Monday, January 23, 2012

The Cleanse

It's been quite some time since I ventured into the Hollisphere.  I have asked myself on many occassions what is compelling me to keep my distance.  On the one hand, I think I often doubt the relevance of my offerings - whether purging them from my mind and releasing them into cyberspace is in any way impactful or even appreciated.  I've also considered whether laying bare my soul is actually worthwhile and/or beneficial in the grand scheme of things.  I often find myself making silent apologies in my head - wishing I had held more tightly to the thoughts that escaped onto the page when I was at my most introspective or reckless.

But...despite all that, I find myself here again.  And, from what I can deduce at the present moment, there is no more appropriate place for me to be.  Thus, I bring you my account of my January cleanse which I intended to use as a jumpstart to a year of healthy living - a revival of my dedication to mastering my personal ultimate lifestyle.  I welcome your judgments as to whether it was successful.

I considered inacting a cleanse for some time before actually diving in.  2011 was a difficult year for many reasons, and I thought that perhaps a cleanse would act as a fitting symbol for the sort of purge I was trying to accomplish - emotional...spiritual...physical.  And, as I so very often do, I turned to the easily accessible, often unproven resources of the internet for guidance.  As the great Billy Joel once crooned, "I don't know why I go to extremes"...but I do.  I almost always do, so for me there was absolutely no other option but "The Master Cleanse". 

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with "The Master" as we'll call it, this particular cleanse involves an intense saltwater flush combined with a regiment of ingesting only liquid calories by way of a "lemonade" concocted of fresh lemon juice, real maple syrup and cayenne pepper.  It sounds disgusting, but it is actually delicious albeit very high in sugar which I really didn't understand seeing as how I thought I was trying to avoid sugar.....  Anyway, adhering to "The Master" meant performing the saltwater flush and drinking nigh unto 6-8 cups of the lemonade daily.  There is also an "easing-in" period of consuming only living foods followed by only juices for about three days.  Because I tend to believe myself to be invincible, I skipped that.  The phrase "ease-in" does not exist in my vocabulary.  The Piano Man and I have more than a few things in common....

Frightened of the explosive nature of the saltwater flush and keenly aware of my public persona, I chose to exercise a less aggressive elimination stimulant.  They make a tea which can be used for this purpose which is actually quite pleasant.  You can find it at any drugstore.  The name makes my giggle, so I won't share it here, but you'll know it when you see it. (Not that I am recommending this cleanse....keep reading)  Day 1 passed without incident, and because I am sometimes overly self-motivated, I was actually excited about the fact that I was not eating.  Day 2 was pretty much the same.  And, because I am every bit as competitive as I am dedicated, I decided to decrease my daily servings of "lemonade" to roughly 3 or 4 - about half of the recommended "dose".  Every hunger pain or stomach growl issued a pat on the back from my conscious mind, but somewhere way back in the recesses of my being, there was a disturbance. 

By Day 3, I was starting to falter.  I went for a massage at my favorite spa, and upon revealing my intentions to my masseuse, found my massage being down-graded to a less toxin expelling version.  Basically, she was forced to simply pet me for an hour.  And, I was freezing!  I was cold all the time - not just during my massage.  I was having flu-like chills on the regular...I have never worn so many layers of clothing at one time in my life - not even on ski trips.  I was beginning to think perhaps my plan was not such a good one, so I decided that on Day 4, I would allow myself a fist-sized portion of vegetables to try and defend myself against the effects of my choice.

When I awoke on Day 4, I was still freezing and felt strangely agitated.  It was a Friday, so I was thankful that I would be able to spend a little time resting after the work day.  I also began to notice a strange smell emanating from my skin.  It was reminiscent of freshly cut grass mixed with some kind of citrus fruit, enhanced by a hint of copper.  It was unnerving.  Despite my extra long shower and brushing my teeth a record four times that day, I could not shake the smell.  It was the new smell of "me", and I was going to have to either live with it or call it quits on the cleanse.  I chose the former, but I did do a little research on the oh-so-reliable internet and found that my body had gone into ketosis, and while the smell was all-encompassing for me, other folks were probably not noticing it.  I decided to stick to my plan for minimal vegetable consumption hoping that perhaps that would help to eliminate if not at least minimalize the odor, as it was not particularily pleasant.

That Friday evening, I ventured out to one of my favorite dining establishments called "Taco Bus" where I knew I would be able to order a simple dish of roasted butternut squash with avocado on top.  I spent a good half hour savoring my tiny portion, conversing with friends and shivering.  About 45 minutes into our visit, one of my friends began talking about a stone she had purchased at a New Age store across the street.  She said that the shopkeeper had delivered a blessing onto the stone, and while we could all look at it, we were not allowed to touch it.  She spoke about asking the stone to deliver its powers into her life.  I found the idea intriguing.  Another of my friends glanced across at the little shop and noted that there were psychic readings offered inside.  She made mention of this fact, to which I responded that psychic readings were often rather expensive and typically vague.  (I would have no real knowledge of this considering that I had never had one, but I read it on the internet, so it must be true.)  There was a phone number on the window, so my friend pulled out her phone and called to see how much a reading would cost.  It was surprisingly inexpensive.  She made mention of this to the group, and everyone nodded.

Quite suddenly, I did something extremely out of character which surprised me AND my cohorts.  I stood up and walked across the street.  I'm not sure why I did it - I just did.  It seemed to be the right thing to do, and I had an immediate inclination that constantly second-guessing my intuition was one of the many characteristics I needed to release.  I carried myself across the street with gusto, then found myself entering the shop rather tentatively...suddenly afraid of the choice I had made. 

I was greeted cheerfully by a kind gentlmen only a few years my senior named Chris.  He asked if he could help me, and I told him that I wanted to inquire about a psychic reading. 

"Nita is incredible," he told me.  "She's with another guest just now, but she'll be done in just a few minutes if you'd like to wait." 

I decided to do so.  In an effort to make small talk, I asked Chris if he had been the one to bless my friend's stone.  He smiled warmly and chuckled.

"That was me.  There are good things coming your friend's way," he said.  And, quite unexpectedly, I unquestioningly believed him. 

Chris and I continued to chat, and he asked me what I do to help curb stress.  I told him that I do yoga, but that I somehow find myself in a much more meditative space when I am running.  He nodded, and asked me to look over my shoulder.

"Does the sculpture to your left resonate with you?" he asked.

I looked to my left, and there was an ornate statue of an indian chief with one arm extended up to the heavens and the other held down to his side - almost ironically positioned in a yogic "warrior" pose.  I was suddenly choked up.  My cultural heritage is heavily centered among the Cherokee, but by looking at me, you might not know it.  I have a year-round tan but no other real specific native American physical traits.  A million thoughts passed through my mind in response to Chris' inquiry, but my reply was simply, "yes". 

He nodded, knowingly, but not condescendingly. 

"I'd like to play something for you," he said, and bent over his computer.  He summoned a YouTube channel where a young man sat stocially pounding out a simple but powerful rhythm on a single drum.  I felt my breath catch in my chest as I listened.  Standing there in the middle of that shop, my mind began to narrow to a singular focus.  There was nothing but the sound of the drum.  The rest of the world was silent.  The other customer who was still behind me perusing a wall of books had ceased to exist.  In an effort not to sound too dramatic, the moment was somewhat existential.

Chris pushed pause on the computer, and I shook my head some to relocate my connection with my body.  I was standing in a New Age shop in downtown St. Pete waiting to receive a psychic reading.  Even my reality seemed too surreal, so I decided to give in to it.  Perhaps Chris sensed this.  Chris seemed to sense quite a lot.

He proceeded to tell me a story about an encounter he had had with a deeply spiritual woman a year or so earlier.  In an effort to convey a story to her on the sidewalk outside his shop, he recounted diminishing and even "dumbing down" his rhetoric to protect himself from judgement by the woman.  As he was speaking, the woman stopped him mid-sentence and said, "Chris.  Stopping taking the Eagle out of your words."  Trying to simplify the story for the woman had removed Chris' full honesty and passion for the words he was expressing, and the woman recognized it. 

"And, you don't have to be a spiritualist to notice that," he told me.  I nodded.  I knew exactly what he was saying.  If we all think back on conversations we've had with friends, colleagues, family members and even strangers...there is an innate human ability to know when the full spirit of a story or piece of dialogue is missing. 

Chris looked at me warmly but with genuine concern.

"You're a healer, Holley.  It's your gift.  But, you won't be able to do your job if you take away the Eagle."

I was speechless, but the moment allowed for my retreat into dumb silence because Nita walked out from her office with her previous client, and Chris' attention shifted.  I waited, still mute, while Nita grounded herself and purged her space of the last visitor's energy.  Even after my strange but enlightening encounter with Chris, I was still a little nervous about spending time with Nita.  She seemed normal enough - diminutive and brunette, she wasn't wearing a turban or carrying a crystal ball.  She wasn't draped in scarves or painted with henna.  She looked like any other St. Pete gal who might work at a coffee shop or as a graphic designer at an artsy ad agency.  She

I entered Nita's little office and sat opposite her in a wooden chair with a small table between us. The table was adorned with a series of decks of cards all stacked off to the side.  The middle of the table was empty and covered with a velvet cloth.  Nita instructed me to place my palms on hers, and she closed her eyes and breathed.  She told me that I was getting a new car with a circular emblem like a BMW, but not...she didn't reconize it because she was not familiar with the logo.  I received my long awaited Fiat that week.  There was no way she could have known that.  She proceeded to tell me other small details about my life...and then greater ones...all information I choose still to protect because it belongs to me and me only.  She never instructed - she only provided insight.  She new I had come to her in confusion with need of guidance, and in a weakened physical state, but she refused to offer counsel...only insight. 

About ten minutes into our encounter, she asked me, "Why am I being so drawn to the area of your stomach?  There is so much confusion there."

I told her I was in the midst of a cleanse.  She nodded.  Then...

"But, that's not the type of cleanse you need...."


"But, you already know that." 

My eyes misted over and I nodded.  She told me that I spend too much time churning over information, perceptions, ideas, experiences...creating a horrible blockage in my mind and spirit.  What I needed to purge was not in my digestive system.  It was in my heart. 

All I could do was nod. 

We chatted some after that about more specific areas where I had questions, and then our time was up.  I left the little office with Nita following behind me, and my friends told me I was as white as a sheet.  Before the reading, I had promised myself that I would not take it at face value - that I would mull it over some before I made any conclusions about what I had experienced.  But, then I realized that mulling things over was exactly what I had just been warned against.  And, so I let that inclination pass and thanked my angels for allowing me a moment of clarity with a kind woman who could have just as easily been a very perceptive barista.

The next day, I gave up "The Master" which I admitted to myself had basically been a fast.  I allowed myself to recognize my true motivations for the physical torture I had undertaken then promptly forgave myself and resolved to stop judging my actions and decisions at every turn.  Besides, while my destructive cleanse might have been just the end, it yielded a series of events and encounters that brought me to the true cleanse I needed...and still pursue.  Life is so often that way.  What looks like a mistake one day, often brings about transformation days or weeks or months later.  There is an ebb and flow to this existence, and we are very simple beings trying to navigate a very expansive experience. 

Such was my run-in with "The Master" - much different that Beyonce's was, I am quite sure.  Now that you've ingested my story, without the removal of the Eagle - I can assure you-...touch it...breathe with it....and let it pass along, as Nita would say.  I refuse to be a contributor to YOUR personal spiritual blockage.

And, because you may have been wondering....I no longer smell weird.  So, that's good.

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