Thursday, March 15, 2007

Spring Cleaning - Day 6

I am patting myself on the back because this is the first time I've ever gone beyond five days on a fast. The last time I fasted, I felt I could have gone beyond the five-day mark, but I had a time constraint known as Thanksgiving in the way, and since I had invited myself to my brother's, I felt it would be rude to show up and not eat. Poor timing. Timing is the whole key.

Today M. and I talked about how much one's mindset plays a role from the onset. If you have any sort of resistence or regret about what you're about to do, it's a sure fire guarantee that you won't reach your fasting goal. I've definitely experienced that. Once on the second day of what I had intended to be a three-day fast, I had an event to attend. When I arrived, I was stunned to discover that they had a sushi buffet with every kind of roll imaginable. That was the end of my fast. Another time, I was not even 12-hours into a fast, when I decided I just didn't feel like it. I finished out the day and decided to do it again another time. Completing a fast is impossible if you don't have the will, and I don't believe it's worth forcing myself, so sometimes I just bag it.

This fast is going remarkably well, though. Still, I will admit that I had a little bit of a freakout last night. It started late in the afternoon. I was sitting in the living room of S., and we were chitchatting. All the sudden I started tripping out on the fact that he had no idea that I hadn't eaten in five days, and I began thinking how weird that was—that one could just nonchalently say, "Oh, I haven't eaten since Friday night" on the Wednesday that comes after it. The more I thought about it, the more I started pysching myself out in a really bad way. I tried to ignore myself but by the evening I began having a genuine hypochondriac reaction. My head hurt. My organs hurt. I imagined all kinds of terrible scenarios resulting in my having to be hospitalized and the doctors standing over me shaking their heads, saying amongst themselves, "She hasn't eaten! Why would someone do this to themselves! Now she'll never be well, tut tut." It was ridiculous. I felt queasy and faint. My inards ached. I became dizzy, and my fear expanded into other realms. I thought I heard tapping on my window, rustling at the door. I had bad dreams, dreams in which dogs came into my living space and were slobbering and sniffing around me....

I awoke with my tongue pasted to the roof of my mouth. Looking in the mirror, I was happily disgusted by the thick white "fur." During a fast, the process of detoxification causes one's tongue to appear white, sometimes yellowish. This is a good sign that things are proceeding nicely. In Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, the authors explain that state of the tongue is considered one of the "most useful and reliable" methods of physical examination. They say that the fur, i.e. the coating on the tongue, mirrors the "digestive Fire" or Qi of the stomach. " Qi (pronounced and sometimes spelled "Chi") is basically one's life force: "Qi is both the foundation of structure and the catalyst of transformation and movement." There are many ways to understand Qi, and there are types of Qi, but suffice it to say that a Chinese Medicine practitioner can give incredibly accurate and detailed diagnoses of one's health simply by looking at the color and shape of the tongue, which in addition to indicating what's going on in the stomach, "also reflects the intrinsic strength and functional capacity of the individual." In a disease state, the color, texture, moisture, size and shape of one's tongue [are] affected; but "as illness [or detoxification] improves, the quality of the fur and color of the tongue become more normal."

Ayurveda, the traditional system of medicine in India, also uses the tongue as health indicator. A whitish tongue indicates a specific sort of imbalance and mucus accumulation and any sort of fur or coating may indicate the presence of toxins in the stomach, and small or large intestines. In fasting, the ideal is to fast until the tongue returns to a normal, healthy pink color, ostensibly meaning that the cleansing and rebuilding process is completed. Unfortunately, this usually does not happen in a conveniently pre-determined three- or five-day period. While it varies from individual to individual and from fast to fast, I doubt ten days will do it for most people either. All I know is that I don't have the gumption or wherewithal to push myself beyond what I set out to do this time around. Maybe I'll give it a shot in the Fall or next Spring. In the meantime, I've got a tongue scraper, and I take heart in the fact that that my nasty looking tongue is a sign that what I'm doing is not in vain.

I am really starting to get bored with my diet, though. Today M. sent me a recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup. She's also fasting and though she's only on Day 2, she's already planning what she's gonna make as her first meal. Since I will be easing into it with the raw food part of my 21-days, I don't have as much to be excited about. However, I think anything that doesn't have lemon or lime in it will make my day.

I still feel great though. Yesterday I walked up to the Haight and back—about a 4-mile jaunt—during the day. I brought the juice with me, so I was fine. By the time I got home I was very tired—tired but not weak. Later in the evening I had to talk myself into spending half an hour stretching, but I'm glad I did as I discovered my hamstrings were extremely tight.

Unfortunately I'd run out of syrup, so I had even less of the mix yesterday than I'd had the preceeding day, and that's a trend I do not want to continue. I'm sure it contributed to my mini-nervous breakdown, although I didn't have as much as I would have liked today either. I think I've had about 40 oz., the past few days. I'd like to stay more around the 50 oz. mark, more for my head than for the rest of my body. As time goes on, it does freak me out that I'm surviving so well on next to nothing. For the Western mind, this just does not compute. I think most people are raised to believe that the human body starves to death in a relatively short period of time. It's a bit of mind fuck to realize that you can live extremely well for a period of time on a few pinches of hot pepper, three or four of lemons and a quarter cup of tree sap a day.


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