I have been leading Detox Yoga Retreats for 15 years, and there is far more to detoxing than clearing your physical body and looking brighter and “better.” We are energy beings, and therefore our past experiences (and our attachment and association to them) affect how our bodies look and feel today. Yet, just like those pesky physical toxins, past unprocessed experiences learn to hide from our conscious mind while contributing to subconscious patterns that include altered opinions, perspectives and even what we attract in to our lives.
No-food detoxes can often set you up for more complications.
One of the biggest reasons that I do not recommend complete no-food detoxes (I always blend some whole fruits or vegetables into at each juice offering) is that they can often 1) shock a system abruptly to function in an opposing manner to natural health. If your body thinks that it is “starving,” it will hold onto it’s reserves more intensely, countering your probable intention of moving your metabolism faster. The detox process should be an act of self-care, not one that’s rife with feelings of deprivation and struggle. 2) There are often hidden, intense emotions waiting to be released and processed in a conscious and healthy way. Essentially, this means getting a deeper understanding of our feelings, why we are feeling that way, and what to do with these feelings to move on in a more present, wiser state of being.
Another key point to note is that not only are we energetic beings, we are all connected energetically. Therefore, we all have an effect on the collective whole. When we begin taking control over our own states, we begin to empower ourselves. If we use this consciousness with a positive alignment with the greater Truth Consciousness (Nature), we begin the “detox” process of not only ourselves, but those we are energetically connected to (which is everyone). We may work through life times of cleansing and processing, and a lesser seen benefit is that we are detoxing the world around us. We become the change.
I am doing a series of seven Detox Yoga Retreats until March, 2015. Personally, I am elated at the opportunity that has unfolded for me. Not only am I detoxing with my groups, I am adding the powerful element of service to my work, and besides bringing me great joy – it magnifies the detox experience in a more positive way.
When I first started these Retreats 15 years ago, I called them Goddess Retreats. They were women-only, spiritually charged yoga and juice cleansing weekends filled with pure magic. The second or third group that I had coined the term “Goddess Gazette” after our post-cleanse trail of “synchronicities” that we would share with each other, which were basically the natural magic that unfolded after a weekend of clearing and “centering.”
In my book, As I Am, I discuss Mirror Theory™, which is a literal mirror awareness interpretation of one’s perceiving reality. My favorite quote by Henry David Thoreau defines this best: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.” As we start to increase our awareness of what we are projecting and assessing, we begin to understand our psychological blueprint with greater detail. It is when we are fully aware of our programming that we can begin to make desired changes.
Last month (September) was my first of seven Retreats in this series. When I left the retreat, my focus was drawn intensely to a news event – the Hannah Graham disappearance in Charlottesville, VA. I was deeply devastated and followed the news throughout the day. Mirror Theory™ had initiated, but it wasn’t until a couple days after that I started to unify the “detox effect” with my interest in this missing persons case.
When I was in college – my sophomore year – I found my roommate raped and horrifically beaten near death. I was unable to process that experience even while it was happening. I had called the paramedics, thinking that my “roommate had choked on her vomit,” but it wasn’t until I was walking behind the arriving paramedics that the picture became more clear. The paramedics literally stepped back when entering my roommate’s bedroom. One of them said, “Jesus, look at all of this blood.” At that very moment, the room that I had spent the last 30 minutes in, colored red. I had not seen the blood before, probably because I was unable to process it, and properly function to get help. I often think of that moment, and wonder what other people see – because we aren’t all perceiving the same things in the same way.
Without going in to major details, I spun into a fury of anxiety at that time in my life. My nickname in college became “Holmes,” because I was determined to figure out who had done this to my roommate. I couldn’t sleep, because every time I closed my eyes, I saw him waiting for me when I climbed through the bathroom window that night, since my roommate wasn’t answering the door to let me in. Or I felt him looking over me when I woke up abruptly to hear the front door shut shortly afterwards – when none of my other roommates came home that night. The anxiety protected me from these difficult to process emotions, but they were running a program in my life for the last 20 years that I was not conscious of, until last month.
I saw the suspect in the Hannah Graham case, Jesse Matthew. He looked similar to the perpetrator who was eventually convicted in my roommate’s case. For a week after the September Detox Yoga Retreat, I was flooded with memories of what happened the night I found my roommate. Instead of letting these memories ignite fear, anxiety (as they had in the past), or seek to find a similar experience to solve (hoping to eradicate the source experience with a surrogate one), I researched transcripts from the trial, and basically gave myself permission to consciously understand what had happened so long ago, realize how it was affecting my life today, and choose how to process and apply the experience.
How Emotions Work
There have been debates in many disciplines for centuries about how emotions work. Some new work has attempted to synthesize all of these understandings (Gross & Thompson, 2007), and basically it goes like this:
1) We have contact with a stimulus (an event, object, situation, sensation, or thought).
2) We pay attention to this stimulus.
3) We have an interpretation of the stimulus.
4) We have an emotional/physiological reaction to the stimulus.
If #2 is missed, the experience will lodge in our somatic body, waiting for a time for us to deal with it, and we risk a great chance of spinning an unprocessed program on our hard-drive until that occurs. I trust that you can imagine how this could slow down the operating system as a whole, as well as efficient and reality-based functioning. When we are in a “fight or flight” mode, we are not taking time to process deeper emotions. By taking a weekend to detox, you inevitably initiate a greater self-awareness process, as well as aligning with a greater power of Truth. I have seen phenomenal, unexpected occurrences happen after a weekend detox, and 100% of the time, participants have stated that it was “perfectly what I did not know that I needed.”
I have made peace as best that I can with what happened during my sophomore year at college, in hopes to be a more present, powerful person using all of my experiences to increase awareness of a greater good. There is certainly plenty of ignorance in our world, but allowing ourselves to be negatively affected by it only increases it’s power. I am deeply saddened for all victims of assault and violence, and I pray for a more positive and conscious world. My clothing brand, AZIAM, manufactures ‘Wife Lover’ Tanks, and I take great pride in the fact that every purchase of a Wife Lover benefits a victim of a wife beater, as 20% of each sale is donated to The Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization committed to aiding victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
I am looking forward to see what unfolds during the next Retreats – I will keep you posted!