With my eyes closed and my muscles melting into the table beneath me, I’m only vaguely aware of the four hands gently working warm sesame oil over my body. The rhythmic motion of the massage lulls my busy mind, and for a moment I feel completely content. I let out a deep sigh of surrender. This is one of the sweetest moments of an Ayurvedic panchakarma (a profound detoxification process) and is something of a reward for the four weeks I spent on a restrictive diet and lifestyle program.

I worked hard to prepare my body and mind for this week at an Ayurvedic healing center and am enjoying the effortlessness of the experience when suddenly—without warning or the usual knot in my throat—I break into a steady flow of tears.

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