I have often wondered about Eastern Medicine. A mysterious way of healing passed down through the millenniums and practiced in certain regions of the world. Concoctions of herbs and minerals applied by knowledgeable doctors and healers that get to the root of well-being and rebuilding the body to an improved state. I had been feeling stressed and run down and the typical rest and exercise didn’t seem to improve my situation. I did not want to use the predictable western medicine of prescribed man made pharmaceutical remedies so I began researching various eastern healing sciences. My research lead me to a healing and wellness science new to me called Ayurveda. I also wanted the wellness holiday to be more than just the treatment and combine it is a restful resort in an enriching destination. After reading the glowing reviews about the healing and wellness experience Barberyn Ayurveda Resort, a family run Ayurveda resort in Sri Lanka, I knew it was for me and quickly booked my wellness retreat.
They know what they are doing at Barberyn Ayurveda Resort. This is not just some treatment offering at a spa right next to the mani and pedi or predictable facial. These are experts in this form of medicine and have taken the 5000 year old science and added it to a modern resort with the sole focus on making you better. Fifty years ago, Sudana Rodrigo, the founder of the resort, had the vision to create a resort solely dedicated to making people better through Ayurveda. He was the first to reach out to Europeans and to begin treating them. The resort’s guests are still mainly Germans, Russians, Dutch, Norwegians and British and now Chinese and Japanese are there as well.
Those many years ago the resorts founder, Sudana Rodrigo, was looking for something more than just a beach holiday to offer his guests. From the instant you arrive, you know that the staff is focused on you getting better as their main priority. They are care givers from the receptionist to the bellman to the restaurant waiters to the doctors and treatment providers.
We arrived at night so walked along the cobbled walkways. We could see the shimmer of the ocean under the moon and hear the waves hitting the reef beyond. In the morning we awoke to hear sound of birds chirping and the chipmunks scurrying about. The view was absolutely beautiful as just beyond palm trees the expansive beach gave way to the ocean and a small Island beyond.
The scene of the resort is tranquil and peaceful. You’ll see guests ranging from 30s to 60s. Some are couples; some women traveling together, many are solo travelers. Many are wearing the burgundy wraps that are comfortable, allow for better circulation, and access for treatments. Many also have a white head wrap, both men and women, that I later found out was part of the Shirodara treatment.
Everything about the resort is about healing you. This is not the resort if you are looking for discos and 500 thread count linens or flat screen televisions with 1000 satellite channels. The seventy five rooms are pleasant with natural wood furnishings, comfortable seating and terraces or balconies. They heal from the inside and the out so there are no TVs in the room, but they have a well stocked library with a wide selection of books in almost every language. This is about finding peace and at night instead of watching the news or some Hollywood blockbuster you can talk with other guests in the lounge or take a moonlit walk on the sandy beach just in front of the door.
There is also no air conditioning in most of the rooms as it inhibits the healing process. But Sri Lankan temperature is a comfortable 80 degrees so with the windows open and mosquito netting, the welcomed gentle breezes refresh you at night as you hear the waves crashing on the surf beyond your door. The resort is in the small fishing town of Beruwala and its rooms face the Laccadive Sea which is just beyond your doorstep.
What I found out about Ayurveda is that it is a traditional 5000 year old medicinal healing system designed to tackle the stresses and ailments of modern life in a natural and holistic way. It does not only seek to relieve the symptom; it seeks to fix the root causes.
The West is learning more about Ayurveda which is already very well known throughout Europe and the East by those interested in "alternative medicine". Ayurveda is not really an alternative medicine at all but one of the oldest forms of medical science known to man. It is not described as a replacement of western or modern medicine but a complement.
This experience is about getting people better. Most guests are going there this reason and the staff is there to support you in reaching this goal. The patient/guests come from the farthest corners of the world to get relief from stress, sleeplessness, to detox, to a host of other ailments from hair loss to hypertension.
The first step is that you’ll meet with your doctor who will consult with you about your issues then prescribe your treatments and medicines. My consultation and treatment regiment was done by Dr. Kusala, a youthful, dedicated, and spiritual presence that was truly concerned about healing those in her care. The first part is understanding the issues so she proceeded to ask why I was there and what I wanted to achieve over my next two week stay. Most guests stay for 10 days to a month depending on what they are seeking from their experience. Dr. Kusala asked me a series of questions about my health and did an examination, checking my eyes, tongue and pulse.
I described that I there for stress and to lose a few pounds and she asked more questions and took copious notes. With that she prescribed my treatments and I was off. Dr. Kusala was more of a quarterback or team captain as she developed a plan around my issues and worked with the Barberyn team to maximize the outcome of my treatments. From the therapists, to the pharmacist to even the restaurant staff, there was complete coordination and planning to carry out what she had prescribed for me to ensure I got well.
That afternoon I came for my first treatment. Massage, relaxation, and bath. Ok sounds good…but I had no idea what was in store.
I was given my obligatory burgundy wrap to wear and with that and my flip flops was off to my treatment. I was met my therapist Jamal, who escorted me to my treatment room. He was friendly and professional and began by sitting me in front of mirror on a short chair. He then massaged my shoulders, neck and head. The massage was with firm pressure which was good for me. He massaged my temples, scalp, and face. From there I was escorted to the massage table where the next phase was the full body massage. A second therapist came in and they began a synchronized massage of my body from feet, legs, chest, and arms and shoulders. Copious amounts of oil are used to make sure the pressure gets into the deepest part of the muscle. It was firm and intense and they really worked the knots and sore muscles well. The followed this aspect with a herbal compress ball application. Warm compressed sacks of oil and herbal products are pounded over my body. Years of stress and tension stored in my muscles and body were removed in that forty minutes of wellness by my therapist. And this was only the first phase of the treatment!
They came back to my head and face and then put a few drops into my eyes. I did not know what the drops were but they stung for a bit, but then a few minutes later, my eyes felt wonderful. I use the computer extensively and with that my eyes get tired and strained. This treatment revived, cleared, and just made my eyes feel better. What a fantastic surprise.
They gave me a tonic at the end and with that they sent me off to the next phase which was the relaxation treatment. I was escorted to a room on the veranda with a series of other weary bodies. Laying down and relaxing, it was quiet and I could hear water trickling nearby. Next a concoction on wax paper was applied on my body on my stomach area. I was told this was to help with weight loss and detoxification. I was given another facial massage and this time it was with a sweet mango type poultice and with the obligatory cucumbers over my eyes. This was some serious relaxation and it seemed like I had been there all afternoon, but in fact it was only 30 minutes. I was in total chill mode and relaxed like I haven’t been in years.
I was then escorted to the next and final phase of the day’s treatment which was the herbal bath. After a shower to remove all the oils and concoctions I went into a room with an elevated and shallow bath. Along the way, I see the cast iron caldron which is heated by a flame as one of the staff in putting in different herbs, roots, barks, and leaves and is stirring them about. One can’t help but think what this witch’s brew is but in fact it is a special of concoction developed to cure and relax called Avagaahaa. I enter the bath which is warm and my caregiver begins to pour buckets of water over my body. I’m so relaxed and it is tough not to doze off again as I reach another level with the Solis Por Aqua.
With the bath, the over the top cornucopia of intense healing draws to a close. I walk back to my room as I reflect upon what just happened. Wow, two hours of intense relaxation and I feel great. From my eyes to my face to my body, I’m a new man….and it’s just my first day. I would experience this again and again over the next week and each time I left feeling renewed and ultimately ...”healed”.
A few days later, for my next treatment I chose the ancient Chinese medicine of acupuncture. The acupuncture room is a series of beds and there are other bodies there to be healed along with me. Dr. Kusala had met with the acupuncturist who then created a chart for me detailing my issues and her plan to correct my energy flow. She applies the needles in various places from my head, arms, feet and legs. All placed to channel energy or release stress. The needles sting a bit, but its part of the process. From there I relaxed for 30 minutes. In conjunction with the other treatments, the acupuncture is another tool in the healing process.
After a few days of the intense massage and physical body kneading, I felt healed and restored. I decide to try the shirodara, an intense treatment is all about healing the head and the brain. It begins with the neck and face and shoulder massage and the relaxation that comes with it. From there I’m escorted to the massage table and my eyes are covered. A clay pot filled with warm oil is above me and the therapist begins to pour the oil from the pot on my head. It is an intense flow of warm oil across my forehead, scalp and temples. It goes on for 20 minutes. From here they wrap my head in a cloth. Shirodara is about heat and warmth to the head and brain. It is known for treating ailments from headaches to insomnia. Many are known to have vivid dreams and other mental and spiritual effects as a result. One cannot have their head or body cooled during the treatment which is also good for detoxification of the body. No cool foods, breezed or fans, or even showers during the three day treatment. It is intense and from it I feel also have the vivid dreams and feel more alert and tuned in after the treatment.
As a result, Ayurveda food has a very important role at Barberyn Ayurveda resorts. This doesn't mean a strict regime of bland, tasteless or bitter vegetarian dishes, prescribed by physicians. On the contrary, their Ayurveda kitchen is one of their greatest assets, and the dishes their cooks prepare were a delight everyday.
The meals at Barberyn are incredible. Vegetable and fruits of every variety and preparation are complimented with Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. There is fish, but no other type of meat or poultry. Food is an integral part of the healing process and your specific foods are prescribed by your doctor.
At breakfast, you'll find a buffet with fresh fruit, fruit juices, herbal soups, home-baked breads & cookies, as well as a selection of Sri Lankan breakfast dishes. For lunch, they offer a wide selection of mild fish, vegetable and herbal curries, arranged in a beautiful buffet. In the evening, they serve you a set vegetarian menu with a fish option.
Barberyn is a complete resort providing wellness and a supportive and enriching environment. They have a myriad of experiences from Yoga to local excursion that are an integral part of the wellness experience.
For whatever ails you, from stress to more serious conditions Ayurveda may be the solution for you. For those seeking solutions to health issues in a beautiful and serene environment then I can without reservation recommend the Barberyn Ayurveda Resort.