Margie Goldsmith discovers the incredible healing powers and complete relaxation of a week spent receiving the ancient spa treatment known as Ayurveda in beautiful Sri Lanka.
I sit on my spacious sun-drenched balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean, mesmerized by a fisherman sitting on top of a thin wooden pole in the water. He casts his rod again and again, but catches nothing. Then a Sri Lankan man in a white shirt and long pants walks in the water close to the shore pulling a huge dead fish. Is that a shark?
I am at the Ayurveda Paragon a wellness hotel on the southern end of Sri Lanka where I’ve come to recuperate from an exhausting three-week business trip in Vietnam. I plan to eat healthy food, hang out on the beach, and try the Ayurvedic cure.
Ayurveda, which has been practiced in India for 5,000 years (and in Sri Lanka for 2,500 years), is said to cure all ailments including Parkinson’s, arthritis, migraines, back pain, asthma, allergies, and diabetes. Unlike Western medicine, Ayurveda treats the cause of an illness rather than its effects; and its remedies are unique to each patient.
My first appointment is with Dr. Buddhike, an eighth-generation Ayurvedic physician, who asks why I am here. I say that I am completely stressed, I want to cure my insomnia, my sinus condition, wean myself off Splenda, and lose five pounds.
He looks surprised. “You cannot do that in one week. Ayurveda works very slowly. Most people stay two or three weeks. Can you not extend your stay?”
“I can’t,” I say. He looks disappointed. I add, “We’ll just have to make the best of the time we have.”
Dr. Buddhike examines my tongue, reads my pulse, and says my dosha is Pitta Vata. In Ayurveda, each person has a unique blend of three mind/body energies called doshas; good health is maintained by balancing them. Doshas are based on the parents’ genes, karma, and climate.
The medications I am to take, says Dr.Buddhike, will be to balance my doshas. My program is: a two-hour treatment every day with two therapists who will massage my skull, face, foot and body, using special weight-reducing oil, face fomentation, lemon bath for weight reduction, nasia (sneezing powder) and acupuncture for my sinus condition.
Acupuncture daily? Two therapists and a daily massage? In NYC, these treatments for seven days would cost roughly $1,700, but at the Paragon, it’s all included (along with my spacious balconied room, meals, Yoga, the Ayurvedic doctor’s appointments and cultural excursions) for only $162 per day.