OK friends. I know I’ve mentioned before that at some point I was going to write about the Ayurvedic detox I did this fall, that was offered via Yoga Journal. I was feeling a little sluggish after the holidays, and thought I’d give my system a break, so I did it again last week, and I thought I’d share some of my insights with you.
Here’s the idea. 1. A detox is NOT a diet. It is a determined period of time where you simplify what you are putting into your body, NOT for the sake of getting skinnier, but to give your digestive system a break, which boosts your immune system, AND to give you some really SPECIFIC information about all the ways your thoughts and feelings are tied to the habit of eating.
2. How it works. Kitchari is an ancient Ayurvedic dish that consists primarily of mung beans and basmati rice, along with some spices and ghee. This is what you primarily eat for a week. For every meal. yep. breakfast too. In this yoga journal detox, constructed by the very skilled doctor of traditional chinese medicine and yoga teacher extraordinaire Scott Blossom, there are a few add ons: apples, avocadoes, a de-lish cilantro chutney, and a potassium broth that really makes the last 2 days of this detox possible. I”ll include the recipes below.
3. What happens: (surface) Day one. feeling good. Day two. Feeling good. Day three. crabby as all get out. Day four slightly euphoric. Day five. obsessing about sweet potatoes. Had to have a little “come to Jesus” talk with myself about self control, discipline, goals, etc. Day six. Craving a cave, a dark quiet place to sit in all day, but managed a very busy day of kids playing and music twanging regardless. Watched 12 people scarf down amazing food at the Rainbow Cafe while sipping warm water with lemon and didn’t even feel sorry for myself one bit. Day seven. Relieved. Tired. So tired. 2 1/2 hour afternoon nap tired. But happy. Proud of myself. Clear.
What’s the deeper point of all of this? It comes back to my title for today, hunger or habit. What I’ve learned from both times I’ve done this detox, is the very strange and strong attachments that we make between our feeling and thinking state and food. If I eat THAT I’ll be HAPPY. If I work this hard I deserve to eat THAT. If I don’t eat THAT I’ll make so and so feel bad. It’s funny isn’t it, how much power we give to food. What I discovered, is that when I took away the emotional/mental stimulus of varieties of foods, I stopped eating it to “change” my mood. So then I had to deal with my mood. (ugh). And so we come to the practice of YOGA. Yoga as LIBERATION from the habits of the mind.
I wouldn’t suggest that anyone embark on a detox of any kind without including some meditative component to help you sort through the crap that comes up in the process. That’s the point of a detox- what the word means. We’re giving the body a chance to get rid of the accumulation of toxins that come from eating counter-intuitively. We give the mind that same opportunity to flush negative thinking, and the heart the chance to release negative feeling. So if you find space and quiet while running, then make that your commitment; journaling is also very helpful, as is good old sitting in the quiet and learning to relax past your thoughts. The easiest way to do that is to sit cross legged, with your hips propped up with a few blankets or pillows so that they are noticeably higher than your knees (this way your feet are less likely to fall asleep). You can sit against a wall, or not. But you close your eyes, notice your breath, and start relaxing. It’s hard. Your mind will make up 1008 reasons why you can’t sit. Just soothe your thoughts like a fussy baby, and sit anyway. Sit everyday, even if you don’t think anything is happening. Sit even if it pisses you off. Just sit. 18 minutes will do it, less is fine if you don’t have much time. Try it. It will work, without YOU trying to do anything. Crazy, huh?
Also important to notice what ELSE you are consuming, particularly in the field of electronics and information. Try to reduce your time on the internet, television, telephone, etc. Try to limit your consumption of news and information, so that your mind is less agitated and strained.
AND LASTLY, make sure to practice some self-care rituals. Read about ahbyanga, or self massage here. Schedule yourself a massage (around day 3, 6 or 7). Nourish yourself in other ways.
OK. So I’ll put the recipes below, and some cooking suggestions for you. But first, I want to just make my post-detox declaration. I am done with excuses, with allowing the story that because I am a “creative” person, I am a space cadet, and just don’t have the resolve, discipline, or self control to really “get my shit together.” I am strong and confident; I have the capacity to achieve everything that I desire; I will not burn out, nor will I become rigid or obsessive in my pursuits. I will trust the light that guides me, and I will do the work I know I was put on this beautiful earth to do.
…what about you dear friends? What are you here for? What is the story that you drag on your back, that prevents you from achieving your goals? May we all shake off those toxic beliefs, and discover the strength of our danda- our inner staff- our guiding light, and surrender our will to serving this greater purpose without the attachments of fear or anxiety; no excuses, no feigned humility; just good ol “getting ‘er done” living life to it’s fullest. Are you with me? Om. Amen. Hallelujah.
(as is, this makes about 3 cups. I doubled the recipe and kept individual sized tupperwares of kitchari in fridge; which lasted me about 2 days; I made 3 double batches for 7 day detox)
1 c. basmati rice
1/2 c. whole mung beans (soaked in a bowl of water overnight)
4 c. purified water
2 T ghee
1 t. black mustard seed (I use brown, because I wasn’t able to find black)
1 t. cumin seed
2 pinches hing/asefetida (found in bulk spice section at co-op, or Indian grocery store)
1 t. fresh grated ginger (the easiest way to do this is to peel skin off with knife, then grate w/box cheese grater on finest setting)
1 stick kombu or wakame (dried seaweed type vegetable-helps beans cook moist-very green-y taste- I used it for cooking the dish, but often didn’t eat it, just threw the pieces away after cooking…)
1/2 t. sea salt *highly highly recommend a himalayan pink salt. It’s the “treat” of eating this for a week, with an extra sprinkle on top of the kitchari, or on an avocado)
1/2 t. turmeric
For Pitta imbalance (if you haven’t taken a dosha quiz, take it here… but everyone’s pitta will start to flare up by day 3 or 4, so I HIGHLY recommend these additions!)
1/2 t. dry fennel
sliced burdock root or 2 peeled and sliced carrots
1 1/2 c. fresh green beans (I used organic frozen beans when no fresh green beans were to be found)
1 small zuchini sliced
Drain beans. Chop veggies. Warm ghee in large deep pot over medium heat. Add mustard, cumin (and fennel) seeds and sautee 1-2 mins (until ghee is foamy). Stir in turmeric, mung beans and rice. Add water, asefetida, kombu, ginger and veggies. Bring to boil, then simmer on low heat, covered about 40 minutes, until beans and veggies are soft, and rice is broken down. Add more water if consistency gets too thick. )*Be careful not to burn it! It’s easy to walk away from the pot, and then 20 minutes later smell charred cumin seed!) Sometimes it thickens up in the refrigerator, so I just add a bit of water to it before I re-heat it.
CUMIN, FENNEL, CORIANDER TEA
1 qt. purified water
1 t. cumin, fennel, coriander
1/2 t. raw honey (opt.)
Bring water and herbs to boil. Then reduce to low and simmer 15 minutes.
Tea will last up to 4 days in refrigerator. (I made it in bulk and put it in empty peanut butter and spaghetti sauce jars in my fridge, that I could drink cold or heat up easily. Add a few slices of fresh ginger when making the tea for some extra zing!)
FRESH CORIANDER CHUTNEY
1 bu. cilantro
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. purified water
1/4 c. unsweetened, dry coconut
2 T. fresh grated ginger
1 t. raw honey
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. fresh ground pepper.
DIRECTIONS: Blend lemon juice, water and cilantro until herb is coarsely chopped. Add rest of ingredients and blend. Stores 1 week in fridge. For variety, it’s nice to cup up apples and/or avocadoes and mix with this chutney for a light refreshing crunchy snack.
POTASSIUM VEGETABLE BROTH
5-10 large potatoes, peeled and cubed *SAVE PEELS
8-12 carrots, peeled and sliced *SAVE PEELS
1 bu. celery, chopped
2 bu. leafy greens (collards are awesome, chard also worked, or kale, etc.)
12 c. purified water
Put veggies and peels in large soup pot, cover with water. Bring to boil. Then simmer, covered, on low, one hour.
Strain. Drink only broth. Save veggies to eat/puree for soap after cleanse. (*AMAZING how tasty these veggies were on Monday, as an end of detox treat!)
…There it is folks! Let me know if you have ANY questions! Happy healthy consuming!