Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a month long series following be&behappy Co-Founder Suyogi Gessner as she experiences a pancha karma detox in India. Check back daily for her latest videos and blog posts, and follow her journey on social media with the hashtag #SuyogisDetoxJourney.
I came here—to the pancha karma clinic in Mumbai—to take care of my health and detox my mind and emotions. I have studied and practiced Ayurveda for years, and recommend pancha karma to many patients at my clinic in Berlin. So I know how this ancient detox transforms the body, mind and spirit. But it wasn’t until a week ago, after my master healer told me I needed to get back in balance, that I found myself flying to India to experience this transformation for myself. It had been 21 years since my last pancha karma!
So here I was, traveling to the same clinic where I spent years treating other patients. Only now, it was my turn. I was ready to feel full of power, energy and awesomeness.
I’m excited to share my experience with you over the next 25 days. But before I go any further, here’s a little background on pancha karma:
Pancha karma is a key part of treating diseases in Ayurveda. Pancha means “five,” and karma means “actions.” During the pancha karma treatment, you get rid of excess toxins—both physical and emotional ones—and remove blocks. It should ideally be done in a clinic for 4 to 6 weeks, where you have an individual treatment plan (including diet, lifestyle and purgation), and receive treatments, home remedies and herbal remedies.
I often use pancha karma elements in my patients’ treatment plans. Afterward, they tell me that they feel so much lighter, that their bloating is reduced and that they feel more clear and focused in the mind.
Although I have had many pancha karma treatments in Berlin, it had been more than 20 years since I had experienced the full 4-6 week transformation in India. So you can imagine how excited I was as I walked through the Mumbai airport at 2 a.m.—so much so that I took the wrong luggage from the baggage claim! It wasn’t until I finally arrived at the clinic, at nearly 5 a.m., that that I realized my suitcase was filled with mens’ clothing, not the items I had brought from Germany.
But my first stop after the airport was to visit my master healer. He is living outside of Mumbai. You won’t believe it, but it’s a jungle there with wild animals everywhere. They recently had leopard attacks. When we walked up to the house, the dogs were barking, and my Indian friend told me to be careful because the leopard is near. And he was. To look into this animal’s eyes was a tough and scary moment—until he decided we weren’t interesting and we walked into the house.
I finally reached at the clinic at 4:45 a.m. I was tired and the jetlag had set in, so I just wanted to sleep. That’s when I opened the suitcase. I first thought, “Wow! Someone had given me men’s clothes and really Indian-looking pajamas.” It took me some time to process that it was not my suitcase. The driver was asleep in bed, and I had to wake him up so that we could rush to another jungle: the Mumbai airport.
India wouldn’t be India if everything was easy. That night was no exception. When we reached the airport, the officer was made out of stone and told us that once we left the airport there was no way back. You can’t imagine how sweet and patient I was when I asked him to call Lufthansa. But it was the middle of the night, and of course no one there picked up the phone. Still, I kept with my sweetness. After much consideration—and checking my passport and boarding pass a million times—he let me back into the airport.
I was back in the airport, but I had no clue where to go to, so I followed the “Lost and Found” sign. There, I found lots of suitcases and a guy in deep sleep. I decided to enter the room and check out the suitcases, desperately hoping I would find mine. As I was looking through the luggage, the guy woke up and got seriously mad.
“This is just a clock room,” he told me. “It can’t be your suitcase.”
I’ve been coming to India for more than 30 years now, so I knew not to give in. (Believe me, if it
would have been a German guy, I would have followed his instructions). He was after me, but I just wanted to check all the suitcases until I was convinced mine was not there. But where was I supposed to go from here? Every single tired and sleepy guy told me, “Come tomorrow”—a very common Indian phrase that really means “leave me alone.”
Many explanations and sleepy guys later, I came to the airline counter and told them my story. No one was interested. So, I again decided to be sweet. “Oh, you have such a hard job, having to work in the middle of the night,” I told them, even though it actually didn’t look so hard at all. I told them they looked amazingly fresh, and slowly their hearts started to open. After some time, they finally took notice and offered me a seat and some tea. I asked them if my suitcase could be in the huge nearby room (where I saw at least 300 suitcases), and they said, “Impossible.”
Knowing Indians, I said, “Who knows? Maybe it is. Can I not check it?” I added, “I know the Indian heart. They always help a woman who is alone.”
And then, I quoted the slogan on the wall behind us at the airport: “That’s called Indian by heart and global by spirit.”
Those were the magic words. Suddenly, they laughed and connected with me—and allowed me to check for my suitcase. That magic led to the miracle. I found my suitcase.
The Indian heart had ruled.
Finally, at 7 a.m., I was back at the clinic and lying in bed. Before I fell asleep, I remember telling myself that this was a great beginning to my detox. The whole airport experience showed why it’s important not to go into worries and fear, but instead stay open and connected. To connect with someone on their level is an art, and it’s only possible if you regularly train your mind and detox from the toxic stuff.
If you do this, you can stay positive, kind and stable in challenging moments. This magic mindset makes it so you can enjoy anything—a close encounter with a leopard, or even a trip to the airport in the middle of the night.
Join Suyogi on her journey by reading her daily blog posts, and using the hashtag #SuyogisDetoxJourney on social media.