Mindful Morning: 3 Ancient Healing Experiences from Around the Globe4 min read
People travel for many different reasons—to get away from normal life, experience a new culture and learn a little more about the world, just to name a few. Travel can also be very restorative, especially when you visit a destination that has healing traditions rooted in ancient culture. After a year of uncertainty, we could all use a little relief right now. Whether you’re able to travel to the country of origin or want to try out traditional techniques closer to home, here are three international healing experiences to ease your mind, body and soul.
Temazcal was traditionally held as a sacred cleansing ritual and was believed by ancient civilizations to have incredible healing powers. This traditional sweat lodge ceremony is carried on today in many places, particularly across Central America and Mexico. Present-day temazcal ceremonies remain sacred—though the reasons behind the healing powers are better understood.
The key to many of the physical benefits of a temazcal is sweat. Sweating helps push toxins out of the body, clears out your skin and supports blood flow which, in turn, increases oxygen levels and lowers blood pressure.
For many participants, however, the real healing power lies in the mental, spiritual and emotional benefits. The initial challenges to overcome are the intense heat, the small, pitch-black space and the general vulnerability of diving headfirst into a new experience. Once you get past these fears, the shaman will help guide you through different periods of reflection and introspection centered around different dimensions of your life. You should leave your temazcal with a refreshed mind, body and soul.
Silent Meditation Retreats
Silent meditation retreats are a popular attraction with visitors in countries across Southeast Asia, but they’ve become particularly synonymous with Thailand. These retreats are based around Buddha’s teachings, particularly on the importance of suffering in life and overcoming it by confronting it head-on and learning how to live comfortably.
Silent meditation retreats aren’t just about going a week without speaking. They’re about going a week (or longer) without everything you typically crave. On top of abstaining from your typical indulgences (books, laptops, journals), you’re also spending many days in discomfort. Imagine sitting cross-legged on a hard floor, back straight, hips aching, in silent meditation for 10+ hours per day, every day.
Imagine being woken by the sound of a gong before the sun has risen. Imagine not having access to the internet or even the most basic forms of technology. And in your “off” time? You’re not allowed to communicate in any way with the other participants on the retreat.
While a digital detox may sound nice to many in theory, most of us don’t realize how much our days are actually filled with one form of technology or another. Silent meditation retreats are a powerful opportunity to focus on the present, maintain peace and see life through a simpler lens.
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest documented systems of holistic healing on Earth, with origins dating back to India over 3,000 years ago.
The general concept behind Ayurveda involves the interconnectedness of the mind, body and spirit and the belief that humans are a combination of 5 elements: fire, space, air, water and earth.
The elements are said to combine in the body at your three different “doshas.” Different medical conditions are linked to imbalances in certain doshas. For example, the most important dosha, the Vata dosha, controls basic body functions at the cellular level. It influences everything from your breathing to nerve impulses. Each person has a unique combination of the three doshas and we all have a dominant dosha “type.” Your dominant type is said to come with specific personality characteristics and tendencies towards certain health disorders like joint problems or anxiety.
Ayurvedic healing includes many different elements, but as a first-timer to an Ayurvedic treatment or medicine, you’ll typically experience some combination of herbal remedies, massage therapy, acupuncture and meditation.
Interested in receiving an Ayurvedic treatment? You can schedule an Ayurvedic massage as a one-time experience or, if you’re serious about pursuing Ayurvedic medicine and sticking with it, it’s best to visit an Ayurvedic healer. This will consist of an initial examination in which they observe your body and movements by sight and touch—pressing or tapping to evaluate internal organs. Your pulse, tongue, nails and speech are all big points of interest as clues to internal imbalances. Then, the healer will hear your questions and concerns surrounding your physical and mental health and, based on the cumulative evaluation, the healer will be able to prescribe a combination of treatments.