Mariangela Rossi is an Italian author and beauty and lifestyle journalist who travels the world to go on Beauty Adventures, which she often writes about in the pages of Elle magazine. This tale is about one of her more surprising journeys…

“As a beauty and health journalist, I have experienced a wide variety of interesting treatments, but I have never had a venture as overwhelming as this, to say the least.

I was vacationing with my husband at the Kalari Kovilakom, a combination of a luxury resort, Ayurvedic clinic and ashram, in the area of Kerala in India. They invited me to experience the Shirodhara, a form of Ayurveda therapy, which is essentially Hindu alternative medicine.

This Ayurvedic head massage involves the dripping of a slow stream of warm oil down your forehead (the third eye). The third eye is a belief in Hinduism that there is an invisible eye is in the middle of your forehead, which provides perception beyond ordinary sight. The excess oil that drips down is captured in a basin that is placed on the floor or a low table under your head.

The process is supposed to purify your head and your mind. Aside from its relaxation benefits, Shirodhara has been used medically to treat conditions ranging from memory loss to insomnia to skin problems.

It ended up being much more than I bargained for. A few years back, I had a traumatizing experience, which I thought I was able to overcome and had healed from. After my Shirodhara treatment, I went to relax in the waiting room. A couple asked me if I enjoyed my treatment and as a response, I broke down into tears. I was uncontrollably sobbing. Completely overwhelmed with emotion, I excused myself, and ran back to my room.

All of the emotions from my bad experience resurfaced and I had a terrible night, even running a high fever. Luckily, my dear husband was there to help me through it. Shirodhara was a very powerful moment in my life, but not necessarily something I want to experience again. I guess I was caught by surprise, I didn’t expect to have this type of reaction. The Shirodara, one of the oldest Ayurveda treatments, should be done in four to five sessions to get beneficial effects, such as tension and stress relief and solving mental and nervous problems like cases of depression or irritability. One treatment alone is not recommended, however, I never had the courage to continue. Even if mine was a very particular case, my advice is to know what you’re getting into before you try any new treatments, as it often goes well beyond beauty…”