Po Nagar Cham Towers and the Long Son Pagoda

Ha Van Hotel has turned out to be pretty awesome. From reception we get a scooter for the day and head over the bridge for some tourist pics. The Po Nagar Cham Towers are old Hindu temples which you can wonder around quite peacefully. You only need to wear long sleeves and pants if you want to enter the towers but they are small and impressive enough from outside.

After this we go straight to the Long Son Pagoda. Following a map, it is pretty easy to spot the giant white Buddha from a distance. It’s a great photo opportunity but be careful of the guy at the bell – I think he had a great time shoving us inside the giant bell (momentary panic that we are about to have all our camera gear stolen) and taking our picture and demanding $10AUD!

After this we head back to a small street market where we find the best seafood in the world ever. No seriously! Oysters BBQ’d on charcoal with herbs, peanuts and a spicy green chilli sauce are so good I have to order more!

We miss the sunshine but spend the afternoon on rented beach chairs in front of the Salining Club before returning to our street for a bottle of rose at La Parisiene (how this amazing French rose can cost less than $10 in Asia is a mystery). I start talking about the idea of cycling this whole country from south to north but Matt seems to think it would be easier on a motorbike. Of course cycling wouldn’t be easy but I don’t do anything just because it’s easy!

We wonder around for dinner stopping at Crazy Kim’s for a 241 Mojito. It is good to read about Kim Le who started the Hands Off the Kids charity and educates victimes of paedophilia from her spa/gym/bar. We finally settle on Truc Linh 2 but the busy staff seem a little flustered and we pay way too much for warm Chardonnay.

On the way back we stop at the Red Apple Club and meet Clair who is cycling from China to Melbourne. She is pretty awesome and seems like just the right motivation I need to get on a bike. We leave the backpacker hotspot and stop at Booze Cruise for a drink but Matt isn’t really making sense anymore so it’s time to go.

Our last day in Nha Trang we spend at the Long Thanh Art Gallery. Thanh is Vietnam’s most prominent photographer and specialises in black and white photography, really capturing the essence of his country in lifestyle photos. It is a small gallery so you really have to read the map well and look for the house number or it is easy to miss. We go to the National Oceanographic Museum but it is kind of boring and I feel bad for the tiny enclosures the two seals live in.

We are taking the night train up to Hoi An and I have taken some cold and flu tablets from the local pharmacy as I was feeling a bit ill and they have completely knocked me about so I am really enjoying being rocked to sleep by the rhythmic motion of the train. I fall asleep quickly and wake up in time to enjoy some of the passion countryside. Next stop: Hoi An.

Day 273 to Day 279 – solitude

Day 273 – the healing power of food

My brother, his wife, Vero, their little princess, Bella and Oscar (who is presently still a bump), come today, which basically means an endless stream of conversation between my sister-in-law and myself. Vero’s cousin was married only recently. Her husband has had Hodgkin’s for most of his life and recently fell sick again soon after their wedding. Recently, though, they began a raw food, vegan, organic diet. When they told his doctors about this detox, the doctor dismissed it, saying they may as well say goodbye and give in to the disease and instead suggesting another round of chemo and radiotherapy. The decided to try the diet anyway and what has followed could be called a miracle or perhaps common sense… Not only did his health improve, but swelling went down, test results came back with dramatic differences and he is fast on the road to recovery. Vero’s cousin can’t wait to go back to the doctors and show them that they were wrong, so wrong. What we now call “raw” and “organic” and “biodynamic” is what a hundred years ago was called simply FOOD. Unfortunately, for most people, what we consume is far removed from the original plant that nature gives us. Yes, nature provides gifts as food and humans have found the most cost-effective way to ruin it with chemicals, pesticides, hormones, toxins and anything else that will cause mass-production, increase in yields and therefore, larger profits. I could go on, but we have heard it all before. The best books I have read on the subject were by Michael Pollan. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which traces the origins of four meals, from organic, to groceries, to McDonalds is a well-researched eye-opener on the corruption and deception that is the modern food market. The documentary Food Inc. is based on this book. Pollan’s other book, In Defence of Food has some great ideas as to how to best avoid the trap of clever marketing and chemical bombardment, such as,

–       never feed yourself where you feed your car

–       avoid supermarkets

–       if you must go to supermarkets, stay around the edges, where the freshest food is likely to be- kept cold

Not everyone believes that our food could be causing cancer, or that it has the capacity to heal it and I am sure some people are blissfully ignorant, or choose to stay that way. Maybe one day people will wake up. Maybe one day organic food won’t be so expensive. Maybe one day we will stop spending money on cars and instead buy seeds. Maybe one day cancer will mutate into the zombie virus and the whole world will end, thus forcing us back into simple farming practices in order to survive. Maybe I digress…

 

Day 274 – I will miss you

I am no stranger to separation. I am not afraid of being alone. Actually, I quite like being alone. For someone with such a wide social circle, who clearly likes to be heard/read, I also very much enjoy quiet solitude. In the past month, I have spent almost every day with him. We have indulged in each other’s presence and now that he is leaving for a few weeks, I know that I will miss him. But I also know that I will be fine. I am not the kind of girl to go crying into my corn flakes because I am alone. Actually, when he rings at midnight, half asleep, I mumble something about how great it is to stretch out and take up all the room in my double bed. Sorry! Yes, I miss you already, but I know how to make the most of a situation. I know how to embrace change, embrace solitude and be on my own. Finding myself quietly sitting in my room, I remember all that time I spent alone in India, with only myself as my guide. I was my own best friend, my own teacher, my own student, my own listener. I knew I had family and friends far away but I was there for myself when I needed myself the most. Here, I am surrounded by people and sometimes all I want is to be alone! Yes, I will be excited when you get back, but I get to keep myself company right now. And you know me; I am pretty damn fun to hang out with.

 

Day 275 – the food predicament

No wheat.

No dairy.

No sugar.

No alcohol.

My brother’s cupboards… There lurks temptation. It comes it all shapes and sizes; tiny chocolate coated teddy bear shapes, flat, square biscuit shapes, long stringy cheesey things, “all natural” yogurt and on the bottom shelf… oh god is that a chocolate cupcake? I am starving by the time I get there and nobody is home. I have to find something to eat quickly before I dive head first into the jar of nutella. I find frozen vegetables and half packet of quinoa that I left in there from the last time. That will do! I whip up a stir-fry and relax. But I know the nutella is there.

I can resist anything but temptation

–       Oscar Wilde

No wheat.

No dairy.

No sugar.

No alcohol.

Well, nutella has no wheat. It has very little dairy… It is about 50% sugar… but at least it isn’t wine! Just one spoon… And I cave. Sometimes you have to cross over to the dark side.

 

Day 276 – Nan Tien Temple

I can’t believe how many times I have driven past this place and never stopped. Finally I am standing before the enormous Buddha at the front gate. He is beautiful in the hot sun. The grounds are immaculately kept, with perfectly trimmed lawns, littered with tiny child-like Buddha’s in tai-chi poses. The flowers are in full-bloom despite the humidity and at the main temple, incense pours down the stone steps. This is apparently the biggest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. I slowly enter the temple where the tall Buddha stands, surrounded by tiny candles. The walls are covered in gold blocks with Chinese characters carved in red. I look up at the smiling face of the enlightened one. And I cry. I buy a small candle to make an offering and choose the WISDOM card. I stand and pray to Buddha. I pray for the strength to take me away from my vices. I pray for the insight to follow my dharma. I pray for the universe to guide me on my path. I pray for my shadow that occasionally takes me away from the light. In temples, making offerings, praying, crying. How many times this year have I found myself doing this? What happens in these holy places that causes such an emotional reaction? It isn’t sadness. It isn’t fear. It isn’t loss. It is like the feeling of the divine becomes too much for me to handle and I just crumble. Maybe it is the ego that is afraid. Maybe it is sad for its own loss? I don’t know, but when I leave the temple I sit outside and collect my broken self together. I check my mascara and move on. Crying is a huge spiritual release. If there is an emotional block, crying can move energy from spaces where it becomes trapped. I do feel better, but I also feel like I have asked myself so many more questions that 276 days into this bliss project, I know that I am only at the beginning. I know who I am now, I know myself and I have learned to love myself this year. But I am barely scratching the surface of this life long path. There is still so much to learn.

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Day 277 – tired of my own game face

I am tired. I am drained. I see a dead pigeon on the pavement today and, in a daze, I take a photo of it. I am thinking pigeon pose- Raja Kapotasana. I am so spacey, I put my keys in the fridge and then stand staring into the freezer for what seems like an eternity. There isn’t any food in there. In this world I feel like I have to have my game face on all the time. I want to switch it off. I want to hide. I want to get away. My friends are begging me to go out, but I am tired. I am PMSing. I go to bed and can hear them asking about me outside my room. Sometimes it feels like everyone wants to share your light, and you give it away until your flame is barely flickering. It is my responsibility to hold my fire, to keep it alight. It is my turn to take care of myself and stay in bed, to rest. Grateful to this wisdom that has kept me home, I fall asleep.

 

Day 278 – solo mission

The Blue Mountains are thick with fog as I drive down to Megalong Valley. Clearly, my Apple Maps have never been here before because it wants me to drive down Six Foot Track. It is a dirt running track. Hmmm… My instinct had me going further down the main road, so I decide to follow it. Eventually I find the right signs down to the valley. As I descend, the fog clears completely and I see the lush green cascading over the road. It is like entering another world. I reach the campsite and there is still plenty of light. I throw up the tent and then sit on a tree stump, listening to the birds. In the dusk, their song fills my heart.

In the dark, I heat up a can of soup to keep warm. In my tent, I have a head-lamp on as I read Hindu stories of the gods. I can hear the noise of the crickets, lulling me to sleep. Finally I have peace, solitude and nobody but myself.

Bliss.

 

Day 279 – birds

I wake up to the song of birds. The rain stopped in the night and the small log I turned over last night is still dry underneath. I eat a quarter of a watermelon over my hot tea and stare at the sunlight coming through the trees. The air is fresh and cool and I feel myself in a sacred space down here. The birds bring up the sun, flying like souls to the heavens. I have always had a passion for birds. I remember the first bird that I ever noticed and, wondering what it was, looking up a bird book. It was a great black cormorant. My favourite sounds are Magpies in the mornings, Whipbirds in the bush and Kookaburras at dusk. I have a tattoo on my back of a quetzal bird. It is native to Central America and Mexico and is the national bird of Guatemala. It is a symbol of freedom as it is near-impossible to keep in captivity as it will stop eating to commit suicide. To the Mexica people, its feathers were more valuable than gold. If I could be any animal, it would be a bird.

 

I pray to the birds.

I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward.

I pray to them because I believe in their existence,

The way their songs begin and end each day,

The invocations and benedictions of earth.

I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear.

And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.

–       Terry Tempest Williams

 

 

Day 252 to Day 258 – a week of gratitude

When my sister said a speech at her own wedding, she had read somewhere that if you make a list of at least six things that you are grateful for every day, then you will be happy. So she then went on to tell us all of the things she was grateful for. So for seven days, I made a point to say thank you at least seven times. By the end of each day, I mostly had way more than seven. Every moment was beautiful, for every single day, I could be grateful for every single minute… Thank you for…

 

Day 252 – the little things

A parking space close enough to the cafe that I can get my coffee as soon as I drive in to work.

The barista who knows exactly what I want and starts making it as soon as he sees me approach.

The hour and a half long lunchtime that allows me to lay in the sun for an hour in the middle of the day and do nothing.

The phone charger my boss keeps at work so that my phone never has to die, even though I am using it constantly.

The customers who actually answer their phones.

The customers who sound pleased, if not excited to hear that I want to bring wine to their house!

The warm night that I finally get to drive home in, after a long day, finally noticing that spring has completely negated the need for the heater in my car.

 

Day 253 – the sorrowful things

The doctor for putting up with my complaints and hypochondria, managing to calm me when I am clearly so stressed.

The nurse for being out to lunch, so unable to take my blood for an hour, giving me time to run around Malabar and then swim across the bay.

The ocean for healing me regardless of how stressed or sad I feel.

The best friend who comforts me through text messages all day, and even makes me laugh when I feel like I want to cry.

The person who manages to look me in the eye and smile regardless of how little I can smile back.

The dinner that tastes so awful that I can’t even finish it, meaning I don’t leave the restaurant so full that I feel sick.

The cup of tea and tim tam that offers a little hug from the inside when I feel so down.

 

Day 254 – the surprising things

The strength and speed I find doing sand sprints in boot camp after I was too exhausted to even make it out of bed.

When the day seems completely pointless until the last two customers surprise me with their kindness.

The way a friend looks when I walk into his work unexpectedly.

The fifty dollar note I find tucked inside your wallet when I thought I was broke.

The missed call from someone I didn’t expect to hear from.

The vegetarian burger in a pub that turns out to be amazingly delicious.

The graffiti written on the inside of the toilet door that says SHUT UP AND LOVE.

 

Day 255 – the delicious things

The customers who no-show or cancel, leaving me with free time to go home and get back into bed for an hour.

The rainbow lorikeets that screech so loud in the trees that I can’t even hear the other person through the phone.

A familiar face in an unexpected place, making a delicious coffee and serving me a glass of prosecco.

The customers who cancel at the door, leaving me with an early night to go out to dinner.

The tiger lilies and roses, bought simply because he knew I like them.

The dinner of kingfish ceviche, quinoa and chickpea chips stacked like a jenga tower and the stuffed zucchini flowers.

The rum blazer, complete with history lesson and the spectacular show of watching all the spices spark and fire into the glass.

The amazing person who I am lucky enough to share it all with.

 

Day 256 – the fun things

Krystle’s bouncing energy, dragging me out of the house when all I want to do is lie down.

The unplanned adventure into the city to go to a Creole Zouk night. (Side note, Creole Zouk is kind of like a slow, French Caribbean version of Salsa. Very sexy, seductive and beautiful.)

The pleasant surprise that my date can actually dance!

My cousin who meets us out and can make friends with any person that I introduce him to.

The bars that actually stock cucumber to go with a Hendricks gin and tonic.

The three individual friends I haven’t seen in years who give me massive hugs and a quick hello, knowing now that our entire friendship is conducted over Facebook.

The taxi driver that takes us home right at the changeover time when it is impossible to find a taxi.

 

Day 257 – the work things

It isn’t hard to be grateful for today, when I am being whisked away to the Hunter Valley with work colleagues.

The lift into the city that gets me there on time, despite being out until 3am.

The beautiful sunshine that graces the day out in the vineyards.

The delicious wine of Brokenwood.

The Hendricks Punch served hot in a teapot that helps me recover from the night before.

The credit card that allows me to purchase a $100 bottle of Quail shiraz, or the Magnum bottle of Semillon.

The laughter of the whole ride home and the new bond between people who were once just work colleagues, but can now be called friends.

 

Day 258 – the unfamiliar things

The way he holds my hand when he can see that I am nervous to be introduced to people unknown.

The wine that allows the nerves to fade and the conversation to flow.

My ability to use humour to hide from an awkward situation.

Francesca, my new American friend, who turns up in Bondi out of nowhere and has dinner with us.

The point of the night where my body refuses any more alcohol and I end up drinking water instead.

The exhaustion that forces me home and in bed by midnight.

The warm embrace at the end of a long weekend.

Day 137 – eating too much

I have been looking all over India for an Ayurvedic massage and finally found a place that I actually wanted to set foot in. I am getting classical abhyanga– the oil massage. I lie down on my back and she begins with my legs, focusing on pressure points around the body. When she gets to my head, she presses hard into my skull and seems to be trying to squeeze my brain out of my eyeballs. This actually feels really good! She rolls me over and begins at the legs then moves up to my back.

By now, I am completely relaxed and by the time I come out of the massage I realise my head was completely empty of thought for that last part of the massage. I wonder back out into the dusty Jaipur street feeling balanced, relaxed and a little hungry so I wonder over to a Veg restaurant for my favourite dish, Paneer Butter Masala. I order a green salad which is just sliced onion, cucumber and tomato. I can’t wait for leafy greens when I get back to Sydney! The problem with Indian food is that it is never just a snack. It is always ridiculously filling, regardless of how small the plate is. They always seem offended when I refuse the third chapatti and the rice, but I still have to walk back to the guesthouse so I don’t want to be too full. Later in the afternoon I eat again when Rupali orders a delicious curry of chickpeas and vegetables. We eat it with garlic naan and some kind of deep fried roti. Every mouthful I keep saying, “Ok, this is my last bite.” Why do I do this to myself? I am so full I feel sick. I lie down on my left side with my arm tucked beneath me to activate my right nostril and kickstart digestion but it doesn’t work. The rest of the day I spend rolling around in agony as my poor belly tries to digest all the food I have put in it.

I always get like this during my last few days in a place. I think, soon I won’t be able to eat this so I better get in as much as I can now! This is terribly short sighted and really, eating more food won’t prolong the enjoyment. The great yogi’s and Rishi’s survived on less than one meal a day. In fact, most had little more than a glass of milk each day. Despite their enormous bellies, they gave up their attachment to food a long time ago. Apparently what I am lacking is nurturing and I am searching for this in food so I am overeating. It’s probably true. Well, soon I will be home and mum can pat me on the head and make me her vegetable soup. For now, I just need to be stop eating so much! Tomorrow I am fasting, I promise myself.

Day 65- guided morning meditation, mung bean curry and oil pulling

I wake up at 4.30am and am immediately distracted by my phone. It is starting to frustrate me how much of a hold this little thing has on me. Between the laptop and the iPhone, I feel like I am in a committed relationship with my technology. But instead of breaking the phone against the ground, I decide to use it to my advantage. I look up ‘meditation’ in iTunes and find some free podcasts on guided meditations. My favourite one, which I had found over a year ago, is the Morning Meditation by AJ Faris. Although the initial disclaimer is a little crackly, the guided meditation is clear and easy to follow. He has a soothing voice, without sounding pretentious and guides me through a visualisation of breathing with the familiar Sushumna breath from Day 11. The meditation then goes on to a visualisation of a lake, an eagle and then an ocean which effectively calms my mind and brings it into deep meditation. The whole meditation goes for about half an hour, so by the time I come out of it, I am ready to stretch and move. I go straight into a yoga practice, but I am a bit sore all over since yesterday I ended up doing a second yoga practice in the afternoon. All that enthusiasm has turned around and bit me in my little yogi bum, which is exactly the area that is most sore. I guess it had gotten a little out of practice over the past few days in transit…

For breakfast I make my usual hot water and lemon and fruit smoothie. I make a little extra because I am kind of hungry, then get to work on some study, i.e. procrastination. I could argue that I am exploring the myriad of social networking available- Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter (feel free to follow/like 365 Days in Bliss on all of the above), but the reality is that I am finding it hard to focus because I am hungry. I go to the kitchen and grab a nashi pear and a handful of peanuts. The peanuts in Indonesia are really good. These are just packet Garuda nuts, but I love that they come in the shell so you have to open them to eat them. It makes the food an activity and I love activity-food. Like mandarins! I come back to my books and suddenly I am like a machine. It is probably because of the peanuts, which provide protein, fibre, energy, and complex B group vitamins, including niacin, which increases blood flow to the brain and contributes to brain health.

I finally stop studying because of a pounding headache. This is fairly common when detoxing. The body has to get rid of the toxins, so on their way out they flood the system. It is also withdrawal from the foods that are no longer being consumed (sugar, dairy, wheat- some of the most addictive substances in the world). For this reason, it is important to drink a lot of water during a detox. I am about two litres down, which is my usual daily intake, and it is only lunchtime. I have some coconut oil that I am cooking with, so I take a swig of this and swish it around in my mouth. This is called Oil Pulling. As I chop up some veggies and prepare my Coconut Mung Bean Curry (delicious, by the way), I continue to swish the oil around my mouth, dragging it through my teeth. It is recommended to do this for about 15-20 minutes before you must spit out the oil and wash your mouth thoroughly with water. It is really important to spit as the oil has now absorbed a host of toxins and bacteria from your saliva and is considered toxic. I spit it straight down the drain and send some water down with it as I rinse out my mouth. The once clear coconut oil has turned milky white in the process. This practice has a host of health benefits and even claims to cure chronic illness. Your body also absorbs some of the vitamin A of the oil and apparently, this goes to the eyes, helping them to stay moisturised and lubricated. This is great for my perpetually dry eyes. It is especially great for digestion and a great practice to add to any detox. I won’t pretend to be an expert on oil pulling, but what I do know is that it is especially good for clearing headaches. As I stand up from the sink, I notice immediately that the pressure in my head is gone.

I sit down to eat and then watch some TV as I drink another litre of water, but the headache is returning. I eat an apple since apparently the natural sugars of an apple is supposed to relieve headaches. I try giving myself a head massage but it is like tickling yourself- doesn’t work! By 4pm I have struggled for long enough so I go to bed and lie down. Time to give in to this one.

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.