The idea of, and preparation before, a physical, bodily detox can be much scarier than the process and experience itself. What will I eat? When will I eat? How will I survive without morning coffee?! I love bread! I love beer! No chocolate?!
But once you begin – and especially after a few days when the initial withdrawal symptoms subside – the feeling of euphoria is likely to set in.
In these days, I compare myself to a rose on its way to blooming. At the onset, I was closed tightly, afraid to let go. I clung to the things that soothed me – that allowed me to remain somewhat numb. The roller coaster of this year had made its way into my habits, routine and daily life. I drank more coffee to become and stay alert. I expanded my drinking from the weekend only to nightly, hoping the hops and the taste would soften the sharpened edges. I ate more than necessary, again hoping the sugar would sweeten the sour spots. I was in emotional pain without wanting to admit it because I had so much to be thankful for, as expressed in messages of daily gratitude. More money in the bank. An opportunity and ability to train to be a yoga teacher. Travel plans and designer purses. A beautiful little boy who adored me regardless of if I wanted only to sleep on the couch instead of throw a baseball in the backyard. A cozy home where the rent was always paid, the utilities ran and the fridge was full. In essence, I was so very full… but found myself at times feeling so very empty.
We think of Spring as the season of new growth and change. The trees blossom and the grass turns from brown to green. We open our windows and sometimes our hearts also come out of hibernation. But Autumn is due belated credit for its opportunities and willingness to support us throughout equally dynamic change. In yoga, I heard Autumn described as a blank canvas (after the trees are stripped of their leaves and the world becomes somewhat colorless in the process) and my heart clung to that description, especially as I was in the midst of completing two weeks of eliminating toxins and unnecessary additives from what I was eating and drinking to nourish my body.
With each day, the petals inevitably opened further and further. Each day of losing things that were apparently no longer serving me gave way to bursts of blocked energy, enthusiasm for tasks that were usually burdens and a feeling of contentedness and fullness originating not from the outside, but from within. I liken the experience to practicing non-attachment as taught in yoga and meditation. And at several moments, I felt about as close to bliss as could be measured. At the close of this two-week time, I woke up feeling like more of the me I have come to grow to love than I have in months.
I would be remiss if I credited this reintroduction to sense of self to just two weeks without caffeine, alcohol, gluten, soy and sugar. I started October by removing an object from my body that was void of purpose and was likely causing problems and pain. I left a workplace that was not the right fit and returned to one where thankfully, the shoe still fit and somehow, became even more comfortable despite not being worn for months – no blisters. I spent mornings in the Arizona sun and dressed up for a party in Jamestown. I finished my journey to become a yoga teacher and read a book by a woman vulnerable enough to share her own fears and insecurities all while being entrusted with counseling and supporting the fragility in others. I indulged in new earrings and withheld self-criticism when one disappeared on an airplane. I chose to appreciate new lines, wrinkles and gray hairs, remembering that they are gifts not all have the benefit of receiving. I loved bolder, hugged tighter and readily admitted when I was wrong. I got out of my own way.
Today, the petals are in full bloom. They will eventually fall off and there will be rain in the midst of the sunshine. But the flower will grow again. Inevitably, I may find myself once again too full, numb and tired of feeling tired and closed up. And maybe – hopefully – once again, I’ll choose change over stagnation… discomfort over complacency. I’ll walk a path of thorns on the way to smooth surfaces where eventually, I’ll find myself ready to bloom once again.