Here's butter in your eye: An Ayurvedic adventure

I've made no secret of my eye woes but have been circumspect about one of my treatments. How do you explain to your researcher-surgeon let alone your family that you're allowing someone to put butter in your eyes?

Not butter exactly, but ghee.

The treatment is called Netra Basti and it involves building circular dough dams around each eye and then pouring warmed ghee into those dams.

I thought it was weird, too, but it seemed benign enough. And since Western medicine couldn't offer any ideas about how to stave off another rogue retina, I thought, what the hell?

I arrived wearing work clothes, knowing I was about to get doused in oil. I was asked to strip down and climb onto a warmed massage table. I cuddled up and the Ayurvedic clinician--a lovely woman, who is so giving and healing I just wanted to hug her immediately--began applying dough to my left eye socket. The dough was made of urad dal. It was cool on my face and smelled warm and vegetal. After she secured the dough to my face, she poured warm ghee into the basin surrounding my left eye.

She asked me to slowly open that eye. I was nervous but allowed my eye to flutter open. The ghee wasn't irritating. Rather it felt like I was crying but without the tears.

"That's good," she said. "That's the pitta coming out."

She then asked me to do eye exercises, following the numbers on a clock, forward, then backward. She asked me to follow a square and make an X, then circles. It wasn't unpleasant and I could see my clinician through the veil of the ghee. It was like being in a bathtub, looking up through bathwater.

After we did the other eye, she covered both eyes then massaged my feet, upper body, head and hands with an herb-infused sesame oil. It was heaven.

I left coated in oil, my hair matted and sticking out in grey rastas.

My eyes felt tired but fed, like they had had a nice meal. And my under eye lines--softened!

Will this prevent another retina tear? Hard to say. But my floaters seem less apparant and I'm completely soft as opposed to al dente. Won't it be interesting to see what my next eye exam reveals?

 

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