Expectation versus intention.
This was my biggest takeaway during my 9-day fast in Thailand.
I went into the cleanse with what I thought was an intention, but I realized about halfway through that it was actually an expectation.
One that wasn’t lived up to- causing frustration, angst, and disappointment in its wake.
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t extremely tough to sit with such emotions in the middle of a very physically intense fasting experience- because it was.
But it was also exactly what I needed in order to fine-tune my awareness of the difference between entering into something with an intention, rather than with an expectation.
Let me be more specific:
I thought that my detox would evoke a sense of clarity both mentally and physically.
I went into it anticipating the desire to WANT to be disconnected from the outside world- whether it was social media, or just simply text messages between friends and family- I assumed that I would relish in my introspection.
Why did I think all of this?
Well, based on previous extended fasts I’d recently done (one was 4 days, and one was 3 days), this was exactly how I felt.
I would be buzzing with this really pure, clean energy that inspired new ideas for growth (both business and personal).
And in that time, I wasn’t interested in what felt like the pettiness of social media- or the small talk chatter of random texts.
It was like being on this other plane of consciousness that only craved really soul stirring connection.
So, I figured if I felt this day after only 3 or 4 days- then I was FOR SURE going to be on another level after 10 days.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was going to be difficult.
However, I still had this vision in my head that although it would be tough- I’d still be in this overall blissful state of total creative abundance.
Boy, was a I wrong.
You’ll find out soon why that just simply didn’t happen.
But before I go into a recap of my day-today, I just wanted to circle back to my initial point of differentiating expectation versus intention.
Do you see how the lines can easily blurred there?
I really believed I was entering in with the INTENTION of clarity and inspiration, but I was actually going into it EXPECTING to feel that was a result of what I was about to experience.
I had attachment to those beliefs.
So, when my mind and my body didn’t act according to those attachments- I was really disappointed in myself.
Luckily, I was able to catch myself in this process before falling too far down the rabbit hole.
Once it became clear to me the difference between the two- I was able to acknowledge when I was acting and/or reacting from a place for intention or expectation.
I was also able to get clear about what my intention for the fast ACTUALLY was.
This became really useful for me to lean into when the going got rough.
Because even in those moments, hours, and DAYS of pain- I was able to look at the pain as a source of healing.
It gave the entire experience more meaning, rather than it simply being something that I suffered through for.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the details of the fast itself.
Where it was, the approach, and what my day to day looked like.
After a lot of research, I did my fast at The Spa in Koh Chang, Thailand.
I paid full price for this experience, this is not sponsored AT ALL.
In fact, I wouldn’t even necessarily recommend this place.
However, rather than leaving a full review of the resort here, I’ll just share my review on TripAdvisor in case you want to learn more about the place itself.
Other fasts that I’ve done have been with only water, coconut water, or juice.
I’ve never coupled a water fast with any other detox methods before this.
This was an AGGRESSIVE approach to detox.
We drank Benzonite Clay and Psyllium Husk with lemon water 5 times a day, every 3 hours (from 7 am to 7 pm).
This particular combination is a detoxification drink in and of itself- helping to actually PULL toxins out of you.
An hour and a half after the drinks, we’d take 2 different kinds of supplements.
3 Liver Booster tablets that contain: Garlic, Reishi, Cinnamon, Laurel Clockvine, Goji Berry, and Phyllanthus amarus.
3 Colon Cleanser tablets that contain: Turmeric, India Gooseberry, Cherbulic Myrobalans, Senna Alexandrina, Ginger and Cumin.
1 shot of Grape Seed and Milk Thistle in liquid form.
In the evenings before bed, we’d take a probiotic to help rebuild the flora in our intestines.
In addition to all this, we had self-administered colonic treatments twice a day.
The morning would be coffee and water (17 L).
And the afternoon would be garlic and water (17 L).
Again, these is a detoxification method all on it’s own.
Coupling it with the drinks, and with the fast was brutal- but also very effective.
The package I got also included a green drink every day (which I didn’t take), and also a special Thai stomach massage daily.
The massage really helped soothe my stomach in between colonic treatments, and kept things flowing well.
You can also have a clear mineral broth twice a day if you need, as well as coconut water as needed.
I had the mineral broth once (I’ll share below), and it definitely helped bring me back to life.
However, I wanted to stick to water as closely as I could for the duration.
Every morning would start at 7 am, where we’d be weighed and our blood pressure was checked.
My focus was NOT to lose weight.
This was used more as a way to monitor general health.
It’s really important to prepare your body AND your mind before you embark on an extended detox.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t.
But, your body will probably have a more violent reaction to the detoxification process once it starts.
Although I already eat pretty clean, I really tightened the reigns on my diet to really only eat whole foods.
I cut out ALL processed food and ALL refined sugar.
I’m already caffeine-free, but if you’re not- then this would be a big one to cut back on so you don’t get withdrawals.
I was also a lot more diligent about my intermittent fasting, and even did several mini-fasts in preparation.
The three days prior to the cleanse, they recommend to eat all raw.
Since I was already at the resort, I essentially just had papaya salad multiple times a day (they used apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and cayenne pepper in leui of fish sauce and sugar) and fruit.
On the last day, I decided just to juice as this always helps me enter a water fast more smoothly.
That meant that my Day 1 of the fast really was my second day without solid food.
Below, I’ll give you a short breakdown of my days, just so you can have a little insight into the rollercoaster of emotions and energy that came and went.
The first day tends to be the most uncomfortable, as your body is getting used to not eating. I find that it’s when I feel the MOST hungry, which is more out of habit than necessity.
Again, this was actually my second day without solid food, so I was actually surprisingly okay.
I definitely felt hungry, but I took it really easy the entire day in a conscious effort to conserve my energy.
I went for a short 2 mile walk in the morning, and did a Yin practice in the afternoon.
Other than that, I essentially just read and relaxed in my room or by the pool.
I didn’t do the colonic treatments that day, because my energy was really low and I thought it would make me feel worse.
I struggled to sleep throughout the night, and woke up often feeling hungry and overly tired.
After hardly any sleep, my body was in more physical pain than necessary.
I was too tired to even cry, and could barely drag myself out of bed to be weighed and checked in the morning.
When I did, they found that my blood pressure was alarmingly low.
I was really nauseous, and ended up throwing up for most of the morning.
I had shooting pains in my stomach, and all of my joints ached.
These are all common signs of detoxing.
Again, I opted out of the colonics, because I just didn’t think my body could handle it in the state I was in.
I’m happy I honored my body, although I wonder if it would’ve helped to flush out some of the toxins that were causing me so much pain.
I spent most of the day on my bed, or in my bath.
The only thing that got me through the day was playing repeated mantras by Khrishna Das.
Chanting was my yoga that day, as asana was out of the question for me.
I closed my eyes, felt the vibrations of each word and prayed for healing.
When my blood pressure continued to drop, they urged me to drink the mineral broth in the afternoon.
I’m really happy that I did, because it definitely helped to bring me back to life.
I slept well through the night.
I woke up with a burst of energy in the morning after a full night’s sleep.
This tends to be the day that people’s body starts tapping into reserves, and that clean, clear energy arrives.
I felt that to be true in the morning, and I went for another short 2 mile walk.
By mid-morning, my energy was wavering.
I also started my period.
Although it was only light spotting, I had cramps, and generally felt depleted.
This was the first day that I did the colonics.
The coffee one in the morning went easily and fast.
The garlic one in the afternoon took a lot longer to get through, and was more uncomfortable.
After both of them, I felt really good- fully flushed out, and lighter.
I did another Yin practice in the afternoon, yet still didn’t sleep well again this night, as I was hungry and my thoughts were racing.
This was by far the worst day for me.
I had horrible anxiety for almost the entire day.
I wasn’t anxious about any one thing in particular- there was just something energetically happening both within me and outside of me, which was stirring up a lot.
I was also bombarded by a few different text messages from people who with issues I simply didn’t have the brain power to cope with.
However, rather than letting it go and dealing with it once I had broken the fast- I engaged a lot longer than I should have.
Everything was even more intense given that my period arrived in full force on this day, as well.
I was surprised by how much I was bleeding, considering I was barely hanging onto 100 lbs at the time.
I was bloated and cramping, which initially made my colonic treatments painful. However, by the time I’d gone through the entire 17 L of liquid, I felt a little relief in my cramps, which was a pleasant surprise.
I struggled to do much of anything this day.
I was lucky enough to just take a few rounds of deep mindful breaths without my mind spinning out of control.
My physical practice was nonexistent, as my mind was the thing that needed work.
I resorted to another walk, light stretching, and two massages, instead.
This was also the day that the difference between expectation and intention became crystal clear to me- as part of my brain funk had to do with disappointment with myself for not feeling clear and inspired.
Once I had this AH HA moment, I was able to take back the reigns to my wandering thoughts, rather than be a victim to them.
I had a hang over from anxiety the day before, and was left with remnants of angst throughout the day.
However, I felt much lighter than the day before- and not quite as out of control mentally.
I enjoyed a walk in the morning, a gentle practice that actually had some flow to it, and spent most of the day by the pool reading.
I also busted out my journal and wrote for a long time, which helped to untangle existing question marks on my heart.
Although my period was still (surprisingly) in full force, and I still had cramps and bloating- I didn’t feel quite as heavy as the day before.
At this point I’d gotten somewhat used to the physical discomfort of the fast AND my period, and settled into the routine of drinks, supplements, colonics, and massages.
I woke up with the same clear, clean energy as Day 3.
So, naturally I went for a walk and then stepped on my mat for more of a “regular” style practice.
This felt AMAZING, considering I’d barely done more than two or three down dogs in the last week (I was getting really light headed from being inverted due to my dropping blood pressure).
After my morning colonics, I decided to rent a motorbike and go for a drive as I had a bit of cabin fever going on.
I ended up driving for about 3 hours, doing a big loop of the island.
I went to a grocery store to get snacks for breaking the fast in the days to come (yes, this was somewhat torturous), and was so disappointed by what was available.
Even something as simple as nuts had added sugar, palm oil, and preservative.
WHAT THE HELL!?
In the end, I ended up just getting heaps of dragon fruit and papaya from the fruit stands on the side of the road- as there were NO healthy options of whole foods at the store.
I couldn’t believe how utterly exhausted I was simply after driving (and probably also from the midday sun).
Other than my afternoon colonic and evening massage, I was in bed for the rest of the day- day dreaming about the fruit stacked in my fridge.
The other somewhat interesting thing that happened this day was the weird smell that I started producing from my armpits.
Again, funky odors are a part of detoxing.
In a weird way, these things actually made me feel GOOD because they were evidence that yucky stuff was leaving my body.
I slept horribly the night before, which left me feeling sluggish for most of the day.
I was still bleeding, cramping and bloated- which officially made it the longest period I’d had in over 15 years.
I couldn’t believe I even had anything left to bleed at this point, because I was only 96 lbs.
My intention for this day was to try to be absolutely present with all of the sensations that arise, because I knew this would be my last full day of the fast- and who knew when I’d do something like this again.
I did my best to meet myself where I was at, but- truth be told- I was really hungry, and couldn’t wait for it to end.
I my colonics felt especially uncomfortable due to the sensitivity my nether regions from my period.
All in all, I felt heavy and horrible other than a slight burst of energy I got after my afternoon garlic treatment.
I used this burst of energy to go for a walk, and enjoy a short, gentle practice.
Luckily, I fell asleep early and actually slept through the night.
It was funny that I actually didn’t wake up hungry on this day.
Probably because I KNEW I would be breaking the fast in the afternoon.
In other words, my mind had let my body know that this was over soon.
I woke up rested and energetic, ready to start the process of breaking the fast.
This required one last colonic treatment of only warm water (17 L) first thing in the morning.
Followed by a flora rebuilder to be injected through the colonic tube, as well as a probiotic drink.
These were all meant to be done over the next 6 hours- so I still had a half of a day of only water (not even detox drinks or supplements in this time).
After my colonic, I went for a long walk- feeling great in the beginning, but pretty fucking exhausted towards the end.
I managed to make it to exactly the 8 day mark before breaking my fast with papaya.
It was the best thing I’ve ever tasted.
In fact, I actually cried before I put it in my mouth.
My relationship with food will never be the same again.
I think I had a harder time with this than most people.
My body really struggled to accept food again.
Which was torture because I wanted to eat ALL THE THINGS, but I simply didn’t have space in my stomach!
After the third day of eating, I actually got sick (throwing up) from trying to eat too much.
I was in bed all day with a headache and nausea.
I ate totally raw for the first four days after.
This meant mostly just papaya salad, regular green salad, papaya fruit, and dragon fruit.
I also had wheatgrass shots during this time, and managed to find raw cashews to munch on in small amounts.
It’s been almost a week since breaking the fast, and I can say that my stomach is still no where near the size it was- but I’m slowly working up the stamina to fit more and more.
Now that I’m in Bali and have access to incredibly beautiful food, I’m still eating all raw- although I’m able to have a larger variety here on a raw diet.
I’m also enjoying refined sugar free, raw deserts- which is making my life complete right about now J
I learned so much from this experience.
Almost too much to articulate (which is why it’s taken me a lot longer than I thought it would just to write this piece!).
But, I’ll do my best to voice what stuck the most.
I’ve already made clear my realization about intention versus expectation- that’s a big one.
And it’s one that I’m really happy to have learned here, before embarking on another fast or retreat of this nature.
As I mentioned above, my relationship with food has totally changed.
I have so much more GRATITUDE for what I consume now, rather than mindlessly eating what sounds and tastes good.
When I catch myself eating really quickly (which is a default of mine), I do my best to slow down and actually feel each morsel.
Another thing I’ve got in the habit of since breaking the fast is silently acknowledging the food I’m about to consume by simply saying (in my head):
“You are nourishing and healing my body. Thank you.”
I make sure to say this with EVERYTHING I consume- even the deserts and treats that are more for my heart than for my body’s fuel.
Another big thing I learned from this experience is that I much prefer to fast on my terms- rather than booking an experience in advance.
What I mean is, every other fast I’ve done has naturally occurred because my body was CRAVING a detox.
Usually I start out juicing, and when that feels good- then I transition into just water.
But it’s always been organic.
This was not.
This was something I planned and booked months in advance.
Although I understand the purpose of doing so, I also think that this way of fasting is not for me.
Well, for one thing- having my period so heavily and painfully during the week made everything that much more intense.
If I were just FEELING into what my body needed- it would NOT be fasting.
However, because it was already booked and paid for- I kind of felt like I HAD to, otherwise it would’ve been a big waste.
In the future, I’d rather FEEL than PLAN.
This leads me to my last take away, and that’s doing regular maintenance on my body, rather than one big radical shift.
What I mean is that instead of having things get so bad that I feel like I want to throw my phone out the window, and to fast for 10 days straight- I’d rather continue with continual detox protocols DAILY, as a preventative measure to having another break down.
I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting regularly for about a year now.
However, after this- I’m more confident in being strict with this practice.
Because, if I’m honest, there were times before where I felt almost guilty about not joining in to eat after 5 pm.
Whereas now, I know that I feel like shit the next day if I eat too late- so I’m not going to do something just because it makes other people comfortable.
Also, I plan on doing weekly detoxes.
This might not mean water fasting every week, but at least all liquid for 24 hours (even juicing is okay) just to give my digestion a chance to slow down.
I’ll also stick to my regimen on water fasting on the New Moon- because that’s a ritual I’ve grown to love.
These smaller detoxes will help keep my body in a clean, healthy, and strong state- rather than pushing it to the point of needing some major cleanse.
Also, when I’m detoxing my body, I will also be detoxing my mind by stepping away from social media once a week, as well.
Putting up more strict boundaries there will help my head stay a little clearer.
That’s not to say that I won’t ever do a long fast again, because I can see it being something that will become a part of my yearly routine.
However, I think that by doing the maintenance in between- I won’t feel like I NEED it as much as I needed this last one.
Plus, I now feel totally comfortable doing it on my own.
So, I probably wouldn’t go back to a detox center again- unless something came up with my health to where I thought it would be better if I was monitored.
Overall, I’m so grateful to have committed to this experience.
It was without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever WILLINGLY done.
But that’s the beauty of it.
Now that I’ve conquered it, I feel like I can fly.
Expectation versus intention.