Back to Life Post-Panchakarma: ALL the Deets (Part I)
Beautiful loves! I have been thinking and pondering and reflecting about how to write about my Panchakarma experience in full and be able to do it even a single ounce of justice with my words, and it’s going to be a tough task but IMMA TRY!
I have officially been “back to life,” as I’m calling it, for about a day and a half now. Saturday through Wednesday late afternoon were 100% dedicated to the experience — from the digital detox to the daily treatments to the massive amounts of rest to the daily journaling to the mad LOVE I developed for the book I Know this Much is True that I read cover to cover during the detox tooooo the restorative yoga and meditation practice I developed at home throughout.
But before we get to the back-to-life-ness that is now, let’s talk about the experience itself. It will be a two part doozy, kind of like my marathon recap, so let’s get started with Part 1 now. 🙂
My haven of a treatment room <3
My Panchakarma Experience, Part 1 (!!!!)
So, let’s rewind to Day One. Saturday. 11 a.m.
I turn my phone off before I go into the house (the “house” is the gorgeous home in North Hollywood that my Ayurvedic practitioner works out of, and that my therapists work out of as well — it’s a beautiful oasis of inspiring people, wellness, lovely little fountains and ponds, and super cool treatments — in fact, the house inspired me to write a novel about a similar house, but more on that later) — turning off my cellular data, my iMessages, AND putting my phone on airplane mode; I was taking no chances. I did that on my iPad and my laptop AND my desktop as well before I left home that morning… I knew I couldn’t risk a potentially stressful message coming through and derailing this experience. My sensitivity to that kind of stuff is really, really high. That’s part of why I wanted to do this. To let go of the attachments I put onto those kinds of things — unnecessary reasons to be stressed.
I wanted the experience to have the sacredness it deserved. I was taking five full days off from real life after all… The LONGEST I’d ever gone from posting on social media, talking to my mom, family and close friends, checking my email, strolling to Alfred to get a coffee — you know the dealio.
Also, on that note, the other reason I was so serious about doing this full-out is because I’m the kind of girl to do a lot of relaxation/wellness things sort of “halfway.” That may be surprising to you, since I am an all or nothing person and when I decide to do something I totally devote myself to it… But the reason for the halfway-ness with certain wellness related things is because I often dive into things like this without giving them the full thought and preparation. I.e. I’ll go on a yoga retreat but will do so so spontaneously that I have no choice but to check my email every morning and post sponsored Instagram posts because I didn’t get my shit together early enough to plan ahead and block out the time for relaxation. Another example is when I travel with my family… I relax to a certain degree, but I also feel the need to photograph and create a TON of content in the pretty places that we go.
Or I’ll go get a 90 minute massage, take a longggg ass steam in the steam room, lay down in a spa lounge somewhere and EVEN THOUGH I feel so, so, so blissful after relaxing and feeling so disconnected — the first thing I do is reconnect myself. Open my phone. Respond to a bevy of text messages. Post an Instagram photo. Comment on all my fellow bloggers’ photos. Answer a phone call. Have a panic attack because a certain work related email throws me for a loop.
You know, that kind of stuff.
So to FULLY relax and not just halfway relax, not just halfway commit, not just think “okay I’m doing this because I KNOW it’s good for me, and I want to take care of myself and heal, but also I’m sure I can check Insta every once in a while and call home and answer my FaceTime calls and maybe sneak a Snapchat video in there every few days, for an update, so people don’t think I’m totally MIA… I can do that, right?!?” — to NOT do all of that, to allow myself to fully disconnect and let go of needing to be so “on,” so PLUGGED IN… was freeing in every sense of the word.
Holy shit was it freeing.
It was so freeing, in fact, I wound up leaving my phone in Whole Foods on Saturday afternoon after my first treatment. I was in a total detox-y daze after leaving the house after my first treatment (more on that in a minute), and I stopped at Whole Foods in Brentwood to get some veggies for dinner. I didn’t feel like lugging in my huge purse (it’s basically like a suitcase at this point with all of the stuff I keep in there), so I grabbed my wallet and my phone out of instinct, even though it was off, and moseyed into the store.
I laughed at myself for bringing my phone in even though it was off, because it was SUCH a habit to have it glued to my hand… And I remember thinking I cannot wait to disconnect from this thing once and for all for the next several days. I can’t wait for it to feel normal to just leave this in the car and feel whole without it.
Well folks, be careful what you wish for! I had my phone with me at the checkout stand — I remember clearly because it was under my wallet and I had to do a number on myself to NOT look at it… It was off, for god sakes, why was I so eager to flip it over and look at it?! To read the time?! To look at my background photo of Bella and I in Hawaii? Ayi yi.
Anyway, I must have walked out without it, because when I got in my car and started driving away it dawned on me that I didn’t have it with me. I tore apart my car for a second… In a VERY calm manner I may add — I was already beginning to feel really, really blissed out — and I turned my car around, parked in the WF parking lot and walked in.
Long story short, it was gone. We looked in all of the baskets, at the checkout stand where I knew I’d left it, and in the lost and found 2 days in a row. Gone-zo.
And here’s the crazy thing: I did not care, at all. If anything, I was sort of happy. Relieved, even.
I was HAPPY to let that thing go for the week. I think somewhere deep down I knew it was going to be so hard for me to have my phone around and not turn it on. And as I later learned, I had friends sending me messages and photos to come back to, all of them well knowing that normal Jordan would check and respond because I just couldn’t help it — I love my peeps, I love to be connected.
I think it was total fate that my phone disappeared / was stolen / wherever it ended up on the very day I began my Panchakarma.
And guess what?
Sans phone, I was able to read a 1400 page book cover to cover — I Know This Much is True, as mentioned above. A book I’ve been interested in reading since I was a child, and one that I had started about five times over the years but never got past page 20 or 30 because the length and importance of the story intimidated me (subconsciously). I knew I needed the perfect situation to read this book — the time, the headspace, the emotional bandwidth. It hits close to home… One day I’ll write a whole post on the BOOK, as well as a TBB book club sort of thing, but long story short, it’s about a pair of twins and one is healthy and one is schizophrenic. READ IT. IT’S AMAZINGLY well-written.
I was ALSO able to be fully present everywhere I was, with everything I did. Fully present at home with Hudson, fully present at lunch every day with Anjali (my Ayurvedic practitioner) and Joy (the massage therapist who assisted Anjali for the week), fully present in the car while driving and jamming to music (I discovered SO MANY new songs!), in the grocery store, and in meditation on my mat at home.
Seriously a little slice of heaven.
I know, I know, let’s get to the TREATMENT ITSELF!
Okay, this is the part of the post that will certainly be split into two for the sake of length. There is so much to say.
Let’s rehash for a sec about what a Panchakarma is — by definition, it is: (in Ayurvedic medicine) a fivefold detoxification treatment involving massage, herbal therapy, and other procedures.
Those “other procedures” include:
- Abhyanga — a form of Ayurvedic medicine that involves massage of the body with large amounts of warm oil. The oil is often pre-medicated with herbs for specific conditions. It’s basically like an incredible full-body massage with herbal oils, performed by two people at once in synchronicity with one another (in my case, Anjali and Joy). SO heavenly and relaxing. It’s very healing for the nervous system, great for circulation of nerve endings, amazing for your skin, removes impurities, increases stamina, and helps with sleep. I slept LIKE A BABY every night, thanks to my daily abhyanga.
- Shirodhara — a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead and can be one of the steps involved in Panchakarma. The name comes from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow). It also has a profound impact on the nervous system, can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, fatigue and hypertension, and is so calming it often gets you into a deep, restful, meditative state. I loved my daily shirodhara after my abhangya.
- Garshana — a dry lymphatic skin brushing with either wool or a silk glove. This enhances circulation and cleans the skin so that subsequent oil and herbal treatments can penetrate deeply into freshly cleansed pores of the skin. This one feels amazing… By Day 5 I think I had oil and exfoliation powder in my bones (lol) because it had soaked into my skin so incredibly much over the five days.
- Swedana — an individually herbalized steam bath, during which the head and the heart are kept cool while the body is heated to remove mental, emotional and physical toxins lodged deeply within the tissues. You know I love my steam baths. SOOO relaxing. I stayed in for such a long time after every treatment because I was so blissed out and it felt incredible.
There are more therapies within a Panchakarma, especially depending on what your dosha imbalances are and where your toxins (“ama” in Sanskrit) reside.
For me, I am a pitta dosha — the fiery dosha!! — with an imbalance of vata (air). Because of the imbalance, it messes with my digestion, makes it hard for me to concentrate and sleep, I get stressed out easily and super anxious, I have a crazy sensitive system, among other things.
So we were working to move the vata out of my system so that I can return to being my grounded pitta self. I know that I had a lot of toxins in my liver, and likely in all sorts of other organs… We accumulate toxins every day, from all sorts of places, especially in our food, alcohol, stress levels, and just our overall modern day environment.
The goal with the daily abhyanga, shirodhara, swedana, rest, detox from technology and regular routine, and the diet of kitchari (can’t wait to share my new yummy recipes with you!!), was to move the toxins out of my organs and into my digestive system so that I could release them from my body with a home enema, and with the “purgation” step of the cleanse. The purgation is a 6 a.m. protocol of drinking 2 oz of castor oil in water, which completely detoxes your colon of all of the toxins that we moved from my organs throughout the week.
Anjali was able to see that my toxins were all in the right place for the purgation step by looking at my tongue, and by taking my pulse. Ayurveda is FASCINATING to me that way, and I think it is so amazing that we can check in with our health and with ourselves by checking in with our bodies in these simple ways. The white coating on my tongue had moved to the middle, while the outside was clearly just pink (still is), meaning that’s where the toxins had moved to.
Another gorg part of the house where I did my treatment. <3
Part II of this recap will be all about my daily treatments, how they made me feel, how I felt throughout & how I feel now.
That is the harder part for me to discuss, because I feel so incredibly, unbelievably blissful, balanced, happy, calm, transformed… that I hardly know how to bring justice to those feelings with my words.
I feel like I have finally found that perfect reset I have been looking for. A true reset to be able to treat my body and myself with as much healing love as humanly possible. Now I will be so conscious of not only what I put into my body, but also how I spend my time, who I surround myself with, what I do for exercise, etc. — because I don’t want to taint this amazing feeling. And not in a crazy way, but in a super good and balanced way.
But I will do it. I will gather myself and get that post to you guys in the next few days. <3
Oh also, returning to REAL LIFE was shockingly extremely fun. By the time I stated checking my (brand new) phone on Wednesday afternoon, I was basically giddy. Bouncing off the walls. But laying in bed at the same time. I was so thrilled to get back to you guys, to my friends and family, share my experience, and CONNECT with people. Human connection is such a beautiful thing, and when we take time to ourselves I think it’s so much easier not to take that lovely connection between us all for granted.
For anyone who is interested in doing a Panchakarma, I would be happy to give you the information of my Ayurvedic practitioner! If you’re LA based — they are in North Hollywood, and I would HIGHLY recommend them. Also, Surya Spa in the Palisades is incredible — you can read about my one-day Panchakarma experience at Surya here.
Thoughts?! Missed you guys so much. Love you immeasurably.