For me, I am consciously seeing many sign posts in my life right now. They tell me when to go, when to stay and which path to follow. The paths lead me to people who give me information, answers, more sign posts or lead me to other people to provide the same. And it all happens easily and with grace, like floating down a river from one town to the next.
So it is through synchronicity that I found myself heading to The Sanctuary at Koh Phangan for a seven day fast and detox program. Fasting and detoxing is not something I have ever considered before. I enjoy eating and drinking and I would normally give this up for one day, yet alone seven days. But the seed that was planted said detox. Once I got over my surprise and sat with this seed as it started to sprout and grow, I knew detox was the right thing to do at this point in my journey. So I went. And it wasn’t long into my detox that all the signs appeared to show me I was in the right place at the right time of my life.
Koh Phangan is a tropical paradise in the Gulf of Thailand. It is a 45 minute ferry ride from Koh Samui but a world away, depending on where you stay. Koh Phangan is famous for it’s full moon parties when thousands party-goers converge on the beach of Haad Rin and intoxicate themselves with various substances and dance like crazy in celebration of the full moon. Obviously, Haad Rin and Full Moon Party was not my destination. However, The Sanctuary located at Haad Tien Bay just two beaches around the corner was.
As it’s name entails, The Sanctuary really is a sanctuary. From the moment you arrive you can sense the nurturing nature of this resort. Whilst it has a Wellness Centre that caters for fasters and detoxers like me, the resort also caters for everyone else with an alternative bent, unless you are a meat eater. The restaurant is purely vegetarian and seafood only but it still serves alcohol for those who wish to partake of a beverage or two. The resort offers yoga , pilates, meditation, different workshops by visiting teachers and holistic healing. This is somewhere I would definitely come back and stay even if I wasn’t detoxing. It attracts a group of like-minded, friendly people and not your usual young back-packing party goer. And Koh Phangan is beautiful. A dense tropical jungle surrounded by clear blue seas with its own rhythm and orchestra especially at night after the rain when the frogs and the cicadas turn up the volume, and I mean really turn up the volume. They were loud. But I digress from fasting…
Fasting is an ancient ritual. It is said that by eliminating solid food from one’s diet in conjunction with colon cleansing enables the body to eliminate toxins, excess weight, parasites and mucoid plaque. During the fast, you only consume liquids including psyllium husk and bentonite clay shakes five times per day, fresh juice (carrot, apple, watermelon and coconut only), a special broth to replace electrolytes and take herbal supplements five times per day. Despite the lack of food, you will rarely find yourself hungry. The shakes become quite gluggy after ten minutes making you feel quite full.
I, surprisingly, found that I didn’t miss eating. I didn’t crave food in the usual longing way although I really missed eating fresh, juicy, ripe mango. And I really didn’t think about food that much except when we were talking about it at “dinner” which comprised a very garlicky, watery, green broth that we flavoured with lime juice and chili.
My day was filled with activities that I looked forward to more than eating, including yoga, massage treatments, herbal steaming, meditation, swimming, and reading. I am now addicted to yoga and thanks to the generosity of a friend, I have my own yoga mat and instructional CD's to take with me on my travels so I can maintain a regular practice. I am also a convert to Osho dynamic meditations, specifically designed for the active Western mind. I have shaken my body around like a crazy person, danced uncontrollably, spoken gibberish, candle-gazed, opened my arms to and from existence all in aid of quietening my mind. These meditations were so much fun that I am considering a visit to an Osho ashram when I make it to India. But best of all, was hanging out with some really beautiful women and fellow detoxers, drinking ginger tea and chatting about food, detoxing, life, adventures and which path to take next.
As the days of my fast progressed, I found that I felt lighter. Yes I lost weight as a result of the fast but that’s not the type of lightness I am referring to. It was almost as if the emptiness of my stomach and intestines allowed my energy to flow in a way that it has never flowed within me before. My inner being felt much lighter but stronger, calm and at peace. Sometimes my physical energy was low and at other times it was high but towards the end my body started giving me the signs it was ready to start eating again. By night-time of day six and seven, my physical energy levels were so low I felt almost comatose and I knew it was time to eat.
I am now at day four of post detox and I am slowly reintroducing different food groups to my diet and watching how my body reacts to the different types and combinations of foods. So far my body feels best when I eat fruit (one type at a time) and simple salads. It doesn’t appear to be a fan of flour or fancy salads with spicy or coconut dressings. I have not yet had coffee, sugar, chocolate, alcohol or ice-cream, my old indulgences, although the temptation is there to slip back into old habits.
I knew the temptation would be there once I left The Sanctuary, so I had my blood analysed at the end of my detox and before I left. Even after seven days, there was still significant evidence of toxins in my red blood cells as well as yeast markers (say goodbye to coffee and chocolate), signs that my body is not absorbing protein properly and significant numbers of odd shaped red blood cells the cause of which was not identifiable. So although I feel fit and healthy, my blood is telling a different story and providing the motivation to make some changes to my diet. I now realise I need to consciously choose to consume only those foods that I know have nutritional content but also in a combination that suits my body.
The ten days I spent at The Sanctuary were pure magic and I loved every moment of it from the fast itself to the yoga and meditation and the beautiful friends I made. And if the opportunity arises or if I can make it happen, I will return and complete another fast and detox. But for now, I am finally ready to start moving around and leave Phuket, my home of just under three months. I have loved my time here and all the shades and contrasts that she offers, but the sign-posts are pointing south-east…Malaysia here I come.
My 7am shake kit
My 7am shake :(
Moonlight over Haad Tien Bay (night prior to full-moon)