It’s been ten glorious days of smelling, tasting, and mindfully chewing all the things I so graciously welcomed back into my life after a five-day fasting and detox program in Canggu, Bali. With the help of a doctor, I underwent a process of purging most everything from my body and mind that was failing to contribute to the highest version of Who I Am and Who I want to Be. In the months leading up to my cleanse, I had battled a series of minor health issues; contracting yet another pesky parasite in Myanmar, taking OTC medication that I couldn’t pronounce from an Asian pharmacy, and a waking each morning with a general sense of malaise that led me to feel like a total foreigner in my own skin. These weeks were some of the most challenging of my year to date; requiring a great deal more energy and willpower to perform the simplest of tasks, and insisting that I host my third yoga retreat in Thailand from an unfamiliar place of non-acceptance for the limitations of my sick, unhealthy body.
However, in looking back, it will always prove to be such a wondrous phenomena to me as to how each and every life event so seamlessly unfolds to welcome the next. How chaos will always precede real change. And how, in the midst of obstacle, I’m unsuspectingly presented with the opportunity to, not only save myself, but to grow in ways my thinking mind could never have never imagined possible. The endless gift of total transformation.
I will never sit here are say that the detox process was an easy one. That those five days of abstaining from alcohol, caffeine, sugar, bread, and about a billion other things my body had become attached to having the moment that it craved them, was without immense sacrifice. In ceasing to eat, I diminished my social life, dramatically reduced my energy levels, and eliminated any satisfaction in my world that manifested from a sensation of taste. There were days I suffered intense stomach and muscle cramps, profusely sweat without any physical movement, and was consistently forced to brush my teeth in an effort to remove a fuzzy film that seemed to develop within moments of my toothbrush leaving my enamel. The morning of day five I challenged any previous sensation I had ever interpreted as hunger by awaking from a fire within my belly so intensely consuming that it was unbearable to concentrate on anything else. I lifelessly went about my daily activities with the energy level of a zombie; having difficulty formulating sentences and doing anything that didn’t involve laying or sleeping.
Yet, somehow these physical repercussions I could handle with an underlying awareness that, when it was all said and done, I was doing good for my body. And of course, it paid off. I resumed eating that weekend ten pounds lighter, with an unbelievably heightened sensation of taste, and a much stronger perception of when my stomach was and was not hungry. I savoured every mouthwatering bite of food, chewed at least thirty times before swallowing, and ate less than half the portion I normally would in order to be full. My skin continues to emit a shiny glow, I have an abundance of energy throughout the day, and am sleeping better than I have in years. But perhaps the most profound transformation comes in the way in which the cleanse encouraged me to regard and cherish my beautiful body. Going forward, I have a very strong internal desire to honour and nourish this beautiful temple; the incredible vessel that never fails to accept the adventurous challenges of my wild mind and heart.
Having said this, there was one aspect of the detox that I hadn’t anticipated and could never have prepared for – the emotional roller coaster of turmoil in which I cried relentlessly, vividly relived painful memories, and experienced nauseating feelings of social anxiety in the events when I braved going out in public. It seemed to me that, in the process of purging toxic things from my insides, I was also purifying my mind of past memories of which I had been unknowingly holding onto. As these emotions bubbled to the surface, I re-experienced every last one of them with them same degree of discomfort as if it were the very first time. It was a process that left me somewhat barren and intimidatingly raw in the face of the world. As if recalling memories from my not-so-glamorous past somehow allowed shame to seep in and corrode the very parts of me that I felt were, at one time, capable of inspiring others.
These feelings of emotional construction continued for days after the detox was over; leaving me withdrawn from anything or anybody that could expose me further. The isolation began to wear on me and, after finding myself sitting alone too many times in my tiny apartment with the blinds drawn on a sunny afternoon, I made a choice to confront the very perception that was holding me back. I began to reevaluate the way in which I had been mistakingly interpreting vulnerability.
It suppose it’s natural human tendency. In allowing ourselves to be deeply seen, we risk the possibility of criticism, misunderstanding, and (perhaps worst of all) rejection from the ones we love. So, instead of revealing our true authentic selves, we intentionally share just the pretty portions of Who we really Are; barricading ourselves in an endless prison of perfection that doesn’t, and will never, exist. But at what point does the act get old? When do we finally ask ourselves: how on earth we expect to cultivate authentic relationships, experience deep connection, or feel any sense of belonging if we constantly allow the fear of exclusion to hold us back from expressing our truest selves? If not now, when will we have the courage to be imperfect? The discipline to speak with honesty? Drop the judgement and develop a heart of pure admiration for all those who do the same?
In recognizing that authenticity is a choice, I’m choosing to set myself free; to be transparently Me. To cultivate a life that feels good from the inside, not one that simply looks good from the outside. And in doing so, I create space for all those around me to do the same. I’ll step out unto this world with all the truth, compassion, and courage I can muster. Because, I’ve experienced the power of honesty to openly welcome connection, love, and peace into my own world. And, like me, I believe this planet is craving the open-hearted. That amazing loves and rewards the vulnerable. And that the space between our happiness and our hardness is what makes each of us so authentically imperfect.