This five part series explores a ‘Guided Home Cleanse’ with Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor and Panchakarma Specialist Allison Bransfield Morse. Allison runs The Ayurvedic Center of Vermont just outside of Burlington, and offers traditional Panchakarma (PK) on site as well as at a distance. This series explores what’s involved with a home PK, why the guidance of a practitioner is needed, and what the benefits may be. Enjoy, and feel free to join in on the conversation.
With the high cost of clinic-based Panchakarma cleanses throughout the US, I was thrilled to discover Allison Bransfield Morse’s ‘Guided Home Cleanse’. Finally a realistic alternative to the time and financial commitment that PK at a clinic requires (anywhere from $1500 to $4000, not including travel). Now I could do this cleanse at home, have someone there to answer my questions and nudge me in the right direction, all the while knowing that I was not causing harm to my body or further deranging my doshas. But why should this simple PK process be guided by an experienced practitioner? Because Panchakarma is powerful. Read on.
If you’ve attempted any at-home cleanse before, you know that it can be a bit daunting. First you’re dramatically changing your diet. Eliminating the bad guys – sugar, caffeine, dairy and meat, and eating a simplified ‘healthy’ diet of maybe fresh juices, water, miso, or kitchari. Surely you’re experiencing some withdrawal symptoms like headache or fatigue. Maybe you’re experiencing some unusual digestive issues or your emotions are heightened. Maybe they’re overflowing. You may be wondering, ‘What is going on?’
Consulting with a qualified practitioner throughout the process may be the safest, surest way of riding out the stormy seas that cleansing may bring.
But I’ve done this before!
Okay, you may know a bit about what you’re doing. You may know your body well. But will you make the best decisions for yourself during this process? Here’s what Allison has to say about why your cleanse should be done under expert guidance.
There are many reasons one should be guided by an experienced practitioner, especially if doing a full home PK.
Emotions can run high and come up and physical discomforts are very common, so ideally the practitioner would be changing the program according to what was coming up for the client. Maybe adding certain herbs, yoga postures, remedies, etc. to tailor the program to specific and individual needs. The practitioner also has to be confident when making recommendations to assure the client that discomforts are part of the process. Quite often basti and/or virechana should not be practiced, i.e., if one is weak or gets their period, etc., so there are many different scenarios.
Allison also stresses that the practitioner should be trained in the PK process. Panchakarma is a series of processes that serve to ‘ripen’ the body with diet and body treatments that loosen the toxins held in the tissues. Once ‘ripe’, toxins are expelled from the body. All of this needs to be done carefully.
I recently underwent Allison’s ‘Guided Home Cleanse’. I’ve done about ten at-home Panchakarma cleanses over the past 13 years, all self-directed. During these cleanses, I’ve tentatively checked in with my own practitioner when I needed to. But I’ve never been guided through one from beginning to end. And I’ve always felt unsure and unsettled during the process, which I suppose is normal. It’s designed to ‘unsettle’ everything – doshas, toxins and stored emotions – so they can be eliminated.
With Allison’s guidance, I felt comfortable throughout the process. I knew I had someone to contact if I had a question about some aspect of the cleanse, or if I needed some emotional support. I never felt undernourished or weak. I experienced some drowsiness initially, but through the course of the cleanse I felt strong internally. And since the cleanse has finished, my energy levels are better than they were before. All the tiredness I had accumulated from working late nights has disappeared. I’m fresh and alert.
Want another reason to be guided by an expert? The transition period at the end of the cleanse, when you begin to slowly wean yourself off of kitchari and gradually add other foods into your diet is a crucial time. You can actually do more harm than good if you go about it the wrong way. Allison’s recommendations are to continue meals of kitchari and ‘kitchari-like’ foods (think home-made oatmeal and simple stews), gradually adding other foods into your diet. Specific instructions are given on when to introduce dairy, fish, fruits, etc. She also advises on what foods (called rasayanas) are good to fortify the system.
What drew me to Allison’s program?
The incredible affordability and expert guidance. At just $210-, you receive a one-hour phone consultation with Allison, several information sheets with all the information you’ll need for your cleanse, and access to a Panchakarma Specialist. Beyond the basic guidelines and incredible support, the emotional, physical and spiritual benefits you receive by taking part in any Panchakarma process are truly lasting.
So what exactly is involved with PK?
Check back for Part 2 and we’ll fill you in on the routine.
Image courtesy of Morguefile.com.