Sunday, August 23, 2009

Color me happy: A summer morn in the Santa Ana riverbed

This morning I threw myself out of bed at an ungodly hour in order to catch some morning light at the Santa Ana riverbed, one of my haunting grounds when I was a kid. Unfortunately, it was quite overcast at sunrise, so instead of being down there for an hour, I spent close to three hours waiting for the clouds to break.

Almost wading through the soft sand, sitting on a rock watching the clouds change shape and scaring a whitetail rabbit out of hiding multiple times ... back then, my best friend and I once built a life-size sand sculpture of a naked man right by the north embankment, my brother and I traversed the defunct, rickety railroad bridge, an el nino year brought us enough water for topsy-turvy tubing rides.

Nowadays a monstrous power plant built nearby has spoiled the once quiet ambiance of the riverbed and a sprawling grocery warehouse obstructs some of the view of the mountains to the north. But despite the city's misguided attempts at urbanization around the river so much beauty still lies within these banks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cleansing in Cali

California. It's been a couple of weeks since I flew in from Malaysia, and the first order of biz -- cleansing. Any decent nutritional habits I have tend to go out the door when I'm traveling. What kind of trip would it be if I weren't trying all manner of tasty cuisine along the way?

And not just my GI tract needed a good cleansing. This is a transition period when I'm weighing what I want to put my energies into next, where I want to live and with whom I would like to surround myself. For these decisions, I wanted my mind to be in the clearest state possible, so 10 days ago I embarked on the Master Cleanse, a liquid fast//detox developed in the '40s in which one consumes only lemonade (from freshly squeezed lemons) with pure maple syrup and cayenne each day, along with doing a saltwater flush.

I skipped the recommended three-day ease-in period and went straight into the liquid fast on day 1. Surprisingly the lemon/maple/cayenne mixture was quite tasty, especially since I enjoy spicy things. The cayenne provides a nice kick to the drink.

For the first two days my energy levels dropped significantly, I felt like a slug. I realized how automatic it is to go in and grab a snack during the day and how much mealtime is part of daily ritual. So the first few days were spent retraining my mind out of that auto response and replacing mealtimes with other activities.

On days 3 and 4 I began to feel much better, with my energy levels building. It became easier to be around food without wanting any. The making of the lemonade in the morning had become part of my daily ritual. However, drinking the liter of saltwater for the bowel flush didn't become any easier. I would try to guzzle it all in one go, but it usually took three or four. Yick! I'm cringing at the mere thought.

Being on the cleanse also meant turning down several invites from friends for lunch or dinner. Yet this also meant that I was able to focus inward, meditate, find clarity without distractions.

By the weekend and day 7, I thought I had this in the bag, but I awoke that morning with a nasty headache, which hung around till noon. My energy levels dropped once again and I felt light-headed when I went out to exercise that evening.

Days 8 and 9 saw a peak in energy and clarity. And today, the tenth and final day of the cleanse, I feel great, and not just because I won't have to drink anymore saltwater. Other perks that have come along with the cleanse: my allergies have hardly bothered me at all, I've experienced much better sleep and wake up feeling rested, and I've lost almost seven pounds.

Now that I've reached the end, feeling light, clear and energized, I'm thinking that this is something I would like to integrate into my life on a regular basis.