Day 248: I Survived My First Seven Day Cleanse
I wish to know myself better and more clearly
I am not the food I eat
I crave flavor and stimulation
I am open to the space created by stepping away from food for 7 days
I am open to what is possible
- Self affirmative scribbles from Detox Day One
Oversharing is caring right? In this case, it is, but be warned – I do indulge in some cathartic detail about the colema part of the detox experience. You’re curious, I know you are. If not, skip a few paragraphs down and you’ll be in the clear :)
I couldn’t figure out which was scarier – giving up food for seven days OR doing my first colema. That was, until 4pm rolled around on Detox Day One.
After morning one of just detox drinks, herbal supplements and a much needed coconut for energy, it was TIME.
Dr. John, a practicing chiropractor and fasting manager at Spa Resort, gathered round a group of us to talk colemas -- that alien word I learned only days earlier and would now soon have to pay close attention to, against my urge to just run, hide and sneak in something delicious for emotional comfort.
After watching a video that reeked of 90s infomercials, we moved the demo into our bathroom. Cramming together inside a bathroom with only a tiny tile of a window was both claustrophobic and bizarre, but wasn’t that the whole vibe of learning about colemas for the first time? Colema equipment, we soon learned, includes a 5 liter gallon, a small stool you position 2 feet away from the toilet bowl, a colema board that you lie horizontally against the toilet and stool, some lube, hydrogen peroxide, a colander inside the toilet bowl for collecting all the waste (totally optional, and not for the faint of heart) and a long tube and colema tip which you guessed it…enters the anus. No need to beat around the bush here, we all know where this goes.
My nervous laughter burst its way into the demo. After setting up, Dr. John topped the bucket off with lukewarm water which is one part fresh coffee and apple cider vinegar and four parts water. He pulled out the long tube (which you can’t help but freak out at – which part of that long tube goes inside me??), and quickly clarified that one end is affixed inside the tube to pull out the solution while the other end comes out and attaches to the colema tip. Only part of that colema tip, with little holes clustered around the tip, actually goes up the butt. Thank the good lord.
The finishing touches sounded easy enough. Lube up the colema tip and whatever else needs some smoothing support (will leave that up to your imagination), make your horizontal way onto the board so that your bum comes right up against the opening of the colema’s hood, which opens up into the toilet bowl. When you’re ready, take a deep breath, release and stick that colema tip as far into your butt as you possibly can – all while holding the tube that will soon be flushing a steady stream of coffee, apple cider vinegar water inside your body. When you’re all settled, release the tube and let the rest take care of itself. It’s that easy right?
Yes and no, but I can say with total confidence that my first colema lands itself on the listicle of “top 5 most confronting life experiences.” There were moments of “what the hell is going on down there, am I doing this right?” and bursts of unexpected nausea that came in waves. Of course, practice makes perfect and colemas are no exception here. In fact, by Day Three I am almost positive (as my own personal journal doesn’t lie), that I was actually looking forward to doing a colema, which inspired this little self-affirmation signage that I quite literally taped up on the bathroom wall for some extra motivation.
Looking forward to a colema? Yes, in fact (and you’ll be surprised by how many others have said the same thing), every time I finished up a colema, whatever suffering I was experiencing (achiness, weakness, unrelenting headache) usually completely disappeared. I could feel the effects happening in real time and finally began to wrap my head around the brain and gut brain relationship – how the gut’s health actually does directly influence the brain’s. It’s kind of like magic when you experience it yourself. And a little bit of awkwardness in the beginning is totally worth it, especially if you allow yourself to – yes I’m going to actually say and stand by this statement – bring the YOGA into the COLEMA (breathing, relaxing and surrendering to the literal gravity of the colema’s flow). What goes in must always come out, and you have to remind yourself each and every time, that what’s coming out has been stuck inside for a VERY long time.
I’m not the only person who gets excited about all things colema. Everywhere you turn at the Spa Resort, there’s a convo happening – the in-house Radiance Restaurant, the lounge, the steam room, you name a spot. The detox center where we congregated 5 times daily, was the de facto social hub of the center, bringing together newbie and veteran detox-ers alike – where all your oversharing dreams come true (and in a more practical sense, where you get your detox education for the day). Not to mention, also where you hear some crazy detox stories of those who came before you. Cue in the story of one woman who during an epic colema, released a hard mass of something unnamable and physically impenetrable. Once a chainsaw was used to crack this thing open, they found a RAINBOW center! In that moment, it all came flooding back – she had eaten crayons as a kid and had never properly digested the waste. After the release, all her allergy related ailments went away forever. Too good to be true? I think these stories are more of the exception than the norm, but most definitely worth sharing. If you're still scratching your chin, you're not alone.
My detox story isn’t dramatic in that way, but everything does begin to shift. For starters, the senses amplify like none other and gives you new olfactory superpowers. The smell of ranch dressing literally got my heart rate pumping and the waft of cigarette smoke had my nausea spinning uncontrollably. Coconut juice became my go to liquid gold of electrolyte-powered proportions, giving me that immediate boost I so craved when the real cravings kicked into high gear. As the body detoxes and releases all it no longer needs, a new kind of spaciousness begins to set inside the body. That spaciousness is light, clearing and expansive; combined with gentle yoga asanas, you can begin to experience what optimum health actually feels like. My breathing just naturally slowed down, allowing the body to move much more intuitively and sink deeper into poses that would normally feel more strenuous, especially with the inversions and cramped feeling I typically experience in my neck and upper back regions. Those expected pains seemed to disappear as I’d roll onto my back with greater ease and newfound strength. The body’s conditioning starts to rewire itself and reveal a fresh new expression.
I’ve been emphasizing the physical outward experience, as that was the most immediate effect and most easily observable. But as we all know, physical changes don’t just happen in a vacuum. The emotional, mental, and spiritual detox was happening hand in hand and would soon show herself full-on as the days progressed. The waves of craving that ebbed and flowed were not stemming from actual hunger cravings, I soon realized, but from my mind’s own conditioned habit of filling, stimulating and dare I say, distracting from deeper emotional blockages and issues I had not either ever confronted or fully resolved. I could see myself clearly and my emotional relationship to food was not all healthy and balanced, though you could be thinking “she eats a veggie diet, practices yoga, and hasn’t had a sip of alcohol in well over 2 years.” Rather, there seemed to be a realization of codependency with food, in ways I had either read or heard about, but never really paused to observe in myself. In the presence of this deep bodily epiphany and absence of food and FLAVOR to fulfill its conditioned emotional function, I soon found myself peeling back the layers of some deep emotional matters and surrendering to the process of healing, clarity and self-acceptance. The detox was working itself into all dimensions of my consciousness physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It is no coincidence that a major turning point happened in almost perfect synchronicity with the full moon’s passing. Her purifying powers are NO joke, and if there was any doubt in my mind about her effect on the human emotional experience, then that auspicious June 8th cast all that skepticism aside once and for all.
Sitting on the beach, watching the sunset, smelling sea salt stronger than ever. The sounds appear more crisp and enjoyable to take in. The water is a pristine blue, soaking and reflecting the rays of magic hour sunset against the backdrop of cloud most beautifully subtle and purple, all quickly evolving into the realm of blue.
The moon has not fully undressed herself as she’s still waiting to reveal her powers. In one of these moments, we hope to see Her.
Don’t be shy Mother Moon.
- Poetry scribbles from a Full Moon
As Day 8 rolled around (and my taste buds could quite literally track the countdown), my thoughts did of course center on my first meal and how epic it would be. But to be totally honest, I wasn’t really hungry by the time that moment arrived. To my surprise, I had arrived at that point where I could much more clearly distinguish hunger cravings versus emotional/flavor cravings, as if the hormonal signals from my stomach and brain were communicating for the first time in a long time. That desire to understand what detox-ers say when they talk about “feeling clear” after 7 days had come full (moon) circle, and mind-body clarity came. Also, rewiring the gut-brain connection over the last week gave me a blank slate to work from – stepping away from old food and nutrition habits allowed me to step back in and see nutrition as a creative form of expression to redefine when, how, what and why I eat.
Food is both medicine and poison, and with greater awareness and balance, I have high hopes for the post-detox. The jitters and fears from Day One seem distant at best, and I realize in just a week of this detox experiment that I am much more adaptable and tuned into my body than I could have ever imagined. The truth is, our bodies are not compartmentalized from our emotions, everything is linked. In a seven day detox, you have no choice but to tune in to that harmony/chaos dynamic, finding pockets of stillness as your brain confronts the concept of a craving for what it really is, and releases what it no longer needs. What lies on the other side of release is every spectrum of possibility.
Yoga is deep. Chanting is deep. Practice the tools and be certain. It’s always the same simple message. Come back to yourself and you will find answers. You always had them in the first place.
- Closing scribbles from the journal
Now on to the next detox: wallet detox in Koh Phangan!