Hello! I have just returned from another life-changing trip to Bali, where I went through the Panchakarma program for 9 days.
I wanted to share my experiences with you, as something so simple can be extremely effective, and needs to be shared with the world! I am also taking groups to the same destination this year - that's how much I believe in this way of life, and how much it can absolutely bring dramatic results into your life!
In case you don't know, "Panchakarma" is a complete system of detoxification and rejuventation, that is practiced within Ayurveda. It originated in Kerala, India and it works to firstly eliminate all the toxins in our entire body and mind, while strengthening the immune system and restoring balance. Once the body is a clean canvas, the program then moves into "rejuvenation" mode, where through treatments and a specialised diet, it nourishes the entire body, right down to our tissues and cells, and brings us back into complete balance.
On this trip, I was considering putting my 12 year old daughter through the full program. We had had a tough 12 months with two transatlantic moves, and I felt intuitively that she needed it. However, I did want to check with Dr. Raju first and get his advice. After taking her pulse, he agreed. Thankfully my daughter has been following Ayurveda since she was born (courtesy of moi!) and has been on these retreats before, but on Dr. Raju's advice previously, we always lessened the strength of the oils and treatments as children's bodies bounce back so quickly that very often all that is needed is a targeted, modified eating regimen to bring imbalances into check.
We arrived at www.sukhavatibali.com for our visit, and I was excited to see our Balinese family once again. Along for the ride was my 3 week old flu (ugh...), that I think was really a deep cleansing out of the trauma of 2017, but goodness it was miserable. December was completely manic, so I also couldn't dedicate the time to my own health to get rid of my 'flu and had to battle through it, as unpleasant as that was. However, I had full faith that Dr. Raju and his team of spa therapists, kitchen geniuses and yoga/meditation gurus would work their magic and put me back into the land of the living again. Perhaps my belief in a full recovery added to it coming to pass too?! Ahhhh....the power of the mind....read on!
Over the years, we have all kept in touch, from staff to attendees, and that is the kind of extended family that you will gain if you decide to visit. I guarantee you have not been on a retreat like the one at Sukhavati. Having not been there for two years, we were excited to visit again and reconnect with everybody. Much to our complete joy, there were 4 people who we also met on our stay two years previously, so there was much to talk about and catch up on. It was wonderful to revisit stories and catch up on each other's lives. Have you ever had that feeling where you reconnect with a long lost dear friend, and how it almost nourishes your soul? Well that's how I feel about the people I hold dear at Sukhavati.
As a bit of a backstory, in January 2016, we had come together to rescue a kitten, who was named "Lucy of Sukhavati". This is her below.
Lucy is a remarkable, healing animal and I always felt that it was no accident that she was found on a pile of burning rubbish one morning on the streets of Bali. Lucy makes sure everything runs smoothly and keeps energies in check, to allow guests to enjoy an amazing program. We were delighted to see Miss Lucy and how much she had grown, and she really loved her place as "master healer" of the retreat (that's how she sees herself!). She ran straight up to us, and brought tears to my eyes as she displayed genuine love and affection towards us both. My daughter, particularly, had a close connection with her and they were like long-lost soul mates. Heart warming to see, as Lucy hadn't forgotten us at all in the 2 years we had been away. If you visit there, she may nuzzle against you and say "hi" or you may see her whizz past as she goes about her work in and around the center. She is a very busy lady you know!
After getting settled in to our wonderful villa called "Chintanami" (pictured here), we went along to see Dr. Raju, who is one of my most favourite people on the planet. I have seen many Ayurveda doctors across India and other parts of Asia, and they were also good, but Dr. Raju has a lovely way of explaining everything that is happening to you, and, more importantly how to fix it. Just by taking my pulse and looking at my tongue, he could diagnose all of the issues and imbalances that were happening in my body. And nothing escapes him! When you visit there the first time, he will tell you whether you are "Pitta (fire), Vata (air) or Kapha (water), or a combination of two or all three. This is called "assessing your doshas".
Once you know your dosha, then Dr. Raju sets about expertly putting together a tailor-made plan for your stay. He communicates with the spa therapists to have the correct oils prepared for my daily treatments, and the kitchen staff to ensure all of my food would be bringing my dosha into balance, and not taking it further out of balance.
What I love about Sukhavati, is it is all done seamlessly, and holistically. Everyone plays their part in the multi-pronged approach to work together to achieve the common goal of "perfectly balanced doshas", which would then result in no physical or emotional disease. I should add here, that Panchakarma programs work as deep as your time allows, so if you have a week then you will see a week's progress. If you have 6 weeks (which is the recommended duration for a full Panchakarma program) then you will see far deeper results. However, I tend to go for 10 days and aim to do that a few times a year to maximise my results and not stress myself out with trying to navigate work, parenting, school and pets.
To give you an example of a dosha imbalance, I had high "fire/pitta" in my digestive tract, and an imbalance of "air/vata" throughout. It is remarkable to know that some vegetables and fruits aggravate the elements in our bodies, so I was not allowed to eat things like nuts, eggplant, potatoes, cauliflower etc. But I didn't worry at all, because I knew that the remarkable kitchen staff would put together a delicious meal for me (and of course they aced it every time).
Whilst on the Pancharma program, it is important to eat at regular times, so for me it was a lovely treat to have a break from the head cramps of weekly cooking and figuring out what to cook. I had delicious tailor-made meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Honestly, that was a luxurious treat for me!
The concept of Ayurveda (which means "science of life") works on the premise similar to my own beliefs and experiences in Aromatherapy and Spirituality. To simplify, I can explain it in these terms:
1. Internally - in Ayurveda, we turn to nature, through herbs, spices, food, and the environment, to literally heal you from the inside out (what goes into your body), and the outside in (what is absorbed from outside our body). The single most effective way to get yourself into balance, is to focus on your digestive health. I do this through the use of essential oils too, and it was easy for me to understand the important role that a healthy digestive tract has in Ayurveda.
2. Physical body - through Yoga (which always accompanies any Panchakarma Ayurveda program), your joints, muscles, nerves, tissues and bodily systems are stimulated to work in the correct way. Certain postures are recomended for those on the Panchakarma program so that they can work holistically towards the common goal. This means that even if you are a yoga teacher, you would benefit from learning what poses are the most effective for eliminating toxins that are stored in the body, and opening up your chakras.
3. Emotions - through Meditation, you learn how to control your mind and thoughts. The mind can be the catalyst for our own fears and as we see with the "Law of Attraction", whatever we think, and therefore give energy to, can manifest in our actual life. We can become what we think, and give energy to. So it is imperative to have a healthy mind, and meditation is one of the most effective ways to keep our minds in check.
4. Structure - the Ayurveda way of life puts huge importance on having a structured day. This is because our bodily systems and mind like to know what it is coming next. They work like a conveyor belt and when there is a structure, then our bodies know what to expect. When we throw unexpected trauma and stress at our bodies, they have to scramble around to cope e.g. the fight/flight response in times of stress/shock, or healing injuries.
a) Our organs like regularity. The liver, particularly, is an organ that thrives on things happening at the same time each day. Your liver would love you to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same/similar time each day. I realise it isn't always possible, but by having regular timings, your liver can really work at its most effective level. It's not impossible to have the same mealtimes, it just requires a lot more effort and coordination.
b) Sleep. In Ayurveda, it is stated that we must be in bed and ready to sleep by 9pm if possible. There are important reasons for this, which you will learn at the retreat but the concept is "early to bed, early to rise". Have you ever felt the energy of the morning sun? Try it one day and you will feel it very powerfully, and then perhaps make a conscious effort to be up and about at sunrise to experience the healing rays at work. Yes, I know it is a stretch - I can't always do it, but some days I am up when it is still dark and miss the sunrise completely!
Below is a pic I took on one of our sunrise walks through the rice fields. It was very beautiful and peaceful - the perfect "reflection" time.
As we moved through our 9 days in the program, we experienced the most incredible shifts in our bodies, both internally and externally. My daughter's eczema (which was severe on her hands) diminished noticeably, and we both noticed fundamental differences in our appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels. I had more clarity, she felt more balanced. Everything improved greatly.
While I was there, I taught a session on how to cleanse your own energy, and that of your property by "smudging". This is an important but remarkably easy technique to remove stagnant and dense energy from your life, and keep your frequency high. I will be teaching this on my retreats.
All too soon, the trip came to an end , but if I had to sum up the top take-aways that going through a Panchakarma program can bring you, it would be the following:
1. Getting to know your "dosha constitution" is one of the most powerful secrets you can ever know about yourself. It will answer a lot of questions relating to all areas of your life e.g. why you can't lose weight, why you can't put weight on, why you have skin issues, why you have emotional issues, why you relate to people a certain way etc.
2. Taking time out to nuture and support your own self produces so much more than what the physical eye can see. On a soul level, you cannot imagine how much positivity you are imparting through a program such as this. If you are in a healing profession, allowing yourself to "receive" is not something you will be used to as you are often "giving" to others. The balance needs to be - we give, AND we receive.
3. The knowledge that you will gain from a Panchakarma program is worth its weight in gold. In my case, I made immediate changes in my life, to keep the benefits going long after I left the nurturing and supportive centres and I have extended this information to my work life too. It can often stimulate a response where you start researching healthier ways to live, and it can be an elightening next step on your journey. And quite unexpected!
4. You will leave with a fully comprehensive plan of what it takes to keep YOUR body and mind in check. Given we are working with vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices, it is achievable to maintain it in your daily life when you return to it.
5. You can be any religion, race, gender, and age to enjoy the benefits of Ayurveda. It crosses all boundaries and beliefs. What is particularly important to me is that it is completely animal-free, and uses the elements of nature to heal our bodies. This is a deep-seated belief of mine, and you will hear me talk about it a lot.
6. Lastly - and this isn't a sweeping statement - this program is life changing. You really have to try it for yourself. And after the program, you will no longer be confused about who you are, what you are, and how to fix yourself when you veer off track, as we all do at various times. Ayurveda is a completely holistic way of life to keep you healthy, and sane as you navigate the world and all its quirks.
Experiencing a totally different culture to your own, is a form of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and is a remarkable way to put your own life into perspective. Detaching from our own daily dramas is a very good way to find clarity. Visiting a different country with like-minded people and a proven system of daily guidance and support from gifted healers, is like nothing you have ever experienced before. The benefits keep giving back to you long after you leave. This is the fundamental difference I find between an Ayurveda retreat, and a regular spa retreat.
I believe in this system very deeply, and have seen remarkable results in my own life, and that of my clients and family.
Are you ready to change your life? Come join me - you CAN Live Vibrantly! xx
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nikki Jordan is an advocate for creating a 5th dimensional collaborative community that co-creates together, while supporting, loving and respecting every living creature. You can read more about her here https://www.livevibrantly.world/about
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