Day 322 to Day 326 – good thoughts bad thoughts

Day 322 – the simplicity of open land

We are driving down to Canberra for a wine tasting cruise. I sit in the back of the car staring at the passing country and watching the groups of cows chewing sedately, always huddled in groups. I can see a wind farm in the distance. For some reason wind farms make me nervous. Silent and white in the distance, they seem alien in the landscape; a stark reminder of how much we have hurt the planet. The beauty of open land is its simplicity. Spread open ground of grass, rows of identical trees forming wind breaks on the tops of hills and wooden fencing that seems to have grown there. As soon as we are out of the city, I can feel my mind relax. It is like my brain takes a big sigh and has space to stretch out. I haven’t left the city in ages so I am relieved to finally be out of the concrete jungle. Even the windmills just dissolve among the clouds in the distance.

 

Day 323 – unicorn chasers

I wake up with an alarm in the morning but I fall asleep again for a few minutes. I have no idea what happens in this short space but suddenly I am in a vivid nightmare where my thumb is being torn off and blood is going everywhere. Something wakes me up again and I am scared to fall asleep again, knowing that nightmare is just there, waiting for me beyond the veil of sleep. I try to force my eyes open. I am so tired. I look at the unicorn tattoo on my arm. When I was little I used to get nightmares a lot and my mum would always get me to visualise a unicorn. She described it to me down to the smallest detail until I stopped crying and calmed down. When I grew up I found out that this is called a nightmare chaser. In the same way people have a chaser after doing a nasty shot, the unicorn is supposed to cleanse the mind of bad thoughts or nightmares. Mum didn’t know about this, she just intuited it. The unicorn on my arm is from a picture we found growing up. Incidentally, it was one of the first images that came up when I first found the “unicorn chaser” app on facebook. Well my unicorn sits on my arm now, where I can look at it. She is poised to chase the bad dreams away. I force my eyes open and looking at my arm, eventually calm down and the nightmare dissolves. Still works.

 

Day 324 – sisterhood

I have dinner with one of my best friends after work. We met at a yoga retreat a few years ago. We were roommates and we bonded immediately. Tonight we are giggling and talking quickly (she is Italian) and she suddenly tells me how grateful she is to have such amazing friends. I am too, I realise. I look through some photos of my friends and realise how much love I have for these women that surround me. I have never had such a strong network of sisterhood but now that I do, I couldn’t live without any of them.

 

Day 325 – double shot mocha

I can’t stop yawning! I am so tired. As soon as we get a break I race down to the coffee shop for a double shot coffee. I rarely have more than one coffee a day and it is always a small with a single shot. Twenty minutes later I am in the office doing handstands. Caffeine really is amazing! I went from nearly asleep to hanging out upside down. But I know how short lived this is. In yoga, we say deep breathing and backbends are like the yoga coffee that invigorate and energise us. But sometimes a little coffee helps too.

 

Day 326 – cleansing in and out

An over-indulgent birthday weekend full of wine, coffee, chocolate, cake (even though it was raw and organic), dairy and wheat, has left me feeling bloated and sluggish. I have most of the morning free so I have booked in for a detox at The Last Resort. By detox, I mean a colon cleanse. It isn’t the most pleasant or comfortable way to spend an hour, but afterwards I feel amazing! The naturopath at The Last Resort is young, friendly and gentle. The music is soft and relaxing and the faint smell of incense makes the whole spa feel like a beautiful retreat within the heart of North Bondi. When I get back to my car I realise it is full of sand, crumbs, nuts and dried fruit. All the telltale signs of a woman who works and lives out of her vehicle. I decide to pay someone else to clean it when I wipe my finger on the dashboard and it comes away black. While I am in the shopping centre, I make the final step of my cleansing process and get my legs waxed. It feels like I have taken a long swim under a waterfall after all these cleansing practices! Even the rain washes away some of the residual misery in the streets. Refreshing and light, I feel like I have danced naked in the rain.

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Day 259 to Day 265 – resistance to love

Day 259 – resisting the lines

 You just can’t expect the unexpected. If there is one thing I have learned from this year of bliss, it is that change is the only constant. The path is never straight, especially where I am concerned. All my lines are squiggly, curling and sometimes crossing over. When I found myself on a date for the first time in months, I just took it in stride. When it lasted three days and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, I started to freak out. This was not part of the plan! I ran away from commitment, became chronically afraid of emotions, morally against the disease they call love and firmly protected behind my supposedly impenetrable wall of prickly toughness. Ah, how wrong I was. When I first got back from India, the palm reader at Embrace looked at my hand and said that my next big relationship was coming. I begged him to take it back. I rubbed at the lines on my hands, desperate for some years of solitude, but he just laughed at me. “How much time have I got, Ric?” I may as well have been asking about a terminal illness. He asked how old I was. When I said 25, he said I would meet him before I turned 26. Whatever, Ric, I thought. Palm readers get shit wrong all the time. Though, admittedly, Ric has told me some pretty accurate and specific stuff in the time I have known him.

Well, here I am, sitting in this guy’s kitchen, watching him cook me a wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian Pad Thai and I realise that this is the first time I have let a man who was not a direct relation cook me a meal without having to pay for it. I have always taken charge in the kitchen but for the first time in my life, someone is making me a meal for no other reason than the fact that they want to.

Suddenly I realise why I have had stomach problems the past couple of weeks. It was the resistance manifesting in my body. The more I wanted to stop the flow of energy, the more it all got stuck and caused dis-ease. The universe has made all the decisions for me this year and up until now, I had just accepted. This was the first time that I tried to fight it. Well, the universe thinks Matt is a good idea and I have to agree.

 

Day 260 – the chance to turn it all around

I had intended to detox this week but we had new wines delivered so we have had tasting at 10am both mornings. Ok, detox starts at lunchtime. We are having lunch out, a farewell for one of the consultants. Ok, detox starts after lunchtime. How many times can I bend these rules? When I get home, out of pure habit and exhaustion from a long day, I pour a glass of wine. Dammit I forgot. Ok, detox starts tomorrow. I am still making lentil hotpot when I put the wine down and make the decision to just STOP. It takes consciousness, it takes awareness and it takes strength. My friend, Liz (not myself, another Liz), who is a personal trainer, made the analogy: if you dropped your phone and cracked the screen, would you run over it with your car to finish the job or would you keep using the phone? ‘Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.’ – Penelope Cruz, Vanilla Sky

 

Day 261 – one of those days

First it is needles from the doctor.

Then I break a full bottle of Hungarian muskat in my samples case.

Then my car gets stuck in some gravelly sand where a road has just been excavated.

My last client is a complete no- show.

When I finally flop down onto Matt’s couch, I can’t help but laugh. What else could I possibly do? This would be the perfect moment for a piece of dark chocolate and a glass of Hungarian wine. That one that I broke earlier. Luckily.

Well, not every day flows. Not every day stays unbroken. My car got out of the ditch. I got to finish early and the only wine that was tempting me was not available anyway. So when I turn the day around and see it from another angle, it was actually quite beautiful!

 

Day 262 – fluorite to settle the chaos

 It is going to be a long day of work, with lots of driving around. As soon as I wake up, it is time to put the game face on. I just want to keep sleeping all day. I open all the windows, light some incense and stop to look out into the morning light. The huge piece of fluorite on the windowsill is there, solid and strong. Flourite is supposed to settle chaos. I bought it after our first weekend of chaos in this house, after the neighbours complained about our loud house warming. Krystle’s nickname is chaos. As soon as I brought it in the house it was instantaneous calm. She kept patting the crystal and spent the whole week being more settled than I had seen her in the whole time I had known her. Now it is my turn. I place both hands on the crystal and allow my breath to calm. When it is time to go, I say goodbye to the Chaos Crystal and hug the Krystle Chaos. Busy does not have to be chaotic. Success is not measured by exhaustion. I can do this my way. No rush.

 

Day 263 – the people I meet

My final tasting for the day is with my new friend, Daniel. I met him at Ravesi’s after City 2 Surf and we connected over each other’s awesome hair. That’s how you meet friends. Exchange a compliment, connect on facebook and now we are friends, forever connected by the internet. His other friends are just as beautiful and while they taste the wines and we chat non-stop, I feel immensely grateful for this random encounter. Climbing the branches back, I make the tiny connections that have led me to this point. If I had never shaved my head to go to India, I would never have had short hair for Dan to notice. If I had never started running in India, I would never have done City 2 Surf. If I had never started meditating, I might not have gone to India. If I had never had such a bad break up, I might never have started meditating. If I had never experienced some of the worst moments of my life, I might never have experienced some of the best. Everywhere I end up turns into magic and for this beautiful realisation, I am here amongst people that were strangers at the start of the night and then friends by the end of the night. One of whom, Jess, calls herself Miss Spiritual and has just returned from a meditation journey to Bali. These people are no accident. This is a part of the path, an important and significant moment. I have no way of knowing how this will affect the path further on, but I look forward to the moment in the future when I can look back at this and connect the dots, climb back through the branches and see where this point has lead me to.

 

Day 264 – six degrees

I knew that eventually I would turn up at someone’s house to do a wine tasting and would know someone there. The law of averages dictates that this had to happen, but it is still a pleasant surprise when I see the same painting in someone’s house as one in Krystle’s room. When I am looking at their wedding photos and spot a friend who grew up in the house across the street from me. The current population of Sydney is about 3,641,421. The idea that everyone is only an average of six introductions away means that I should be able to do this every week. And does facebook make it smaller? Does social networking make the degrees even less? Now that I can look up a person and see our “Mutual Friends”, does that not make the degrees even less? Then, the spiritual theory- we are all just recycled matter, all connected by a higher divine presence, a collective consciousness, and all made of stars; original energy from the big bang, reconfigured into everything that has come into existence. Not only do I know the boy down the street who once lived with my clients, I was also once related to Buddha, drank the same water molecules that once washed Jesus’ feet and have also been the same chemical compounds that made up a rock. This is the train of thought that can work its way across my brain in less than a minute as I stare blankly at other people’s wedding photos. My eyes return again and again to the person I know, simply because it is recognition. When someone says, ‘you look familiar’ and they aren’t trying to pick you up, maybe it is true? That past life, when were both cats? We climbed that tree and ate that rat together. Remember? Good times!

 

Day 265 – just say it

There are so many things that I say that I shouldn’t and so many things I probably should say but don’t. I hold back, I hesitate and I keep my mouth shut. Fear? Uncertainty? The barriers fly up again like security shutters on a bank and at 3am I find myself waking up in anxiety, wondering what the hell is this snake of negative thought doing slithering around in my brain? So I just say it. I talk about it. I open up and slowly take down the barriers, softening and being honest. When I can say the worst, I finally feel ready to say the best. Well, I don’t exactly scream it from the rooftops, but I whisper it and as long as he hears it, that is all that matters. Say what you mean and mean what you say. That is why I keep quiet. Tell me anything as long it is always true. And then you will always know that these words mean more than the sum of the letters that they appear to be. When I say that I love you, it isn’t just because you said it first. It isn’t just because I want you to hear it. It is because I love you.

 

Day 64- detoxing for the next 6 days and meditating on emptiness

As soon as I tell myself I am going to detox, I start with enthusiasm. I get really excited for the amazing food and smoothies I get to eat! By lunchtime I have gone through every craving from chocolate to pizza to chocolate ON a pizza. That is where I am at right now. Pizza. I think I can smell it but this is obviously just my imagination. It isn’t that I am hungry- no when I detox, I eat as much as I want. It is that as soon as you tell yourself that you can’t have something, you want it. The idea of a detox is not to just starve yourself for a few days and then go back to eating crap, it is so that you re-set your metabolism and stomach into craving healthier foods. After being healthy for a long period of time it is really hard to put junk back in your body. It feels like all the effort was for nothing. Right now, though, I wouldn’t be ruining anything since I just spent six weeks in LA and Mexico indulging in ALL sorts of deliciousness. (Allow me a moment to wipe up the drool as I remember the deep fried goats cheese in Kuala Lumpur.)

The detox rules I am following are from a book I downloaded from iBooks a year ago that I constantly refer back to, called 21 Day Detox. It is simple and easy to follow as it comes with recipes and shopping lists. I haven’t ever made a single one of those recipes or bought anything from the shopping list since I am in Padang and you simply couldn’t find most of the items on the list. Also, it divides the detox into levels of intensity over the three weeks, which I don’t do. I guess we could say this book inspires me. What I will be describing over the next six days is my own modified detox program, which you are welcome to follow. I am not making any health claims about it- you may or may not lose weight, you may or may not enjoy it or even agree with it, but it works for me and I like it so here it is. If you are with me on this, leave a comment and let me know how it goes for you!

First up, there are rules. There are things to avoid during the detox and they are:

1- Animal products- dairy, eggs, fish, meat… I pretty much rule out anything but honey!

2- Processed foods- How much has it changed since it was picked off the farm? More than once and I don’t eat it.

3- Alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants- coffee, tea, soft drinks, sweets, cigarettes (for the smokers out there), drugs (prescription and non)

4- Wheat- the original book did not say anything about wheat, but I do find myself to be better of without it. Plus, anything I usually put on bread like butter, cheese or nutella is off the menu anyway so wheat becomes obsolete.

Now, you are probably wondering what I am left to eat? Surely I will starve without the food staples I so desperately need in order to survive! Well, the answer is probably obvious: FRUITS, VEGETABLES, LEGUMES, PULSES. If you are thinking ew, yuck. Well, it is only six days and if you are still turning your nose up at broccoli, then I can’t help you. So here is how it goes.

On waking: hot water and lemon OR hot water and apple cider vinegar (If you can’t handle the taste, then add a teaspoon of honey)

Breakfast: fruit smoothie made with natural fruit juice, plus a banana, papaya, mango, strawberries or anything else your little tummy desires. The banana is nice and filling so I always make it an essential. I also like to add Chia seeds, which are full of protein and Omegas to keep me full. I also sometimes use a little Ener-G-Food, which is a green drink supplement containing ALL things green.

Lunch: Salad! I would normally add beans or chickpeas but it seems these are no longer available in Padang. I do have some dry lentils to cook up though.

Dinner: Baked or stir-fried veggies with quinoa, which is my new favourite food. It can replace rice in any meal but is full of protein and has no starch so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot! Tempeh is also great to add for some extra protein. I have to admit it is better in Indonesia- it also contains more vitamin B12, which is found in the bacteria that causes the tempeh to ferment. This does not occur as highly in the factory manufactured tempeh of the Western world. Also, lebanese food such as hummus, falafel and dolmade leaves are great. Soup is another delicious option.

Snacks: fruit, avocadoes, homemade popcorn with a SMALL amount of oil, sugar and salt (all organic, of course), or if you desperately need chocolate as much as I do, you can also indulge in organic dark chocolate. My favourite is Green & Black’s Organic dark chocolate 70%.

So that’s the basic idea. Here is how it goes…

I wake up and do some yoga and meditation. I think it is important to start the detoxing day with altruistic intentions. I usually roll out of bed already hungry, so I also need something to do to kick-start my metabolism before I put my sleepy digestive system to work. This morning I spend a little longer than usual in asana. I haven’t done it for a while and I just can’t stop myself. It feels really good, especially the twists which wring out the digestive organs and are so perfect for detoxing. Two hours later, I am finally in savasana and the bottom of the exhale, that moment right before I inhale again, is feeling really good. I start to take longer and slower breaths, but it is that moment of emptiness that is really holding me. I try to prolong it without straining. I have never felt this before. Usually, that bottom retention of the breath is the scariest. It is the point where we have nothing, we have not yet breathed in life and there is just… emptiness. Right now, though, it feels beautiful. It is, without any hint of morbidity, as peaceful as death. It reminds me of when I was little and playing in the pool, I would dive down and try to sit on the bottom and look up at the surface of the water. I once read a book called Awareness, by Osho, which said that when you live from your centre it is like being at the bottom of the ocean. The thoughts, emotions and distractions of the physical world are like waves on the surface. Your true self lies at the bottom, in the dark stillness where the waves are not felt. This is where I am in this emptiness.

Emptiness allows a fresh start. We must empty our cup before we can put more inside it. This is a detox- not weight loss, not starvation, not diet. It is emptying the cup.