Wednesday, February 27, 2013

love potion # 7

what do i eat during snehapana besides oil? firstly, oil here is considered medicine. as far as food goes. if and when all the oil has been digested, which is probably late afternoon to early evening, i get to have  thin congee and broth. it sounds terrible. but once the oil is in me all i focus on is frequently sip hot water and pay attention to burps. do they smell oil? o, yes, and also, do i feel hungry? i mean, literally, do i feel thunder in stomach?

last year, in my first round of panchakarma i drank oil for 3 days. this year i am upgraded. to 7 days. a sure sign that this is digging into deeper stuff. honestly on the eve before the final day i saw doubts flickering in the back of mind. i am not sure if i could do this another day. this afternoon i walked into the treatment room for a short massage and, boom, i was nauseous just from the oil particles floating in the air. it doesn’t help that i feel belly ache, ear ache, dizzy. at 8 pm hwubby took charge and beeped doctorji. dr harikrishnan came right over, literally in moments. after all his room is just a walkway from ours. by the way according to ayurveda text the relationship between doctor and patient is like father and son? what does that mean? well, father and son live under one roof. here in vaidyagrama they want authentic text so  the doctors live with their patients. this is practically a home hospital. and i have to say i am deeply moved by the way the doctors here are dedicated to provide authentic ayurveda care, to the point they either move their families to vaidyagrama or visit. the way the doctors live is what they teach us. live simply. live well. live healthy. live happy. they truly walk the talk. their strong and pure intention infuse the treatments and meds with that much more potency.

anyway back to the night before oil drinking day 7. doctorji examines and treats me. the truth is, having him by bedside, tapping up and down the belly, feeling his kind and caring presence already makes me feel better. i ask the burning question as i chew the tablets he gives me, doctorji, do you think i can make it? he says, do you want to? wow. his question reveals the light in my heart. i realize i am the one who have to take responsibility for my health. as dr ramkumar again and again says loud and clear, doctors are not healers, they are catalysts to help you to heal. if i do want to be truly healthy i have to put in some effort. there is this source of strength and courage and happiness within. the reason i am here for round two is to access that place and reclaim ownership of it. answering doctorji’s question i say, yes, i want to, i do. indeed, this is why i am here, therefore keep my eye on the purpose. the rest are just situations to take care of.

and so i surrender to the highest self, plunge into my purpose, take another 180 ml of warm golden oil with loud repetitions of om namah shivaya and the understanding that i am taking another step closer to liberation.

this also happens to be jan 1, 2013. a major puja is going on all day.

 major prasad too. look at that. rice, milk, jaggery, nuts, banana. honest to my highest self. i look at them, appreciate them, happy that i am in such a glorious puja and i am totally satisfied that i am bestowed a morsel of prasad. doctorji is right. that's how prasadam should be. every particle has absorbed the vibration of mantras and the nectar of devotion. more than worth its weight in gold.

meanwhile what about hwubby? he is super brave. on 6th day he took a full cup of 210 ml. he jokingly says, what are they going to do on 7th day? a second cup? well, no. turns out doctorji is really clever and compassionate. hwubby takes one look at the cup and says, this is a bigger cup. he looks down into the half empty cup and says, how much is this? doctorji, with a twinkle in his eyes, says, will tell you later. yeah. or else the mind will go, o me o my i don’t know if i can do 250 ml.

i must send a big bravo to hwubby. thru out snehapana he has not had any lox and bagel thought. as a matter of fact, we have been here for 3 weeks and he has not had craving for latte. i am not doing that bad either. for six days during snehapana i have had not food craving. until the last. guess what i am think obsessively about? congee. not plain white congee. i am talking about congee, chinese style. the whole host of ways that chinese do congee. chicken congee. fish congee. beef congee. squid congee. peanut congee. thousand year egg congee. nonetheless i have to applaud the power of having congee for 3 weeks. here i am talking about congee for breakfast, lunch and supper. and boiled veg. anyway, after three weeks of congee-fication even food thoughts are simpler, purer. hey, look at it this way. i’m not craving for double cheese burger or deep fried chicken or barbecue spare ribs. i consider this major progress. to arrive at this state of being is nothing to sneeze at. i mean, look at this. i would have gone to town with them not so long ago. but now i behold them with such light and lightness in me. really i taste the sweetness suffusing my being. i have a realization. this is why prasad is always sweet. it is an outer expression of the innermost self.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

love potion # 6

photo by julie gammon

going thru major treatments like internal oleation is not a walk in the park, not for the faint-hearted. well, real and lasting love is not for the faint-hearted. no wonder the treatment of drinking oil is named SNEHAPANA. sneha, love. pana, drink. drinks of oil. drinks of love.

dr ramkumar says, the main treatment in panchakarma is equivalent to a major surgical procedure. seriously. it involves drawing toxin from all over the body into alimentary canal and then eliminating them. intense. just as one would experience physical discomforts in a surgical procedure, major treatment in panchakarma can involve such unpleasantness as well but they are all passing things if you follow thru with doctor’s instructions. doubt is the killer here. it gets in the way of the purification process.

a lady from moscow shares beautifully in daily satsang. she says, i was torturing doctor from day one, i compare what i had in other places, why am i not having 3 hr treatments, why is there not a lot of oil, i don’t have the pleasant feelings as i did in the other place, i want treatments like that. finally dr ramdas says, do you want good result or not? she says, yes. doctor says, then surrender. she says, what do you mean, surrender to you? doctor says, no, not surrender to me, surrender to yourself. good for her that she gets it. she stops comparing. by day six she begins to see results. that enhances her trust in the process. by the time she shares in the group she is beaming, looking light and bright.

what about my day six? last year i drank oil for 3 days. this year, 7. dr ramkumar says, is it easier this time? great question. i ponder for a moment and say, ‘deeper.’ by day 5 of drinking oil i begin to experience a piece of yogic knowledge that i have been hearing for two decades. it goes like this. as you intensify your meditation practice toxins that are lodged are loosened. they go into the circulatory system, ready to be dispelled. i have always thought that this is metaphorical. but, no. as my body is literally being saturated with oil all that hard-stuck toxin that are like hard-to-remove oven stains loosen up. since the cell walls are now more permeable because of the oil the toxins can be drawn out of the dark recesses into the alimentary canal, ready to be eliminated. it’s very physical. not just mental and emotional.

so what’s the experience like? from 5th day, really feel a lot of things floating around inside, negative thoughts, emotions but nothing sticks around long enough to gobble me up. suddenly it becomes so easy to see that there’s really nothing to worry or bother about, just things to take care of in the present. it becomes so natural to let go of expectations and outcome and just focus on the task at hand.

well, on day six of internal oleation the task at hand is to drink that cup of warm oil at 6 am. it happens to be Jan 1, 2013. i look into the golden oil. i ask doctor, ‘how many ml is this?’ not missing a beat, he says, ‘i’ll tell you later.’ if i had known there were 180 ml, could i have done it? i would but it would certainly create a little more mental hurdle. o, no, 180 ml. anyway, as it is i look at the beautiful oil and the thought that comes up is, OM NAMAH SHIVAYA. at the same time i see gurumayi’s beaming face. and that’s how i got it all down. with every gulp i say the mantra inside and hold my guru’s loving smile in attention.

by the way, two days later i received gurumayi’s 2013 new year message. mantra japa. what a moment of pure connection between my highest self and the guru within.

where am i? yes, back to love potion. drinking 180 ml of warm oil. what then? becomes simple as can be outwardly. stay inside. sip hot water frequently. rest but not sleep. do burps smell oil? am i hungry?

what about inwardly? for one thing, heightened sensitivity, or shall i say, irritability. even doing japa, repeating mantra silently  with a mala is a lot of noise. at least that is from the perspective of hwubby. initially i feel ‘irritated’ when he says as much to me because, it’s like, how can that be noisy? but then i carefully recreate what i do and i see why. i place the mala on the thigh. some beads touch others. when i slip a bead through the thumb and mid-finger, there’s surely a sound produced by beads cling with one another. oy. yeah. now i feel his pain. do i feel hurt? yeah, a little, for a moment or two. but i also see that it is an old toxin, taking everything personal and blowing every petty thing into major drama. i am not saying having ear ache, belly ache, nausea are to be ignored. but the doctor is just a bell away. nothing is too trivial for them to examine and treat. everything is treatable if i pay attention to it soon enough. a couple of oil drops and wa-la, ear ache is gone. chew a tablet, pace around and nausea subsides. and so on and so forth. really. seriously. except for the truth that i am happiness, i am light, i am peaceful, all other thoughts are as fleeting as puffs of smoke. they don’t take away my self worth and they don’t add anything to my luminous self.

photos by nat

 may i continue to shed those dead skins in the year of golden snake. may those layers of ama that cover up all my lights dissolve and be dispelled. amen.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

pujas and congee

photos by nat

i love pujas. i love prayers. i am a big believer of pujas and prayers. Still it is remarkable to see a hospital so fully immersed in prayers and pujas. let me be absolutely clear. this is not a spa. i’ve had treatments like abhyanga and shirodhara in a variety of places. but this is full-on, comprehensive, immersion ayurveda. from the moment i wake up to the moment i lie down in bed it is a schedule designed for my condition by the doctor. every treatment is strictly according to the ancient ayurveda text. every element of the daily schedule is purposed to support and facilitate the healing process, also according to the ancient ayurveda texts. for instance, you don’t expose yourself under the sun while going thru major treatments. oops. there goes the idea of ‘panchakarma in the morning, beach in the afternoon.’ food is not for the tongue because the digestive system has to work as little as possible. yes, that’s right, they don’t cook for the tongue and they are proud to congee-fy your meals. in fact there are days when the only thing a patient would have is...warm rice water.  anyway, the pujas and prayers are done in accordance with time-tested spiritual practices. when all these are integrated so seamlessly into this beautiful and tranquil complex that is located in the midst of a forest environment it is magic.

photo by nat
so much about panchakarma for now. back to pujas and prayers here. every one of them, big or small, long or short, involve ancient mantras and rituals for the purpose of invoking grace for healing, cleansing and purifying, from the individual level to every particle in the atmosphere, plants and buildings. all this happen on a subtle level, beyond the senses. all about vibration. it transforms the place into a magnifying glass, a high-power microscope. if you would pay attention to look through this healing microscope, you would be stunned at what is revealed, stuff inside you that you don’t even know they exist. so the doctor says, ‘welcome whatever comes up in your healing process, even the negative and unpleasant. it means your system is responding. you can’t control what the response is and how it is unfolding. for instance. second day into internal oleation, meaning drinking oil, i have this ear ache in the evening. it just comes, out of the blue. turns out this is among a wide range of responses possible during internal oleation. i let doctor know. he gives me some ear drops, says, you’ll be fine. sure enough the ache immediately lessens and totally gone in an hour.

photo by nat
in one evening satsang a lady from switzerland asks, can anyone tell me what to do when i am having all this emotional ups and downs? she illustrates with her hand moving like a roller coaster ride. i immediately say, you are very brave. she is. she is in india for the first time. she has never had any ayurveda experience. somehow she had decided to be here to do the whole thing. and to ask the question the way she does shows that she is not consumed in the emotional movement. she is watching, witnessing. as i type this, she has arrived at the final stage of the panchakarma process, ready for rebuilding the body. she looks radiant and clear. she beams. she says, 'the body is kind of weak. i'm not concerned. the strength will come. my spirit is really great. i feel i am so ready to follow my heart.'

photo by nat
have i mentioned that after six weeks of congee for breakfast, congee for lunch, congee for supper, i am so in love with congee that i plan to continue this congee thing as much as i can when i am home. the palate is so clean that i can actually taste the sublte sweetness in bitter melon. it’s thrilling. all this congee is like giving the digestive tract an abishek, holy bath. all these pujas soften and dissolve the subtle garbage polluting the body and mind. out they go and upswell our natural sweetness.