On our way, he introduces me in person to Vaidya Rama, another Vaidya here at the hospital. (Now that I know he's from Australia, I understand his great wit and enjoyable satsangs).
Dr Ramadas shows me the newest and largest hall (where Robert Svoboda & Claudia Welch just had a conference). He explains the idea for a larger space came during Covid when social distancing became a thing. Now there is apace for 50 – 60 people to come together with ample space, rather than crowding 50 people on top of each other in the smaller halls. This hall is enormous with high ceilings and dome roof of terra cotta. It is also lined with windows and all the yoga props are stacked neatly in corners.
Beside this hall is the Dhanvantari Temple (The God of Ayurveda). This temple was just being constructed during my last visit. As we see it, there is a ceremony talking place and the priest is chanting. We walk around the temple, as per custom. The walkway around the temple has been built using mud and cow dung, but is hardened like concrete. I would have never known if he did not mention it. He also shares that for those who do not eat meat, they have studied and discovered that walking on paths made this way, there is Vitamin B12 absorbed in the body. Fascinating.
We come back to stand at the front of the temple. The priest calls for another to greet us and impart more Sandalwood paste to the forehead, water and holy basil and flowers - offered on a sturdy leaf.
Dr Ramadas points to the path of my room and I come back to find my ginger tea waiting.
Breakfast is delivered at 8 am sharp. It is delivered in stainless steel tiffins, along with a stainless steel plate, bowls and spoon. Oatmeal in one tin and buttermilk soup in the other. After breakfast, I have consultation with Dr. Suvedha, a beautiful women who is the Vaidya (medical offer) taking care of me.
My consult lasts about 2 hours, as they do – to discuss everything that I am experiencing and to address my most important concerns. Of course, I know my condition is not reversible, but I hope to have some therapeutic care and some great suggestions going forward. After she sees the results from my last MRI, she makes sure that I get an extra fluffy mattress and an extra pillow added to my bed so I am able to sleep. She says Dr. Ramadas will review everything and be by soon to compose my treatment plan. She departs with the rules: “No need to shower on your own. Keep the herbs on you. No shaving or cutting of hair.” I smile and let her know I know these rules well. For those who join and partake in my Seasonal Group Cleanse, they know this well too.
I spend the next few hours in quiet in my room. I downloaded many audiobooks and recordings so I could have time to listen to them while I was here. This is a time of solitude, and as much quiet as much as possible. Today I am listening to 3 hours of Upanishad readings…. Which will blow your mind. Especially as a Yoga or Ayurveda practitioner and anyone who has studied the Pañcamahābhūta. As I was relaxing to have a listen, Dr Ramadas arrived to evaluate my case and decide on my treatment while I am here. He confirms that my condition is Vata Vitiation and that menopause is a huge factor in the shift of my life, the escalated pain, weight gain and my overall and physical state. For my 1st therapies, I will have daily Abhyanga (Full Body Oil Massage) and Pinda Sweda (Hot Herbal Poultices) pounded into the joints) and a strict protocol of herbal medicines to help shift hormones and reduce pain. These therapies help to strengthen the body and tissues.
At 3 pm, the therapists came to get me for treatments. I walk to the back room and hear a cow mooing right outside the building. Its awesome.
These therapies are performed without any draping, so being comfortable in the buff is needed – with a small loin cloth to make you feel better bit it is kinda useless I know these ladies work on humans all day everyday and there is nothing unique about me… So I go with the flow. You change out of clothes, your blood pressure is taken and you sit on a large wooden table called a Droni.
Two therapists work on you at the same time and begin by saying a prayer over you for your health and wellbeing. My therapists are Devaki, Krishna and Ardra. Ardra is a doll!
Treatment starts with Karna Purana – adding warm oil to the inside of your ears and placing a cotton ball there to hold the oil. Next is a seated oil massage, one therapist at the front and one at your back - then laying down, then turning side to side, but never lying on your stomach. Both therapists mirror their strokes on each side of the body. It is really powerful. Then for Pinda Sweda, the herbal poultices are placed on a hot plate and the therapists pull it off, check the temp by patting it against their hand and proceed to pound these herbs into your body from your shoulders to your toes. They ask “Is the hot OK?” to be sure the temp is right for you. It takes some getting used to as they also pound them into your belly. Of course, it is not hard or meant to hurt you. It is just a practice that is not common in our culture. After this occurring for 30 minutes, you become desensitized to it and it starts to feel great. You can feel how this practice is strengthening the tissues and joints.
At the end of therapy, one of the therapists gives you a shower – using green gram flour (mung bean) as a body wash. Tons of buckets of hot water – then gives you that pure cotton towel to dry down with. You change back into your clothes, blood pressure is taken again and then a prayer is said for you and more sandalwood paste to the forehead and the pit of the throat. These ladies are also so tiny, that I feel Amazonian next to them and I am only 5 ft 4 in tall.
I walk out of this therapy glowing. The mirror looks like I’ve taken off 5 years in the last 2 hours.
Now I need to go for a walk to try to stay awake. The jetlag is hitting hard, but it’s only 4 pm.
I step out for a spin around the campus and on my way back to my room, I meet Dr Ram Kumar Kutty on the way. Dr Ram is the co-founder of Punarnava Trust and Vaidyagrama itself. He is a renowned Ayurveda teacher and will be the Keynote speaker at the NAMA Conference this year. I say hello and we chat about the importance of solitude during therapy. Just a brief chat as we will have more time to speak over the next 6 weeks and I will see him frequently for Satsang. His meetings cannot be missed.
I am almost falling asleep, so I get back out the door at 5:30 pm to stay awake. There are activities that occur all day everyday, and the Garden Walk was today. A small group of us was led by one of the doctors discussing different plants, trees and flowers and the medicinal qualities of them all.
OK it’s 6:15 and it’s time for evening prayers. Dr Ramadas begins with the Agni Hotra Fire. Evening chants are Shri Lalitaa Sahasranaama Stotam which are the hymns of praises to the Divine Goddess Lalithambika occurring in the Bramanda Purana. This chant is known to be the most powerful form of Tantra or Manta, being just as beneficial as bathing in Holy Ganga, offering of food, offering of materials. It is considered a direct blessing for those who cannot partake in other forms of rituals. This puja is considered to ward off evil, is a form of penance and will bring long life and health. For 30 minutes Dr Ramadas chants the names of Lalitha, followed my addition mantras, the lighting of Agni Hotra and ending with a deep pranayama. Now we have a treat – a bit of Kirtan by a Swami ------ from Sivananda Ashram. I do not know his name, but will find out. He also has an incredible voice – and holy cow, can he play a drum. We have just 3 songs of fun kirtan and we close with smiles and waves as we depart.
Now its 7:30 pm and dinner is waiting for me – along with the herbal medicines that I must close my nose to drink and chase down with water. Its commitment. Medicine doesn’t taste good. We know this – and herbal medicine is no different. I eat and take the meds and change into jammies at LIGHTS OUT at 8 pm.
HARI OM TAT SAT
India Friday, January 13, 2023
Blog Post #3
Slept better on the comfy mattress.
I slept from 8 pm to 2 am, but fell back asleep from 3 - 5 am.
Each morning consists of Dinaćarya Daily Routine (also what I do at home) Splashing some water on the face, cleaning eyes, brushing teeth, scraping tongue, blowing nose.
Feeling alert, bright and fresh.
A few drops of oil on the crown of the head, pull my hair back, get dressed, and heading out for morning prayers.
Along my way, I’m startled by a lovely frog happily leaping across me path. All the walkways are concrete, but dim, and I don’t see so well. So it was a black figure leaping close to my feet. Adrenaline rush. Once I realized it was a frog, I started laughing out loud….. On this path….. In the dark….. By myself ….. In the jungle. …. At the crack of dawn…..Just cracking up.
I am always early to the hall, so I find a place and quietly meditate until everyone arrives.
Morning prayers are glorious as always. Even while chanting, Dr. Ramadas keeps an eye on his watch. The Agni Hotra fire is lit precisely at sunrise. So chanting pauses and we shift to Agni Hotra and then return to your regularly scheduled chant for the morning. The signing of homage to Hanuman is so freakin cute. I would love to learn it – but it is long. That could be a lifelong goal. The way it is sung is so sweet! I just love to listen and sway to the song. Blessings of Shiva. Ghee. Fire. Sandalwood Paste.
Today I come right back to my room to begin typing up this blog. I will do this for a few hours to try to catch up from the last 2 days. This is what I will do going forward. Now that I feel more energy as the jetlag wears off, I will keep up with my typing, and it wont be so time consuming. I type this all up just as much for me as for the sake of sharing it. This all gets saved for me too.
Breakfast comes and I put away the computer, then return to it.
Dr Suvedha comes to check in. This gorgeous Indian woman is in her 20s and smart as a whip. I explain what I am doing on a computer in my room. There is no internet access and working is discouraged, so I tell her I am writing about her We chat about how I am feeling – I also share that I may like to have a room with a balcony. I am really missing be able to sit outside. I also think it would be a nice place for the group I have coming to meet. So, she said she will check options. I also asked her about her life. She lives just 30 minutes away. When she has night duty, she stays here, otherwise she travels back and forth. I asked how she decided to become an Ayur Doctor. She had a uncle that was receiving treatment and was having wonderful results and she already knew that she wanted to in the medical field (because, of course) so she went the route of Ayurveda. She said that she really struggled the first year due to the difficulty of Sanskrit (Wow I am not alone – and that says a lot about how challenging it is) She said Ayurveda is now her complete passion, even though no one else in her family is interested in it nor wishes to eat in a healthy way.
I shared my story of being in both Phoenix and Chicago and shared pictures of my RV. She was absolutely intrigued and fascinated with the idea of an RV. She said she would love to try that sometime. Then she asks ne about Ayurvedic practice in the US. I explain what it is and how desperately we need some regulation so we don’t end up with “Goat Ayurveda”…. She has no idea what I am talking about. So, I painfully explain what Goat Yoga is. And Yoga and Alcohol. And Yoga and Weed. And with cats and with bunnies and with puppies. She is sitting and staring at me in disbelief. She has never heard of any of this and is shocked that it even exists… She just keeps asking…. “But how is that possible?” and so……. I explain that the same thing is beginning to happen to the Ayurveda practice. That because we have no regulation, people are beginning to call themselves practitioners without any formal clinical education and are making recommendations to others as if they were a doctor with a huge risk to the public……Again… She is shocked and I see she is almost ill at the thought. All the more reason why we need to get a grip on this. What a yuk conversation to have while I sit here in India. To explain how a deeply the wholehearted practices of Ayurveda and Yoga have been completely vandalized. Here, Asana is the smallest part of practice. I sit and chew on this and I am grateful that my yoga students know the real deal.
Ardra comes to retrieve me for treatment.
Karna Purana, Abhyanga and Pinda Sweda.
I sit on the edge of the wooden table, Prayers are said.
Today Ardra asks me if I am married and if I have children.
This is a very common question from one woman to another here. In fact, it is commonly the 1st question asked. It is a form of bonding. I love it. I ask her if she is married and she sighs with shoulders dropping “nooooooo”… I say “That’s OK!!! Just Not Yet!!!” She must be 20 years old.
She also fascinated by my tattoo. She says after she gets married, she will get a tattoo also, because she loves them.
Today my BP was 120/90 prior to treatment and 116/60 after treatment.
Ya float out of da room and glow down the hallway.
Back to the typing.
Lunch arrives at 1 pm sharp – along with those bitter meds.
Close the computer.
Close ya nose and drink it down your meds.
Indulge in a delicious lunch!
Lunch is red rice, veggies, green gram lentil with Cilantro Chutney. YUM!
I feel like all I am doing is eating.
Food comes every couple hours.
Breakfast, soup snack, huge lunch, fruit snack, dinner.
A lovely cleaning lady comes in to pull up the mosquito netting and re-make my bed. She is burning the bellowing smoke of incense as an insect repellent. Smells good to me! The smoke bellows out the windows. I will go for a walk~
Finished typing for the day and took that walk to have internet hello with my hubby. First conversation since I’ve been here. The 12 hour time shift means its always the wrong time to try to communicate and internet usage is very slim. It’s completely discouraged while I treatment. We had a facetime and I showed hi the jungle behind me and a blooming lotus flower. He smiles at the sandalwood paste on the forehead and says, “You love it in there, don’t you?”…. Yes Sir. Yes I do.
There was a woman sitting outside utilizing her internet time to study Jyotiṣa (Ayurvedic Astrology). I will be meeting with an astrologer wile I am here as well. It is the same gentleman I met with 8 years ago who absolutely blew my mind. I will write more about that when it comes.
Today I will attend Satsang with Dr. Ram Kumar – and everyday going forward.
Anyone in the room may ask a question on any topic and he will give you the answer form the Āyurvedic, Vedic or Vedanta perspective. This is great opportunity with a great teacher. I love that this opportunity is included in my stay here.
*** Understanding dosha imbalances in dreams requires the patient to remember and record their dreams daily for 8 – 12 weeks. Only then may a pattern be seen to witness any Doshic Aggravations.
*** There are 16 States of Manas Guna
This talk is RIGHT UP MY ALLEY as I am a devout student of Sānkhya Philosophy (the basis of Yoga/Ayurveda) and any one who has worked with me for Consultation knows that we must focus on the mind first. I may offer many Ayurvedic suggestions to you, but if you don’t feel balanced in the head, then my suggestions will be futile and unimplemented. So, we always start with mindset (manas) first.
7 Sattvic States, 6 Rajas States, 3 Tamas States
Brahma Sattva – Clarity (No Self Indulgences)
Arsha Sattva – Scholar
Indra Sattva – Leader
Varuna Sattva – Sets goals and flows to them like water
Yama Sattva – Detached from worldly possessions and experiences
Ghandarva Sattva – Artist, creating beauty
Kubhera Sattva – Easily Creates and Shares Abundance
Asura Rajas – Not Godly, not aligned with flow of prana
Raksha Rajas – Steal, Rob, Kidnap, Ruthless (Also stealing time)
Pajasha Rajas – All Extremes to get desires
Sarpa Rajas – The Slithering Snake, Cursing Others
Preta Rajas – Unfilled Spirits of Ancestors roaming Akasha looking for food before entering next life
Shakuna Rajas – Gossiper
Matsaya Tamas – The fish – Eating anything
Pashama Tamas – All that matters is Sleeping, Eating, Meeting (sex)
Wanaspiti Tamas – So rooted, there is no movement, Completely Stuck
*** I asked the questions of opinion on the phenomena of people wanting to take cold showers, ice bathes and cold plunges (I have even seen Yoga ‘experts’ and Ayurveda ‘Influencers’ suggesting this – and I have been baffles by it since I understand to be completely contradictory to to Caraka Samhita.
Dr Ram Kumar agrees. He says that the use of cold water may only be done in very specific cases in to shock the body. He sites the Samhita and confirms warm water for the body, luke warm water for the head… cold water never. That cold water is highly contraindicated, as it constricts channels and prevents flow of prana. In Western Anatomy, we know it constricts blood vessels, so why would we do that?
**** There are 5 Pujas that should be done each day
1 for Deva, or Divinity
1 for Asha – Learning
1 for Pitra – Ancestors
1 for Manushia – Human Life
1 for Bhuta – The Elements
Elements and nature are also represented by the cow, that offers sustenance for its own offspring and for humanity as well. There are daily pujas held for the cow.
A lovely chat.
I also see that another practitioner from California is here. I say hello to Durga Leela. She is here with a group of 14. I ask about her practice. She has been a teacher within the Sivananda Ashrams and utilizes Ayurveda and Yoga for those in Alcohol and Drug Recovery since 2005. How wonderful! She has also written a book – so I already know who I will offer some recommendations to What a lovely women with a fine Scottish Accent. She also shared that during Covid, she ended up here at Vaidyagrama for 9 months and took that time to write a book. We have been connected in social media for a few years and we live one state away from each other – yet here we meet, on the other side of planet. Synchronicity.
The Cow Puja happens daily at Vaidyagrama, but it is shred with community on Fridays. So, we depart the hall and head around the corner for to celebrate this big, beautiful cow adorned with colors and flowers. We offer food to her and she chews sweetly, with big beautiful lashes. Each person is given a bunch of long grass to feed her. All I can think of the card given to me by Jemima Lipari at her YTT Graduation – it’s a long story. The priest imparts blessings with fire and bells and we are all offered a sweet treat at the end (Prasad).
Now its time for evening prayers and it seems this day has disappeared!
After evening prayers, we have the treat of Kirtan again!
On the way back to my room, my neighbor steps out to say hello. Her name is Veena. Tall, thin woman, approx. 65 years old with black hair. She is very into herself and is speaking to me with sunglasses on at 8 pm. “You must be my new neighbor”. Now - I have overheard Veena being pretty condescending to the staff, so I am not really interested in conversing, but for the sake of being friendly, I ask her a few questions about herself… “Where do you come from?”…. Answer: “I don’t know…. Cuz I’m Global Dahling. I will be leaving here and going to Singapore, then coming back here and then going to Thailand”….. with Waving hands. Bobbing head…… and condescending tone.
Have a good night.
It was lovely speaking with you.
Dinner and bitter meds.
More typing on the computer and time to sleep.
LIGHTS OUIT AT 9 PM.
India Saturday, January 14, 2023
Blog Post #4
Yay – I slept from 9 pm to 3 am straight – but then was up for the duration. I styed in bed in the dark and did some stretches and twists and laid there in meditation for a bit. I was thinking of the topics I would like to discuss with Dr. Ramdas and reflecting on the Satsang of yesterday.
I rise and do my Dinaćarya. I lay out my clothes and colored scarves.
Today I wear Black and Dark Blue – it’s Saturn Day, what we know as Saturday.
Saturn is honored with the color Black or Blue.
In fact, many people are not aware that each day of the week is names after a cosmic entity. Its because we say it in English. But if you recite the days of the week in Latin, it is easy to see the real meaning of the day.
***Sunday is the day of the Sun, when we celebrate the Sun of Man
We wear the color Red
***Monday, Lunes is the day of the Moon
We wear the color White
***Tuesday, Martes is the Day of Mars
We wear the color Red or Orange
***Wednesday, Miercoles is the Day of Mercury
We wear the color Green
***Thursday, Jueves is the Day of Jupiter
We wear the color Yellow, Mustard or Gold
***Friday, Viernes is the Day of Venus (Divine Feminine)
We were the color Purple (Royalty)
***Saturday, Sabato is the Day of Saturn
We wear the color Black or Dark Blue
In Āyurveda, this is referred to as Rupa Cikitsā, or Chromotherapy – or therapy for that which is ‘seen’.
Rupa Ćikitsā is therapy for our sense of Sight.
This therapy may also include gemstones, crystals or beads of certain colors/stones.
Today we honor Saturn.
On that note, I discover a VERY LERGE INSECT in my bathroom.
The first I have even seen here. And I DON’T LIKE INSECTS.
So, now I am wondering what I am going to do.
It is too big to kill – which I don’t want to do anyway…. But he can’t live here.
I just keep telling myself this is God’s creature and it wont hurt me…. But it STILL cant live here.
I am staring it and waiting for it to move to a place that allows me to place my trash can on top of it. Yay! Did it. Solved. Now I can breathe. At least now I can go to the bathroom
(BTW, I have TOTALLY got this bidet thing down pat now – but that’s another story)
I will ask the kind cleaning lady to take him away – I am sure will pick it up easily and take it away…. And YES, she did. She will bring some extra smoke to my room today to make me feel better… At the same time, I am in the jungle and this is nature.
Off to morning payers and flip flops in the dark.
After prayers, Dr. Ramadas walked back to my room with me so I could ask some questions about studying Mantra and Sanskrit while I am here. I also shared with him that seeing his daughter administering water at the end of prayers last night got me emotional. She was a toddler the last time I was here. He said she is a pre-teen now, so he engages her by giving her ‘jobs’. We both laughed.
I am also interested in hosting a Yoga retreat here, for those who do not necessarily wish to go through Panchakarma therapy, but would like all the good food, massages, Śirodhara, daily prayers and daily yoga practice, etc. He said they do have the accommodations for this now and he would be happy to do that – We could certainly plan for it. So, there you go, guys – Yoga Retreat here in the future, with all the bells and whistles.
We spoke of my Pitta brain and Vata vitiation. I also shared pics of the RV and moving about the country and planet.
After our chat, I went over to the Satsang Hall (where the internet is) and posted some of the blog. Hello guys! Now I am all caught up!
Posted the blog and shared some pics and head back to my room.
Morning Medicine and Breakfast at 8 am sharp.
Dr Suvedha comes for a visit and asks me how everything is going. My feet are swelling a bit – still happening from the travel across the planet. While we are speaking, I get up from my chair and notice I was able to do so without a twinge of pain. That was great…. We chat more about my room – the huge bug getting carried away (ha!) and the arrival of my first person from my group of 8 arriving on Monday.
We chat about the blog and I tell you to watch for it on social media – I also ask her to write her name down so I am sure to spelling it properly. We chat about why I write the blog and how Vaidyagrama really has my heart. I have been donating to these causes and community for the last eight years and encourage everyone to do so.
SPOLIER ALERT: Links for donations coming soon
You guys know how much I support Project Moon. I will share more on that soon.
I would still love to have a balcony space to sit outside. We will see if the puzzle pieces can work for that.
She smiles and departs.
More typing and my treatment is scheduled for 11:30 am.
Todays treatment was a bit more intense. The polices were a bit hotter, the pounding was a bit stronger and there was music playing today – a very Shamanic Didgeridoo (instrument from Aboriginal tribes of Australia) really belting out while I was being pummeled.
I could only think of Chahé Soderholm – this would be right up your alley – Healing that Hurts. Ha! ….. With some shamanic vibes playing in the background... Well I get the hell beat out of me!
Joking aside, in the end, I walk out feeling like a million dollars.
Lunch is waiting. And so is the medicine.
Red Rice, potatoes, a chapati, squash soup and buttermilk Takra. Warm Tea. I am so happy!
I fill my tummy and go for a short walk after lunch. I do a few laps around the campus and come back to room to rest until Satsang.
Yoga Nidra happens everyday at 2:15 pm – but I will pass since I don’t want to fall asleep.
I sit and listen to the cows, the birds…. Until Satsang at 3:15 pm
And I swear I just heard an Elephant. Going to ask if there is one close by.
Satsang never fails to inspire the mind.
Todays Discussion Points:
*** The Soul’s Journey
The Soul’s relationship to Karma
Karma Karma Karma (so many points on karma – wowza)
What is means for a soul in abortion or miscarriage
*** What is the proper way to do Pitra Pujas at home to honor Ancestors?
Birds are symbols of ancestors, so saying a prayer and offering food to birds is the best way. What is important is that we take time each day to honor how it is that we got here.
***The question arose about how to live in a world where there is violent entertainment and news and media that gives so much stress. We all agreed that too much information does not benefit us, especially when it cannot / is not followed by doing any actions. Most of the time we simply debate topics and feel stress from things completely out of our reach.
I was able to share some addition thoughts about our addiction to adrenaline and to witness the things that humans do in search of it – jumping out of planes, bungy jumping, etc. We are is search of stress. Maybe you find it in your phone. Or at the movie theater…. We are addicted to feeling pain. This mut be witnessed in order to detach from it. Also, most things occurring now have always occurred. War, famine, corrupt governments, natural disasters. These are all occurrences of the human condition. They have always occurred. The only different now is our ability to KNOW about it all… Now that we have created media and technology… but in reality, nothing has changed from 1000 or 5000 years ago. Dr Ram Kumar was kind to give me an introduction to the group, as well as Durga Leela and Jaisri Lambert. We are the other practitioners in the room here from the states.
***When Dharma/Karma is supported by Sattva:
Combined with Rajas is Dharma of PROTECTOR (holy cow – that’s me)
Combined Rajas/Tamas, supported by Sattva, it is NOURISHER
Combined Tamas/Rajas, supported by Sattva it is FOOT SOLDIER
There is such a thing as Sattvic Anger (proving a point and letting it go)
***What is Manifestation of goals?
Intention – Sankalpā
Ideas can come to the mind, but most of the time they do not flourish/manifest due to lack of Jnana Shakti – The time to learn something well. Most people do not take the time to learn something well, therefore their ideas or dreams do not come to fruition or are put forth adulterated.
Manifestation also requires Kriya Shakti, the ability to act.
Great teachings are available at Swami Krishnaananda website
After Satsang had a chance to chant with Swami Yatidharmananda
(uploads of his wonderful singing and drumming in my India 2023 Album) – He came to greet me and remembers me form 2015. Wow! I complimented him on his voice and I am glad he will be here to the end of the month so other members of my group will be able to enjoy his Kirtan. I have added a video to the India 2023 Album. We shared some stories about how we got to this world. What a lovely human. We are the same age. He lived in the Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh for 20 years and now lives in a small village higher north toward the Himalayas and offers free eye surgeries to the elderly for cataracts, etc.
Bless the bodhisattvas of the world.
Met a gentleman named P. Reddi, who is a Molecular Biologist Professor at U of I Champaign, IL - Are you kidding me? He is here with his wife and daughter. His daughter just acquired her pHD. They are all receiving treatment together. His daughter asked the question on stress/adrenaline. He asked me if I was a psychologist and I said no, not in sense that we are used to in the US, but I am a devout student of Sānkhya and an avid meditator – I offer Vedic psychology and philosophies to my clients and students to ponder.
If we don’t feel well in the head, nothing else works. We must start there.
I also met Sammie from Australia and Diane from San Diego.
There is also another large group here from Turkey. I love it!
Returning from Satsang to a full Nasya Treatment with oil and smoke (my sinuses have been dry from flying)
My whole body seems to be swollen….. Not sure if it is from travel or what – but we will be watching this.
I still had my afternoon snack of fruit and juice here. I couldn’t eat it today. So much food!
Dinner and Meds.
Off to Evening Prayers. Dr Ramadas is not here tonight, so prayers will be chanted by Dr. Ramanandan.
After prayers, it is 8 pm and I am doing everything I can to stay awake. My last medicine is at 8:30 and I would love to be able to sleep straight through to 4:30 am tomorrow am.
Lights out at 8:40 pm
India Sunday, January 15, 2023
Blog Post #5 PITTA PATROL
I’m in the time warp. I arrived Wednesday late afternoon, and its Sunday morning.
I have been here 4 nights and it seems like 4 weeks….and like 4 minutes at the same time.
You know I am going to tell you how I slept 8:45 pm – 3 am like a stone. LOL.
Today I wear Red and there is enough oil in my hair that it must be braided.
Quieter day today. I feel tired….. and Boy, I am swollen.
This needs to be investigated.
This morning we are experiencing power outages…. But Vaidyagrama has back up power. So the power goes out and then comes back up within 10 seconds. The first time it happened I had to consider what the heck I was going to do because it is PITCH BLACK…. Even in your room. Thankfully, the lights came right back on. What a way to immediately and deeply appreciate electricity.
Dr. Ramadas is not here today, so morning prayers will be chanted by Vaidya Ramanandan again.
After prayers this morning, I have met Arjuna and Samir from LA. They complimented me on discussions from yesterday and invited me to host Satsang in the home in California. What a blessing! We will exchange info before they depart on Jan 26.
There are so many people here from California. I cant believe I live in AZ and I am meeting them here. How wild is that?
After Breakfast, I spend about 3 hours learning/practicing chants.
I know many, but there are additional ones that I haven’t quite memorized or practiced pronouncing yet. This is the perfect time to practice.
Then, I have a nice walk around the campus. I need to move a bit and maybe a vigorous walk will reduce some of this swelling…. I begin circling the Prayer Hall (referred to as Brahma Kamalam) and the Satsang Hall (referred to as Mandapam) I see a few people I have met so far on the way and we have some hellos and chats on the covered path. I am dying to step out into the sun, but that’s a no-no during treatment. There will be plenty of that in Egypt.
7000 steps - Back to my room and the gorgeous lady that takes care of it has let me know it has been cleaned. She also wishes me a Happy Pongal! And tells me that she loves my braid.
I have to ask what the Holiday Pongal is and what it celebrates. More to come.
I just want to HUG everyone that works here. Would that be odd?
My treatment is at 11:30 am today – Karna Purana, Abhyanga, Pinda Sweda, Nasya.
Following it, I plan on having lunch and Yoga Nidra – and more chant study.
Today I will also begin my Study of Yoga Vasishta of Valmiki.
I had a wonderful conversation with Fatima from Turkey. We know each other from the Online class on the Ashtanga Hṛdayam that we take with Dr. Ramadas on Tuesday mornings. She is here from Turkey with a different group of students and will be holding a course for a group of students that will arrive I another week. We spoke about the depths of emotions and how our mind is in control of all other aspects of our health. I love that each person that is here is happy to chat on the deepest topics.
No Satsang on Sunday and afternoon activities also take the day off.
But something still rings in my thoughts from what Dr. Ramkumar mentioned previously.
“Most people who are looking to save the ‘environment’ still think they are saving Mother Earth… as if she is a separate entity. The reality is, WE are part of Nature, and by saving the environment, the ecosystem, the earth itself, what we are really doing is saving OURSELVES. That should be the understanding. YOU are the environment, so you should do everything in your power to nature it and protect it.”
This mirrors meditations I have shared in the past.
“The salt of your tears is the salt of the ocean”
You are a product of the earth. You will also return to it. There is no segregation.
I have always felt this. He articulated it so well.
If you are not recycling, reusing, repurposing, decreasing use of plastic, decreasing use of poisonous chemicals…. If you do not shut the water off while brushing your teeth…. Why Not?
I am one of the people who do all of the above and have done so for as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s the influence of my Depression-era grandfather, but I can BE NO OTHER WAY. I cringe if I need to throw a plastic bottle in the trash. That’s going to end up in a landfill. I don’t partake in all the Chinese plastic single-use items. We buy that birthday balloon and then where does it go the next day? Into the trash, into a landfill… but why? We really need to consider what we are doing and why. I cant wrap my head around the use of plastic drinking bottles of water substance or aluminum cans every single day, going into a regular trash bin… to be buried in the earth or tossed in the ocean. Can you imagine the use of plastic bottles and cans across just the USA in a single day…? Imagine the number. Every single day. Day after day…. Where are they all going?
I do all these things because it is stronger than me. I don’t even have any offspring and still feel this should be a top priority for us right now – especially with such an increase in world population in the last 80 years. Get on board, my peeps!
Ok… well that’s how I feel about that!
CAN YOU SAY PITTA?
I get into another conversation - and this time on the regulation of the Ayurvedic practice in the US.
Anyone that knows me, knows I speak of this often.
Yes, its like a record player on repeat on my page. I realize this… but this was a focal conversation of the day - I post it and I speak of it so often since there is so much unawareness of this fact: There is no regulatory authority of Ayurveda in the US. Ayurveda is unrecognized by the US Government as a viable form medicine. Even with all of the success stories, even with all of the case studies, even with all the people that have healed tremendous illnesses…. It is unrecognized and unregulated.
There are numerous organizations working to change this fact, but for now, there is no Accreditation Authority recognized by the US Dept of Education. I post this not just for the public, but also for practitioners who may not fully be clear on these facts. This not criticism in any way, simply facts.
This is the very reason why I call out the illegitimate programs that are running rampant. I have alerted the top organizations of this activity, and unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about it. For now, we may only educate the public on where and how to seek proper counsel. There are still many people unaware of this fact. Even though we are working to standardize education, all the schools have different curriculums and no audits of these programs have been completed.
We are working diligently to change this, so all schools have the same programs. Of course, they have to be willing to revamp / uplevel curriculums to meet the standards, which takes time and costs money. They need to be audited… This will be the first step in standardizing education, and these steps are required to receive acknowledgement from the US Dept of Education, then getting states to regulate practitioners / administer exams, and make it illegal for someone to claim they are a practitioner with proper licensing…… The Chiropractors and Acupuncturists and Naturopaths had to all got through this same process….. but this process has not been completed for Ayurveda schools or practitioners yet.
Yes, it takes time, but this is where we are NOW and we should not be cloudy on these facts.
It’s important to talk about.
Kapha nature is one that is soft, slow, tender, supportive and OK with everything as it is.
The NURTURER, the foot soldier, offering lovely acts of Service.
Pitta nature is light, sharp, directing, managing and OK with supportive outcomes, but always moving.
The ORGANIZER, filled with Action.
Both are respected. Both are needed. Both are loved.
And yes, I am a feisty, passionate Pitta when I speak of these topics
Especially if you try to convince me this is NOT the current state of affairs, when it IS.
We were just speaking of Sattvic Rajas yesterday. This is where I am.
State the truth, smile and everything is well in the Universe.
I am determined in my information, but it will always come with a smile.
Dinner was Kitchari and Cilantro Chutney. YES!
I could have bowls of cilantro chutney and be OK with that.
I took a pic for my Cleanse Group
There is loud music and drums beating in the distance.
A near by village is celebrating Pongal… and now I know it means New Year!!
I will listen to the drumming while I spend the rest of the evening studying Yoga Vasishta.
Attempting stay awake and its only 7 pm
Lights out 7:30 tonight.
India Monday, January 16, 2023
Blog Post #6 WELCOME KATRIN
Ever since I discovered the insect, I am now a private detective each time I enter the bathroom in the morning and I no longer leave the door open overnight. The entire bath is a dark grey stone, so you must have a keen eye. LOL.
I am very sure all is well, but ya see, there is a back story here too.
I go through my Dinaćarya and then get over to this screen to share.
Its 4:15 am~
I knew I wanted to come to India the first time I saw it on the big screen in 1986. When Indian Jones came here to save the 3 stones, I was hooked. I decided right then and there….. that one day I would be riding an elephant here just like the pretentious blond singer.
WHELP~ Power Outage…..
and this time its not coming back on so quickly.
Glad the computer was open so I have some light!
Ah here we go. The blessed electricity.
India has called to me since I was a child…. How?
The Indiana Jones movie.
I was hooked forever.
In fact, my friend Desi and I quoted that film endlessly – especially “KALI MA” … we said that over and over and over. I was 13 years old. WHO FREAKIN KNEW I would truly come to find out what it all meant. Maybe I summoned her into my life and that’s why there was so much turmoil…. It still blows my mind of the connections that go back to my childhood.
I also fell in love with the psychedelic music of the 60’s when I was a teenager… never knew why I loved it so much…. Until one day in my current life, I heard the Sitar played… AND IT ALL MADE SENSE.
Another thing - Back in 90’s, before we were all on the internet, of course, we had no internet radio. So glimpses of music from other countries came in by way of the Chicago radios stations that played Serb, Croatian, Polish radio on Sundays on the AM… (remember AM radio?)… or by getting your hands on a record or cassette tape from another country…. Well, in 1999, we had the Y2K scare. I was working for Smith Barney in Denver CO at the time. The woman I worked for got me a short wave radio, just in case the grid went down on New Years Day…. Ya know, just in case.
Guess what I did with it? I was thrilled to have it! I waited until the middle of the night – say 2 am- so I would have the sharpest signal and I listened to all the radios stations in the world. I was so excited. But my favorite? Tuning into the Ragas of India and sitting in the dark on my couch in the middle of the night enjoying the tunes. 23 Years ago… I was 26 years old.
BUT back to the insects….
The one thing about coming to India that always stayed in my mind…. Was my first sight of it in the film.
Remember when Indiana Jones goes down the tunnel filled with insects – and then all the doors begin closing in on him…. He starts yelling for the blond chic to come to save him and she has to walk down a hall of centipedes and huge insects crawling all over her….. She has to put her hand in a hole full of hugs insects to pull a level to save his life? And he looks at her through the whole and says, “WE ARE GOING TO DIE”… The, the Fear of Death is the only thing that overrides her Fear of the Insects and she sticks her hand in there (Screaming), pulls the level and saves them both?.....
Yeah……….it’s kinda like that.
I always expected the insects in India to be like that…. and my first site of the mosquito netting stopped my heart…. My fear of insects will only be surpassed if my life is at risk. This is still the case, no matter where I am.
So there is the story for today.
I’m so glad there no buggys in the bath, K?
Out the door to flip flops in the dark~
Morning prayers seem like a song this morning.
We have a lovely long silent meditation – absolutely filled with the sound of tropical birds in all their glory of the morning.
You become hyper aware of everything here…
The sound of every animal in the jungle, the birds, the cows, the mystery elephant.
Hyper aware of your body, every morsel of food you eat, your bowel movements/your digestive system (the first indicator of health or illness), and your being asked about this each day – to pay attention.
Hyper aware of the taste of everything…. The scent of everything.
Hyper aware of every drop of water you drink (since you place your bottle outside the door to be refilled each day)…
Hyper aware of the trees, the leaves, the air and the breeze.
Hyper aware of every physical sensation and every thought….
This is the same thing that happens to those who partake in my join the cleanse group –
This hyper awareness brings to light things that are always here or happening, but goes unnoticed since we live such distracted lives…
This hyper awareness of thoughts themselves. The Yog.
These long periods of silence and time alone in your room and eating in solitude / silence are necessary for deep self-awareness and it brings stuff up to the surface.
Being here is a monastic existence… if you choose for it to be.
It can also be filled with words and distraction… if you choose for it to be.
The dark hours of the morning are golden.
It has only been a few days that I have gotten here and the excitement of it all is high in the air.
At some point, I will dwindle into the deep Yoga perhaps posts will be more filled with contemplations.
This morning, I love overhearing some of the conversations of others.
I love hearing of their Ayurveda studies, their experiences with treatment and the all out success they are experiencing in the shift of illnesses to health. Daily classes on Ayurveda are also held for those who are not practitioners or students at all, simply to explain the process and why certain things are happening or being suggested.
For many, the fundamental understanding of circadian rhythm is a brand new concept in itself.
I hear some if these classes going on and realize how light my understanding was the first visit here 8 years ago. So much has changed.
Time for Breakfast!
After breakfast, I tidy my room… and…. I am startled by a gecko!
OK, I need to have my blood pressure checked.
I start cracking up again – here in my room by myself. We are loaded with geckos in Arizona, so I don’t mind him one bit. But he jumped out at me and my heart skipped a beat. LOL!
Tidying up and making space since my Roommate is arriving today.
Katrin is the first in the group of 8. We will chat more about her soon!
Veena is having a meltdown of some sort next door.
I am creating the energy block today.
Meanwhile, beautiful Dr Suvedha comes for a visit. We chat first about my health (and Swelling)… I tell her the amount of food being brought is too much for me. I am not used to eating this much.. No snacks are necessary…. Since I woke at 2:30 am this morning (and so early every day) Breakfast seems like Lunch and Lunch seems like Dinner and when Dinner does come, I am not interested in eating, just going to sleep… Even though its only 7 pm.
Then we chat about all I have shared above – Indiana Jones (she has never heard of the films, so I explain a bit)… and we laugh at all the details of how I freakin got here. I share that these blogs seem to be sparking interest from others to come here. She is happy to hear people in the US are interested in this way of life and healing. She expresses that even in India, most people only come to Ayurveda as a last resort. If they have diabetes, they would rather take pills instead of altering food and lifestyle to nourish and heal the pancreas… and eventually the pills turn into Insulin injections, which then turns into dialysis, which then turns into blindness…. And then they come to Ayurveda for help… when the illness has now progressed to be irreversible. But if they had come in the beginning stages and implemented protocols, the pancreas would be functioning again.
We both agree that it’s a not ‘country’ that matters – it’s not ‘people in the States’ vs ‘people in India’… Its person to person in all places. If you want real healing, you will do what it takes to achieve it… or least do your best to slow the progression of the illness…. Kala (time) will always win. Its better to act as soon as possible.
I asked her of my room gets changed, would she still be my doctor and she said no, the doctor managing whatever patient block I am shifted to will then be assigned to me. I told her it is so easy that we become attached to each other. I love her already… and that thought made me a bit sad. She said she would come to visit me anyhow.
And then we went off to a wonderful puja celebration of Pongal – New Year for the Tamil people.
So, we are celebrating New Years Day today!
What a lovely ceremony. We gathering in the largest and newest Hall of Vaidyagrama (referred to as Vaideeshwaram). The priests are chanting, the ghee lamps are glowing and the fire is burning under a black caldron, decorated with and surrounded by garlands of flowers. After chanting of health and abundance for the coming year, each person in the room is invited to come to the for to scoop a cup of rice from one bowl and add it to the caldron. We will all be eating this today and it is filled with prayers and good intentions. The women are taken care of the water and the firs as if they are one with it.
Departing from the ceremony, Krish Na comes to greet me. He is the Ops Manager for Vaidyagrama and remembers me from my first visit. We became FB friends back then and has been keeping up with my posts. How amazing is that. He has been reading the blog and says everyone is fascinated about the level od detail I can offer on the surroundings. He is happy to help arrange anything needed at anytime. Thank you so much Sir!
Pics / Videos in the India 2023 album
Treatments was only Pinda Sweda today. And some of my medicine has been changed. Dr Ramadas suggested this to manage the swelling.
Semina is taking care of me, along with Ardra and Shruti.
3 Lovely ladies.
As prayers are said – I also chant the sloka with them today and Semina is surprised that I know it.
She gives a huge smile, “But you know the sloka?!”…
Yes ma’am, I do.
Just had an amazing Lunch.
Red Rice, Swish chard / Veggie Soup, Squash, Chapati and Takra Buttermilk.
After lunch had a little walk to the Gazebo. Dr Ramkumar was passing by and decided to sit down and have a chat. What a lovely 1 hour one-on-one conversation. We chatted again about not being under strain while being here. I shared with him that I am writing / posting this blog of experience and he said that was lovely, as long as writing doesn’t cause any stress. We discussed the importance and bliss of minimal living - In fact he said he has no office He said, “once you get an office, you start accumulating things in there”. He said his office is the Gazebo. How funny!
We spoke of conferences in the US, my Ayurveda teachers and the fact that I will be coming back with another group at some point in time. He welcomes me to use any of the halls to gather with my group at anytime.
He has discovered a company that makes Vedic Concrete and Vedic Paint – meaning absolutely all natural products. Vaidyagrama is as eco-friendly as it can get, but he expressed he even wants the mortar of the terra cotta to be eco friendly.
Each patient block of 4 rooms / therapy rooms is made from clay of the surrounding Earth - made with sun dried bricks. The walls have no paint on them, but a wonderful natural brick terra cotta color. The only paint used is a pure white paint which is close to the Ceiling / on the Ceiling to keep the rooms light and reflect light. The entire grounds are made from the local earth, with natural water collection tanks, filtration systems, etc. WE SHOULD TAKE NOTES. If you want to know more about the grounds themselves and the details of the construction materials, etc. – I have detailed this is the blog from my first visit here. I have shared the link a few times and I am happy to add it to comments. If I share a link here in the post, the algorithm will hide the post from everyone.
So much happening today and it only 2:30 pm.
Heading back to the entrance to greet Katrin.
She will be here around 3pm!
Katrin arrived (exhausted of course) Big hugs at the front door and Dr. Ramadas and Dr Suvedha came to greet her as well. I showed her to room – she cant believe how big our room is. She had a bath and consult and inner is doing best to stay awake. Of course, they facilities take a moment to get used to.
(I also have all the shutters open today and the breeze is beautiful. There is a large hibiscus bush blooming away right outside the shudders.)
I go for my Nasya Treatment.
Semina said it was ok to take some pics of the treatment room…
Dhanvantari statue, Flowers, ghee lamp, wooden droni table. (added to the album)
Dr. Ramadas shares a visit with me. He has changed treatment and medicines a bit to deal with the swelling. (I will refrain from sharing medicine names here, as I don’t want readers to self diagnose or begin to erroneously try to treat themselves). He takes a look at my legs and feet and says he’s confident in choices. I ask her what he thinks my future looks like regarding my spine, since the only thing Western Doctors say is full lumbar fusion. He says he would not go that route, but attempting to stay as natural as possible and that there is a way to reduce pain and live a healthy life, but it will mean that I also must accept that I can’t and will no longer be able to do things physically as I have in my 30’s and 40’s. The most important thing is pain reduction. That’s what it’s all for, right – whether natural means or surgery – the goal is the same. So, natural painkillers, continue to the move the body as much as possible and have faith that you will be OK – even if your lifestyle must change. By nature, the first 50 years are different than the last 50.
Even as I type this, it kinda brings tears to my eyes.
I have overcome an enormous amount of Trauma in this lifetime.
This too, I will need to embrace with acceptance.
I have always been a very physically strong person and doing many things with this body…
It’s a hard pill to swallow. I am getting older.
Pittas enter the Vata stage of life kicking and screaming.
I’m no different.
Thankfully, my mind flourishes with pitta and will be super sharp for years to come.
He shares some his own challenges in shifting age and time.
Gonna chew on this for a bit.
A bedtime chat with Katrin~
The gecko is hanging out on the wall.
LIGHTS OUT 8:30 pm
India Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Blog Post #7
Doing my best to move around and not wake Katrin. I woke at 3:30 am and did my Dinaćarya has quietly and as dark as possible. I know severe jetlag will be present for a couple of days and don’t want to disturb her.
Of course, the more quiet you try to be, the louder you seem to get!
Ha ~ Remember sneaking in and out of the house as a teenager? No? I DO.
I am reminded of that this morning. How funny.
Something that has dawned on me this morning is NO HOT FLASHES.
I have had 3 hot flashes since I have been here, versus 3 per hour at home.
This is the power of circadian rhythm. My Daily Kala has shifted so drastically, that the effects on my hormones are immediately evident. Proof.
The Rooster Crows.
Off to Morning Puja….
And the scent of bliss and fire.
This Morning’s Meditation
There are thousands of Yoga Teachers
There are thousands of Ayurveda Practitioners.
Each one of them may secretly wish to see their name in lights, all while teaching the balance of the ego.
They post their content, they may wish they posted the content they see in someone else.
Everyone is hosting retreats, classes, discussions, teachings….
With words and gatherings and and and and and ALL of it being very noisy….
You don’t need to see your name in lights
The only thing that matters is the conversation held at your Consultation desk, and that one life that is changed forever.
The only thing that matters is sharing the authentic teachings with other Yoga Teachers so they go forth sharing the true practice of healing in the world.
And all the other classes and gatherings will allow everyone to show up when they are meant to.
After morning prayers I tend to take the hour of internet time to come over and post these blogs. I have established a space at the Munda Palm table that makes it comfortable to continue to type quickly share and go on with my day.
Came back to have breakfast with Katrin and She was getting ready for her first treatment.
I stayed in our room for a couple of hours continuing to type, had my new medicine to deal with my swelling and Dr Suvedha came for a visit.
Then I go for my own therapy of some serious Pinda this morning. The swelling is proof that I have some blockages somewhere in the lymphatic system so this therapy helps to open the channels for lymphatic flow. It's simply getting a little hotter and a little stronger for now.
Shruti asked me about my tattoo today. All of the therapists are fascinated by the Sanskrit stamped on my skin. I suppose they feel comfortable enough to talk to me about it now since they've been taking care of me for a few days.
You have a big beautiful lunch and then I am off to play for the afternoon. There are lots of activities happening today.
2:45 p.m. Dr Suvedha is giving a talk on Marma Therapy of just the Marma points of the face and head. A few, without too much information to prevent anyone from trying to self-treat.
She smiles as I asked her to take a picture outside the hall so everyone can see what she looks like!
After this meeting, Katrin and I spend a few minutes looking through sarees that are for sale out of the vendor cabinet. Just window shopping. They are absolutely beautiful. And I'm going to guess that I may come home with one... Or, purchase one for the big ceremony that's coming up on January 20. There is a huge celebration here called the sarpapuja... Which is phenomenal and I will tell you all about it and I will share all the pictures of it when it arrives.
Then we meet with Dr Ramkumar, As you know by now is always a treat. I've uploaded a couple pics of him to the album.
****Natural Urges: The Vegas:
Cough, sneeze, hunger, thirst, sleep, crying, yawning, flatulence.
When these natural urges are suppressed, they cause illnesses and disruption in the body and mind.
They urges of the mind such as emotions, are not to be suppressed, but should be brought under control
It's important to witness the effect of our emotions on the quality of life and how it may be impacting all of our decisions. This requires meditation and contemplation and sometimes new decision making.
***The origins of Ayurveda
The very first meeting or medical conference on Ayurveda took place in the Himalayas and was attended by Agnivesa... The time frame for this is exactly unknown but expected to be 5000 to 8,000 years ago.
Someone asked a specific question about their health and Dr Ramkumar reminded that he could not answer that, only the doctors taking care of you can. He is a renowned Ayurvedic doctor, why could he not answer this question:
Because there are many factors to be taken into place before suggestions or answers can be given on health.
To be reviewed for treatment:
Dosha, Dhatu, location, climate, season, age, constitution or Prakruti, diet habits, lifestyle habits, medications, emotions and the disturbances are illnesses that are present.
This must all be understood before an Ayurvedic Practitioner can make any type of recommendation for anyone.
(Hence why those running around the US trying to do this without any education, or offering up suggestions on social media without any consultation taking place, is ludicrous)
We have protocols, or Shastra.
Then we have Vivihar, the practical application of the Shastra.
****Are Supplements Necessary
Rather than obsessing about nutrient content, focus should really be on the quality of the food, the quantity or amount that is being eaten, the state of mind that we're in when we are consuming it and how it has been prepared. This is just as important in the level of prana and support of the food for the body. Most people are consumed with calculating figures, leaving all of the other pranic understanding and implementation behind.
***Through Tapas and Jnana, we clear the Rajas and cultivate Sattvic understanding
This meeting was followed by another mind-blowing session with Dr Ramadas speaking about why we do our morning Puja and evening prayers and what it is that truly brings healing to the body and mind...
He shared that things are different in Āyurveda because it's not just a health for the body but a health that focuses on the spiritual and energetic balance of each patient. This is where true wellness lies.
He also stated a fact that struck me deeply.
Our illness is arrived for 2 factors:
The karma of a past life
The karma of this life
Most times, we directly create our own illnesses by the way that we live our lives, the food that we eat, and how we keep or do not keep circadian rhythm of nature.
If we arrive at the door of type 2 diabetes, it is really of our own doing... We must take responsibility.
We must say, "I have created my illness and now I must do atonement".... and follow protocols to heal.
The kicker in all of this is that lifestyle diseases don't require medicine. They are simply cured by diet and change of regimens and lifestyle.
Is only those willing to seek out their true health who will find that balance. Otherwise it will continue to consume chemical medicines and will never feel well.
Dr Ramadas is like a giant Kapha Pitta teddy bear, that says all the right things, and no matter how bad you feel within two sentences changes your mind. It's hard not to stand in complete awe and respect of his knowledge and pranic energy that he distributes throughout this entire campus.
So, between all of the classes, then going to evening prayers, I ended up skipping dinner.
I came back to my room just in time to get my notebook and books to go back to Dr Ramada's house (along with Fatima from Turkey. Fatima is an Electrical Engineer that now lives in Germany - We had an incredible conversation on Nikolai Tesla!). We are students that study with Dr Ramadas every Tuesday morning, so for him, it's Tuesday night, where we are now.
So all the students that we normally see online from all across the world we get to see from Dr Ramadas' office, which was just a lovely treat! Hi Ivy!
Class was in-depth discussion on Laṅghana and Bṛmhaṇa therapies in Panchakarma.
After class, Fatima introduces me to a group that gathers every night in the gazebo to sing. They are from the Middle East. I met a wonderful woman named Leanna from Iran. What a conversation about her feelings on what's happening to the women in our country.
Everyone sits in the gazebo from 8:15 to 9:15 each evening and as amateurs shares different songs with each other! It is so lovely! Of course, I did not know this was taking place because I've been going to sleep at 7:30 p.m. up until today!
So many conversations.
So many stories.
It's 10:00 p.m.!
India, January 18, 2023
Blog Post #8
Walking the Walk.
To be in this place, you must be willing to strip down.
Not just strip down and bare your butt to your therapists,
but strip down and bare your soul to yourself.
You must be willing to strip down.
You're getting scoured.
There’s a lot going on here for a lot of people from around the world. When we ask each other “How are you doing today?” - sometimes the answer is “Wonderful!” and on other days it may be “Today, it’s kinda rough”… and we offer a soft pat to the back or a touch to a shoulder. And then we laugh. You always know the therapies being done when you see someone with a head covering or umbrella…. Yep, it’s the ghee.
As Dr Ramadas says, Panchakarma is not for the faint of heart.
I will never make any suggestions to my clients that I have not sat with myself.
All knowledge and suggestions I share with my clients have I do daily or have done myself.
And the suggestions I make don’t come close to what you experience here.
THIS IS AS AYURVEDA AS IT GETS
Your feet are never going to be clean.
Get over it.
And just so everyone knows, I am probably going to return having developed the Indian ‘Head Bob’. I cant help it.
There was a lot happening last night, so I fell asleep at 10:30 pm.
I got back to me room and there seemed to some loud issues with my neighbor gain.
Dr Suvedha came to visit to remedy the situation (in her pajamas) – and then stopped by my room to scold me for missing my 4 pm Nasya therapy yesterday. Whoops. I didn’t think I had Nasya any longer and it was a miscommunication. Also, with all of the activities and classes, I did not return to my room. So, the therapists couldn’t find me.
This is precisely what happens when you fail to listen properly or step out of your focus and you fail to do what’s best for you. I apologized and we agreed this therapy is still taking place. I go to bed with my tail between my legs.
Woke at 4:15 am
Brush teeth, scrap tongue, wash face, ears, nose, ears.
Comb back oiled hair for a tight black braid. Oiled face. Lip Balm.
Bright and Fresh.
Today I wear Green and Gold.
I drape and pin a shiny pashmina to hang over my shoulder and down to my feet.
The side hangs low with a back tunic and long green skirt. Almost a sari. I love it.
Off to Morning Puja.
I hear a medium size animal startled by me, scurrying through jungle trees and honestly…… I don’t want to know what it is. HA! I quicken my step on the dimly lit path to the prayer hall.
There are many people here, but not all partake in morning and evening prayers. Of course, it not mandatory – but I live for morning Puja here. I am always early.
It feeds my soul.
I love deep chants, ghee lamps, Agni Hotra Fire and sandalwood, turmeric and kum kum paste.
I love honoring the divinity of the Goddess energy –
of Mother Earth, Mother Nature, The Divine Feminine.
To celebrate all energy in existence, within and without the Cosmos.
I never got this feeling sitting through a Catholic Mass.
(Yet, I do not identify as a Hindu)….. but I do feel that I am on the path if seeking/sustaining dharma.
A long meditation today brings up lots of memories of different points in my life. These experiences that have profoundly shaped me to think the way I do today –
I've been a black sheep since the day I was born, in my youth, teenage years, 20’s, 30’s and 40’s…. I have always been the one that didn’t fit into any box.
Maybe I am too deep of a thinker. Maybe my fire burns too hot. Maybe I am too strict. Maybe I am too pragmatic. Maybe pain makes you pragmatic to cope with it. Maybe I am too bold.
Maybe I am too much of a Protector. Maybe I’m Right ~ Maybe I’m Wrong.
Whatever it is…. Its me. I smile. Worked on my traumas and psyche for many years to find the sincere peace that now resides within this mind. I’m so glad that that’s all over.
I have no hang-ups lingering.
I truly am in deep peace.
And I am contemplating it all sitting in Chin Mudra in front of a fire in round prayer hall with 15 others in jungle in India.
I notice my sense of smell and taste getting sharper.
Which is sometimes a challenge with this medicine.
Now, my water bottle is filled with a thicker herbal decoction – so I am no longer drinking clear water, only herbs. Ans its rough.
I was chasing down the other herbs with water – and now I can only chase down the bitter herbs with bitter herbs.
The herbs are getting stronger and the challenge is increased.
But that’s what I’m here for.
Detailed in the Ashtanga Hṛdayam, Chapter 14
The reduction therapies of Laṅghana make the senses sharper.
These therapies eliminate toxins, ama, excess dosha.
These therapies bring clarity to the tissues.
Laṅghana brings dryness.
It ‘squeezes’ you.
These therapies bring nourishment and opening to the brain and liver.
It brings lightness to the body and mind, improves tastes.
It ‘washes’ toxin and ama and sludge away from the system.
This is done by cleansing digestive system, increasing circulation, expanding Rasa and Rakta flow (plasma, lymph, blood) by and opening the channels – This happens with food, digestives, laxatives and dipanas – depending on the persons Vikruti (imbalanced doshas).
This allows the senses to become more keen.
This also means that natural thirst will come. The upper part of the digestive system and the lungs and throat become clear and open. Your sense of smell become sharper.
Those who join for cleanse with me are also aware of this result.
What must also consider is the clarity of mind.
When we see things clearly, better decisions may be made.
Realistic goals may be set.
Proper processing of the past may take place.
All of this together brings higher states of energy.
Prana is flowing.
The mind is clear.
I can taste everything.
Dr Suvedha comes and I apologize again for missing my therapy and explain the miscommunication. I take responsibility for my error and she gives me the thumbs up.
Isn’t it wonderful that you have 2 doctors coming to check on you each and everyday?
They ask you ALL details on your physical and mental state.
My severe swelling is being focused on now, so medicines will get stronger to manage whatever is causing a block in my lymph.
Time for Pinda Sweda
What is this anyway?
Pinda = Bolus, a soft rounded mass
Swedana = Sweating
During this procedure, a bolus of hot rice that has been cooked with special vata-pacifying herbs is soaked in an herbal milk decoction of nutritive herbs. This hot bolus is then pounded / rubbed vigorously over the entire body, focusing on specifically on muscle tissue and joints.
It improves Muscle Tone and Nourishes Mamsa dhatu.
ls highly beneficial for degenerative muscle and/or joint disorders.
The Poultices of herbs sit on a hot plate (and are searing hot) – then are pounded onto the wood table to cool them down, then patted into the therapists hands to check temp before pummeling you with them.
As I am getting undressed, I can hear Shruti pounding the poultice into the wood bed already. Hard.
I joke with her from behind the curtain…. “Shruti, it sounds like your ready to kick my ass.” She smiles and I am not sure if she knew what I said or that I was joking with her…..
but then proceeds to kick my ass.
And yes, getting pounded in the chest and stomach, all the way to your feet will strengthen you.
In fact, today is the first day that I can feel a bit of muscle soreness, similar to lifting weights.
This is exactly what this therapy does.
Done with therapy and glowing down the hall way.
Today, Ardra walks me back to my room.
The song playing today is the most beautiful I have ever heard and I have decided I am going to learn to sing it. Need to find it online when I have access to the web.
We have a group lunch today.
One time per week, we gather to eat lunch together, rather in solitude in our room.
But I think I am going to skip it for this time around. I will attend next week.
Eating alone in silence.
Chewing every bite. Noticing every taste. Every scent.
Off to see everyone at the hall and walk laps of the campus to see if it will reduce the swelling.
Chatted with Mark. A fisherman from Boston, but lives in California.
16 surgeries on his weary body to keep joints intact.
He is here for native options.
Came back to my room and chatted with Katrin for a bit.
Dr Suvedha came by my room with Sujatha Rajendran who honored me with a visit and hello! Dr Ramkumar’s sister, so pleased to meet you! Blessed to be in the presence of so many beautiful people.
Off to another Class with Dr. Ramadas.
Chanting to Ganesha each morning is to invoke the energy that may our following pursuits be met without obstacles. It is not begging or asking for anything, but invoking the energy of the elephant.
The ancient Seers developed symbolic pranic energy that removes obstacles to be in Elephant form, due the elephants characteristics.
Elephants never walk a trail. Instead, they blaze their own way through the forest, using their truck as a navigation. They will never take a path already made.
Big Ears to listen well. Sharp eyes to see clearly.
Prayer / Mantras are simply tools, as all things happen with divine energy.
Prayer allows us to focus on this energy.
Saraswathi is the Goddess of Knowledge.
Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth & Abundance.
All that we strive for prevails within the Divine Feminine energy.
You may choose any deity that represents and energy and speaks to you.
That’s why there are millions of deities in the Hindu world.
So each person can invoke the form that speaks to them in that moment. It is simply to form to what we are feeling.
In the mythical stories of the Puranas, if a person is sitting and meditating, then Shiva shows up to grant a boon (wish/desire)….. this is symbolic of your own consciousness appearing for you.
If we have the mindset that “I am the reason for everything”… then we will always suffer. When we shift to say, “There is something greater than me”, then we soften our ego and will find more acceptance of the challenges we face. In reality, we know that that definitely is something greater than, whatever that is…. We cannot deny that. When we deny it, we suffer.
The story of the ‘Churning of the milky ocean’ causes poison to arise from it first, followed by Dhanvantari appearing with the nectar of life (similar to the churning of cream to create butter, to create ghee). In the story, the ‘churning’ is done by both the Gods and the Demons. This represents the churning of the mind. Sattva on one side and Tamas on the other. This churning must occur, and perhaps poison shows up first, but the continuation of the churning with arise Amrita.
For me, this story coincides with battle ensuing withing the Bhagavad Gita. The battle is not really that of a war, but symbolic of the battle of the mind.
All stories are designed to teach Mind Control and Transformation for a happy and successful life.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM
We had a wonderful chat about this, but I ask you this question as well.
Post a comment below about what you think
Back to my room for a long evening chat.
I skipped afternoon snack and dinner again.
My appetite is strong in the morning and disappears in the afternoon.
Falling into circadian rhythm and inline with the Doṣic Day.
Seems we chatting a bit too long and Dr Suvedha came at 9:30 to gently remind us it’s LIGHTS OUT.
We've decided Dr Suvedha appears silently like a genie in a bottle. And we love her.
India January 19, 2023
Blog Post #9
Taking a little break today from a long post.
It's one of those days that requires quiet and herbal painkillers.
No mud, no lotus.
More to come
India January 21, 2023
Blog Post #10
The crickets chirp in the morning darkness.
Today was my best day of sleep... 8 pm - 5 am. Like a stone.
I've decided if I were to ever write a book about my experiences here it would be called "Flip Flops in the Dark".
Because the highlight of my day is morning prayers...
The Vishnu Sahasranamam ....
The Hanuman Chalisa ....
The Agni Hotra....
The strength and grace of Dr Ramada's voice.
The calling in of our own higher consciousness through chanting Aum Namah Shivaya.
It changes you.
It is the Discipline.
It is the deep Yoga.
There's a lot going on in meditation.
Sometimes it's peaceful.
Sometimes it's like wrestling alligators.
Day 11 here and this is the time when things really begin to unfold.
I have met so many people, from so many places... All with stories of a lifetime that brought them to this place. No matter what, the story is the same. It is the witnessing of self and the abandonment of the senses of the body.
YOU MUST SURRENDER TO BE HERE
We sit in the morning hall as the crickets chirp, and the screen door squeaks as we enter the room in the darkness.
1 hour later we emerge with the sun rising and the birds chirping and the pleasantries of asking each other of sleep and therapy.
The pause in the writing has occurred due to a day of intense pain and needing to stay quiet... Along with beautiful talks with Dr Suvedha and Dr Ramadas about my future.... and perhaps a few necessary tears. How loving and supportive they are. Dr. Suvedha says, "But don't cry, Karla. You are the strongest one we know".....and then tells me everyone in this place is here for my support and healing. Then she says to have a good cry and then leave it behind.
I’m tough as nails.
The day before yesterday I was given some castor oil to begin the process of my actual Panchakarma. Those who join my seasonal cleanses know that we use a small amount of castor oil to cleanse the digestive system.
YOU HAVE TO SURRENDER TO BE HERE
Dr Ramadas continues to speak of the process of attornment.
"This is the challenging part. The true results happen when you get home."
I will take this opportunity to share with you the process of Panchakarma.
CLEANSING OF THE COMPLETE SELF
This is depth of what I am doing here. (and a hundred others from around the world. With more people coming everyday.)
Panchakarma a powerful and mindful time of many intense practices. It is very different from the mainstream 'cleanse's out there do not include cleanse of mind, emotions and energy. A large piece to creating health and balance is slowing it down to notice our tendencies and to witness how it that we care for ourselves, not just during this time, but ALL the time.
I realize I am about to throw a lot of Sanskrit words in here, but felt that its important to introduce the authenticity of this practice to those who are new and to offer it with deeper scope for those who may have been caring for themselves this way for a few years now.
In it's deepest authenticity - This practice is done in SOLITUDE. Each meal should be alone in silence. There should be no loud speaking, excessive talking or laughing. this would be extremely challenging to do when we are surrounded by friends, family, work, obligations, temptations and technology – that draw our attention.
AMA is best translated as toxin, but it is much more than that. It is a coating that builds up and resides all over the body - Ama is the thick coating of toxic substances that build up in the tissues, joints, organs, fat cells and even in the mind, or Manovaha Srota. Ama builds up, causing pain, disease, and blockage. - as well as in the mind. Pulling Ama out of it's hiding places allows for clarity, health and prevention of illness. This requires Laṅghana Therapy described in a previous post.
It may also take a few times of routine to access deeper and deeper levels of Ama. This is also the reason why each time you come into a cleansing, you will have a different experience.
Eliminating AMA is not just the build up coating in our system, but also the cloudiness of our mind. It clarifies thought if we are having trouble thinking clearly or our memory is slow. Picture a dusty and dirty mirror that you can barely see in - it does not allow a clear reflection. This cleanse is like wiping the mirror clean, allowing for clarity - not just of the body - but also allows us to see ourselves and our life with CLARITY.
It also combines Jnana Yoga of self disciplines and study.
It restores healthy energy levels, lowers risk of illness and prepares our whole system for the upcoming shift in temperatures in your climate. It clears the digestive system, allowing for beneficial nutrient absorption, allows for clear and hydrated skin, and offers a sense of grounding and calmness.
Panchakarma is a highly detailed process.
ACTIONS & PRACTICES
1. PURVAKARMA "Before" ACTION
Removal of processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, meat and eggs
*Dinacharya (Focused Daily Routine)
*Snehana (Internal & External Oleation)
Pulls toxins and excess heat from all areas of the body into the Purishivaha Srota (digestive tract) by implementation of customized Ahara (dietary guidelines) based on digestive disorders.
The practice of Dinacharya and Snehana assists in this process.
FOODS, HERBS, OILS, ETC CHOSEN FOR YOUR DOSHIC IMBALANCE
PLEASE KNOW THIS PRACTICE IS CONTRAINDICATED FOR SOME
* Ahara - Foods/Hydration – Customized Mono Diet
* Internal Snehana - Internal Oleation - Ingesting ghee
* Abhyanga (and numerous other oil and herbal massages)
Full Body Oil Massage / External Oleation (also arterial/lymphatic cleanse)
* Shiro-Abhyanga - Oiling of Hair cleanses hair follicle, strengthens, nourishes, makes lustrous, reduces hair fall
* Swedana - Heat therapy to 'sweat’ to pull toxin from Lymph / Rasa Dhatu (Blood Plasma)
* Neti/Nasya - Cleansing of Nose & Nasal/Sinus passages with oil
* Karna Purana - Cleansing of Ears with oil
*Decreased technology use
*Scraping Ama from the tongue
*Warm herbal waters (hot water being the first thing you put into your body each day)
*Dinacharya practices of Snehana and oiling the body
*Having a slowed, mindful breakfast - Kitchari with grains, legumes and vegetables, cooked fruits
* Plenty of warm water to pull and flush all Ama from it’s hiding places.
This is ALL Preparation for Purgation Therapies
To purge all Ama from the system, pulling from Liver, gallbladder, blood and lymph
Its the very reason why the rules are stringent on who and when we may do it.
2. PURIFICATION ACTION
Herb/Oil-induced purge to cleanse blood, intestines, liver & gall bladder.
Treats joints, blood, organs, bones & skin.
*Basti (Colonic Enema)
Herb/Oil/Milk, etc induced purge
Treats Bones, Organs, Tissues, Malnutrition, Vitamin Deficiencies & Pain
*Vamana (emesis) for Kapha Imbalances
*Nasya Therapy (Nasal Administration of Oils
*Rakta Mokṣa (Blood Letting)
3. PASCHATKARMA - Rejuvenation Stage
* Continuation of Ahara & Dinacharya - Rejuvenation of the sense organs
* Daily Mantra of Health & Purification
* Ongoing Rasāyanas, Brahmana Therapy
* Ongoing Yoga & Meditation Practice
Grains, Root Veggies, Boiled milk w/ spices
Deeply Nourishing substances, eaten with full awareness and prayer.
Healing & Balance of THE COMPLETE SELF
After 11 days in Purvakarma, I am now starting Panchakarma.
Dr Ramadas administered suggested Oil to incite the movement of Apana Vayu (Subdosha of Vata) in proper direction.
Next steps: 5 days straight of Daily Basti and deep oil massages to my body (being doused in hot oil and worked on by 2 therapists at a time). No longer having a dry pounding of poultices, but ones filled with leaves of herbs and oil and heated to be pounded rubbed along the spine. In the afternoons, I will have warm oil continuously poured across my low back.
I will see how much strength I have to type - but would love to share what I can.
I also wish to share so much more of Sarpa Bali Puja and the Sivananda Swami I hope for you to meet in Chicago in August.
YOU HAVE TO SURRENDER TO BE HERE.
Blessings from the jungle.
India January 22, 2023
Blog Post #11
I am detached from time.
My journal is filled with meditations.
The scent of jasmine flowers fills my hair.
Not sure what day of the month or day of the week it is, unless I really turn my focus to it.
The excitement of the Sarpa Puja is till chatted about amongst attendees.
I have shared in my pics that Robert Svoboda and Krishna Das were also in attendance. What a beautiful ritual. It takes place ere at Vaidyagrama every year on Jan 20 to celebrate the inauguration of the center. The land was inhabited by snakes and thy have been essentially ‘kicked out’ of their habitat, and the ceremony to ask forgiveness (penance, so to speak) from Mother Nature for killing, eradicating, or displacing snakes from their natural home. The ceremony is breathtaking ~with the intricate and beautiful image of a cobra drawn with powder, surrounded by hundreds of Diya candles and numerous ghee lamps burning, bells ringing and 2 priests drumming and singing the whole time. This goes on for almost 2 hours, as different chants are said, and rice and flowers are placed as offerings. At the end, the entire crowd is offered a handful of jasmine flowers as prasad, and I was 1 of 5 picked to receive prasad from the head priest. That prasad is herbs and flowers, wrapped in a banana leaf. I was instructed tat I should keep this gift wrapped in paper and stored in an area that holds my valuables (jewelry Box, safe, etc) and the energy will bring me prosperity and abundance. If and when I ever decide to discard of this gift, it may be buried in the dirt to give back to the earth. Vaidyagrama posted some images on the event on their social media pages and there are images of myself, Robert Svoboda and Krishna Das receiving the blessings from the priest.
I am on day 2 of Basti therapies.
I definitely feel lighter in my body.
Compared to the last couple of posts of pain and tears, I feel like a million bucks today.
I completed my first 2 bastis with flying colors and wow did I have the best massage of my life today.
My daily treatment has been shifted from the Pinda Sweda to now full body Abhyanga and Patrapinda Sweda. I can already tell a difference…. And I am wondering if the intense pain that I felt was simply a healing crisis coming up.
What is a Healing Crisis?
"It is a positive event that we should strive towards. Accurately interpreted, it is seen as a confirmation of successful detoxification and regeneration. Unfortunately, this rather confusing experience presents symptoms similar to illness. It is therefore easily misinterpreted as deterioration in health.
Sometimes you often have to feel worse as part of the process of getting better. This is particularly true in the case of an illness related to toxicity of some kind. A healing program requires toxins to be flushed out of the body, thus lifting their suppressive effect from the body’s normal functions.
Throughout our lives, toxins build up in our body tissues through exposure to air, water and food pollution, food additives, medications, stress, hormones and even through normal daily activity.
Accumulations of these waste materials stress the body in many ways: by contributing to a weakened immunity, by reducing energy and vitality, and sometimes by causing an imbalance in our emotional health. Unless you are living a pure, natural, healthy and active lifestyle, the levels of toxins in your body will rise as you age.
This will certainly be the case for those of us who consume the average North American, Australian, or English diets, which are rich in factory farmed meats, eggs and dairy products, chemically grown fruits and vegetables, and highly processed foods. It is equally true for those who use alcohol and/or cigarettes or who are exposed to high levels of stress and pollution. Any degree of toxicity results in the acceleration of aging, while simultaneously increasing your vulnerability to any disease to which you may be predisposed.
In order to eliminate toxins from your body, optimize your immune strength and stimulate tissue regeneration, the most important first step is to stop putting the wastes into your body. Once you stop putting poisons in, the body will begin to expel accumulated poisons from the tissues.
Supporting this detoxification process by eating small meals of organic foods and using detoxifying herbs, homeopathics, purified water and herbal remedies can make the process of elimination more efficient and more comfortable for the person experiencing the detox.
Both the purge of toxins and waste materials and the activation of your body’s repair and healing mechanisms will likely be evident to you as they are happening. As the body cleans itself, it releases stored toxins from deep within our tissues. The toxins are then moved through the blood and lymph and eliminative organs (liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin) on their way out of the body. As these toxins and metabolic debris make their way out of the body, they can temporarily congest our eliminative organs, lymph and blood; causing the various symptoms associated with a healing event. In fact, they can become more concentrated in your blood on the way out than they were on the way in, and their effect on you can be temporarily quite acute.
WHAT DOES A HEALING CRISIS FEEL LIKE?
The actual symptoms experienced during a healing crisis can include fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, boils, chills, aches and pains, skin eruptions, flatulence, irritability or depression, headache, nausea, chest or head cold, shooting pains, disorientation, mental fogginess, dizziness, coughing, build up of mucous, etc. Transitional restlessness, unusual dreams and a change in sleep patterns (or an increase in sleep requirements) are also common. If you are healing from a chronic illness, your symptoms of illness can become more pronounced for a short time.
The more severe your condition, the more pronounced your healing crises are likely to be. If you become very uncomfortable, you may be tempted to turn to over the counter medications for relief. Pain killers, for example, may be seen as welcome relief, but can actually suppress the healing process and prolong the rebalancing process. As an alternative, appropriately chosen herbal remedies can be a desirable option as they can reduce discomforts such as pain, swelling or gastrointestinal distress while supporting the healing process.
EMOTIONAL HEALING CRISIS
An emotional issue (associated with a particular layer of healing) may arise during the physical healing. It may emerge alone or in combination with a healing episode that is physical in nature. This can be seen as an opportunity to achieve healing on more than one level.
You can interpret the emergence of a specific emotional issue as a gentle signal from your psyche that it is time to deal with it. In some cases, it is essential that we address both the emotional and physical issues in order to successfully pass through the next layer of healing. If we address one part but not the other, the healing may be incomplete and have to be addressed again at a later date. "
The therapies I am now receiving is Abhyanga and Patrapinda~
Abhyanga is a massage that’s done with warm oil. The oil is applied on the entire body, from the scalp to the soles of your feet. It’s the most popular massage in Ayurveda. It is performed by 2 therapists at the same time, mirroring they strokes on each side of the body. It is really indescribable.
This treatment is similar in a way to the Pinda Sweda treatment except for the fact that herbal oils are made use of instead of milk. The treatment is usually done after a light oil massage or Abhyanga; and it offers relief from many conditions related to bones, muscles, and nerves. It is used in the treatment of back pain, Sciatica, Sprains, Spondylosis, and in keeping the body youthful and flexible. The leaves of specific Ayurvedic herbs, are heated and fried along with other herbal ingredients and are tied into boluses and heated together with medicated oil which is then massaged all over the body. In Ayurveda, Swedana is a treatment procedure that specifically involves inducing sweating in an individual through heat application in the form of steam or other heated remedies. As the body begins sweating due to the Swedana treatment, stiffness, heaviness, and coldness are eliminated.
The Benefits of Patra Pinda Sweda include its ability to reduces muscular pain, joints stiffness, swelling, sprains and cramps, spondylitis, and chronic back pain. It is also a profoundly anti-ageing and rejuvenating treatment.
These 2 therapies happen daily in the morning, then I have an additional one at 5 pm, called Picchu.
It is the pouring of hot oil across my low back.
Today, during my afternoon therapy, it was so quiet.
Laying on the droni, with silent hot oil pouring.
Then it began to downpour rain.
What an incredibly serene and surreal moment.
Hari Aum Tat Sat
India January 23, 2023
Blog Post #12 WELCOME LAURIE & ERIC
The rain that poured yesterday afternoon was divine. It is the first rain of the winter season here in the south of India.
The style of our patient block is one large building, with 4 patient rooms in a perfect square, 2 therapy rooms, a kitchen and the doctor’s office. In the center of the patient rooms is a square courtyard with a beautiful, viney tree and allows for sunlight to fill the space outside our doors. The rain also came pouring onto this courtyard and was so wonderful to listen to.
This morning I woke to the lingering humidity. The air is warm and the trees are lush. I used the flashlight on my phone to light the way on the dim path to morning prayers. Today, 2 different frogs crossed different points of the path before I reached Brahma Kalam (Prayer Hall).
A newfound awareness has me being super careful walking in the darkness now. Just yesterday, a women in my patient block was not watching her step and ended up stepping on a small snake that bit her in the ankle as a natural reaction. Since snakes are poisonous here, the doctors acted swiftly and calmly to get her over to a clinic for emergency style medical attention. She is from Australia, so I am sure snakes are not foreign to her. When she came back today, the entire center greeted her to check on her wellbeing. She is smiling and fine but had a little fright. I met her and in my best attempt at an Australian accent, I said to her ‘Tryin to make yaself famous, are ya?” She laughed and gave me a hug and kiss. She said she is superfine, but has a newfound awareness of our fragility.
It is a good reminder of the same thing we do in Arizona (where snakes, scorpions and geckos are everywhere): WATCH YOUR STEP IN THE DARK.
So Many Wonderful interactions are occurring.
I have met people from the US (California!), Australia, England, Turkey, Germany, India and Switzerland. I have met a Journalist, Molecular Biologist, a Professor from U of I, Ayurveda Practitioners/Students, an Electrical Engineer, Yoga Teachers, etc. from all over the world. It is quite invigorating and allows for wonderful, in-depth cerebral conversations. I have been invited to many homes in California.
So many individuals from all parts of the world, managing completely different lives, but all here at the same time to go through the withering…. through the scouring of themselves…. to find a path to their Health in Mind. Health in Body. Health in Spirit.
I feel so blessed with this opportunity.
Today I spent some time sharing my 315 slide PowerPoint I use for Client and Class Discussions with Dr Suvedha and Dr Ramadas. They happened to arrive as I was typing away on the computer and it was a great chance to share how I teach/share Ayurveda with others. Being the Pitta I am, I was quite pleased with Dr Ramadas’ approval…. and even some eyebrow raises and smiles of disbelief. I received a couple of ‘Wows’. Dr Suvedha even went to get her dairy to take notes. I am so excited for them to see how I take the slokas and slokas of texts I have learned and transform them into something digestible for our Western Minds. Dr Suvedha even asked to take a couple of pics of slides since she was impressed with them. Beaming.
I have had wonderful conversations to Dr Suvedha. I think everyone who knows me, knows I’m a talker! I have also shared pictures of my home and my husband and what I looked like before menopause showed up in my life. She smiles and asks lots of questions about life in general – I love to share it – Then she asks, “Oh, so you have been wearing your colored lenses for some time?” – and I laugh – She thinks I am wearing colored contact lenses. I tell her most people think I am – but no – these blues are real and then prove it with my childhood pic. She wishes to return to the PowerPoint and see more of we learn Ayurveda in the US. I’m more than inclined to share it.
Dr Suvedha also shared that she works at another clinic for Kottakal and also does Consults at home, as well as makes all natural cosmetics, skin care products and bath/beaty products. (A girl after my own heart)….. She works her tail off. AND she drives herself in her own car back and forth to work. (Remember the driving, roads, traffic I mentioned before?) I told her she should beat her chest.
I let her know I will definitely order some things that she makes and I probably know a bunch of other women that would like to do the same. She has an Instagram page that I will obtain and share.
WELCOMING LAURIE & ERIC
The next 2 members of my group arrived today. Karin, myself, Dr Ramadas and Dr Suvedha greet them at the reception area. As always, the arrival comes with exhaustion and delirium (yet excitement from the drive) and settling in will take a day or 2. Dr Suvedha whisks them away for orientation and Consultation.
Satsang with Dr Ramkumar always includes mind-expanding perspectives.
Today’s HOT Topics:
***Misuse and/or misunderstanding of ancient texts when it comes to the use of substances in combination of yoga.
One of the Swamis of Sivananda (there are few here) shared the exact lines of texts written that have been misinterpreted. He has also lived with Saddhus that were angered by his denial of such practices and that he needed to share the teachings and explanations with them.
If one wants to use cannabis or psychedelics, that it their choice, but it should not be correlated and combined with the practice of yoga – substances are not used as yogic tools. The 8 limbs of Yoga are…. You can call it something else, but it is not yoga….
There were many perspectives and arguments shared about how this practice has been done by Saddhus, but WE are NOT Saddhus and these nomads also live life by the Left Handed Tantra… Which means they also drink human blood and eat soup out of human skulls. They go against the classical teachings.
What is The Left-Hand Path? It is led by TAMAS
Termed Vama Marga Tantra in Sanskrit, this path attempts to overcome the deceptions of Avidyamaya by “any means possible” but sometimes without a clear goal of attaining yoga, or spiritual union. This path is legendary for its highly advanced sexual practices and the explicit use of occult powers. Hence, it is also often considered a path of Avidya Tantra, or the kind of occult magic common in shamanism. The main challenges on this path are the many temptations for misusing one’s physical and psychic desires and powers.
Some Tantric adepts on this path claim they have transcended all worldly attachments while making a show of doing whatever they wish—they may drink heavily; they may have sex with multiple partners; they may live in poverty or riches.
While some gurus on this path are enlightened and authentic teachers, it is nevertheless a risky path. Filled with many contradictions and dangers—both for student and teacher—this path has many pitfalls and often lacks any clear ethical or cultural customs to be guided by.
In some schools of Left-hand Tantra, however, a disciple will follow strict codes of discipline and morality until he or she is allegedly enlightened and ready to lead the unconventional life of a Crazy Wisdom teacher.
Because the Left-handed Path appeals to our CONTEMPORARY EXCESSES of sex, ego, fame and entertainment, it is often this path’s gratuitous excesses that are labeled Tantra in the West. In reality, this path is quintessentially not representative of Tantra, and its exaggerated practices are not required.