As I’m getting ready to embark on my second Ayahuasca Retreat at Nimea Kaya in Peru, I thought I’d share my preparation process this time around.
Because this ancient plant medicine is one that works on every level of your being (physical, mental, spiritual), I believe it’s important to cleanse and connect to each of these layers beforehand.
It’s important to note that everyone’s process if different.
Meaning, what works for me, might not feel effective for you.
Although there are, of course, some purifying recommendations/requirements for everyone (especially when it comes to diet, prescription and recreational drug use)- the rest of these practices are simply ones I’ve adopted for ME.
Try what works, and leave the rest.
Create your own based on your needs.
Above all, enjoy the journey.
It will undoubtedly be a wild one that’s about to change your life.
1.Food and Drink Dieta:
Regardless of where you decide to do your retreat and/or single ceremony, you’ll likely be asked to alter your food and drink consumption from the shaman/leader of the experience. The Ayahuasca diet is essentially how I eat anyways, so I don’t change much personally.
Below is a variation of Nimea Kaya’s advice on the matter:
-Start adjusting your diet at least 2 weeks prior to your retreat start date in order to effectively cleanse the body.
-Definitely eliminate pork and red meat in this time. If you eat meat, fish and chicken are okay.
-Definitely eliminate alcohol in this time.
-Do your best to cut back or fully eliminate: processed foods, fried food, refined sugars, highly salted foods (small amounts of mineral salt is okay), gluten, caffeine and dairy.
If this sounds nearly impossible to you, and you don’t know what the hell to eat once all of this is eliminated- check out some of my recipes for nourishment AND satisfaction.
2.Prescription and Recreational Drugs:
I do not take any prescription drugs, so I cannot comment on this directly.
PLEASE make sure to tell your shaman/retreat leader EVERYTHING you are taking to ensure a safe experience.
I’d also advise that you speak to your healthcare professional about your prescriptions, as well.
Both the retreat leader and the healthcare professional should be the ones to inform you what you need to wean off, and how to do so safely.
It’s suggested to stop all recreational drug use at least 2 weeks prior to the retreat.
This includes cannabis (even if you use it medicinally) and psilocybin (even if used medicinally).
It’s important to remember that both cannabis and psilocybin are also powerful plant medicines with intelligence of their own.
Letting go of all other plant medicines prior will help to create proper energetic space for Ayahuasca.
It’s generally suggested to abstain from sex and masturbation at least one week prior, AND one week after your ceremonies.
Realistically, this won’t be an issue for me (sad face)- but, it’s important to note, nonetheless.
People often question this one, and I get it.
I suppose the best way to think about it is a preservation of vital energy that can be used towards your healing process, rather than pleasure.
4.Trauma and Violence:
Nimea Kaya suggested we avoid watching, listening to, or reading about traumatic and violent events.
I haven’t seen many other retreat centers make this suggestion, but I figured I’d stick to it before my first retreat.
I’m really happy that I did for a variety of reasons.
The biggest one being that it revealed to me just how much these things are/were present in my life- especially in the form of entertainment.
Cutting out these forms of entertainment (movies, shows, music, and podcasts) showed me the true impact they have/had my psyche.
And, to be honest, this cleanse has now changed my taste (especially in movies and shows) completely.
This is an incredibly sacred journey, therefore it’s VITAL to enter into it with intention.
Because the line between intention and expectation can often be blurred, I usually sit with a variety of intentions in my daily meditation for days/weeks before boiling it down to just ONE that feels the most “right” in my body and heart.
What the heck does that even mean?
Well, I think it means something different for everyone as your intuitive hits might feel different than mine.
Think of your intuition as a muscle.
Use your meditation time (or simply moments of stillness) to use that muscle.
The more you use it, the stronger it will get.
This means that you have, say, 3-5 possible intentions for your retreat.
Sit with each one individually- repeating it, visualizing it, understanding the WHY behind it, and then noticing how you FEEL in response to it.
Keep in mind, the sensations indicating “yes” or “no” might be very subtle, which is why I’d suggest sitting with each one more than just one time.
If none of this makes sense at all (I don’t blame you), then the best way to come up with an intention for your retreat is to close your eyes, tune in to your breath, place a hand on your heart, and notice what it’s asking for.
Observe your heart’s reason for wanting to do this retreat.
Understanding that your heart’s wisdom will likely be different than your mind’s intellect.
For example, the intention for my first retreat was to return home.
The intention for my second retreat is forgiveness and acceptance.
Personally, I prefer to work with an intention that is somewhat vague- so that Ayahuasca can show me whatever I need to know along the way.
I find that when I get TOO specific, then I start getting into that expectation mindset.
However, I know plenty of people who have gone into ceremonies with super specific intentions and/or questions about their lives- and they were given exactly what they needed.
Feel into what your needs are, and go with that.
Although I have a pretty regular meditation practice already, I prefer do my best to increase the volume and length of my stillness leading up to the retreat.
If you’re brand new to meditation, and the word alone intimidates you- no worries.
You’re not alone.
Like I mentioned before, just take a few moments of each day to close your eyes, slow down and even out your breath, and listen to your heart.
This can range from 30 seconds, to 30 minutes.
Whatever you’re comfortable with, and have time for.
You can also find guided meditations on Calm, AloMoves, 1GiantMind, and Youtube.
I find that the more I meditate, the more connected I am both to myself and to something greater (Source, God, Divine, whatever you believe in).
Plus, I feel more grounded and clear.
These are all qualities I personally need to ramp up before skyrocketing off into the cosmos with Ayahuasca.
I don’t have a regular journal practice.
Sometimes I write every day, multiple times a day, and sometimes weeks or months go by before I jot down my thoughts.
Leading up to my first retreat, I made a point to journal at least once a week.
I also made a point to write letters to Ayahuasca herself as my journal entries.
Sounds pretty hippy dippy, I know.
But, for me, I found it soothing.
I also found that it helped me connect to her in a more grounded way, as I wasn’t only in communication with her while I was tits deep in a crazy trip.
I'm committing to these same journaling practices this second time around, as well.
8. Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable:
This is something that I’m choosing to consciously incorporate before my second retreat.
Now that I have the experience of the first one under my belt, I know just how intense the ceremonies can be.
And, to be honest, I’m more afraid going into this second round than I was the first BECAUSE of my previous experiences.
That being said, I’m choosing to face my fears and/or sit in discomfort a little longer than I normally would in everyday situations.
What does this mean exactly?
Well, this might be something as small as staying in a difficult yoga posture for a few breaths longer than I want to.
Or, it might be something bigger like abandoning my plans and dedicating a month to really training/learning how to surf in Nicaragua- even though it scares the shit out of me.
I’m making the choice to say YES to things that I’d rather say NO to (obviously still prioritizing my worth while doing so), and to observe how discomfort lands in my body, mind and heart.
Breathing through hardship more mindfully, surrendering to what is as opposed to what I want it to be.
All things that, for me, are a lot easier said than done.
Which is how I know I need to keep doing them.
9.Less Social Media:
This one is a little difficult for me simply because social media is a huge part of my job.
However, I also believe it can also be a source of distraction and disconnection (don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s nice/necessary to numb out and scroll) for me, as well.
Leading up to the retreat (meaning about 2 – 4 weeks before), I start minimizing my time scrolling- and really just use it for work-related purposes.
Post and ghost, ya know?
And, during the retreat itself, I don’t use social media at all.
10.Communication and Relationships:
The same way that we cleanse our bodies through diet, and our minds through meditation- I believe it’s important to cleanse energetically by tuning into how we communicate (to ourselves and others), and who we currently have in our lives.
I do my best to notice my inner dialogue during this time, and redirect negative self-talk to more empowering language, instead.
I also do my best to notice what and how I’m speaking to others about- working to avoid gossip and violent language altogether.
Please know that I am nowhere near perfect at this.
But I do believe awareness is the first step.
Plus, this has proven to be a super useful practice I've carried with me well beyond ceremony prep.
As far as relationships go- there are some people in my life who I love dearly, but who also drain the hell out of me.
I press the pause button on these relationships leading up to the retreat so that I can preserve the energy I'd have otherwise spent on them, to use for my own healing process, instead.
Before my last retreat, I let go of a few people.
Most of those people ended up circling back to me.
And, when they did, our relationship was healthier and more balanced than ever.
However, there are others who have remained on the outskirts- as I now realize that our season of friendship has expired.
Although the loss and letting go can certainly be painful, it’s also necessary for growth.
I found that total transparency in releasing these relationships is what allowed me to feel really good about moving forward.
Honest, but compassionate language- letting them know why I needed a break, but also letting them know that I love them.
Best of luck on your journey, my friends.
You've got this.
A large part of my “Return Home” process was getting rid of the Candida overgrowth which was giving me chronic yeast infections for the first half of the year.
One of the most common questions I get from you all is asking HOW I overcame this horribly pesky fungus that so many of us suffer from.
I’ve been hesitant about writing about this for several reasons.
Some of it is too personal to share & I don’t want to violate other people’s privacy, nor my own.
Also, I want to be clear that by sharing what worked for me does NOT make me an expert.
It also does NOT mean these same practices will work for YOU.
I’d also like to point out that most of my healing strategies are a reflection of my privilege.
Not only were some of these treatments quite costly, but they also became a full-time job, as well.
What I can say with certainty is this:
I needed to clear out physically as much as I did mentally & energetically one order to full get rid of it.
Yes, I changed my diet by cutting out all processed sugar (I still ate fruit despite everyone saying it was “bad”), alcohol & gluten.
I also did a 10-day water fast with twice daily colonics & IR sauna treatments.
I sought out weekly acupuncture & used the herbs recommended by my TCM doctor.
This was mostly all physical cleansing.
Mentally, emotionally & energetically- I started talk therapy, EMDR & ended relationships that felt like empty wells.
I upped my meditation practice- committing to stillness DAILY, no matter what.
Regardless of ALL THIS, the yeast infections persisted until my Ayahuasca Retreat at Nimea Kaya in Peru.
This is where things start to sound a little crazy.
Without going into too much detail, what I will say is that there was a lot of work done on my womb during my first ceremony.
It became very clear that shame from past sexual traumas had manifested into physical illness and discomfort for most of my adult life.
The yeast infections were the final straw in forcing me to look at the area in a more holistic manner.
That ceremony showed me that although I thought I’d long since moved past these traumas- my body clearly hadn’t.
Time becomes pretty fuzzy (and completely non-linear) in this state of mind, so I have no idea how long the womb repair took.
What I do know is that it felt like days.
It was incredibly painful.
And, in the end, I felt my uterus clenching and contracting as if I were giving birth.
This went on until I literally felt too weak to even sit up for a drink of water.
I felt as if I had devoted every last ounce of energy left to clearing out my physical and energetic body.
I was depleted.
But somehow also lighter than ever before.
That ceremony was brutal for me.
It lasted from 8 pm through to 10 am.
I felt as if my soul had been ripped in half, and every energy center within me was open to the point of pain.
I didn’t sleep at all.
I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically.
All I could do was cry for the entire next day.
And I had to do it all over again the following evening.
I was terrified to enter that same depth on my second trip- especially after no sleep.
But I trusted.
I drank again.
And this time, Mother Aya held me a lot more compassionately than the first time around.
However, the point of this post isn’t to go into detail about all of my ceremonies.
The point is to tell you how I overcame Candida overgrowth.
After my Ayahuasca Retreat, I didn’t expect to have some sort of magical healing occur.
And maybe it was from my lack of expectations that that somewhat radical cure was able to happen at all.
I used to always get the yeast infection during the time of the month when I was ovulating.
My following cycle after the retreat, I noticed that an infection didn’t pop up.
I didn’t want to get my hopes up, so I just kept it to myself.
A week after ovulating, and still no infection- this was officially the longest I’d ever gone without one.
At this point, I was just happy to reach that mark- so I excitedly shared with my mom and a few of my closest friends.
Another week passed- nothing.
And another, and another, and another.
Here I am today, six months later- and still no yeast infection to date.
Maybe I didn’t want to write about it, because I was afraid that I might “jinx” it or something.
What I do know is that the healing which occurred in my ceremonies was something that came from another world.
Something that I couldn’t access with my human brain alone.
Yes, it was terrifying at times.
Sure, it was painful and sad and scary and dark.
But, hot damn it was worth ten million times over.
And not just because I don’t get freaking yeast infections anymore.
But because my mind and heart are centered and peaceful in a way that I didn’t even know I was lacking.
Look, if you have Candida overgrowth, I’m not saying that you should drink Ayahuasca and POOF- it will magically disappear.
I think we all know that it’s a lot more complex than that.
All I’m saying is that this was what ended up being the solution for me.
Does that mean I wouldn’t have been able to clear it up without the retreat?
I’m confident that I’d have gotten through it all one way or another.
What I’m saying is that this certainly sped up the process.
And it also showed me how much deeper it was than just an excess of fungus and microbiome imbalances.
Our bodies are intelligent beyond our comprehension.
And every single encounter, relationship, and experience- no matter how seemingly big or small- impacts us.
It’s fascinating, really.
How grateful I am to have had the opportunity to witness this firsthand.
Wishing each and every one of you all the best on your journey home back to yourself.
Don’t give up.
You’re almost there.
I get a lot of questions about how to stay healthy with such a globe trotting lifestyle.
I also get a lot of questions of how the heck I manage to eat vegan when I’m traveling to countries that most people assume have NO options.
Before I dive into answering both of these questions with more specific tips- I think it’s important to note (once again) that I’m not a health care professional nor nutritionist.
These are examples of what works for ME.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for YOU.
I’d also like to add that this blog isn’t about pushing veganism on anyone.
Because, once again, although this way of life allows my body to thrive- maybe it doesn’t work for you in that same way.
The point here is really to offer general tips of total well being- some of which include what I eat in order to cater to my plant-based diet in a fulfilling and nutritious way.
Essentially- you can take what works for you from this piece, and leave the rest.
Trial and error through your personal experience, and cultivating a more in-tune relationship with YOUR body is going to be a helluva a lot more valuable than any advice from me (or anyone else for that matter).
Let’s dive in, shall we?
1.Echinacea and Zinc:
Because airplanes can be a breeding ground for illness, I start smashing these two supplements 1 – 2 days prior to my departure.
For me, these have been the most effective in warding off any unwanted colds that tend of happen on long, international flights.
2.Healthy Travel Snacks:
I’m not a fan of plane food.
Even when I order the “special” vegan options- they’re usually pretty dismal.
This means I always come armed with my own goods to ensure I’m sustained with NUTRITIOUS fuel, rather than empty carbs and highly processed options.
Unfortunately, when traveling internationally- you often can’t take fresh fruit and veg with you (every country is different).
So this means I opt for roasted veggies and dried fruit (with no added sugar), instead.
I’m also a hummus fanatic, so I tend to bring a little jar with me for the veggies- which is a great option for protein.
It’s important that the hummus is unopened, and in a marked 100 ml container- because otherwise they might confiscate it (again, every country is different here).
Again, for more sustenance- nuts or nut butter are perfect (note that nut butter should also be sealed and in a marked 100 ml container, as well).
This last trip, I brought some of my homemade Juice Pulp Crackers and Autumn in Oz Cookies.
If you don’t have time to make something like these- then quinoa cakes, or raw vegetable crackers are great munchies.
If you’d rather have more of a full meal- then something like a simple Soul Bowl would be a nourishing option.
Regardless of how long you’re flying, you can’t go wrong with a short 15-minute stretch session prior to boarding.
This is especially helpful if you tend to get pain/soreness in any particular part of the body.
I tend to focus on hips to alleviate any tension in the low back.
This is more applicable for international travel with different time zones.
I’ve found my digestion has been one of the biggest contributors to jet lag, because when the body is used to eating on a certain sort of schedule- then it becomes more awake or more tired accordingly.
I’ve found that it helps me to start eating in accordance with my destination’s time zone while on the flight.
2.Echinacea and Zinc…again:
Yep, keep downing these two magic makers.
Even if you don’t feel so much as a tickle in your throat- they’ll both help to boost your immune system, so you can’t really go wrong.
3.Feel Good Practices and Topical Applications:
I tend to get really dry on planes, so I always pack a small thing of Jojoba or Rosehip oil for my face, as well as some sort of hand cream.
If I have a super long flight, sometimes I even use a cucumber face sheet to rehydrate (which feels freaking amazing).
I’m also a fan of aromatherapy, as I find it incredibly soothing even when I’m tired, irritable, and feel pretty dang gross.
My go-to on flights in lavender oil.
Just a little dab on the wrists, or on the soles of my feet if I’m trying to sleep.
I also find music to be a big contributor to my mood.
I love listening to calming tunes when I’m traveling, because I find it just chills me out a bit more.
And the more relaxed my mind is, the more relaxed my body will become- which is crucial when you’re scrunched up for hours on end.
Which leads me to the last one- and that’s back to stretching.
Whether it’s in my seat, or getting up and hanging in a rag doll forward fold in the back of the plane- just getting my circulation going, and my joints unwound feels like heaven.
These are all just little examples of what makes me feel a little more human (especially on LONG trips), but I’m sure you’ll find your own.
All of these are also awesome because they don’t take up a ton (or any) space as far as packing goes.
Meditation and/or breath work is also a great option here, especially if you battle with anxiety in the air.
1.Full or Half Day Fast:
Alright, I know this might not be for everyone- but this has really changed my jet lag.
Like I said before, I’ve personally found that digestion is a big contributor to my mind and body getting out of whack when constantly changing time zones.
I started doing half day fasts upon arrival, and have recently gone to 24-36 hours, instead.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, because fasting can be super challenging.
Especially if you’re going some place that’s known for its cuisine!
But, I’ve found this has really helped to recharge and energize me for the duration of my trip, as I don’t battle with jet lag for as long, or at all.
If water fasting feels like it’s out of the question- then go for a juice or coconut water cleanse.
As long as you’re on liquid only, it gives your digestion a chance to rest and reset.
If you're interested in learning more about my personal fasting journey/practice, click here.
Because travel literally uproots us and transports us somewhere else, this means that Vata (or qualities of the Air Element) are increased.
An excess of Vata can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and general feelings of flightiness.
This means it’s important to ground down wherever you are.
What does any of that mean?
Well, grounding means we’re turning up qualities of the Earth Element.
One of my favorite parts of the Earth Element that I like to focus on is the idea of HOME.
This means, I pack a few things that allow me to feel at home no matter where I am in the world.
As you guys know, I love my SuperFeast tinctures and teas- so these come with me around the world.
Something as simple as maintaining my tea-making ritual in the morning gives me that sense of routine that pulls me back down from the clouds and onto the Earth.
As I mentioned before, I love aromatherapy.
This means I always travel with incense, Palo Santo and White Sage (yeah, I’m THAT chick).
All of these evoke a sense of peace and comfort, and give me the same cozy feeling of my own living room.
Any other practices that I’d typically do at home (for me it’s usually to do with my morning routine) I continue to do when I travel.
A few examples are morning meditation, journaling, and gratitude.
Do what works for you here.
Maybe this means packing a super old, comfy shirt that makes you feel like you’re being hugged.
Maybe it’s a crystal, or a specific essential oil.
Figure out what gives you that feeling of HOME, and bring that with you abroad.
This sort of goes hand-in-hand with getting grounded.
And I think you guys will know what I’m going to say here:
Yoga, meditation, breath work, journaling.
These are my go-to’s, because they’re simply a part of me, and when they fall to the wayside- I can feel the shifts mentally any physically.
These are also great, because you don’t need a whole lot of space.
Even when I’ve stayed in the shittiest, smallest hotels rooms- I still always managed to find enough space to roll out my mat.
Another thing I often do is go for long walks every day.
This is a great way to get acquainted with wherever you are, and also to get some exercise.
Unfortunately this isn’t always possible everywhere I go due to safety, bad pollution, non-pedestrian friendly roads.
I just work with what I got.
You practices might be different, and that’s okay.
Do what feels best for you in order to come back to yourself even if you’re away.
4.Supplements and Tinctures:
Clearly you’ve realized I’m an advocate for Echinacea and Zinc.
I keep downing those for the first few days after arrival just to make extra sure I don’t get anything nasty from the plane.
Everyone’s supplements are going to be different, so I’d just say keep taking whatever you’re taking at home.
I’m not going to share all that I’m taking, because they might not be relevant for YOU and your needs.
If you’re in a country that has unclean water, or is notorious for bad food poisoning- activated charcoal tablets are always my favorite option for funny tummy syndrome.
As mentioned above, SuperFeast offers a great variety of herbs, tonics, and mushroom blends.
Check them out to see if any of their products are suitable for your needs.
Apple Cider Vinegar is also a lifesaver.
I drink it before every meal.
Same with lemon water (hot or room temp).
Both of these support liver function, and alkalinity in the body.
Colloidal silver has also been an awesome addition in supporting my immune system.
I’ve also fallen in love with YourSuperFoods, as they have quite a large variety of superfood blends that come in TRAVEL SACHETS!
This is wonderful, because they don’t take up hardly any space, and there’s no risk of the powders getting everywhere in your bag.
These are great additions to any drink if you need an extra boost of nutrition.
At this point, you’ve burned through your healthy plane food/snacks- and you’re ready to eat locally.
As someone who’s vegan, and often travels to places where people have never even heard this word- I actually find this challenge more fun than I do frustrating.
Let’s just jump to the worst-case scenario:
Everything is super meaty or fried.
I can just about guarantee you that there will be produce stands wherever you are.
Even in the most remote, desolate places- I’ve managed to get my hands on fresh produce coming straight from the farm.
Obviously, some areas are more plentiful that others- so you just gotta work with what you got.
Go for fruits and vegetables that are LOCAL to the region you’re in, rather than imported.
This is great, because it also means you might be trying something brand new, too.
Fruits with peels are easy as far as contamination goes, but if you’re eating something raw without a peel- make sure to clean with filtered water before consuming.
Vegetables can actually be super dangerous to eat raw (depending where you are), so either thoroughly clean with filtered water, or cook them.
If you don’t have cookware or a stove- no worries.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought my own produce, and then brought it back to my guesthouse and asked them to cook it for me (usually only places where vegetarian options are scarce to none).
This works out for everyone- because they still get paid, rather than me eating out- and I get to have something that serves my body’s needs.
Another great resource here for my fellow plant eaters is the Happy Cow app, which lists restaurants and eateries with veg options and reviews from customers.
Here’s the thing- you might be going some place that you don’t have to HUNT for your meals, which is always a bit of a relief.
If that’s the case, the best advice I can offer is sticking closely to whole foods.
It’s always fun to try local cuisine- which isn’t always the healthiest thing.
I say everything in moderation is key.
For me personally, I’m strictly vegan- so I don’t actually make exceptions for local food that has meat or dairy.
However, this is also because I haven’t had meat or dairy in SO LONG that it actually makes me sick.
And who wants to be sick on the road?!
The most I can do is my best, but at the end of the day- when other people are preparing you food, you can never be 100% certain what goes into it.
This is especially true when you’re also dealing with a language barrier.
Like when I go to India and ask for no ghee in my curries and dhal, do I really think they don’t put it in every time?
Not at all.
Did I do my best?
Yeah, I did.
If you’re someone who isn’t as fussed about staying within a certain boundary- then eat what feels right to you.
Maybe that means trying something fried, or an especially yummy sugary desert.
Just know that if you usually eat clean, and then you binge hard on holiday- then it might make you feel shitty.
Take it all in stride, rather than going balls to the wall.
Let yourself enjoy your travel in every sense (including the yummy food), but also honor your body at the same time.
If feel you’ve overdone it at any point, a great way to reset is a half or full day of fasting (water, coconut water, or juice).
I feel this deserves a separate category, because I’m a major snacker.
My brother says I rarely eat a whole meal, because I’m constantly grazing- which is pretty accurate.
This is even more accurate after my 10-day fast in Thailand, as my stomach shrunk so much that there’s just not space for full meals.
And I hate wasting food- so lately I tend to have one full meal, and small snacks in between.
My advice here is similar to that of above:
Stick to whole foods as closely as possible.
Sure, it’s often easy to find a produce stand and stock up on your favorite fruits.
But what about if you want something else?
I’ve been especially surprised how challenging it can be to find yummy snacks without sugar, palm/corn oil, or preservatives.
I’ve been a lot more anal about checking labels since dealing with this Candida crisis, and I’ve been shocked at the way in which even seemingly whole foods still have a bunch of bull shit in them.
If there’s a label, read it.
If not, ask the shop keeper.
Some of my favorites that I’ve been able to find just about everywhere are:
Nuts, nut butter, rice cakes/quinoa cakes, dried beans/peas, dried fruit.
Again, most of these manage to sneak in nonsense (especially sugar), so check before you buy.
I’ve found the best bet is usually going to a small roadside shop, rather than a big super market (well, at least in some countries).
The larger shops tend to have more processed food.
However, depending where you are- the larger shops might also have a health food section, so it’s worth a look nonetheless.
Just a quick example of this would be on my most recent trip to Thailand.
I went to one of the largest stores on the island, and I walked out empty handed because even the packaged nuts had sugar and palm oil.
I stopped at a shack on the side of the road to get more dragon fruit, and noticed some of her other goods.
She had fresh peanuts from her farm for about 5 cents a pack.
And, look, eating a bit of sugar or palm oil isn’t going to kill you.
You don’t want to get to the point that you’re stressed about not knowing exactly what you’re about to consume, because stress is a heck of a lot more detrimental than one not-so-healthy snack.
Just do your best.
Trust your body’s ability.
And ALLOW the food you put in to be the fuel and nourishment you need.
I hope these tips and tricks contribute to the value of your next trip.
Happy travels, my fellow nomads! XO
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.
A practice that has become both controversial and trendy all at once.
I’ve held off from writing this post for awhile for several reasons.
Most of my apprehension simply stems from the fact that I’m not a medical professional (a point that I’ve done my best to drive home in the past).
That being said, I want it to be clear that my intention here is NOT to influence you to do ANYTHING that doesn’t feel right in YOUR body.
But rather, my intention is simply to share my experiences in an effort to connect, and to reveal a little more about what’s going on in my life beyond pretty/curated Insta photos.
I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for about a year and half now.
This means I’ll only eat between certain hours of the day to allow my body ample time and energy to digest (usually 9 am to 5 pm).
These hours (understandably) shift due to constant travel, changing time zones, etc.
However, I’ve found that after I do a big travel, a 12 – 24 hour fast upon arrival has actually helped my body adapt to the new time zone (in terms of digestion) faster than anything else.
Meaning, this practice has started to feel really grounding for me.
But wait- let’s backtrack a little.
I love food.
And, I’ve always had a healthy relationship with it.
I’ve had an “everything in moderation” approach to what I eat (within a plant based diet) for as long as I can remember.
My parents started a somewhat regular fasting practice a few years back, and- to put it plainly- I thought they were crazy for it.
I had it in my head that I could NEVER deprive myself of food for a day.
Hell, I wasn’t even interested in juice fasting at that time.
I understood the articles I read about health benefits, and I believed the healing miracle stories of friends- but I just didn’t think it was something that I would personally ever get into.
“I could never do that.”
“There’s no way I’d be able to.”
These were all common responses I’d have if the topic came up.
And these responses were what actually caught my attention.
Where exactly were these limiting beliefs stemming from?
I didn’t know- so I decided to dive a little deeper.
This is when my journey with fasting began.
I was the person who HAD to eat at least a little something before morning yoga, because otherwise I’d be “too shaky” (even if the class was at 6 am).
I was the person that would get hangry if I felt the slightest rumble of my tummy.
The person who would NEVER skip a meal.
All of which means, I entered into the world of fasting SUPER slowly.
Meaning, I began just by seeing if I could put off eating right when I woke up (usually around 6 am), to after my morning practice instead.
Not gonna lie, even this was a rough transition for me.
So, I was gentle with myself.
If I felt like I really couldn’t wait until 9 or 10 am to eat, then I’d have a piece of fruit, or another small nibble just to take the edge off.
Overtime, these small nibbles got smaller and smaller, until I was easily able to get to the 9 or 10 am mark without staring at the clock willing it to move faster.
At that point- I added the same practice to the afternoon/evening, not having anything after around 5 pm.
Again, this was difficult.
So, again, I was gentle with myself.
Until it got to the point that not only was it easy, but it was actually what my body was used to and even LIKED.
I inched my way closer to trying a 24-hour water fast slowly but surely.
This meant intermittent fasting, and then having only fruit during eating hours.
To eventually, intermittent fasting with only juice.
And now, a full 24-hours of just water and herbs.
I only just completed my first 24-hour water fast about 6 months ago.
Since then, it’s been a monthly practice (usually on the New Moon).
This means that it took over a YEAR for me to get to the point of water fasting.
Rather than jumping in head first, and then punishing myself for not being able to do it the first time around- I took it super slowly.
I listened to my body, and I honored what it asked of me.
I’d like to be clear in saying that I’m STILL not a happy, zenned out faster.
I’m not that levitating, glowing woman who actually has MORE energy.
I’m that hangry chick in the corner who will bite your head off if you look at me the wrong way.
I say this to let you know that although I still find it difficult at the time, I also feel an immense cleansing and energetic rush in the aftermath.
It’s actually to the point now that my body CRAVES these 24-hour resets each month.
This practice has also revealed a lot to me about my relationship with food- revealing what I need versus what I want, or what I think I need.
I noticed the times in which I wanted to mindlessly munch out of habit, rather than actual necessity of fuel.
Most of all, I cultivated a deeper line of communication with my body.
These are things that might be really dangerous for others, especially those who struggle with any kind of restricted eating.
Which is why I don’t think this is a practice for everyone.
But I do know that it's one for me.
As most of you know, I’ve been struggling with balancing my hormones since getting off birth control for the first time in 15 years.
On top of the tidal waves of emotions coming and going, I’ve also been suffering from chronic (as in 2 – 3 times per month) yeast infections for about half a year now.
Over the last 6 weeks, especially, I’ve had some incredibly low moments- where that heavy darkness felt like too much to hold, and I cried all day just because.
I’ve felt like a visitor in my body, my mind, and my heart.
It’s like I’m not the one in the driver’s seat lately, but rather my imbalanced hormones raging war on anything in their way.
Then, there’s the feeling of constantly having an itch between your legs.
Where I can’t wear a bathing suit or yoga leggings because they’re too uncomfortable.
Let alone ride a bike, or swim, or do anything that will make me sweat a lot.
I’ve seen multiple doctors, and each one just gives me more pills or creams that do help in the moment- but aren’t making any lasting changes.
I started realizing the similarity between this experience and a few years back when I had soy poisoning, which resulted in an insane spike in my estrogen levels.
Doctors wanted to give my pills to “fix” it, when in turn, these medications were only making my poor liver work overtime- which actually just made everything worse.
The more I started to dig into symptoms of Candida overgrowth, the more I started seeing myself in these cases.
This last week has been a breaking point for me, as it’s been so uncomfortable to be in my own body that I just want to sleep all day.
Not only the yeast infection- but now also painful rashes on my face, itchy scalp, and heightened depression/anxiety.
I don’t want to keep popping pills, because clearly they aren’t really helping.
So, I returned to a suggestion my mom had made a few weeks back:
An extended fast in a controlled, healing environment.
I started Googling away, and after a few days of research- I found (what I hope to be) the right place for me.
Next week I’ll be leaving for Thailand, where I’ll undergo a 10-day water (and herbal) fast for Candida overgrowth.
I’m fucking terrified.
I know this is going to be one of the hardest things that’s I’ve willingly done.
And I know that a whole lot of shit is going to come up and out during this time- both mentally and physically.
I also know that this isn’t something I can do in my own home.
Not only do I not have the self-discipline- but I also just don’t think it would be safe for me to be without the supervision and assistance of professionals.
This program includes my own specialist to monitor me, as well as daily colon therapy, massages, gentle yoga, and meditation.
I’ve decided to take the time as a full detox- meaning no social media or blogging either.
That being said, I do plan on documenting my experience- perhaps to share, but perhaps just keep for myself.
All in all, the time is for ME.
And the time is for healing (NOT weight loss).
Isn’t it wild how a person who owns and operates a retreat business has never been on one before?
Well, that’s about to change in a pretty radical way.
Here’s to a new year filled with health, abundance and facing my fears.
I’m scared shitless, but I’m so damn ready it’s not even funny.
Bring it on.