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Published: June 13th 2015
Temple in the park
... at Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe
My first week back in Germany after my year in Singapore was busy. I arrived in Frankfurt on the morning of the 19th of March and had to catch a train to Hamburg instead of my flight because of the Lufthansa pilots’ strike. I had intended to meet Mizzi for breakfast and then made some appointments with my colleagues from around the world who were in Hamburg for our international client event and partner meeting. However, I had to cancel them all and was of course not amused.
Ultimately I arrived in Hamburg around noon and Mizzi met me at the train station. It was awesome to see her! We left my luggage at the left luggage office and had lunch and coffee in town together. Then she went back to work and I went home quickly to drop off my luggage, have a shower, and do some work. I had sublet my flat to my colleague Nina and she had moved out two weeks before my return. Fortunately I had been able to leave a lot of furniture and items in the flat, but I also had put personal stuff, clothes, and books into the attic. So to a
The same temple
... a few days later, when it had started snowing like crazy - in early April!
certain extent I would have to move back into the flat! But I did not have time on the Wednesday to do anything. Instead, I went to meet my colleagues for drinks and dinner.
On Thursday we had our international client event with clients and partners from around the world, and on Friday there was our international partner meeting. Of course I did not get a lot of sleep because we went out every night and had a lot of fun. Saturday and Sunday I had work to do because on Monday and Tuesday we gave a workshop for some of our international partners and I had to finish some tasks before going on a six week leave. I went to the office on Monday and Tuesday for the workshop and even had work left to do on Wednesday. But finally, at noon on Wednesday, I left for my well-deserved six-week leave. My suitcases from Singapore were still half unpacked, I had only fetched from the attic the items I really needed, and that was it.
But now I had six weeks off, yay! I caught a train to the city of Kassel, which is only a little
The park entrance
This was our way from Ayurveda Klinik into the park every day.
more than two hours from Hamburg. At the train station I met my mum and we caught a taxi to “Ayurveda Klinik”
, an Ayurvedic hospital where we were going to spend two weeks. Ayurveda
means “knowledge of life” and is a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle that includes diet, massages, exercise, and medicine. We were there for Panchakarma
, an Ayurvedic cleansing of the body. It is a two week cure that is done under the supervision of a physician who specialises in Ayurvedic medicine. First of all, let me stress that this is NOT wellness. It is a physical and mental detox and it is exhausting, but also very healing. Maybe if I describe what actually happens you will see why.
The day of our arrival was still very relaxing. We arrived in the late afternoon, unpacked our suitcases (both of us had rooms of our own because you need personal space on such a cure) and went for walk in the most beautiful park on Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel. We had hot chocolate and a piece of cake in a nearby café and just enjoyed the afternoon. After the Ayurvedic dinner I was super tired after the crazy week
The same park entrance
... a few days later, when it had started snowing.
I had been through, and we had a super early night. Day 1:
I got up at 7, meditated, had a shower, and had breakfast with my mum. Then we went for a long walk in the park. My mum had the appointment with the physician, but mine was not until after lunch, so I extended the walk and climbed up the mountain to the Hercules statue and walked back to the clinic in a big loop. A wonderful three hour walk in a wonderful park!
After lunch I had my appointment with the physician. He assesses one’s medical condition and clarifies goals of the cure. Later in the afternoon I had a foot massage. As guests in the Ayurveda Klinik one also has free access to the Kurhessen Therme, a big sauna and swimming pool right next to the Ayurveda Klinik. So we spent the late afternoon in the sauna, had dinner, and then another early night. Day 2:
My day started with meditation again. Then the physician came to see me in my room. The instruction is not to get up and not to eat or drink anything until the physician is there because he
One of the lakes in the park
... the one I walked around every morning.
wants to measure the pulse at rest and look at your tongue. In Ayurveda, pulse as well as shape and surface of your tongue are important indicators of your health. There was no breakfast for us, but instead, we had to drink about 50 ml of warm ghee, i.e. purified butter. I don’t mind it too much, but also it does not taste too nice, and so they give you some fresh ginger and cardamom to chew after drinking the ghee. What I really hate about this part of the cure is that there is no breakfast. Also, the food you get for lunch and dinner during the “ghee days” is not super nice: a soup with vegetables and rice. Both for lunch and for dinner. That tastes like nothing. At least it is different vegetables. Later in the morning I had a head massage. The rest of the day I spent more or less sleeping. I did not even go for long walks, just really short ones. First of all, you are not supposed to because your body is all busy detoxing. Second, I was just incredibly tired and exhausted after a year of craziness in Singapore (which had
The same lake
... a few days later when it had started snowing.
followed after crazy six months of finishing up my PhD, where I had kind of constantly been close to a nervous breakdown) and a crazy first week back in Germany. I was not even able to concentrate on the books I had brought, but that was okay. Day 3:
Instead of breakfast I had to drink another glass of warm ghee, this time even a bit more than the previous day. The treatment of the day was a foot massage. Day 4:
Again I had to drink warm ghee, again a bit more than on the previous day. The treatment of the day was a head massage. Day 5:
We were allowed to have breakfast again, yay! From the wonderful buffet they have there we were only allowed to eat the warm food, so two different kinds of puree, rice, or noodles, but these dishes are very tasty and I was happy to be allowed to have breakfast anyway. The treatment of the day was my favourite kind of treatment during a Panchakarma cure: a one hour full body massage, given by two people, followed by a herbal steam bath. For lunch and dinner we got something
... the castle around which the park was designed.
else than soup again, but still very light food, only rice and some steamed vegetables. Day 6:
Instead of breakfast we had to take a laxative. On this day there is no treatment and also you are not supposed to be too far from a toilet – for apparent reasons. For lunch and dinner we got rice and vegetable soup again. Day 7:
From now onwards we were allowed to have breakfast again every morning. Again, only the warm food, but fair enough since it is tasty and there is something different every day. Lunch and dinner was rice and vegetables again, but still very light food. The treatment of the day was a head massage. Day 8:
Warm breakfast, rice and vegetables for lunch and dinner. Treatment of the day was once more the full body massage given by two therapists, with subsequent herbal steam bath. Day 9:
Warm breakfast. For lunch and dinner we were almost back to normal food, but did not have any raw food, only cooked food. Treatment of the day was warm oil being poured onto the forehead. Additionally, about two hours after lunch we got an enema consisting of
The same lake again
... and on the trees in the background you can see the snow.
oil, which is nourishing for the bowels. Day 10:
Warm breakfast. Treatment of the day was once more warm oil being poured onto the forehead. Shortly before lunch we got an enema consisting of herbs. After this enema you have to lie down for 10 to 15 minutes and then go to the toilet. For lunch and dinner we got rice and vegetable soup once more. Day 11:
Warm breakfast, cooked food for lunch and dinner. Treatment of the day was a head massage. Two hours after lunch there was another oil enema. Day 12:
Warm breakfast, cooked food for lunch and dinner. Treatment of the day was a full body massage. One hour, but only given by one therapist. Another oil enema two hours after lunch. Day 13:
We were allowed to gradually include other food into our breakfast. We had some warm food, but then shared a bread roll and some cheese. No fruit yet. But we were back to normal food for lunch and dinner. I received a head, neck, and shoulder massage, followed by some special treatment that is supposed to clean out your nose and sinuses. Day 14:
... during one of my walks around the lake.
a warm and cold breakfast and normal food for lunch and dinner. I had the same head, neck, shoulder, nose, and sinus treatment I had received the previous day. Day 15:
We had a warm and cold breakfast and normal food for lunch and dinner. I had the same head, neck, shoulder, nose, and sinus treatment I had received the previous day.
It seems that you do not have too much to do during the day, but days pass quickly. During the first four days I really did not do much. I was unable to read, simply too tired, and I did spend most of my time sleeping, just interrupted by the meals, treatments, short walks, and a bit of meditation. Afterwards we usually went for one walk in the morning and one in the afternoon, very short walks and only in flat areas of the park during the first days, then longer and longer and also uphill again. I had quite a few books with me and spent a lot of time reading and also meditating. After a few days I woke up at around 5:30 every morning, so I did my morning meditation, then had a shower and went for a 30 minute walk around one of the lakes in the park before breakfast. I also did a little bit of yoga, but that’s pretty much it. Walk, meditate, read. Of course the physician came to see us almost every day, at least during the first days, to make sure we were alright and to make changes to our therapy schedule if necessary.
The diet is of course Ayurvedic. It is vegetarian, almost vegan. Servings always contain different kind of vegetables, at lunch they come with rice, at dinner with chapatis. Lunch is a three course meal where you start with the sweet dish, as you do in Ayurveda. Having the sweet course first makes a lot of sense since it triggers the release of insulin. Having the sweet course in the end of the meal is likely to lower your blood sugar too far so that you will get hungry very soon again. The second course then was a soup and the main course consisted of rice, different vegetables, chutney, and sometimes salad (depending on what stage of the cure one was in). According to Ayurveda, a full meal is supposed to contain all six tastes: salty, sweet, hot, bitter, sour, and astringent. Moreover, depending on your type of constitution there are some foods and herbs that are more appropriate for you and that you should eat more of, whereas others are not so suitable. Interestingly when I started learning more about Ayurveda I found that many of the foods I am to eat less of I don’t like anyway. So I guess if you listen to your body it will tell you what it needs and what is not good for it.
It seems that we did not do much while on the cure. And that’s true. As I said, our days consisted of one, maximum two treatments per day, three meals a day, and other than that just of walks, reading, and meditating. But you need the quiet time. The cure is not only a physical, but also a mental detox. All kinds of issues come up and demand attention. I don’t know whether it really has to do with the cure or whether it is only the fact that one is with oneself and has quiet time for an extended period of time. But it is just what happens. This Ayurveda cure was my third one and there were always issues coming up so that the two weeks are usually an emotional roller coaster, with the first few days being worst. I talked to many others and to them it is similar. You can also see it in others. During the first few days they are quiet, pale, with bags under the eyes. After a while they start to thrive. They smile, become more open. It is really amazing what happens during these two weeks.
Before going home we had one final conversation with the physician. He gave recommendations on diet and other things to do after the cure. It is not that one is totally fit and in super shape when finishing the cure. It takes some time and one needs to take good care of one’s diet, stress level, and everything. But after a few weeks’ time the effect kicks in: I usually realise that my physical fitness goes up. Also I lose weight and do not need as much food any more. I naturally avoid unhealthy stuff, just because I don’t feel like it. So it is a really good thing, but it requires patience.
Anyway. After two weeks we caught a train back home, my mum went to Stuttgart and I went to Hamburg. Mizzi came to pick me up from the train and we had dinner together to catch up.
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