April 12, 2022

Wins, Oops & Fails in my first Ayurvedic Spring Cleanse.

*Elephant is not your doctor or hospital. Our lawyers would say “this web site is not designed to, and should not be construed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.” But we can’t afford lawyers, and you knew all that. ~ Ed.
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Perfection is overrated unless you are going in to perform surgery.

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I decided to join an instructor led 10-day cleanse to keep me accountable.

So, along with a group of peers, we went on a ride—sharing on Zoom calls and writing on our discussion board.

Some were first timers like me, some were second timers, and some were veterans. We shared questions, concerns, and what-ifs. I am the only human in my house and I have no work for now. I had it easy. I marveled at the stories and laughed with moms on Zoom—those who held their babies and tried to chat and the ones heading out to work while still having to get the children fed and off to school.

We were all ages—and our discussion group was a huge mix even when it came to home and lifestyle, work, children, pets, and spouses. But regardless, there was lots of love, sharing, and community.

And, if you know Ayurveda, you know we talked about poop. Yep. I was waiting for the topic to arise and it did, disguised as a food question. It was a clever guise, but a welcome one.

Poop shares ranged from those suffering from constipation, to those of us who had lots of “perfect“—there’s that word—Bristol Stool Chart ratings, to folks complaining of green poops—maybe too many collards or kale? 

Since I am now back to my morning coffee with functional mushrooms in it, I feel the need to tumble down Alice’s rabbit hole to explore this poop angle. My dosha is vata-pitta. Vata is the king of the three doshas and resides mainly in the colon. Pitta is mainly in the small intestine. See the path I am traveling? Vata can get constipated when she’s aggravated. Pitta does the opposite with loose stools. I know—too much poop information; almost done here.

My brain is filled with vata chaos: she serves me well when exploring creative projects. As my ayurvedic spring cleanse progressed, my grey matter calmed. She felt empty. It was peaceful and much needed, but I hoped it was only a temporary retreat, as I think it moved the vata chaos to my colon and shut it down. Temporarily. I have now found my way out of the rabbit hole and back in action. Bristol Stool Chart improvement already!

With respect to our instructor and the participants, I am guarding the details and recipes of the cleanse itself, but I will say: it was amazing.

So, now you may be eager to see my wins, oops, and fails.

Ah, who doesn’t want some wins?

I was eager to win this 10-day journey. First, I saw success in taking a break from social media—I indulged in none, and wow, that was amazing for my grey matter. I will continue to take those social media breaks, maybe as often as once per week. Sadly, that meant I missed being reminded to read Elephant Journal articles, with the exception of the ones included in their newsletter.

I consumed no coffee, which meant also not having my organic, dual-extracted, functional shrooms. That made me sad at first—10 days is a lifetime for one who has coffee in her DNA. Really—while I’m American born, I am 100 percent Finnish, and coffee is its national drink.

I did enjoy a variety of teas instead. I started missing coffee around day eight, but I lasted all 10 days. Color me happy. I did have an Ayurvedic consultation in mid-February and I took the suggestion to switch coffee to a CCF tea every fourth day, and I have been doing that. I think that made it easier to swallow. CCF is cumin, coriander, and fennel—sometimes I add fenugreek, and at other times I omit the cumin. I also enjoyed a ginger kick with one of the teas—I’d stoke that fire in my pitta with ginger, and then calm it down with some fennel.

Another win was no DOOL replays Monday through Friday. That’s short for “Days of our Lives,” a weird habit I picked up around 2007.

And one more win was sticking to lessening my activity—I did take short walks outside, but it felt like not enough. I did my daily mat practices, but lighter. Maybe too light for my aging muscles and bones. I missed the activity, and now that the cleanse is done, all of that changes today and I will bounce back.

My grey matter was quiet; the chaos was gone. I considered this both a win and a semi fail. There was some concern about that, since a lot of that chaos is my creative side, and that is key for me. She is coming back today and I know she will be back to her witty and sassy self soon.

Oops—yep, they happened.

They included: selecting a carrot, which was not on the list of accepted foods and not making enough food. Suddenly it was 5:00 p.m. and the only quick fix was a little almond butter, which is also a huge no-no. Luckily, I saw a post that advised us to add toasted seeds, such as sunflower, if needed.

Fails happened, too.

Except for my nutrition oops, my biggest failure was not making it through all 10 days of no evening pinot grigio. I shared my fail openly with the cleanse group. I had been doing great, then bam, I lost it. I drove to Publix and bought my vino.

I am human, though. I accept and learn from my failures. This quote, which has been widely misattributed to Winston Churchill, inspires me: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with enthusiasm.” When I was the director of a diagnostic medical sonography program at a university, I used to write that on the white board the first day our sonography students started their journey.

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Author’s note: A huge thank you to our instructor, Kate O’Donnell of the Ayurveda Living Institute and author of three awesome, must-have books on Ayurveda. She’s one of the many wonderful teachers I encountered through my recent studies on the 200-hour Foundations of Ayurveda program through Kripalu that I completed Sunday, the last day of my 10-day cleanse.

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