Hello! I hope you are well and having a nice start to the week!
We just finished the second trimester of our time here in Pune at the Vasanta Institute of Ayurveda. The first group of people just completed their 10 day panchakarma experience and all left looking very bright and shiny. It was a very interesting process to be a part of! They all arrived with varied health concerns and, looking back, all of them seemed like they were carrying a heavy load at the beginning when they arrived. The first 4 days are somewhat pleasant because they are mainly getting oleation treatments - external massage with lots of oil (Abhyanga), shirodhara (stream of warm oil on the thirda eye), karna purana (warm oil treatments in the ear), Nasya (oil in the nose) and internal oleation with ghee on an empty stomach (snehapana). After about 4 days, as they became more saturated with oil and the Ama (or toxins) were getting loosened up and brought to the digestive tract, they each became very irritable and grumpy. It was funny to watch how all of us (staff and students) seemed to be grumpy on those days as well- as though we were going through the treatments with them. Then over the next couple of days, they did purgation where they took herbs to help eliminate all of the accumulated ama from the upper GI tract. After this, they all started to look less burdened and it became very tangible that the process was helping their physical ailments. The last part of the process was Basti. According to their unique conditions, they did different kinds of herbal enema therapies to remove any ama acumulated in the large intestines. They also had different external basti (which is a warm pool of oil on a specified area of the body such as marma points, areas of tension, or organs in distress) to help draw out ama from that area. At the end, they left with special herbal protocol and recommendations on how to reintegrate back to their lives. Each day, Dr Lad has spent time in the classroom explaining to us more in depth about all of the stages of panchakarma and reasons for his recommendations for each client.
Today the second group of people begin their panchakarma process. It is nice to have an idea of what to expect and have another opportunity to observe and assist in the whole process. I think we will be more prepared around the 3rd and 4th day for the wave of grumpiness (LOL)
A couple of days ago, we had another opportunity to visit Dr. Lad at his clinic in Pune and watch him work with all of the patients that came through. - he covers so much territory in the 10 or 15 minutes that he spends with each person. It is fascinating to see how Indians don't seem to go to the dr. by themselves, they bring their whole family - so usually we had at least 3 or four people in the room at once (along with the students from the institute). In the time he spends with them, he listens to their concerns, checks their pulse, blood pressure, listens to several different heart points. he does percussion on their abdomen to check their digestion, analyzes their eyes and tongue. if they bring their Jyotish (vedic astrology) chart, he will examine that and factor it in as well. After this, he puts together an herbal protocol and most important lifestyle habits to integrate - often specific yoga and pranayama exercises. Everyone that comes in receives Nasya (medicated nose drops) and Netra Bindu (medicated eye drops). He told us on the side that he always includes these two treatments for everyone that comes in because Nasya helps create an expansiveness in the brain allowing us to open to new choices in life and Netra Bindu is very soothing to the nervous system and helps it to reset before they leave. He has said that most important is to rekindle their sense of hope that healing is possible.
At the end of the night when the last patient left, he took a deep sigh and said "wow! I'm tired". Someone from our group thanked him for letting us be there to watch and told him how inspiring it was. He said "the world is suffering and we are all healers. The world needs us!!" (Paraphrased)
On our day off yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Amruta again at her home outside of Pune. This time she gave me a lesson on how to make medicated ayurvedic oils and ghee. What a gift to get to spend several hours with her in her home kitchen with her family learning about how she lives her life and having the opportunity to ask her whatever questions I wanted. Her home is a very rare and special sanctuary with all of the herbs she grows. She has several little pools with lotuses outside her front door. She said that every part of the lotus is used in Ayurveda. One happened to be blooming- so beautiful! She also had a special variety of sweet rose that has particular medicinal values. I've never smelled a rose like that before. She had me taste it and it even tasted very sweet.
It is hard to believe we only have 2 more weeks in the program. It is happening way too fast!
A handful of people have asked what the food is like here and so I took some pictures of the fruit trees growing right in the neighborhood. There are coconuts, papayas, chermoya, bananas, figs, oranges, and some other fruits that I don't recognize. The tropical fruit has been very enjoyable. the main meals are simple - different variations of Dahl, rice, and vegetable curry. It's very satisfying and nourishing. The indians love tea time, so every day there is a break for tea at 4. They work very hard.
One other interesting part about the culture here- they seem to be experts In celebration. Last week finished a celebration of paying respect to passed ancestors. At the end of the celebration, all of the cows got painted. It was quite a surprise to go out for a walk and see cows everywhere in bright Colors.Currently we are in still in the midst of Navratri which marks the end of the monsoon season and lasts 9 nights in honor of the Divine Mother and the victory of good over evil. In the evening, the women come out to do a special dance called garba as part of the celebration. After this is a birthday celebration of Dhanvantari ( the father of Ayurveda) and two days later begins Diwali (the festival of lights).
Wishing you another beautiful week and happy Navratri! Take care and lots of love,