Tuesday, July 30, 2013

sukh. healthy place. happy place.

what is good health? dr ramkumar gets asked this question quite often. while brilliant and knowledgeable  he is also very quick-witted and funny. i would go so far as to say that joking around and laughing with him are medicine to me big time. in fact i have so much fun goofing around him that sometimes i think i forget what a brilliant, brilliant clinician he is, his grasp of scriptures and, above all, that laser focus to bring authentic panchakarma to modern times. where was i? anyway, in this particular satsang when one patient asks this question he throws a glance in my direction and says, with his signature sunny grin, let's start with suk wah's name. you see, "suk" sounds like a sanskrit word "sukh." he goes on to say this. "sukh" means happiness, happiness that is whole and wholesome. To be healthy is to be in a happy place, happy body, happy mind.

what is really great about this place is i don't have to look for it anywhere outside. i am this place. it is who and what i am. i do have to take care of it though. this place of mine is a splendid palace, a spectacular mansion. just like any other dwelling there are any number of things that can clutter up the space, clog the drains, crack the paints and so on and so forth. hwubby and i take good care of our house. as part of maintenance, periodically we have to employ the service of a drain specialist to snake out the bath tub drain. it is very sobering to watch him do his thing. it's dirty and hard work. it never ceases to shock and stun me to see mounds and piles of slime and grime and hair being drawn out of the hidden pipes. not a pretty sight. but when i see the flow down the drain so smooth and the tub wall is not smacked with slime i have no doubt that all that effort is worth it, all that unpleasantness are necessary. temporary too.

this is why panchakarma makes so much sense to me. you see, every bit of improperly digested food, every negative thought and emotion, generate a little "slime and grime and hair" that stick to the walls of body and mental tissue. over time the inner pipes are clogged, energy flow is slowed down. even though i kind of know that i am beautiful and bright i don't always feel it as i want to feel. my strong meditation practice does a lot of "snaking out."  as a matter of fact it is in deep meditative state that i realize i need to do panchakarma. the rishis saw this thousands of years ago in deep meditation. they saw how treatments and herbal medicine, when applied properly, can profoundly purify body. since the state of mind is closely related to that of the body it is natural that i feel remarkable difference in my inner state, like seeing through clean glasses. hwubby says, this panchakarma gives a new baseline to what i think good health should be like.

for years i looked at the saree-clad ladies who wave light in pujas and negative thought came. i don't look good in it. therefore you could imagine how surprised i was when soon after my first round of panchakarma i was invited to a pujari training. two things. first, i noticed i felt excited about it, i wanted to do it. something moved deeply within. i could see, in a subtle yet clear way, this elaborate act is 'spontaneous' in the sense that i feel thankful about what the guru's path has gifted me so i want to express gratitude in a beautiful and intimate way, a way that is both timely and timeless. i perform a ritual in the present according to what's prescribed since ancient time. the gestures and moves are alive, aligned with how i feel about myself, everyone and everything.

i did say two things, didn't i? second thing is, timing. all those treatments to cleanse and purify and rejuvenate help me to see and feel as my own true self. it becomes a joyous desire to invest attention and time to prepare myself. it throws a sacred light on applying cosmetics, draping jewelry, pinning head flower and placing pleats to just so. i am not doing things to make me into something i am not but, on the contrary, reflect my own beauty and luminosity.

it is so thrilling to be the vehicle to channel divine blessings to beautiful newly weds. the goddess that I am is showering loving wellwishes on the god and goddess that they are. the experience is humbling as well. It has taken the knowledge from the rishis, dedication of my vaidyagrama family and my guru's love to get me to this place. sukh. huwbby says, you have to acknowledge your own efforts too. he's right. he's always right, isn't he, the greatest god in my world.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

radical eating shifts

seriously. if anyone predicted even just 12 months ago that i would be happy eating congee and mung bean day in and day out i would roll my eyes up to deep outer space. yes, i did have congee diet for entire 6 weeks of treatments in vaidyagrama. that's because i was determined to get the most out of the treatments and to really get my agni, digestive fire up. from ayurveda's point of view and the rishis saw this 5000 yrs ago in deep meditation, that there is deep connection between our wellbeing and state of digestive fire.

by the way let me confess one of the eating habits of mine that has really messed up the firepower of my agni. downing ice drinks/water while eating. that's like pouring ice water into oven while something is cooking. totally screwing up digestive process. sure, in my teenage years and twenties, youth vigor compensated for it. fast forward i am sleeping in the bed i made up. anyway i noticed a tangible difference in my wellbeing baseline after the first round of panchakarma. and as my guru says again and again, you need a strong and pure body to attain the highest goal of the path. so i went ahead and did 6 wks of congee. i mean 3 meals a day.
look. here's breakfast. congee. whole mung. papadam? just a gesture of taste. sometimes there is a half teaspoon of ghee in congee. btw i make my own ghee during full moon. a very soothing thing to do and homemade ghee is so much more fragrant and flavorful. anyhow, believe it or not, the modest combo is filling. i don't feel heavy and it takes me thru the morning clear and light and, surprise, there is no craving for snack. bye bye to potato chips. in fact every so often i would offer the papadam to hwubby. by the way he did 6 wks of congee diet as well. every now and then he would have thoughts of pastrami and lox and bagel. one day he saw this feature in local newspaper about some special idlee, fermented rice cake, with spicy dippings, he went on and on about it, really wanted to go and have some. it was fun watching the doctors kindly and patiently trying to talk him out of it, saying things like, o, it's overhyped. but, i have to give credit to hwubby. he let it go and had a good laugh out of the whole episode.

before i left vaidyagrama, i decided to get a pressure cooker. that's a huge decision on my part. i had a terrible experience with pressure cooker before, you know, things splashing all over the walls. but kavita, the food expert in vaidyagrama, said definitely  that in order to get that kind of texture for whole mung it had to be done in pressure cooker, not to mention it takes a lot less time to cook. that makes it so much easier to have fresh food instead of eating leftover. that pressure cooker turns out to be a huge blessing. without it i wouldn't be able to eat the way i am doing now.

This is lunch. main meal of the day. congee, boiled veg, buttermilk. the buttermilk in vaidyagrama is made from what's left after churning butter from homemade curd. this is the one thing i have to cheat. i just dilute whole yogurt  with hot water,  turmeric and salt. i suspect it's something to do with the amount of curd. for two people it doesn't make sense to make a liter of curd just to get two small bowls of buttermilk. a lot of waste. i will have to look into that when i go back to vaidyagrama this december.

well, back to where i am. five months after panchakarma. i am still eating congee day in and out. i can feel the energy baseline is higher, energy level even. telltale sign is meditations are better than ever. i sit 1 1/2 hr easy and it feels less and less a struggle to hold that state as i go about the day. i truly taste what the scriptures mean by 'living in a witnessing state.' it's kind of like what my guru's guru says, 'have preference, but no attachment.' i am very happy to eat out - well, i am more aware of food combinations but that's another blog entry - and enjoy. as my doctor harikrishnan says, 'if you can digest it, once in a while, in moderation.' wise, don't you think? so we enjoyed good dogs and burger  and ice cream for july fourth, wiped out a fabulous ethiopian feast of injera and lamb with my cousins and nephew and niece in a summer celebration,  but i am just as happy having my boiled veg and kitcheri for supper night in and out. fine with either.

i can see the way i related to food was more like an addict.  now i am in the driver seat, i'm leading the cow, not the other way round. a major step towards true and lasting freedom.  mooo.