One of the most incredible things about the Ayurvedic lifestyle is the effect it can have on our pain. As we work to flush out the toxins that are built up in our day to day lives, our bodies naturally begin to heal themselves, and with Ayurveda, people that have struggled for years with chronic pain have found release.
We spoke with Nidhi, one of our recent Panchakarma retreat participants, about their experience of overcoming pain, finding peace, and learning to honor their body.
Q: How was your experience with panchakarma?
Nidhi: It was amazing. I was not expecting my experience to be this good. I think when I came in, I didn’t quite understand what I was getting into. I was prepared for the dietary restrictions, but everything else that came with it – the meditation, the community, and a space where you can be with yourself – was all unexpected. All in all, it was fantastic.
Q: Could you share any standout moments from your time here, or a favourite part of the experience?
Nidhi: The first time I meditated. I haven’t even practiced yoga before – the only workouts I’ve ever done have been quite rigorous.The first time we meditated in the program, I didn’t even know what to do with myself! About two or three minutes into it, I wasn’t sure where I was anymore. I felt like I was in a trance. Now, with a little more experience, I feel like I can describe it better. But that first time, I didn’t know if I had left my body, or if I was still here. I didn’t know if I was asleep or awake. And at the end of it, when I opened my eyes, I felt really energized.
Another thing that surprised me, and that I appreciated, was that the treatments were all very gentle. When I used to think of massages, I thought of them as a very rigorous activity, where the masseuse is using so much of their strength on your body. But here, the therapists are so gentle and so precise. They achieved the same kind of feeling, in terms of relaxation, without the same physical effort. The massage really seems to be of the spirit and mind, as well as the body.
Q: And how are you feeling after the program? How would you compare it to other practices or treatments you’ve tried?
Nidhi: I am feeling fantastic! Until now, I’ve lead a fairly decadent life of poor eating habits and sporadic physical activity. This was the detox, I think, that I really needed.
About three years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I was in constant, debilitating, chronic pain, so much so that I couldn’t even squeeze toothpaste onto my toothbrush. I tried a number of different doctors and dermatologists, and they gave me steroids and immunosuppressants. My hair began to fall out, my voice became hoarse, and I wasn’t sleeping well. There was a lot of fluctuation in my weight, but through everything, the pain was still there. All of these harsh medications had no effect on my pain.
Finally, I looked into Ayurvedic medicine, and read about panchakarma and detoxing, and decided to try it out.I got here on a Monday, and I woke up on Thursday morning absolutely pain-free. 100% pain-free! I haven’t been without pain in some part of my body for at least three years, so it was a strange sensation to wake up and feel that. I have panchakarma to thank for that. If it hadn’t been for the structured diet, the mind-body balance of the activities here, I don’t think I would have ever done this on my own, or achieved any of these results.
If it hadn’t been for the structured diet, the mind-body balance of the activities here, I don’t think I would have ever done this on my own, or achieved any of these results.
Q: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience here?
Nidhi: When we think of alternative medicine, there’s a stereotype that it’s for older people, or people that embrace it as their entire lifestyle. But what I’d like to share, and what I’m going to go back and tell my friends about, is that it’s really just about respecting your body. We do that when we go to the gym, when we this diet or that diet. Ayurvedic medicine has the same goal. The whole purpose of it is to honour your body.
If you don’t honour your body when you’re younger, it won’t work out for you very well when you’re older. There’s a time when you should be exposed to different types of medicine, and different types of self-care. I think trying panchakarma has opened my mind, changed the way I want to eat and how I want to live. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop going out with my friends, or having a bowl of pasta every now and then, but at least I know now how to better balance myself, and how to listen to my body.