Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ayurvedic Panchakarma

Today was my second day of Ayurvedic Panchakarma, or as my husband not so affectionately calls it, Poopachaka.  I'd like to say I feel different, but I don't, and I'm trying not to get discouraged.  I know it's helping in some way, I'd just like to see some sort of tangible physical/mental benefit from it.  I have a feeling it's like good nutrition, you don't always notice the benefits, but your body is better off in the long run.  Even so, I'm hoping for a miraculous turn around tomorrow.

It's actually a lie to say I don't feel different.  I'm tired, and I'm hungry all the time.  I think because I'm eating the same thing for three days in a row.  Any time I restrict my diet the cravings start immediately.  I don't think I actually have to eat the Kitchari at every meal, but it is easy to digest and that is the goal for these three days.  Kitchari is a blend of rice, mung beans, ghee, and herbs.  "Ayurveda believes that all healing begins with the digestive tract, and kitchari can give it a much needed rest from constantly processing different foods while providing essential nutrients." (Quoted from  It actually tastes pretty good, and is very hearty for a "detox" food.  I'm just tired of eating it.

The goal of panchakarma is to detoxify the body, strengthen the immune system, and restore well being.  I'll be happy with any one of those three things.  Maybe the results don't manifest right away, and it will take a little while to notice a difference.  Or maybe it's already taking effect, and it's just too subtle for me to notice.  I mean, I haven't dropped anything lately, or tripped over my own feet, and I haven't been as absent minded as usual.  I can't say I've been particularly cheery, but I don't know if that's from the panchakarma, the rain, or the other not so cheery people I've been around today.

The panchakarma itself is interesting, and not quite as pampering as I had thought.  After all, three hours of hot oil massage for three days sounds pretty good.  The massage includes a lot of karate chopping, tapping, and rubbing with oil.  Lots of oil.  I can't even wash it out of my hair with shampoo.  My favorite part is the steam tent after the massage.  It's one of the few times all day when I am warm and I love it. My only complaint is that it is over too soon.

The warm oil dripped on my forehead today was particularly relaxing too.  In contrast to yesterday, when it was so hot I thought it might scar me.  I was worried I'd look in the mirror afterwards and have a Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt burned on my forehead.

Reading back over this, I'm realizing that maybe I just have my expectations set too high.  I've been sluggish and unmotivated all month, and I was hoping the panchakarma and the new year would propel me into some sort of forward motion.  Leave the old junk behind, start the new year with a fresh body/spirit/mind.  I think that will still happen, because I'm working on manifesting it right now. But there is no magic poopachaka pill like I hoped there would be.  This will take some effort on my part, no one else can do it for me.  If I don't have some miraculous results tomorrow I'll get through it, and I will probably learn an important lesson about expectations.  But I'm still hoping to send the old year out with a bang.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Wonders of the Body

I continue to be amazed at the things I discover about natural healing.  Last week I was experiencing burning and itching on the top of my toes, and at times there would be a strange purplish rash.  For almost 48 hours, the fourth toe on my left foot hurt enough that it made me limp.  My toes were also colder than usual.

I thought maybe it was athlete's foot, which can be a symptom of candida.  Since I had been craving bagels (and eating them), this sounded like a logical explanation.  My husband wanted me to go to my regular doctor, because he was concerned that the purple color and the strange sensations might be a circulation problem.  I didn't think I needed to go, but I went so I could say, "See, I told you it wasn't anything."

The doctor said it wasn't athlete's foot, but more likely just bad circulation.  She ordered some blood tests just in case, and that was that.

When I went to the acupuncturist today, I pointed out the purple spots on my toes and told her about what had happened.  She pointed to the worst purple spot and said, "That's the end of the spleen channel."  The spleen is what we work on most often when I go to see her.  "That spot is your gall bladder, and that one is the end of your liver channel.  They're all tied together with what we normally work on, and I think what we're doing is working.  The junk has moved to the end of the channel and now doesn't have anywhere to go."

She suggested that a small prick to the end of the affected toe would relieve some of the pressure.  Last year this would have sounded crazy to me.  Today it sounded like just what I needed.  I actually can't believe it myself, but four toe pricks later I felt like a different person.  I have been really sluggish all month, suffering from a general malaise that is driving me crazy.  Within a few minutes of relieving some of the pressure, I felt a sense of euphoria that has eluded me for over a month.

Did it really work that well, or was it all in my head?  To be honest, I don't really care.  I feel better and that's all that matters.  I am continually astonished at the wonders of the human body, and the way it will heal itself if we just pay attention.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

It is just after midnight on Christmas Eve.  Little one and grandma snug in their beds.  Cookies, carrots, and scotch left out for Santa and the reindeer.  Soft mutterings and loud banging from the Ikea bunk bed assembly worker upstairs (aka my husband, who could use a whole bottle of scotch about now.)

I have always preferred Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.  Much the same as I prefer Saturday to Sunday, because there is still something to look forward too.  It is an unusual night as well, a time charged with so much expectation and emotion for most of us.  The magic of virgin births and fat men that circle the earth and slide down chimneys.   The loneliness of people who don't have families to celebrate with.  The stress that family gatherings and obligations cause for others.  The pressure of too much to do with too little time.  The wonder in my son's eyes as he lies in his bed staring out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the magic.

As I walked around my neighborhood late this evening, I caught a glimpse of the magic too.  Luminaries lit the walkways, each candle a glowing beacon in the night, leading me on to the next.  A light dusting of snow.  Complete quiet, not even a car on the road.  It was a beautiful way to end the evening.  In fact, I started my day before 7am with a similar walk.  It's amazing how peaceful suburbia is when everyone is asleep.

However you spend this Christmas day, I hope you find a little bit of the magic.  Be it alone or at a crazy family gathering.  In the tear of a grandma or the look of wonder on the face of a toddler.  In a virgin birth or a fat man in a sleigh.  I wish you peace, love, and hugs, on this day and all the rest.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Birds

An interesting thing has happened to me on two different days this week.  A flock of robins (yes I said robins) has taken up residence in the tree out front.  Think about it for a minute.  When was the last time you have seen more than one or two robins at the same time?  The day before yesterday I stopped counting them at 20.

This morning while I was preparing to meditate, one flew into the tree next to my window.  He just sat there and stared at me.  I couldn't stop watching him, even though I don't know what I expected him to do.  Come over and tap on the window and give me a message?  (That's a joke, just in case you didn't hear the sarcasm.)  Here's what the "Animal Speak" book has to say about robins.

Keynote: Spread of New Growth
When a robin comes into your life, you can expect new growth to occur in a variety of areas of your life - not just a single area.
The robin egg reflects the innate ability of those with this totem to assert the will force to create new growth in her life.  When the robin comes to you it is to help you in this process.  It may reflect you have been dong so inappropriately or ineffectually.  Either way, the robin will show you how to do it successfully.

I realize that the robins were probably migrating, but I still have never seen anything like this before.  It is quite a site to see 20 red breasts in a tree, with more flying around between the houses.  I think the message is very timely for me.  I am excited about the prospect of new growth.  Like the robin, I'm ready to spread my wings and search out new sources of nourishment, whatever they might be.

My Triumphant Return

Wow.  I know it's been a while since I've blogged, but I didn't realize it had been a month.  It's not for lack of material, or because I don't want to write.  I just haven't had any motivation.  The old me would have said I didn't have time to write.  The new me realizes that's not entirely true.  It would be more accurate to say I haven't made the time to write.

I've been going through an interesting period lately.  I only worked the first 3 days of the month, so I have been home for an extended period of time.  Even though I have had this extra "free" time, the days seem to be whizzing by faster than normal.  Time seems to have accelerated, and I am frazzled because I have all of this time off but don't seem to be accomplishing anything.  There is never a time when I am just sitting around doing nothing, but at the end of the day I don't know where the time has gone.  I'm certainly not doing spiritual things, self help, reiki or writing; these have all been pushed to the bottom of the "to do" list.  I can't get motivated to make them a priority, and then I feel guilty about not doing them.

I realize that I will go through resting periods, gaining strength for the next big thing coming my way.  Sustaining a rocket ship trajectory of growth is not sustainable or even desirable, and I realize this.   I know this is one of those resting periods.  I'm in the upside down bell curve as my husband said last night.  I should just relax, be gentle with myself, and not judge myself for what I am accomplishing or not accomplishing.  Because I know this, I get even more frustrated at myself because I am feeling unhappy and guilty about where I am with my evolution.

After spending time with some inspirational friends last night, I think I am ready to start growing again.  Or at least to stop being so hard on myself.  It is a fine line between urging myself forward so I don't become stagnant, and giving myself the time and space crucial to my spiritual growth.  I need to absorb the changes I am trying to make so I can move on.  I am trying to change some core beliefs that have been a part of my life forever (doubt, fear, and trust to name a few).  This is a huge shift, and I need to be gentle with myself until it assimilates.

Writing is very therapeutic, and I think I just had a breakthrough as I wrote the last paragraph.  In the past, I have very enthusiastically started projects and then lost interest.  The last month has been a period of slow growth, while I try to absorb a change before I move forward.  There is a part of me that fears I am giving up on myself when I go through a period like this.  That I am losing interest, or losing faith, and that this will end up like all of those other abandoned projects.  That's what leads to the guilt, and then the vicious cycle because I know I shouldn't feel guilty.  I know I am exactly where I need to be.

That was my first goal after Warrior Monk; to look in the mirror every morning for a month and say "I am exactly where I need to be."  Coincidentally, it was right after I stopped doing this that the unmotivated funk settled in.  I think maybe I need to make that a morning practice again.

I will have some interesting things to write about this week, and I can feel my enthusiasm returning already.  For a while now, I have been interested in finding out more about Ayurveda; a traditional healing modality from India.  I am especially interested in panchakarma, which helps detox and restore balance to the body.  I can't write any more about it now, because I don't really know anymore about it.  I have just had an intuitive feeling that I need to check it out, and I have a consultation appointment with an Ayurvedic practitioner tomorrow.  I'll be educating all of us about it later this week.