72. And on the eight day.

And just like that, it’s the eight day and in a couple of hours, and we will break our fast.  That feels like the beginning of a sermon at St. Matthews, which is not completely inappropriate as there have been moments where I’ve worshipped things – like food, and the sun and the good health of my body.

Can things be hard and easy at the same time? This was. I can honestly say that while my tummy rumbled a lot, I felt not a single hunger pang. I lost physical energy but could rest. My brain became clearer and more alert every day. It wasn’t druggie as an acquaintance had told me it might be, and I had no harsh detox symptoms. Strange things happened in the toilet which, even more strangely, I found greatly satisfying. My skin is clear, my nails are stronger. I am freer somehow. I am even learning how to breathe again (who’d have thought I could so miserably fail Breathing 101??)

I am thrilled to note that I haven’t missed alcohol. I am thrilled to note that I haven’t missed coffee. It’s the sociability and the rituals that surround them I yearn for. The food visualisations are for fresh salads, haloumi and smoked salmon not champagne and cake. Never saw that coming.

At the beginning, even after three weeks holiday, I was still rushing from activity to activity – still in the grip of a stonking 2012. At last I’ve calmed. My brain has been cleared out too, last year’s intellectual toxins and the sheer stress of being ‘on’ so much has gone as well.

Arvid says his life insurance now is a ten-day juice fast every year. Even with his healthy lifestyle, he says there is a toxic buildup in the bowels to remove annually. Jesus. At the risk of sounding like a retiring porn star, it’s time to think twice about what I put in this pretty mouth of mine…or on it come to think of it; that fabulous red lipstick I adore is a toxic wonderland I’m sure.

Steady on.

The post fast diet is pretty farmyard animal for a few days. Fruit and raw veges. Repeat. Seven days in, seven days out. After that? It’s up to me.

Hello big world. What’s for breakfast?

64. Note to self: breathe

We caught a supershuttle to the retreat. Trevor knew a lot about the area he’d lived in all his life. As well as all the Nelson hotspots and historical highlights, he also handily gave us directions to the cop shop should we go clubbing and get in a spot of bother. Nelson can kick up a right ruckus after dark Trevor said. We also now know where his brother lives.

As the shuttle snaked its way into the Maitai valley – “We’re losing civilization now folks” – talk turned to Pujji’s, the retreat we were headed for.

“Bloody cheap to run I reckon. They buy up a couple of tins of raro and feed you that for a week”.

I hoped he was joking.

Arvind and Rachel greeted us at the door. “Come in and have absolutely nothing” they didn’t say. The retreat is like an Aunty’s house. Domestic, cosy, furniture you have to walk around to get anywhere else. Perched on the river bank as it is, the sound of the running water quickly replaced the white noise in my head.

And so we got down to the serious business of fasting.

There are still three meals a day. They consist of sitting at the table, with an ironic place setting for us all, and enjoying a glass of psyllium husks, water and a concoction of herbs to cleanse the bowel. Like drinking aniseed flavoured glue. I have no idea why I actually enjoyed it. After twenty of them I may change my tune. Then we get the juice. Then we get nothing.

Each day you’re on the bench with Avvind for an hour’s bodywork. I’m not going to lie to you; I need very little encouragement to lie on a table with my head in a hole and hand my body over to a complete stranger. Giddy up cowboy.

Turns out I don’t breathe properly. My lower diaphragm is a stranger to the oxygen I inhale. So I’ll be fixing that right away.  By breathing. Properly.  Next time you see me I’ll be breathing so deeply, I’ll probably be able to smell what you had for breakfast.

The bodywork was followed by a detoxifying sauna and cold shower routine. You’re suppose to lie down but I was terrified I was going to fall asleep after an hour in Avvind’s hands, so there I sat bolt upright, practicing deep breathing. The clock said six when I got in. The clock said six when I got out half an hour later. Either time goes really fucking slowly here, or the clock’s broken.  Both are very real options.