We all know it’s not an easy thing to carve out time for oneself; getting a massage, taking a personal day from work to rest or play, even going on a long walk in the woods can seem more like a luxury than a necessity. In Ayurveda, we call the go-go-go mentality a sign of Vata derangement, of too much air and ether–not enough grounding–not enough mental and physical nourishment, and not enough time out of the rat race for spiritual tuning in and switching on the internal light.
Being here on retreat in the Nilgiris in the heart of India is one way I can help to create that time and space for people to rest, rejuvenate, and come home–to move closer to one’s true nature. Here we work on correcting imbalances in the mind-body-spirit, and both individually and with the support of the group, we take a journey toward homeostasis. In our first complete week here, I have felt and witnessed such a profound shift in each one of us. We are each on our own path, but so very much a family. I wonder how I ever lived without these people in my world. It is an incredible gift to facilitate this opportunity with my dear friend, John, and it is a powerful and humbling time with myself–to allow myself to enjoy all of the work that goes into uploading this event and to just be here in the hands of these miraculous therapists, being fed by our jovial and gifted chefs, receiving the sweetest smiles from the beautiful women who turn down our comforters, and to bow to the gardeners who clear the fallen leaves from our pathways. I am overwhelmed again and again and again.
Yesterday I reposted an entry from four years ago–my very first time here–complete with the daily schedule and some of the therapies I was experiencing. Initially, the treatments are all about pacifying Vata, or the elements of air and ether that have made our minds too busy, our skin and bowels too dry (yes, we talk a lot about poop in Ayurveda, so here’s fair warning for any and all of my posts), or that simply leave us feeling ungrounded, overworked, and undernourished. Sound familiar to anyone?
Although I am doing many of the same treatments as in years past, some are also very different this time around. For one, I am going through a two week series of eye treatments, beginning with Akshi sekam, a lubricating eye wash made from a decoction of steeped triphala powder which is strained and the triphala water is then mixed with ghee and honey. In my treatment, a steady stream of warm liquid is poured gently over my eyelids, while I slowly blink to receive the sekam, which is said to calm the mind, relieve tired, overworked eyes, improve one’s vision, strengthen the eye muscles, and soothe the mind. Yes, please! I can honestly say after almost a week of this treatment, all of the above are true. My vision is clearer, my eyes feel softer, and the colors I can see!! I’ll report back on my second set of eye treatments in the next post!
It is such a gift to be cared for in this way every day–therapists become like loving parents who usher us into the treatment room with warm hands and open hearts. Any initial awkwardness I felt four years ago about dropping my robe as soon as I step into the treatment space disappeared long ago, and now I allow these women to anoint my body with oil, beginning with my face and scalp, to every toe and fingertip. I tell you truly, you have not lived until you have this kind of attentive love and care with two therapists twice a day…omg.
And then there is the food… and our daily village walks…and the fireside music and sharing into the evenings. It is all so rich, and I’ll try to write a few shorter posts about each of these things over the next couple of weeks. For now, I’m just enjoying the serenity of being here with our sweet and wonderful retreat group and all the people who have received us so fully. Amen.
Feeling amazing after my third week in India and my first full week of panchakarma treatments. Until the next post, yours dearly,