Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cleansing The Body & Mind

On the recommendation of a naturopath I saw recently I decided to do a little Spring cleanse. Spring is a great time for this and traditionally in many cultures it has been a time for cleansing with the appearance of vibrant Spring greens and perhaps in older cultures a lack of stored food (that's eating locally!).

First I had to find 10 days that didn't involve any social commitments that revolved around food. (I couldn't see myself going to dinner with friends and having a glass of water!). That was seeing the truth of the situation. Maybe some folks could do this but I knew I'd feel kind miserable and deprived.

The fast has been an interesting process to watch and not just in the body. The more interesting process is in the mind. I got to see how important food is to me on many levels. It is an activity that occupies. So when you are not preparing food, there is a little vacant spot in your day. And you get to see your psychological attachment to food. I already know I love all the wonderful tastes of food and that I sometimes look for comfort in food. And I was reminded of this many times during a day. I love an almond milk latte at the little cafe in the village as a treat. So without them I found how much I depend on these little treats and tastes as contributors to my mood, how they are something I look forward to, and without them there was a little hole in the blanket of the day.

The fast started with 3 days of fresh lemon juice sweetened with a little maple syrup. Day 1 & 2 were fine but by day 3 the mind was looking forward to the next 2 days which consisted of freshly prepared juices. This will be so much better, the mind thought, more variety, delicious tastes. By the second day of juice the mind was longing for the next 2 days which consisted of any raw fruit and veg, plus juice. And the first bite of orange was delicious on day 6, and the blended raw carrot, avocado soup hit the spot with its savory spicing. But by the time the dinner salad rolled around the mind was thinking how wonderful it would be when I could have some nuts and seeds, maybe a little oil or some salt to make a tastier salad dressing.

I had a front row seat for the endless antics of that little monkey mind projecting itself into the future, always looking for the next thing, always imagining something better, planning and scheming how to mow the grass that definitely would be greener just over the hill.

So I have had a taste of the smorgasbord of my longings and attachments and an opportunity to see the role of food in my life and its connection to happiness. I have a refreshed understanding of the role food plays in my life, how I think about it, anticipate it, look forward to it, get pleasure from it. And all that being said the detox diet was fine and like many things once you resolve to do it, your mind knows (like a small child) that no amount of whining will change the agenda. In a way its a good exercise in building inner resolve and discipline, not to mention that your constantly worked digestive tract gets a little vacation. And now I wonder what's for dinner tonight?


  1. I had to get braces in November last year. They're the kind your pop on and off - the method to my madness in choosing these was that I could avoid the brushing between wires etc. No one told me I couldn't eat with them on! Or that I had to wear them an average of 20 hours a day! Of course, it brought into glaring light the way I spend my evening "grazing" all the way through it with "healthy food." Six months of being muzzled against evening snacks has me thinking I need to deal with this like any other addiction! Argh! :-)

  2. Thank you so much for hopping over to visit my blog ZenDot, as a result here I am enjoying the tour through your posts and your shop and really admiring and relishing your worldview. Don't youlove that about blogland ;-)

    I see many similarities in our travels... Buddhism, art and the cleansing experience...I've been a devotee of the master cleanse (lemon, cayenne, maple syrup) for many many years...I see it as a required detox for the emotion body...cast any burdens!! and it's always lovely, albeit not always easy, to discover what is now ready to be let go.

    I truly love the spontaneity with which you take a line for a make the serenity of the Buddha feel alive and in the moment.

  3. Thanks so much, ZenDot, for the reference to the film 'Scared Sacred'...I'll Google it and learn more.

  4. Oh dear - something *else* I need to look at - my food fetish...ugh. Am afraid this stubborn little gremlin won't let go as gracefully as yours! She won't give up her blankey that easily :)

  5. Hi ZDS! As someone who has never gone longer than four or five (waking) hours without food, I'm astounded at the very thought of your fast! Astounded and intrigued. I can just imagine the screaming my little monkey mind would present me with, yet the thought of facing it appeals a little. Hmmm. Something to think about in all this. Thank you.
    Marcus _/\_

  6. Stopping by and following. Reading your post is refreshing. I love the slide shows of the buddhas

  7. I admire your discipline very much. I couldn't do this when I was 30, and healthy. Now, I'm glad that kidney failure and resultant tricky blood sugar forbid me to try again. And surely if I get a transplant they will tell me that under no circumstances should I undertake a fast now. :)

  8. Thanks to everyone for dropping by, you've made this a brighter place! Ah the food thing.... I suspect most of his have some stuff around food. It's not just about fueling the machine, is it?

    Genju -It's surprising sometimes what shines the light on our habits. Frustration and boredom have been known to send me searching the kitchen cupboards!

    Merci 33 - Nice to discover another Buddhist oriented artist. Thanks for the return visit

    MeAnderi - Those gremlins are hiding everywhere, always offering us one more thing to look at if we're willing to see.

    Marcus - Ah I hear a fast coming on!

    YogaSavy - How nice to meet you. I love your wonderful adventurous life story on your blog!

    Dalai Grandma - I chuckled heartily when I read your comment. Now how's that for a positive outlook, you've found the upside of having kidney failure! Eat well, build your strength!

  9. this is a powerful reminder of the way desire pulls us forward and away from the moment at hand...not that desire is inherently a bad thing (or a good thing) it just is the nature of mind, of living. And, food can also bring us to the moment with great clarity...taste, smell, color, texture...right here right now...until, we become hungry for more. Thanks for sharing your cleanse adventure:)

  10. I am impressed you stuck with the cleansing diet- I have great control when it comes to eating desserts-- I can stretch out a brownie or cookie several days- just eating a small bit every day with my blessed cup of tea- my treat for the day-- but to go to a liquid diet for a few days- once my stomach starts growling I have to eat :-)
    the hardest thing I did was that liquid diet for my colonosophy (mispelled)-- and that was just 2 days! so I admire your resolve.

  11. Beautiful, as usual. I love how you describe the workings of mind, and heart, and body. And I very much appreciate the depth of your resolve. Coming back from one week retreat, I could so much relate to your description of the effect of weaning from those simple daily pleasures, thanks to which we are able to modulate the inherent suffering from our naturally craving mind. We are such high maintenance creatures!

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