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.

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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.