Week One – Detoxifying Foods

Nearly a week into the Consciousness Cleanse, I find that I am – as one of my favorite authors, the esteemed Dr. Seuss, would say – un-slumping myself (which is not easily done).  This morning I awoke with a bit of natural pep in my step and the notable absence of groggy-I-need-coffee-fog.

I’ve been detoxing.  That’s all there is to it.  Abruptly quitting caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar, and dairy has been a bit of a shock to my already sleep deprived (read:  11-month old baby mama) body.  It’s tough to pinpoint the major culprit of the sluggishness, headaches, and general fog I’ve been experiencing for the past week, but I’m glad it is (or they are) leaving my system!

In the past six days, I’ve done more than a simple elimination diet.  I’ve also worked to bring myself back into a place of meal planning and cooking whole foods from scratch.  Cooking calms me, brings forth my creativity, sustains my soul, and satisfies my need to nurture.  I realize it’s not the same for everyone, and consider myself blessed to gain so much enjoyment from something so simple.

Googling “detoxifying foods” led to the inspiration for a week’s worth of meal planning.  Before I went to the grocery store, I wrote “Meals” on the left side of a notebook page and mapped out each dinner for a week.  On the right side, I wrote “Groceries” and listed the ingredients I would need to purchase for the corresponding meals.  I’ll admit that I am not great at breakfast and lunch, favoring an all-day snackathon, but this week I made an effort to notice what I ate and drank.

First, I made a huge batch of my special Bush Tea.  It’s a recipe I fell in love with while living on St. Croix, USVI, mainly because of its amazing capacity to heal and prevent sicknesses up to and including hangovers.  The recipe I use is one part each ginger, Tulsi (holy basil), and lemongrass.  Turns out, lemongrass is a hugely detoxifying herb!  This time, I added some nettles for extra nutrition.  I steeped it in freshly boiled water all day while I went to the beach and then dumped it into a half-gallon glass maple syrup jug that had about a tablespoon of the sweet stuff left in the bottom.  All week long, I’ve had a glass or two over ice when I’ve felt myself dragging; this has satisfied my urge for an evening “grown-up drink” and curbed my cravings for sweets!

Most mornings, I eat two slices of vegan whole grain bread (I like Eureka! brand) with Teddy’s all-natural peanut butter and about a teaspoon of local, raw honey spread over the top.  I’ve also been eating organic fruit:  raspberries, strawberries, plums, and melon.  This is paired with a quart-sized mason jar full of water, my whole-food prenatal vitamins (because I’m still breastfeeding), and a one-ounce shot of E3 Live blue-green algae.

For lunch, I typically eat handfuls of nuts – pistachios are my current obsession but I also eat tamari-seasoned almonds and cashews – and/or seeds like sunflower or pumpkin, plus more fruit like plums, grapes, or apples.  Lately, I’ve also been eating peanut butter & (local) jelly sandwiches.  Sometimes, I also snack on my famous “Rasta Pop,” organic non-GMO corn chips, wasabi peas, dried plantains, a salad, and/or leftovers from a previous night’s dinner.  This is all paired with more and more water from my ever-handy mason jar! I drink at least 80 ounces of water each day.

Dinners this week included:

Tuesday’s leftover spicy lentil marinara over organic pasta with a huge spinach salad (chopped bell peppers and red onions over raw organic baby spinach tossed with sunflower seeds and homemade quick dressing of apple cider vinegar, Bragg liquid aminos, and cold-pressed organic olive oil);

Wednesday’s sesame stir fry over wild rice (veggies like summer squash, broccoli, onion, garlic, fresh ginger root, carrot, and wild mushrooms pan-fried in organic 100% sesame oil, aminos, sea salt, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and black pepper and topped with chopped tamari almonds);

Thursday’s crock-pot chili (2 lbs of dried mixed beans from a local farm, lentils, bell peppers, organic tomato paste, garlic, onions, carrot, and tons of organic spices) with local vegan farmer’s market bread;

Friday’s burrito bowls with leftover chili & wild rice plus fresh spinach, homemade guacamole (avos, cilantro, onion, bell pepper, sea salt, olive oil, and lime), and fajita veggies (sauteed bell peppers & onions);

Saturday’s grilled sweet potatoes, grilled stuffed portabellas (stuffed with Annie’s organic refried black beans, chipotle powder, & Hungarian paprika), grilled cauliflower (spiced with onion powder, chili powder, Himalayan pink salt, and pepper), and raw kale salad (baby kale with coconut oil, tahini, sesame oil, curry powder, honey, apple cider vinegar, & aminos dressing plus sliced red onion, orange bell pepper, and sunflower seeds); and

Sunday’s lazy dinner of grilled vegan sausages with peppers & onions on vegan buns with non-GMO kettle salt & pepper chips.

Tonight, I have yoga teacher training so will be bringing a PB&J sandwich, nuts, fruit, and water and leaving husband to make himself a farmer’s market tomato sandwich with nuts & fruit.

Whew! So that’s food.

In addition to preparing and eating whole-food meals, I’ve been hugely limiting my screen time.  I plan to do a whole post about how mortified I was when I realized just how many hours – yes, HOURS – I regularly spent on my phone, so here I will simply say that I’ve drastically cut it.  And as a result I’ve been a lot more mindful and present with my family! I also attended an amazing didgeridoo journey meditation on Thursday night (hence the need for a crock-pot meal) which I hope to detail in a later post as well.

So far, so good.  My body is making its way out of the detox slump-sluggish-ick feeling and is well on its way to feeling invigorated, energized, and clean!

Quiets the Voice of God

Though I attempted to suppress it, I could never forget the epiphany that dawned with my first terrible hangover.  I was around 16 years old and had spent the previous night drinking heavily with my best friend, her older brother, and his buddies.  My friend and I were deeply religious self-proclaimed “Jesus Freaks,” and though I walk an alternate spiritual path today, I still warmly recall many of the Jesus-teachings I so valued.

Yes, I realize now and did even then that binge-drinking with older dudes in a hot tub was in direct conflict with my values.  But, hey:  forgiveness, right?

Anyway, back to the morning after this debacle.  I woke with a splitting headache, waves of nausea, and deep-seated guilt.  As I walked to work sweating from heat and hangover, I replayed the events of the night in my mind.  I had crossed lines of morality that I won’t delve into here other than to say they were HARD NOs to sober-me.

How could “Drunk Me” be so different than . . . ME? I pondered the question with a heavy heart and dawning understanding of how my, then already-deceased, lifelong-alcoholic-mother may have gotten so out of control.

I began the replay reel of the night at my first drink, and remembered (quite as suddenly as if it was a clear glass door I was slamming into) a ringing thought I had a few sips in, once the buzz began:

“Alcohol quiets the voice of God!”

I remembered thinking this and looking around at the small party, weighing my options.  Stop now and miss out on the forbidden, naughty fun, or power through the initial guilt? I put the thought out of my head and gulped the drink.

Now, nearly 15 years later, that thought has crept back into my psyche and will not be ignored.  I am a mother this time.  I no longer binge-drink, and haven’t done so for at least the two years it’s been since my life changed with that pink + on the pee stick.  But I do enjoy a little wine nearly every night.

“Alcohol quiets the voice of God.”

I’m not a Christian, but I am a spiritual person with a deep – deepening – connection to what I now call the Universe, or sometimes Goddess, magic, energy, or even on occasion simply “god.”  I can no longer rely on forgiveness alone to wipe away my sins.  Instead, I focus on creating the crops I wish to harvest:  kindness, love, compassion, honesty, joy, abundance, freedom, and peace.

My Consciousness Cleanse is all about discovering my most authentic place of personal power; I am embracing my higher self – the creator who lives in me and in each one of us.  I intend to see a drastic, exponential increase in my ability to manifest, intuit, and connect.

I want to turn up the sounds of the Universe! What will I hear without anything getting in the way? How clear will my intuition become? What deeper truths and understanding will I discover? What will manifest when I can clearly, unabashedly, directly communicate with Creative Force?

I don’t know.  But – goddess damn it – this time I plan to hear it loud and clear!

Consciousness Cleanse

In order to purify and elevate my consciousness, equipping me to journey more deeply inside myself, I am about to embark on

49 days – 7 weeks – of:

absolutely no
Processed Sugar, or

vastly limited screen time,

a whole lot of

Nature, and

Whole foods and
Blue-green algae.

As I progress through the Cleanse, I will write about specific aspects and the motivating causes for removing, limiting, or adding them.

In this post, I will simply summarize my overall intention with what I have invented and dubbed the “Consciousness Cleanse.”  49 days feels complete to me, and I am privy to the knowledge that it can take the body up to 30 days to rid itself of the effects of caffeine, alcohol, and/or dairy under normal circumstances.  I will be expediting the detoxification process with foods, juices, algae, and intentional energetic exercises – but without lab tests and fancy science, who can be sure?

The Cleanse serves many purposes.  I’m already a GMO-hating vegetarian yogi conspiracy theorist who lives in a small town and doesn’t have a microwave or TV.  So though this may sound extreme, to me it simply feels like the next step.

First, I want to eliminate all substances that affect my clarity of consciousness, either directly by “quieting the voice of god,” or indirectly by either distracting me or weighing me down.  Caffeine, for instance, gives me a fake and fleeting feeling of high-energy creative power; I wish to experience my internal fountain of youth rather than supplementing it with (delicious, heavenly, beloved) coffee.

Second, I want to give my body and mind everything needed to naturally thrive.  This human body is carrying a gigantic spirit made up of the same pure potentiality that exists in the entire Universe.  (I’m not being vain.  Your body also carries a gargantuan spiritual Self!) Such spirit may benefit from a finely-tuned earthly vehicle.

Third, I want to connect more deeply than I ever have before.  Connection with self, family, earth, humanity, and Spirit is possible.  Though I have some sense of the depth and breadth of such potential, I am desperately curious and soul-thirsty for a deeper experience.

My expectations on the physical plane include:  more energy/less fatigue, greater ability to focus my mind, bodily vitality (better overall health), balanced mood, healthier-looking skin/hair/nails, reduced post-baby stretch marks, tighter tummy, greater strength, better sex drive, less stress, more laughter, and the experience of flow in everyday activities.  This isn’t to say I feel an utter lack of these positives now, as I am a pretty healthy person; but I suspect I’ll notice these and many other benefits throughout the 49 days.

On a higher plane, I hope to experience:  bursts of genuine creativity, feelings of ecstatic joy, exponentially increased ability to manifest, greater intuition, a returned sense of energy-flow, discovery of dharma, and universal love.

These are lofty goals, indeed.  Drastic times call for drastic measures, though, and I am on a journey to the center of my soul.

7 Ways to (Actually) Send Light & Love

Times like these inspire movement in the core of our being.  Stillness is no longer an option; even if we are “frozen in the headlights,” our hearts keep a frantic beat.  Evidence of souls and societies thrashing through the raging current is posted everywhere we look.  Motion – movement – the urgent need to DO SOMETHING – becomes as pervasive as the despairing news fueling it.

In our effort to console each other, we offer our empathy and sympathy.  We throw it into the tide immediately, with simultaneous abandon and authority, as though our words are actually hands outstretched:  a glass of water for the thirsty.

“I’m sending light & love!”

We feel hollow, maybe even desperate, somewhere deep within our bodies.  Static may fill our minds, or we may see red – if we can see through the tears at all.  My throat feels hot and my eyes want to dart anxiously, fluttering beneath a heavy forehead.  That is how I feel.

So – am I really sending light? Am I sending love?

Am I sending anything at all?

From my personal place of pain and confusion, I have refrained from offering condolences, compassion, or empathy.  My FaceBook status stayed static as I lurked around reading people’s opinions and reactions:  a lot of pain, anger, and confusion along with many simple, heartfelt declarations of “light and love” or synonyms.

But – here’s the thing:  light & love are the opposite of pain & anger.  Dr. Martin Luther King explains it in his widely-circulated quotation:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

So, how do we DO this? How do we actually begin to drive out darkness, to love-out hate?

Here are 7 ways I’ve found to (actually) send light and love.  These can be done individually or with others.  Keep in mind that magic happens when imagination becomes focused intention, and its power magnifies exponentially when multiplied by two or more people.

For those who want a quick-read, I’ll simply list the 7 techniques first and go into more detail about each, including ways to modify them for a group setting, later.

  1.  Create and send a ball of light energy.
  1.  Practice “Compassion Meditation” aka Loving-Kindness Meditation
  1.  Use the power of creative visualization.
  1.  Pray; call in angels, guides, and/or deity.
  1.  Send smoke signals.
  1.  Make art, not war.
  1.  Om.

Read on for more detail and guided exercises so that you can (actually) send light & love!

Read More

Finding My Drishti

I once believed that a “drishti” was an imaginary spot on the horizon – or, in an indoor studio, on the wall – that I should pick at random and look at with utmost ferocity so as not to fall out of complicated balance poses.  Like Dancer, that gorgeous silhouette where I hold my leg upward, curving behind me, with one foot planted on the ground as my other hand stretches out toward … well, my drishti.

Since the first time I practiced yoga, in a Caribbean studio above Lalita Juice Bar, I knew that my mat would be my way home.  That warm, sunshiney, salt-breeze and banana tree –scented evening was the first time I met Jonathan (later, simply “Jona”), the first time I learned to move with my breath, and the beginning of an intentionally-lived life.  I ate a pork chop after practice, much to Jonathan’s shock and horror, and knew I’d be a yogi through the end of my days.

Heartbreaks, mistakes, accomplishments, travels, journeys, love-death-life . . . a journey began on that island, and took me off of it.  My demons nearly swallowed my whole.  I conquered them.  New ones sprang up to take their place.  I named them.  Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve tamed them.

Now, seven years later, I am taking my next big yoga “hop-or-step forward.”  So much has changed.  I don’t eat pork chops anymore, for one thing.  Jona, my dear friend, mentor, and Guide, has moved on to a nonphysical plane.  Instead of sunshiney, open-air studios, I often practice in my own living room as snow falls outside during the long New Hampshire winter.  And my eleven-month-old baby Jasper slobbers, crawls, and yanks on my mat as I breathe into my poses.

On my first night of yoga teacher training, I learned that a drishti is actually an energetic, internal focal point.  And it’s a specific point.  (Technically, there are 9 drishti, but I won’t get into that here.)  Sure, it helps with balance.  And, in the beginning stages of developing a yoga practice, it may well be an “imaginary dot on the wall.”  But really, it is so – SO MUCH – more than that.

Maureen, my yoga-teacher teacher, described finding drishti as “turning your focus inward,” and explained that it’s sort of the same as, or happens during that moment, of BE-ing the pose, rather than doing the pose.  When she got into a beautiful Tree – you know, the one where one leg makes a triangle on the other leg and both hands stretch toward the sky – I could feel-see the threads of energy waving around her, shimmering almost, and then they straightened out, taut, vibrating with prana – life force – as she became the pose, for an instant.

My hands heated up, responding to her energy.  All of us felt something in that room.  One of my fellow yogis, in awe of the transformation that had already begun, exclaimed, “I can’t wait to meet myself in December!”  Another described her intention to transform grief into light so that she may “become a beacon for others.”

Magic happens when imagination becomes focused intention, and its power magnifies exponentially when multiplied by two or more people.  There are fourteen women starting on this journey with me.  That’s a lot of magic.

Drishti isn’t random.  It isn’t a desperate, ferocious frown-stare into an imaginary “don’t fall dot.”  It’s intention, focused, on purpose, to become that which we were always meant to be.  It’s taking that hop-or-step forward, to the front of my mat, and riding the wave of my very own breath as I surrender to those threads of power, confident that their shimmery delicacy is weaving the tapestry of my life.  And this time, I am the weaver.  I am the thread.  I am the breath.  I am the Dancer.