The Kerala “Cure”: Do We Have to Travel to India to Feel Better?

Clay Pot With Lotus Flowers Floating on Water

Read this and tell me you don’t want to go. Right. NOW:

The monsoon expends the last of its energy in the Indian state of Kerala, leaving plump raindrops on hibiscus flowers and puddles in the red mud roads. The air is thick but not oppressive, and I begin to understand the words of the local doctor, who says that monsoon season—nature’s own megacleanser—is the best time for treatment. Sipping sweet water from a tender coconut, I feel radiant from an hour-long herbal oil massage. The stiffness in my neck, which I once accepted as a necessary evil of urban living, has disappeared. Listening to the waves rolling up on the shore, I realize why this place, Kerala, is part of my treatment, too.

This, from “Taking the Cure in Kerala” from YogaJournal, makes me long for a round-trip ticket and a few weeks off. (Please note, after my frequent rants here and on Twitter against folks claiming to have the “cure” for fibromyalgia and other incurable chronic pain conditions, that I’m pretty sure they don’t mean “cure” in the Western medicine context but in the “damn, I feel nine kinds of better” sense.)

This made me think: is this what we’re all up against? Is THIS what we have to do to get better for real and for good?

Except – I already know the answer. The answer is “no.” Traveling to exotic locales and subjecting ourselves to round-the-clock spa treatments and yoga classes is not required to achieve health and wellbeing.

What is required, though, is just as out-of-reach, if you look at (A) what we as chronic pain patients know and measure that against (B) what we as chronic pain patients do.

Simply put: we know we need to change our lifestyles. But we don’t.

That’s the sad truth, folks. We all know we have to stop grinding ourselves down into a fine powdery version of our vital selves. We know we have to exercise – to move, often and every day. We know we have to cut out our bullshit and get real with ourselves and our current conditions. We know we have to meditate. We know we have to turn our backs on the sugary, chemical-laden crap in our diets and embrace organic and low-on-the-food-chain vegetables, fruits, and lean protein.

We know this stuff!

And we’re not DOING IT!

What’s the answer, then? If it isn’t a question of knowledge but of action — of actually making the changes we know we need to make — then how are we supposed to proceed here?

There’s something very romantic and enticing about “taking the cure in Kerala” — about making the grand gesture, fleeing our sad, sick lives and making wholesale change in a brand new, exotic locale.

But there’s just one problem with that (well, besides the pure impracticality for most of us and the exorbitant expense): it’s a lie. And it sets us up for failure when we inevitably return home.

It’s a lie because it suggests that the grand gesture is required — that nothing short of this kind of Eat, Pray, Love – style adventure will heal us. And that’s not true.

And it’s setting us up for failure because — well, damn, because it’s easy to put ourselves into low gear and embrace healthy living when we’re being massaged every day and don’t have to feed the kids every night.

What happens when we get back home? How successful will you be maintaining that glow of health and those new healthy habits when the pressures of daily life start clamoring for your stretched-thin attention?

Don’t wait for your ticket to Kerala to get better, is what I’m saying. Create Kerala where you are. Right now. Right this second.

Also? If you get a ticket to Kerala, can I come, too? I’m not crazy.

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