by Lucy Wei
In the beginning: pan-cha-what?
I first heard about panchakarma during a dinner conversation. A friend started talking about this amazing purification that put the candida cleanse to shame. Being on the the candida cleanse at that time which required giving up fruit, bread and all sugary delights, I wanted to find out what this pan-cha-something had to offer.
I felt a constant lack of energy, a feeling of being drained and I was often constipated or bloated. I had chronic eczema and hormonal imbalances that the doctors couldn’t diagnose after multiple lab tests and visits. I had an overall feeling of being lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life and how to feel better.
In my search to feel well I tried many different cleanses and diets. I’ve tried high-protein, low-carb, no carb, coconut oil, gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free and raw diets. Add that with vitamin IVs, B12 injections, candida cleanses, garlic pills and daily probiotics and I’d classify myself as a semi-pro when it comes to “detoxifying and cleansing.” The extreme nature of some of the methods seemed to actually aggravate my digestion. Sometimes the cleanses caused other symptoms and they often left me with cravings or feeling hungry and tired. I mean, who really wants to eat salads all month long?! All these experiences made the panchakarma appealing to me. It emphasized a gentle, gradual and natural way of detoxifying so as not to shock the body into change.
I decided to do the Panchakarma Home Therapy with Hale Pule based on my friend's recommendation. After speaking with Myra, I learned a lot about my constitution, and that my primary dosha is vata. Myra explained that my symptoms were caused by my life choices (hard to hear but expected), leading to vata imbalance and a constantly changing life. This made sense. In two years I had lived in three different countries, changed three different jobs and was in the middle of a career transition.
Next I received the panchakarma package with instructions. My kit came in a box with herbs, oil, triphala and more goodies. I opted to get additional herbal ghrta (medicinal ghee) to balance my hormones, and I also chose to get herbs for after the therapy. I loved the Freedom in Your Relationship with Food audiobook that came with the cleanse and I listened to it on my daily walks. An easy beginning!
The most challenging part of the cleanse for me was the virechana procedure. I drank a concoction of honey, milk and castor oil and counted 8+ trips to the bathroom (I was told that was within the normal range so I didn't freak out). I learned that virechana clears out indigestion and bile that has accumulated in the gallbladder, liver and small intestines, which causes skin inflammation and other pitta-related symptoms. Without getting into my bathroom details (though I documented details of the visuals and sent them to Myra), I can honestly say I felt everything clear out of my system. It left me a bit drained but the results were amazing. I noticed changes in my skin that night. The eczema I’ve had for years dried up and started clearing up almost immediately.
Other physical changes include less constipation and cracking in my joints. My skin was radiant from abhyanga, the self application of herbal oil. I couldn't believe it took me so long to discover this treatment. The soothing relaxation and nourishment it provided was better than a massage! Overall, I felt that my whole system ran more smoothly after panchakarma. The biggest surprise however, was the internal change.
Before panchakarma, I was drawn to exciting activities like sky-diving, paragliding and constant travel to new places. My mind was always dreaming up the next big thing or going through my checklist. Panchakarma changed all this.
For the first time, I felt a real sense of calm. My jittery desire to do things just...stopped. It was as if my life had been a marathon that I didn’t care about and all of a sudden I stopped running. I became aware of my surroundings. The chatter in my mind with to-do lists for the day and plans for the future became quiet. I experienced silence and with it a sense of peace.
Even months after going through panchakarma, I’m still noticing the positive after-effects. Myra mentioned this would be the case but I didn’t quite believe it at the time. I have mental clarity and my mind is more focused. My priorities became apparent, so my decisions and goals have become more clear. This experience also brought up many emotions I didn’t realize existed. Feelings of anger, guilt and shame about past events and relationships, especially with family, are creeping up. At times they are challenging to face but I’m so happy that I’m addressing them now rather than later in my life.
I also felt a subtle, yet profound spiritual awakening as a result of the treatments. In a state of calm I discovered a deep-seated desire to explore my connection with nature, the universe and spirit.
It was as if I reached past the chaos below to view the world in a new way, finding beauty all around me.
Each person’s experience with panchakarma is unique and very different but I cannot recommend this therapy enough. Myra understands the real power of this purification and has been an amazing guide. Panchakarma has opened my eyes to new possibilities and I can't wait to incorporate Ayurveda more into my life!