Day 3 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Day 3

So Day 3.

There was a moment that made me absolutely crack up.    I was thinking “Wow, Day 3, and I still feel resolved and strong.  This is great.”  And then in the very next second, “Oh my God, I have Seven. More. Days. To. Go.  THIS WILL NEVER END.”   I went from bright to bleak in the blink of an eye.

The cool part was going for a doctor’s visit this morning, and while I had made my day’s batch before leaving the house, I didn’t take any with me to sip on while I drove.  I figured I’d just drink my first meal when I got back somewhere around noon.   My doctor has a new location, so when I walked up to it I saw that her space connected to a juice bar.   I was so excited to “go commercial” with my juice fast for the first time.   I love these juice bars that are starting to sprout up all over the place (wish one would open in Granada Hills).  Everything on the menu tells you what part of the body’s system it’s good for.   They’re called things like “The Liver Detoxifier” and “The Kidney Kraze.”   I ordered a “Dark & Stormy,” which consisted of beets, with the beet leaves, kale leaves, parsley, celery, and lemon.   Yummy!

Later in the day was my first serious challenge.   A friend called and asked if I wanted to meet for lunch at our favorite restaurant (Joe’s Café in Granada Hills, to be exact…who just won as top chef on the TV show Chopped, by the way….way to go Joe!).   And at first I said, “maybe next week.  I’m doing a juice fast right now.”   Yet, truly I was in the mood to hang with a friend.   So I said “Nix that.   Let’s do it.” And I promptly filled up my sippy cup, and met him there.   He ordered a luscious-looking pulled pork sandwich, and I had my green juice.   His food smelled so good (even though I’m not even a pork eater) that I did have a moment of “this sucks.”  But ultimately I was happy to be giving myself this challenge.   I figured if I could get through lunch and not be ready to hold up the nearest KFC with a rifle, then I knew I could get through the next seven days (even if it’s now beginning to feel like I’ve already been at it seven weeks).   I loved victoring over that.  I even had to finally stop my friend, who kept apologizing for ordering such a decadent lunch in front of me.  I was feeling triumphant, even if I was picturing him as a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  I loved that I walked away at the end of lunch, not having caved or broken down and ordering the amazing mac & bleu cheese that Joe’s offers.  I was proud of myself as I said goodbye to my friend.  I’d remained steadfast in the idea that I was on my way to something great.  Doing something that would shift the paradigms in my consciousness just a bit.  Clear the cobwebs.

This may be projecting, but I would swear that my eyesight even seems a bit better.  I actually read a magazine article today without my 99-cent store reading glasses.   And that’s usually a near-impossibility for me.  Am I conjuring these things, these testaments for doing this crazy thing?   Or are things actually beginning to shift, my body detoxing itself, my organs strengthening, and my brain un-fogging?

The meditation this morning was quite the blood-letting.  Mindfulness seemed to be the theme that surfaced and stayed.  Situations flooded through my head, and I found myself revisiting how I had handled them.   Mindfully?   Or combatively?   Defensively?   The question that kept arising was, “How do I want to show up in the world?” And am I presently doing that?

The real beauty of meditation is that you don’t need to micro-manage it.  You don’t need to force your brain to quiet down.   Trying to force it won’t work anyway.   The key is just to let whatever wants to flood through do so.   What begins to happen in time, with practice, is that the unimportant stuff that floods in, the grocery lists, the phone calls that need to be made, the cramp in the leg, etc, will shear away, and what will be left is the stuff that actually needs attention.  The deeper life stuff.   And as that gets all the attention and examination, in the environment of the subconscious, eventually there is a quieting of the stuff.  Of all the stuff.  But first you have to let it all just flood in there.  Flooding was a whole lot of today’s sit.

One thing that has been somewhat niggling.   It’s Day 3, and I haven’t varied my juice concoction by much yet.  I don’t want to get bored, but it’s just so easy to settle into a routine, grab the exact same stuff from the market, not have to think.  I collected a wonderful assortment of amazing recipes when I was preparing for this.   So, tonight I finally made myself look through them, pick something, and go buy those items for tomorrow’s juicing.  I’m going savory tomorrow.   And then it might be another 3 days before I change up again.   I’d like to think I have it in me to experiment every single day, but I know me.   I am a creature of habit.

In general I’m finding that the days where I’m busy, being at my day job, doing a gig, working on a graphic design project, meeting with a friend, running errands, will be the easiest.   I can take my jug of juice and my sippy cup with me in the car, and I’ll be good to go wherever I need to be, and not thinking about food.

It’s the days that I have to myself, as today largely was, when I get a bit antsy, when I want to eat something, graze on something crunchy (always more from boredom and restlessness than actual hunger), where it feels as though I’ve taken on something too monumental.

So, I think the key will be to keep myself with tasks.   Or go the exact other way and just meditate more.  Let myself decompress.  But in a mindful and deliberate way, as opposed to a couch-potato-popcorn-bowl-on-the-belly kind of way.   Again that theme of mindfulness, of acute awareness and appreciation and experience of everything in my midst.

I confess I’m still waiting for the hyper to get sheared away just a bit.    Or is that asking too much?   After all, my somewhat tongue-in-cheek description of myself has always been: “I’m a laid back soul trapped in the body of a high-strung chick.”   Maybe that’s just who I’m meant to be.    I guess we’ll see.

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

Day 2 (of Juice Fasting & Meditation)

Fasting and Prayer copy

Well, walking past my neighbor’s apartment and smelling the fried chicken she’s cooking up has certainly been helpful.

Actually Day 2 hasn’t been bad.  It’s the first day of Spring, and I feel a kind of alignment there.  My meditation this morning was slightly more antsy than yesterday’s, but still a good one.   Some serious powering down actually did happen, once I could get my legs in a comfortable position.

It’s the end of the night now, when my habitual hunger (not biological) kicks in, and I don’t know what to do with my hands if I’m not using them to stuff something into my mouth.   In actuality, my body isn’t signaling hunger.  Because even though my basic day only consists of three 8-ounce glasses of whatever juice I’ve concocted –  breakfast, lunch, and dinner  –  I do get full.  The reason is because though there isn’t any solid food happening, there’s actually quite a lot of food involved, when you consider the large mound of vegetables that translate into a very small amount of juice.  So, all the micro-nutrients are intact.  In fact, far more than I could accomplish by eating a normal diet.  Hence, my hunger is actually fulfilled.  It’s just the habitual stuff I’ll be battling for a bit. The emotional eating.  The filling-the-void crap.  Now that the void isn’t getting filled with snacks and desserts and other late-night grazing rituals, I actually have to face.   It’s all a part of it.   Of what I’m trying to do.  How I’m trying to transform. The work isn’t easy.  It isn’t meant to be.   But it sure is interesting.

To be honest, I’m just thankful I haven’t started seriously climbing the walls yet.  I fear it’s coming.

Today’s recipe was similar to yesterday’s, since I had a lot of vegetables left over for juicing.   The only difference today was the addition of cucumbers.   I’m finding that the ritual needs to be this:  Shop in the evening for the next morning’s juicing.   Juice for the whole day on the next morning.  That evening, back to the stores for the next day’s batch.  So, with the recipes I’ve collected, I’m going to try and change up the cocktail at least every other day, if not every day.

I’m actually looking forward to some of the savory recipes (as opposed to the ones sweetened with an apple or a carrot, etc.)   Ones that employ tomatoes, garlic, onions, bell peppers, etc, all juiced of course.  I look forward to it with a curiosity more than anything, as savory is my favorite way to go, taste-buds-wise, yet I’m also a big fan of salt.   Tasting such a concoction without may be my first real challenge on this thing.   Perhaps that’ll be tomorrow’s excursion.

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

Why Lent Came Calling (Day 1)

Fasting and Prayer

I recently watched a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, about a man who documented his 60-day juice fast.  He’d felt at the end of his rope health-wise, and was subsisting, at the age of 42, on an artillery of pills for a myriad of ailments.  On his journey, where he traveled across the United States telling his story while drinking his green juice, he came across a few most unlikely candidates, who latched onto his journey and made it their own.   These were people who, like him, simply felt as though they’d somehow, somewhere along the line, lost self, lost purpose, and rather than living were merely surviving.   I remember as I began watching it, thinking, “well, this isn’t new information for me, but it’s always good to get a reminder.”   But then there came a moment that truly got my attention, and made me obsessed enough to watch this movie two more times before sticking it back in the mailbox.  Not only did these participants’ health turn around (how could it not, when you’re talking about concentrated, mega doses of micro-nutrients a day?), but something in their entire psychological and spiritual paradigm shifted.   A serious reboot of mind, body, and spirit seemed to have occurred.  And lately that is something I’ve been feeling an almost desperate need for in my own life.

Something’s been wrong.  I’ve felt overwhelmed by finances and survival, and though I am an artist to my bones, I’ve been creating very little.  The novel that released almost a year ago now has barely received  much marketing nurturing from me.   I would tell myself that I believed in a universe that would take my deserving labors into it, and would not let those labors just flounder in the sea, no matter how unmotivated I may have been.  I was clearly ignoring whatever the universe might’ve had to say about effort.  Even this blog hadn’t been given any love since my last post three months ago.  My own health, fitness, and wellness is okay, but I want more than okay.   And I’ve begun to isolate socially and emotionally from those I love, or even just like.  And I realized as I watched this movie that I, too, felt I was merely surviving, and no longer living.

I’m a big believer in synchronicity.   I encounter it constantly, and always experience moments of absolute bliss when it occurs.   So, right as I was obsessing over this movie, I also happened to read a quote on Facebook, credited to Homeboy Industries, an interpretation of Lent that spoke directly to my own practices of meditation and turning inward.

“The giving up of something you enjoy is to quiet the mind and recognize how caught up we are in what we think we need.  Lent is a time of reflection and centering and to remind ourselves that what we need is inside of us.”

Amen.

I’m not Catholic, and have never observed Lent before (born and raised Baptist, now living largely with the tenets of the Buddha Dharma).  But my own spiritual approach has always been completely inclusive of any rituals that resonate with my heart and soul from all the traditions.   So, what the hell, let’s participate in Lent this year.  Of course, I came to this resolution ten days into Lent, but I also realized that for me it wasn’t about the number of days, but simply about participating in something for however long I could, somewhere during this stretch of time called Lent.  It was a symbol.

From the moment I decided to participate, I knew that a juice fast was going to be the chosen sacrifice.  Lent and this documentary couldn’t’ve both been roiling in my head at the same time for any other reason.  And for me, it seemed too easy just to give up wine, or coffee, or chocolate, or whatever (the typical choices I always hear about).   I wanted it to be something truly challenging, because if the ante wasn’t high enough then I just didn’t see any kind of genuine transformation being a part of the deal.  So, I decided to do 10 days of a juice fast, inspired by Joe Cross’ adventure, coupled with an intensive meditation.   To quiet my mind, and invite the truth to show itself to me.  To actively seek to forgive myself whatever realities I’ve clearly felt needed punishing.   To feed my body with only what it needs, and not what I think it needs (in this environment that I’ve created of learning to self-medicate and to numb).   To get really, seriously, ridiculously focused, which the ritual of juicing pounds of vegetables every day, and cleaning the multi-parts juicer everyday, and getting in lotus position everyday, and saying “no” to every waft of food that comes your way everyday, will give you.  There’s no meditating in the movie, but I decided to include meditation because suddenly the age-old tradition of “prayer and fasting” was very attractive to me.

I am open to the possibility that if I’m feeling the need for further, come Day 10, I’ll extend the fast beyond that (I can tell you now, it won’t be the 60 days that Joe Cross accomplished).   And am resolved that if I do make it to Day 10, and don’t crumble at Day 5, it will be a triumph beyond words.  No other options exist.

I chose a day to start, and even got a friend on board to do it with me, so that a sense of community, of a support system, of checking in every day and keeping each other honest, would be set firmly in place.   And today is that day.   Leading up to today, I experienced the weirdest and widest berth of emotions about it.   Dread – that I would not succeed, that I would bail after Day 2 because my caffeine and sugar addiction would get the better of me and have me climbing the walls.   Hope – that I might actually come out of this 10 days changed, transformed, bettered.   Anxiety – that a social commitment would challenge my ability to stick with this; because, what are we if not social animals who congregate over food and libations?  And honor – to be entering into this ritual that I see as sacred space.

My first instinct was to share this journey publicly.   Facebook here I come!    Then I thought, no, not this one.   This one requires quiet.   Then a third thought came to me.  That if I blogged about the journey (no, it’s not a travelogue to the Himalayas, or across an ocean, merely an internal one), then I would be made to stay honest, to commit, to see this all the way through.   Otherwise there’s just public humiliation, and we all know how fun that can be.   But there was something deeper to the thought, as well.   A connection.  Sharing my journey means opening my heart.  Maybe even inspiring someone else who may be feeling lost.   Just as a Netflix DVD changed my world one night.

So, here I am.   Day 1.

I awoke with excitement, and immediately went from my bed to my meditation altar, lit my candles, drew my mantra for the day, and then closed my eyes and did what I do.  Sometimes meditation can completely cocoon me in the comfort and warmth of meaning.  Other times I can be quite antsy and distracted.  It happens.  Every day is different.  Today I was cocooned.  When I was done, I walked right over to my kitchen and juiced up the pile of vegetables and fruit I’d bought the night before.   I was stunned at how little juice that huge pile of veggies actually made, and instantly realized I’d need a lot more vegetables every day to make this work, and to keep me from feeling starved.   But the juice was tasty (I made enough for all of my meals today), so the first effort has been a triumph.   Today’s combination is spinach, kale, celery, apples, a whole lemon, and copious amounts of ginger.   I made sure, as I prepared for this day, to collect as many juicing recipes as I could find, so that the creature of habit in me wouldn’t end up making the same thing every day, and growing bored, and quitting.

So far, so good.   No panic seems to have hit.   I’ll call my friend who’s doing this with me a little later on to see how he’s doing.   But I’ll check in at the end of every one of these ten days, document where I am, and promise to be honest about how I’m feeling.   There are sure to be some cranky moments, but if I keep clear and present about what I’m trying to accomplish, I think the crankiness will be kept to a minimum.   Or it’ll be the steepest mountain I’ve ever had to climb.  Either one works for me, because I’m ready to take this on.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, offers a thought that does my heart good as I go forth into Prayer-&-Fasting Land.

“If you’re brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, anything from your house to bitter old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.”

That’s good enough for me.   See you all tomorrow.

 

 

P.S.  Speaking of synchronicity, the very next day after reading the Homeboy Industries quote on Lent, I was driving to Union Station in Downtown LA, and drove right by a large building with “Homeboy Industries” in big, bold letters on top of it.   I just had to stop in to find out about them.   Wow!  Check them out, if you’re so inclined.  Homeboy Industries

And while we’re at it, check out:
Reboot With Joe

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.