Friday, March 29, 2013

oil bath. oil bliss. samosa. passover.

photo by nat
vaidyagrama is not a spa. i said this before, i say this again. doctorji would, patiently and kindly, say, goal of treatments is not to pamper on a superficial level. yet, there are times when i say to myself, this is as good as it gets when it comes to pampering. treatment in point is...drumroll please...pizhichil. that’s what it’s called in sanskrit.  i call this samosa treatment. turn and turn you in hot oil till you are cooked properly. got the picture? physically it’s oil bath. emotionally it’s oil bliss.  it’s oil heaven, i'm not kidding. come on, suk wah. what are you talking about?

here’s how it goes down.

picture this. 3000ml of very warm medicated sesame oil. 3 therapists. one therapist on left, another on right. they work in sync over the body parts in choreographed movements while abundantly and steadily streaming warm oil over the body part. third therapist collects oil draining from the neem treatment table, warm them up in a big pot over a burner, and keep supplying buckets of warm oil to the two therapists. it’s an elaborate and complex treatment. very hard work. a luxurious extravaganza. a treatment fit for queen.

how sublimely royal i feel as blankets of warm oil drape over feet. waves of relaxed feeling steadily swell up all the way to crown of head. i experience this resplendent empress shining brightly within me and that’s who i really am. all that layers that hold me back from living in that place are being washed off me. meanwhile oil sheets flow over and into everywhere, front and back - depending on whether i am lying on stomach or back or sides - permeating every pore. so calming. folks, there is a sky of difference between calm and spacing out. true calm implies alert, vigilant and focused. focusing on what? what else, where else but the present moment within the serene grounds in the midst of forest.
photo by nat

as viscous warm oil irrigate body parts i see the mind being pulled back from the usual frenetic thinking pace.  mental activity is restored to its natural pace....close to nil. only a silent hum, that is in sync with the natural breathing, remains. whatever thoughts, emotion appear they are weak. i see them form and dissolve, come and go. it is utterly evident that this is how my inner state ought to be, not the other way round. it’s like seeing with clean glasses. i realize i have been seeing myself and the world with foggy and smudgy lenses that are smeared with limitation and negativity. seeing now comes from an inner place that is quiet. still. serene. alert. clear. this is like the inner swiss clock that has been running a mile a sec is being returned to the easeful tick-tocking it ought to be doing.
photo by nat

as i type this i just came out of a full-immersion meditation retreat a few days prior. for 12 hours everyday we meditated and chanted om namah shivaya. this is something i do at least once a year or as often as ashram would have it. this time around it was so effortless to enter into deep and profound silence very soon after i sat into easy cross-legged posture. it became so easy, a given, something natural. i experience the teaching that says, meditation spontaneously happens. what’s even more amazing is that i am able to go thru worldly activity while carrying this state within me days after the retreat. it is still going strong. before i would see this precious state gradually weakening. in my heart of hearts i see the connection between this strengthening and the impact of having gone through seven days of ‘samosa treatment.’

look, there are two types of ama, aka toxins in body, one from improper metabolism of food, the other guess right, mental ama, residuals of negative thoughts, feeling and emotion accumulated over a period of time, say, a decade, or, in my case, a few. i hear that the mind produces 20-30 thoughts per minute. that’s 30-50,000 per day. you do the math for a few decades. there is a chinese saying that goes like this. dripping water pierce rock.

since  i am writing this during passover, it comes to me what some rabbis say about the way pharaoh keep changing his mind about letting jewish people go. after changing his mind a few times torah says pharaoh’s mind is ‘hardened.’ to me, at this moment, it means to me the vibrations of his negative thoughts, speech and action became ama. they didn’t get eliminated. they snowballed,  ‘hardened’ the way he thought, spoke and acted. since i am a hassidic kind of girl, i like to read the passover story as my own story. all that negativity i had in the past don't just disappear. they stay, take root, and keep steering my body and mind away from optimal level. they gotta go. let my inner queen leave the bondage of negative vibes. let all that ama go.

photo by nat
my doctorji, dr harikrishnan, is a very grounded, head-on-the-shoulder fellow. i ask, what exactly does pizhichil do? he says, body has to be oiled before act of purification, you just came out of purgation so you need to be oiled before we perform another act of purification on you. in all my excitement i tell him all this wonderful feelings and experiences i have in the treatment. he listens intently, nods, and says in his ever even tone, ‘i see. you like it.’ well, ‘like’ is an understatement. if i were in a spa i would tick off, on the treatment menu, pizhichil and mark it big and bright, DAILY. unfortunately this is not a spa. panchakarma is equivalent to a major surgical procedure. just like surgery it has to be done in a hospital. pizhichil is a powerful treatment, part and parcel of panchakarma. just like surgery it has to be done in a hospital, as prescribed by doctor. o, well, i take this as another opportunity to cultivate letting go of wanting what i like and embracing what i need. good news is, here, what i need is  no different from what i like. om namah shivaya. cool.

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