A Village where Health is Contagious

I want to share with you a glimpse into a place that has changed my life – my home away from home in India. In a few weeks, I am returning to vaidyagrama, a panchakarma treatment center in Tamil Nadu just outside Kerala.

Panchakarma is an intensive detoxification and rejuvenation treatment, truly unique to Ayurveda. Patients come from around the world to vaidyagrama, some with serious conditions and others wanting to strengthen their good health. The effect is often remarkable – sometimes dramatic, but I have been even more impressed by the subtle effects that infiltrate the mind.

I participated in 5 months of training at vaidyagrama in 2011, which grounded my book-learning in authentic, practical Ayurveda (see my blog from that time for stories!). The name vaidyagrama means “village of healers” and indeed it is a living community of doctors, patients, gardeners, bodywork therapists, cooks, and other caretakers.

Built according to the principles of Vastu (the science of optimal construction and placement, similar to Chinese feng shui ), the natural materials and simple aesthetic surrounded by nature contribute to the deeply peaceful environment. Quietly, magical connections and awakenings happen here. People slow down.

From the moment I set foot in vaidyagrama on my first visit to this very foreign (to me) land, it has felt miraculously like home; my body softens and unguards itself when I walk through the front gate. It’s like my mind puts down a burden that I wasn’t even aware it was carrying, and my organism turns inward to start reorganizing according to a larger reality. This slow, unpredictable process is the hallmark of nature’s method of healing, when given time and a very particular type of support.

Vaidyagrama is an exploration of Ayurveda’s potential as a guiding vision for holistic healthy living that starts internally and ripples outward. What occurs in the micro is reflected in the macro, and vice versa. What we immerse in, we become. Thus we learn to be more careful where we spend time.

As a non-profit organization with 501(c)3 status in the U.S., vaidyagrama is a tremendous force for good. An orphanage was completed on-site a year ago, and construction has started on a senior living community. Outreach to the local villages includes free medical camps and food programs, as well as teaching organic farming methods.

People often ask where I recommend going for panchakarma in India, and my easy answer is always come to vaidyagrama , my home away from home. The ripples start here as we discover what life can feel like, how it’s possible to live in relationship with the rhythms of nature, connected to our bodies and to the land and animals around us. The ripples continue when we return home.

To a degree, all environments are contagious. Today, take a second look at the places you spend time, the energies you immerse in. I go back to vaidyagrama to remember, and to attune, to sync back up with the larger reality. I feel honored to be part of this community and to discover new ways to be one of its ripples outward.

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