21 day water fast: Day 21

gratitude-sunrise (1200x800)I woke up into the darkness, with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude: for the universe, for Réka and the opportunity to be here – as well as for the fast itself.  I sat down to meditate, with the expanse of gratitude laid out as a back-drop to everything in my mind.  It felt and continues to feel like an inner smile expanding from all directions in and around my heart.  Everywhere, almost as if my body were breathing the mantra: ‘thank you, thank you, thank you…’

I’m just so grateful.

Today it occurred to me – no, it was more than just a thought, it was a subtle body-sensation – that at this point, deep into the water fast, something in the core of my body is taking place similar to what happens much earlier on during a dry fast.  As anyone who has tried both types of fasting will tell you, a dry fast feels and works completely differently from a water fast.  With a dry fast, I often get the sensation that my body is like a towel which is being wrung out by the cleansing of the fast.  It’s definitely a sensation of being squeezed out from the inside.  A water fast is completely different, more as if your body is a river bed through which a current of water is flowing, washing you clean.  Now, for the first time, I felt that ‘wringing-out’ feeling.  In my mind, I somehow connect this with the sight of myself a few days ago, caught as a reflection in one of the windows of the house while I was gardening.  Without a shirt on, I really had ‘shrunk’ – especially my core.  That inner shrinking, even visually evident, is a kind of ‘squeezing out’, I suppose.

It didn’t take long to pack up.  For the whole three weeks, I had hardly touched my stockpile of books, cds – or even clothes for that matter!  All the materials I had brought with me for improving the house were constructed and in place, so there was hardly anything to load into the car.

Goodbye Tiszaigar!

The drive home felt distinctly different from my trip back into the city around Day 10.  I think this must have been largely in part to the metabolic changes already taking place by having broken the fast a couple of hours earlier.  If I were a purist, I suppose I should have waited until the evening, but I was already headed towards finishing the 21-st full day of the fast.  In this case, I felt it more important to be practical.  The fact was, is, and continues to be that life back in the ‘real world’ is careening on at full speed, and I knew I had to make a transition quickly.

So, having primed my body the night before, I broke the fast in earnest in the morning with two small oranges.  I decided that, rather than juice them, I would continue to eat whole foods throughout the transition back to normal eating.  The only significant difference between orange juice and whole oranges is in the fibre consumed.  Knowing my digestive system’s tendency towards a slow re-start, I thought that the extra fibre would give my digestive system something to ‘grab’ and get peristalsis up and running a bit sooner.  We’ll see…

Around noon I began on banana smoothies blended with rice milk, and within the space of an hour or so had downed three of them.  Actually, it wasn’t a huge volume: each smoothie contained only one small/medium banana with enough rice milk to just cover it.  The end result, physically, was that the sugars soon began to work on my legs in quite a strange way.  The weakness and lethargy reminiscent of ‘hitting the wall’ continued, but with a physical jitteriness caused by the sugars which felt similar to a caffeine overdose.***  Walking through the garden for the last time, my legs felt a little like a rolling car which is about to jump-start: lurching forward, but without the underlying power to sustain it.  I actually felt a little unstable on my feet due to the uneven bursts of energy.

Back to the drive home.  Unlike the previous trip, my attention was already naturally focussed on the road ahead, without having to make any conscious effort.  And yet that more rounded, spherical consciousness of ketosis continued, and I continued to appreciate all of nature’s attractions on the periphery.  The open prairie, extending to the horizon and infinity… A distant thunderstorm, with rain washing a stain across the sky… Reaching the outer suburbs of Budapest, though, there was no more time for all that (nor were there any more attractions!).  The traffic grew in its intensity and general aggression.  That was fine.  I was happy to play the game.

I arrived home.

(Tomorrow the journal continues with a report of readjusting back to everyday life and food.)

*** Re-reading this blog now, three years on, I realise that I totally overdid the sugars on the first day of refeeding.  Of course, this was partly due to fears of not having enough energy in having to return to everyday life at almost kamikaze speed. With the benefit of added experience, I would have kept my fruit and sugar intake much lower, eaten more vegetables instead, and accepted the fact that I’d just have to return to everyday blitzkrieg with low physical energy levels. Breaking an extended fast and refeeding with too many sugars and calories is dangerous, and can lead to refeeding syndrome!

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