How The Five Day Digestion Detox Re-Shaped My Life

What follows is a testimonial from a Golden Bridge Yoga student about her experience committing to and participating in the GB five day digestion detox. It is quite profound! Our next five day digestion detox for women starts this coming Monday, September 19th at 7am, with Hari Simran and Normandie. If you are looking to dive deeper into your practice and test your commitment, this is a great opportunity to do just that. If you're ready, you can sign up HERE!

“I am asking you to be committed so that you can have self-confidence, self-projection, so that you can create a strong enough magnetic field that you can be graceful, dignified and noble.” Yogi Bhajan

A few months ago I moved to Santa Monica from Chicago. The move coincided with the completion of a rigorous graduate film program and a resignation from a career that spun over a decade. Despite the excitement of leaving the cold winters of Chicago, the craze of the previous three years had left me depleted and disconnected from my spirit. In addition to feeling worn out, my body regularly spoke to me through excruciating headaches triggered by chronic pain in neck and shoulders that developed from working at a laptop computer without a proper ergonomic set up. Not to mention, I was still recovering from a twice-broken foot – a result of juggling graduate school and a demanding career. Reflecting on all this, I decided that before I got busy again I needed to re-design the way I lived my life on a daily basis.  Specifically, I wanted to put in place a daily spiritual practice, eat more healthily, and change a few old habits that were no longer serving me.

That’s when Golden Bridge announced their Five Day Digestion Detox.  Among other things, the detox involved: 7am yoga classes, a light (essentially) vegan diet, no caffeine, cold showers before sunrise, coconut oil pulling, meditation before bedtime. With little thought and lots of naiveté, I pounced on it. To fully appreciate the gravity of my decision, please note that: firstly, I am a person who never willingly got out of bed before 9am (I was born at 8:45am and felt it was unnatural for me to get up before this time); secondly, unless a meal contained meat (the fattier the better – give me duck, lamb, blood sausage), it left me unfulfilled; and thirdly, I started each day with a strong cup of black tea followed by a strong cup of black coffee that would allow me to move through my many to-do lists with a velocity of a war tank – methodically and forcefully.  It wasn’t until Sunday night, the day before the detox begin, that I realized what I was about to get myself into. But at that point, the thought of backing out felt worse than the thought of staying with it.

And so it started.

First came a throbbing migraine that wouldn’t leave until almost Thursday. I don’t care what anybody says about the health benefits of coffee or black tea. If this is the result when I don’t drink it, then there must be something toxic about it for my body type. On Monday night I felt feverish, which actually turned out to be a blessing because it gave me an excuse for not taking those cold morning showers for the next couple of days. As the week progressed and the fever abandoned me, I had no choice but to slowly turn the shower knob from hot to warm to cold. And surprisingly, that felt good. Come Wednesday, I was ready to give up on getting up at the crack of dawn but thanks to shame I would otherwise feel for not showing up, I kept going. Yet, the biggest test came on Friday night, the last day of the detox, when I hung out with my friends on the Santa Monica pier. They were munching on great things like cheese, salami, and chips while sipping black coffee infused with a bit of bourbon (Woodford Reserve, which happens to be my favorite). It crossed my mind to have a sip of the concoction or a piece of cheese. But I pulled on my strength, and instead dipped into a Ziploc bag of roasted sunflower seeds. At the end, I prevailed. The reward was a feeling of wellness and health combined with a clear, peaceful mind.

So when I woke up on Saturday morning, I had a decision to make: how was I going to proceed with my life? Would I go back to the old days of sleeping in, artificially powering my body with caffeine, allowing my cholesterol to continue its already steep climb by eating meat products (my latest reading this spring was 225 at 41 years old)? Would I want my life to be as it was or, would I open myself up to new ways of living I hadn’t yet experienced? Yogi Bhajan said that the blocks to our growth are our attachments to the familiarity of the past and our fear of the expanded Self. That’s exactly what was happening with me. On the one hand, I felt attached to the way things were – I loved sleeping, and meat, and strong coffee. On the other hand, I felt fearful of the kind of person I could become by letting go of these attachments. I guess if I was to drill down to what this fear really represented I’d tell you that for me it was about COMMITMENT, the honoring of which inevitably leads to… CHARACTER. And so what I had realized is that this decision wasn’t really about exercise and diet and whether I had enough willpower to sustain it. What I had realized was that if I was to walk into the fear of the expanded Self, I would have to stand firmly on my two legs and not succumb to the pressures and the dramas of the outside world. I would have to take full responsibility for myself including the state of my health. Most importantly, I would have to become a person of high moral ground, a person of my word. Sadly, I think that this is the realization that many people reach and that’s when they give up instead of giving it a chance.  

I chose to give it a chance.

It’s been nearly two months now of 7am Kundalini Yoga classes 5 – 6 days a week, of mostly plant based diet, and the morning oil pulling (which I found cleans my morning stinky mouth better than any toothpaste). I’m happy to report that I haven’t had any neck or shoulder flare ups since I started this regimen (goodbye migraines, too!). In fact, my body has been steadily getting stronger, not to mention it looks fit and toned. The miracle of not eating meat was that, in addition to my digestive system now working like a charm (no more constipation, thank god), the acne on my back has completely cleared (mind you, I tried to get rid of it with creams and scrubs and nothing ever worked). The gap that meat left is now filled with delicious foods I would not otherwise eat. I also lost weight – not because it was my goal but rather as a byproduct of this new lifestyle. Now, drum rolls please, my cholesterol reading as of today, is 199 (a drop of 26 points!) plus my “bad” cholesterol went down for the first time in years to normal levels. Yippee!

So here it is, I now have a daily spiritual practice that exercises my body, flexes my mind, and feeds my spirit. I eat a much healthier diet. I even managed to beat that old habit of sleeping in. And it all started with a Five Day Digestion Detox. When the next one comes around, please do your body, mind and spirit a favor and give it a chance. You’ll be on your way to creating a strong magnetic field so that you can be graceful, dignified and noble.  

Sat Nam,
Rita Ciolek