One of the first things I did upon returning to Manila from Tokyo was to sign up for a 14-day detox program at Arogya, Manila's first serious ayurveda center.
I'd had three ayurveda treatments at Arogya just before I left, and these left me feeling incredibly relaxed. So all the time I was in Japan, I was literally hankering for that feeling of relaxation I got immediately after my treatments.
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DESPERATE FOR A DETOX
I felt I was desperately in need of a detox.
So, back in Manila, I made time in my rather filled up schedule to get a two-hour ayurveda treatment everyday for 14 days -- arriving usually first thing in the morning so that the schedule of meetings the rest of the day would not be broken up.
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That's a rather big commitment to make in terms of time, but I figured my body needed a break after several months of constant traveling and everpresent stress.
I was probably the ideal patient for ayurveda, in fact.
Why do people undergo an ayurveda detox, you might be wondering.
As with most other types of detoxification processes, an ayurveda detox aims to rid the body of toxins and impurities by various rituals including the massaging of medicinal herbs and other natural substances onto the body via an oil carrier like sesame oil.
In Southern India, they also practice purging, which is basically induced vomiting; but at Arogya, induced vomiting is not part of the detox process. In fact, most of the rituals are relaxing and calming -- but extremely effective nonetheless.
The one interesting aspect for me was the smell of the substances used.
None of these were unpleasant, and in fact, I loved the smell of the sesame oil. But ocassionally, I did have boiled herbs placed on me that seemed more suitable in a kitchen. There were not a few days when I felt -- and smelled -- like a stew.
TURNING OFF THE BLACKBERRY
Upon arrival for my first day of treatment, I already knew the drill. I did the last of my phone calls in the reception room and then voluntarily turned my phone off.
Then I proceeded to the second floor for a morning of abhyanga, takradhara and aschutan.
These treatments have already been described in a previous blog entry as these were exactly the same treatments I had the first time around.
Patrick, the center's director, decided I should have three days of the same course, followed by four days of a round of different treatments, and then three days of still another set; to end with the abhyanga, takradhara and aschutan again.
While I was having my treatments, I was trying to figure out how massaging oils, yoghurt and medicated ghee could solve a host of ills.
Was it really as simple as that?
I posed this question to Patrick later on, and he explained: "In ayurveda, we believe there are seven layers in the body, and that it takes about three minutes for medicated oils to go from one level to the next. So 20 minutes is sufficient for reaching the core of the body."
"Do you feel any different after the treatment?" He asked. I could see better and my mind felt lighter, for one thing. But also, I felt heat rising from my skin.
Patrick smiled when I mentioned this. "That's a good thing. That means some of the fire is leaving your body. You have too much fire in you."
So I religiously went through the regimen, which I can describe as interesting at the very least, and calming most of the time.
The wooden ayurveda treatment table is a hard oiled surface that gave me some aches the first two days. But eventually I got used to it and could spend two hours on it with no problems.
In fact, on my second to the last day, I remember thinking: Gosh, this really is a comfortable table!
One day, in the course of my treatments, I was sitting in the lounge area browsing through the books on ayurveda, when Patrick came up to me and said: "Would you like to see what an ayurveda pharmacy looks like?"
Of course, I did.
So I followed him to a small room at the back, and it was filled from floor to ceiling with shelves holding jars and plastic bags of different kinds of powders and liquids.
The smell from inside was very strong and certainly not the same as those found in a relaxation spa -- but it was a very comforting smell of herbs and spices nevertheless.
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One Sunday morning, I woke to find my eyes completely red.
"Oh no, I have sore eyes!" I exclaimed to myself. I thought back as to how I had probably gotten it, and I guessed that it had been the previous day at the Manilart 2010 show.
Realizing that sore eyes probably necessitated temporary hibernation, the first thing I did was look at my schedule for the week beginning that Sunday, and I was horrified to see a very full schedule of meetings and events I just had to attend.
Fortunately I was scheduled for treatments at Arogya at 10 am that morning.
The moment I walked in, I asked Patrick: "Patrick, would you have an ayurvedic treatment for sore eyes? I just need this to disappear this morning. There's just no way I can stay home today, tomorrow or the rest of the week."
I was on the verge of panic.
WHAT A MIRACLE
Patrick didn't even flinch.
He confidently said, in his quiet and incredibly calming way: "I have something. Your sore eyes will be okay by the time you finish your treatments. And if not, we'll put one more dose and it'll be okay."
He put a liquid into my eyes that he said was called something like "everlasting life of the eyes" in Indian. It was the color of pomegranate but it was good for sore eyes and for overall rejuvenation of the eyes.
A QUESTION OF FAITH
Of course I was rather skeptical about how sore eyes could disappear in 90 minutes, but I was desperate to try anything at that point.
Miraculously, when I finished my treatment, the sore eyes were indeed gone. I just couldn't believe it.
"Amazing," I kept saying over and over. "I just can't understand it."
Patrick smiled at me. "You have too little faith in ayurveda," he said. "This has been around for thousands of years, after all."
Later on, he added teasingly, when I thanked him again for curing my sore eyes and enabling me to stick to my schedule without interruption: "I should have not given you those eye drops. Then you would've been forced to stay home and rest instead of rushing around all the time."
Yes, I had a physical detox which, according to Patrick, balanced my dosha.
According to ayurveda practicioners, it's really important to balance one's dosha because the imbalance is the root of most illnesses.
Cancer, for one thing, is usually the result of too much pitta, he said.
Well, my dosha was balanced and, happily, I also lost weight and inches in the process -- but unfortunately, my busy schedule wasn't on a detox as well!
Arogya Ayurveda Center
8398 Mayapis Street, San Antonio Village, Makati
Tel. (02) 403-4048, Mobile (63)(906) 2492-2463
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