Friday, August 30, 2013

cell and molecular biology. panchakarma

there we are celebrating my wonderful and gorgeous niece hellie...drum roll please...moving into ucberkeley as freshman. my brother-in-law andrew says, suk wah, you really look healthy and vibrant, before adding, not that you didn't look good before, and you too, ben.

btw i was not in this saree ensemble but i would like to think my inner beautiful light is not dimmed a bit because of it, don't you agree? :)

anyway hwubby starts talking about panchakarma's effect on us,  how rishis from 5000yrs ago saw in deep meditation the interconnectedness of everything, that a certain plant leaf can heal a specific condition, the role of oil in bodily purification and so on. i can see hellie, this smart and bright young person, is paying attention.  suddenly something comes to my mind. yes, she is going to major in cell and molecular biology. surely we can talk about that.

so i say, look, hellie, the theory of panchakarma goes like this.  over time, thru improper metabolism, toxins are accumulated in cells and molecules. like hard stains they are stuck at cell bottom and onto cell walls. certain oil, like clarified butter, ghee, can loosen these toxins. what's truly remarkable is this. when the body is saturated with the right kind of oil that is taken in the proper manner - so suk wah, pls don't take this as the justification to binge on fried, oily food - the cell walls are porous and the toxins can float easily across the cell membranes. btw this is an intense treatment that can last up to 7 - days. it must be done in hospital supervised 24/7 by doctor, just like a major surgery. then, in the next phase of panchakara, with the use of another treatment the toxins are drawn into the digestive tract, to be flushed out thru applying yet other treatments.

i know. this can all sound overwhelming. it's like looking at a fixer upper it's hard to see how it can be a spacious, bright and beautiful mansion. believe me i felt the same way until i finally took the leap and plunge. now i can say with all my hearts doing panchakarma - and hwubby and i are going for the third round this december at vaidyagrama - is the third best thing i have ever done. the first is meeting my guru, second is, yes, you guessed it, marrying hwubby. and, you know what, they are all connected. i wouldn't have been led to this incredible panchakarma place if it were not for my guru and hwubby. with panchakarma my gratitude and appreciation for my guru and hwubby are escalating in leaps and bounds. vast clear sky's the limit to our love for each other.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

rudram. vivek. vaidyagrama

with shastri vivek in satara, india
i chant shri rudram everyday. with this man. no, not hwubby. the one in center, clad in white. it took me a while, actually years, before i got into chanting rudram. not an easy chant this one, being a substantive section of vedas, the indian scriptures that have been in existence for more than 5000 years. to cut a long story short, once i started doing in everyday with shastri vivek bhau, yes, vivek's this man's name, i love it more and more everyday. vivek bhau is a 15th generation brahmin priest. that's 1000 years. think about it. chanting vedas is in his blood and gene. he started memorizing the sacred texts since he was a small child. he chants nothing but sacred texts and mantras. as chinese saying goes, the vibration of his chanting wraps around pillars for 3 days. his voice infuses every syllable with fearlessness, sweetness and enthusiasm. it tucks my heart that much closer to god, to my own self.
puja with shastri vivek in satara, india

 i love chanting rudram so much that i want to keep doing it when i am in treatment in vaidyagrama. however knowing i tend to get carried away in chanting, meaning, VERY LOUD i was concerned that it is disturbing to other patients. hwubby says, no, don't stop, just be more aware of your voice level and others. well, guess what, turns out the doctors in vaidyagrama LOVE it. yes, 'we love suk wah's chanting' is what they say. in fact, one afternoon, dr ram kumar came to sit with me while i did shri rudram. you see, all the doctors in vaidyagram know the healing powers of chanting vedas and sacred mantras. in fact, they themselves can recite ancient ayurveda texts off the top of their heads. when hwubby asks them questions like, why i am given this treatment, why is this treatment done in this way and not that way as in those spa-like panchakarma places on the beach, doctorji would spit out a sloka from ayurveda text that prescribe why this treatment is done for this condition and why it is done in this particular way, whatever the question is. these doctors truly dedicate themselves to practice authentic ayurveda according to ancient text. if it's not in the text, then forget it. once someone asks in the daily satsang, is zucchini a suitable veggie for ayurveda diet? doctor says, what is zucchini? once it is explained, doctorji says, it is not in the text. then he continues to say, there are many vegetables listed in the text, i suggest you try them out. there you have it. they are purists and i love them for it. they are the real deal.

where were we? right, chanting. of course i can go on and on about how lovely my voice is and so on and so forth. while that is true, :) and all kidding aside, ayurveda text stipulates that healing happens on multi levels. there are medicines and treatments that deal with the body level. then there are the healing powers of mantras. that's why in vaidyagram chanting is an integral part in daily schedule. a doctor leads morning and evening chants. there are text chants like 'thousand names of vishnu.'  i love that one too. there are mantra chants. in mornings we chant lord ganesh's name 108 times. every riday afternoon we chant to meena the cow.
friday puja to meena, the cow, in vaidyagrama, coim, india     photo by nat

during our second round of panchakarma, daniella, the wonderful ayurveda cook who stayed in the room next to mine said, o, suk wah, that song you sang is so beautiful. it was arati karun. so on the eve before daniella left vaidyagrama dr ramdas gave me permission to do arati karun, waving light to the true guru, in honor of daniella. it was so beautiful. o, i forget to mention that during major treatment like snehapana, doctorji would chant mantras to the cup of warm oil before administering to me. by the way i really believe there is that much more power when doctorji chants simply because the pronunciation is accurate.

on that note let's get back to shastri vivek bhau. he pronounces the syllables exactly as they ought to be. it is said that the full benefits of vedic mantras come thru fully when they are pronounced accurately. it makes sense, doesn't it? i love someone, i say  'i love you'. of course the feeling in how i say it counts but if i blur or speak chinese to american, the full and true meaning will not come thru that well, right? which is why i love to chant rudram with vivek bhau because i want to learn to say the words as they should be.

anyhow vivek bhau, besides being a master of chanting and performing all the wonderful and marvelous services that a bramin priest does he throws himself into living a dream of his. He has a school. he takes in 25 kids, as young as 7. he teaches them vedas and all the skills and disciplines that a brahmin priest ought to have. this is radical and historic. these are kids who were not borne into a lineage of priests the way he was. it has always been for thousands of years a family thing and passing the knowledge on thru oral tradition. these kids live with him. he's like a father to them. he teaches them everything from how to milk a cow, to memorizing sacred texts, to studying astrology,  and so on and so forth. there is no words to describe how i feel when i watch this young boy memorizing text with such a sense of awe and wonder and focus.

suffice to say vivek is a 21st century brahmin priest. he is on facebook, he skypes, he sends mantras via dropbox ( i don't even know what that is.) but what he transmits thru these technologies are ancient and timeless. when he performs a ritual in strict accordance with how sacred text prescribes he would explain at various points in english what he is doing. hwubby has a deep appreciation of this because he feels that much more included when he comprehends what's going on. recently vivek bhau performs a maha puja via live streaming. tens of thousands of seekers and students around the world get to be immersed in these ancient rituals being performed with immense devotion and love. i, for one, got to be this couch potato yogini. what do i mean by that? i sat sit in front of computer screen at 6 am in pyjamas, right there with him in my home as these beautiful mantras flow out of him. for 4 hours. just him and divine presence. no cue cards. no chanting book. enchanting melodies and sublime syllables steadily flow out of him. not a crack in his voice throughout. just pure joy and enthusiasm. he is truly a treasure beyond measure, major boon to humanity, a real deal holy man. he has helped and blessed me and hwubby in so many ways profoundly.

such great good fortune, just sitting still and all these gems and jewels and divine lotuses fall into my lap.