Three Things I Learned From a Weeklong Juice Fast


"It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I’m going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery."
~ Danna Faulds

Have you ever been presented with an opportunity to which your whole body responded "yes" before the mind even had a chance for rebuttal?


One of my beloved spiritual teachers, Jonathan Foust, refers to being confronted by "what we can't not do" as part of realizing our dharma, or "soul's unique purpose" in Sanskrit.


I am grateful for the handful of opportunities that have helped me to begin to uncover my dharma, including two adventures through South Asia and marrying my amazing husband.


Little did I know that registering for a seven-day juice fast in March with Dr. Andréa Paige, ND, MSc, would greatly contribute to a sense of self-awareness, self-purpose and self-discovery.


This facilitated group-fasting experience far exceeded the already few expectations I had and awakened me to profound realizations physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.


Ten days before the juice fast began I was instructed to slowly begin eliminating all stimulants (coffee, alcohol, sugar), processed foods, and basically anything that comes in a package.


Two-three days out from the fast I was consuming only organic fruits and steamed vegetables in order to lessen the burden on my digestive system and prepare my body for detoxification.


The intention behind sharing my experience is that it may inspire others to also become aware of their own eating habits, rethink food as medicine, and recognize body as temple.


Below are three surprising effects that occurred both during and after eliminating solid, fibrous matter and consuming only organic, slow-pressed fruits and vegetables for seven days.


1.) I often mindlessly consume sugar or alcohol to suppress or numb discomfort. Taking a weeklong retreat from eating food allowed my body, mind and spirit the time, space and awareness to recognize and observe many of my own self-sabotaging behaviors and practice responding to my triggers by choosing to pause, breathe, and show myself love.


2.) Crying is cathartic and healing. There were several moments either before bed, after a powerful yoga practice, or during journaling when I would weep from a place of pure nothingness, a feeling of emptiness. The physical room that fasting created inside of me enabled me to touch down into some of my hidden grief and sadness that needed to be expressed in order to be released.

3.) I tend to allow my mind to get ahead of my body. Unlike my mind, my body exists in the moment; therefore, I am wise when I pause, listen and respond to my body as opposed to getting caught in my thought patterns. This embodied realization has caused one of my favorite mantras, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo ("I bow to the teacher within"), to take on a new and exciting meaning.


Now seventeen days after breaking the fast, in addition to pausing and recognizing where my feelings of hunger are stemming from, I am remembering that just as important as what I eat, is how I eat. I realize that most of my indigestion pre- and post-fast was due in large to eating too fast, not chewing slowly enough, and not pausing to express gratitude for my meals and the people who prepared them.


I am ever-grateful to The Institute for Aliveness, my fasting mentor, and the community of ~20 international participants with whom I was able to share my experience for their thoughtful and educational support, which facilitated a well-rounded and transformative fasting experience.


If you or someone you know is interested in participating in their monthly fasting program, "The Initiation," please feel free to reach out to me. I have a $100 voucher to extend to someone who is ready to transform their relationship with food.


Peace and blessings,

Ashley

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