It’s December 12, 2012- 12.12.12. I don’t know whether this day is supposed to be auspicious but I probably will recall for a long time that I was in India feeling not particularly special. I am confined to my cottage today away from the natural elements, fasting, sipping hot water, and resting for Virechanam.
Virechanam might sound exotic and mysterious, but it is far from it. We often refer to the the day we have Virechanam as D day, diarrhea day. Virechanam is one of the five cleansing methods of Panchakarma, and I had a special meal of rice porridge made with water and lemon last night in preparation. Dr. Abhijith gave me instructions during my consultation but later in the afternoon Dr. Asha stopped by my cottage to give me more details. She told me to take it easy and sleep in until 7AM. I wasn’t allowed to do any physical activities or eat anything in the morning. I was to take a hot shower and report to the treatment area by 9AM. I did exactly as I was told and after getting a big thermos of hot tulsi water I went to get my Virechanam on.
A therapist first massaged my stomach and back with oil then steamed the those areas. I then sat down to eat and drink the “diarrhea medicine.” The black pudding like substance I had to first eat was very sweet; she said a lot of people like the sweetness but for me it was so sweet that I could only eat small teaspoonful of it at a time. While I was trying my best to eat this black paste quickly I gazed upon a tall glass of murky green concoction on the table. With my mouth and throat now numb from the sugary medicine I pointed at the glass and looked up at the therapist. She smiled down at me and said, “Don’t worry. It’s sweet, too.”
As soon as the first sip of the medicine hit my tongue I whipped my head around and gave her an evil eye. She started laughing so hard she could barely say “It’s not sweeeeet?” Ha ha ha, very funny. This thing was bitter, vile, and dreadful. I took a deep breath and chugged it down my throat until all I could see was the muddy sediment at the bottom of the glass. Yuck. Really, yuck. I guess I’ve been lucky that I don’t have a lot of medicine to take- just a small decoction twice a day. But most of the other guests have a ton of herbal medications they have been prescribed. We often sniff and even taste others‘ jars of dark green putty and give our opinions on how horrible or edible they are. No one mentioned to me how yucky this stuff was – maybe it’s not as bad as what they’ve all be taking?!
With the lingering @#^$*%& (I lack the appropriate words to describe its true taste) in my mouth I slumped back to my cottage. I sat out on the patio for about an hour before the sun crept up all around me. I retreated to the living room area of my cottage to wait and work this process out. My regular therapists came by first around 11, then the head therapist who laughed at me this morning visited, and finally Dr. Abhijith made a house call to check on me about an hour ago. I feel a bit dizzy and tired, but I’m hoping it’ll be over in the next hour or two (it’s 1:40PM now). I’m just sipping hot water every 10 minutes like I’ve been told to do and keeping track of how many trips I’ve made to the bathroom. Yes, they want to know how many times. I just had another visit from the head therapist; she sure has a sense of humor. She poked her head in, asked me how many times, exclaimed loudly “thirteen?!” and asked, “you like?” “Drink more water,” she said and left.
Virechanam is to clear out the toxins in the Pitta region of the body, the stomach. My skin broke out two days ago, from what I don’t know, and Dr. Abhijith said it is a Pitta problem. He wants to see what happens after my Virechanam. Dr. Asha asked me yesterday if I had any complaints or wanted to tell her anything about the facilities, staff, or my experience here so far. One could say that the health issues I came with haven’t been resolved, or have gotten worse even (at least my skin is worse). But it’s not over yet; I have faith in the longterm effects of Panchakarma and the benefits I will have gained overall. It may seem like a crazy thing but with a very grateful heart I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed this process and everything it’s been teaching me.
For now, I’ll focus on the immediate and hope to get through this day, this afternoon, these next few hours. With a smile and positive thoughts.