All posts filed under: 7-day water fasting retreat

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 7

Mission accomplished! I know from previous retreats that on the last morning before actually breaking the fast, there’s an atmosphere similar to feeding time at the zoo. The lions are hungry :-). I also know that after dawn yoga at 4.45am, there’s no point trying to send everyone back to bed for a last couple hours of sleep. It just doesn’t happen when visions of orange juice are dancing in everyone’s head. So today at 7.00am we had morning yoga instead, followed immediately by preparations for breakfast. We moved the big table outside into the garden to celebrate our meal, and as usual everyone hand-squeezed their own orange. When at last the juicer had gone fully around the table and everyone was meditating on their glass of orange elixir, we ceremoniously broke the fast. First, closing the eyes and smelling the aroma. Then, putting the glass to our lips and taking just a small sip into the mouth, enjoying the way the liquid felt on the tongue. Finally, swallowing, feeling the way the juice slipped …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 6

Dawn yoga and meditation felt so quiet today, after yesterday’s mouna… We kept silence until morning sharing at 9.00 am. After more than a full day without anyone speaking, after more than a day without sitting in our usual group circle, I knew this was going to be a long session. It was. Several of the participants bared their soul, sharing emotional pain and trauma that they’d kept locked inside for years. The emotional detox which had come to the surface a couple of evenings ago was just the tip of the iceberg… In the meantime, the rest of us held the space and supported when support was needed, giving hugs when hugs were needed. After morning sharing, my plan was to begin the process of grounding the participants for the end of the retreat tomorrow. For some this was already well in progress, with fantasies of food, eating and recipes. There were also practical considerations to help people begin to turn back outwards and into the world again. First, we had an initial discussion …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 5

Increasingly, the fast is going deeper and deeper… After ketosis establishes itself over the first three days or so, the body often gives a “grace period” of a day or so before a deeper wave of detox sets in. For some people this manifests in physical symptoms, and it’s no coincidence that over the last 24 hours or so a few of the participants have mentioned flu-like symptoms: a running nose, aches and pains in the joints, and in one case even a little nausea. For other people this deeper wave of detox manifests through emotional cleansing, the beginning of which came out yesterday during evening sharing. In order to allow the fast to continue its natural progress inward and deeper, my plan is to make today as yin as possible. So there won’t be any “exciting” yang programs as we’ve had over the last few days. No. The plan is to do as little as possible and just be. To help everyone just sit and be with themselves without any distractions, I’m continuing yesterday’s mouna for …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 4

Another beautiful day here in the forested hills above Hungary’s Lake Balaton… We’ve been so lucky with the weather – yet again! Last year, it had been raining for weeks before the retreat and then, like magic, the day the retreat started a long sunny spell moved in. This year too, showers had been predicted for every day, but so far it’s been wonderfully warm and sunny: perfect to enjoy the fresh air outside and even some gentle sunbathing in the garden. Today the plan is to take full advantage of the weather and head out on a major expedition: a 9 kilometre / 6 mile hike across the fields and through the forest. I scouted out the route on a run yesterday, and it really is perfect for a slow walk while water fasting, with good paths and nothing too steep. After an abbreviated morning sharing just to check that everyone was still alive and well :-), we left without further ado. Knowing that it’s natural for most people to walk comfortably at a …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 3

If yesterday’s theme was shankhaprakshalana, then the highlight today was a sweat lodge. As much as these two activities are completely different from one another, one crucial element links them together: the way they both assist the heightened cleansing which takes place while water fasting. Now I’ll be totally honest. I was slightly panicking at the thought of leading a sweat lodge as part of a fasting retreat. I knew I wanted to do it, because of the hugely beneficial physiological effects, but I was all too aware of a famous case ten years ago in which three people died in a sweat lodge after – you guessed it – three days of fasting. The surrounding context was completely different, but nevertheless a sweat lodge is a sweat lodge. It’s inherently dangerous, not to mention the fact that, by the end of three days of fasting, many people’s state of consciousness has already diverged significantly away from what they experience in everyday life. Can I trust the participants to know their own limits? To a degree, …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 2

As always, the day began at 4.45am with dawn yoga and meditation. I know that may sound shockingly early :-), but given the way that sleep patterns change during a fast, it actually makes a lot of sense. So often, people have a lot of trouble sleeping while fasting. Getting up before dawn for an hour of gentle stretching and meditation makes it much easier to go back to sleep again afterwards. I love waking up before everyone else, preparing the room with candles, as well as laying a path of candles through the garden, leading from the lower house where we sleep up to the upper house where we practise yoga. It’s a beautiful feeling to wake up in full darkness and follow the path of candles out through the night air and into our cozy common room for yoga. Then, having spent an hour together, we finish practice just as the sun is rising and the world is transformed into a blaze of morning colour. This morning the rain had long passed, and …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Day 1

Another beautiful day here in Hungary… I loaded the car and very slowly set off on the two-hour drive to the Balaton. (Very slowly because the car has a bit of an overheating problem at the moment. Never mind, the slower pace helped me get into a slower-paced fasting mindset!) As usual, the first thing I did after arriving in the village was to head to the Jakab forrás, a spring famous for its healing properties, and tank up with water for the participants.   After that, I continued on to our accommodation just outside the village and prepared the house for everyone’s arrival. Before long, people started arriving. I always enjoy seeing the mixture of different faces bearing different expressions: smiles from those who had been here before and love the place as much as I do, tiredness from those who had had a long week and were ready to relax, and anxiety from those who felt the weight of the 7-day water fast upon them. It was real. It was starting. And there …

Journal for the spring retreat, 7-day water fast: Introduction

Tomorrow we set off for the forest and hills around Hungary’s Lake Balaton to begin this year’s spring retreat, which consists of a 7-day water fast. This year, in addition to the participants from here in Hungary, we have people coming from the U.S. and England. Everyone has now arrived in Budapest, the staging point for tomorrow’s departure. Some of the participants already began their fast earlier today, and I’ll be sharing a last supper with those remaining in just a few hours. The weather is perfect, and set to be around 23C / 75F for pretty much the whole week. I already know that our setting next to a stream (with its own spring) is perfect, because every year we return to the same place: a converted mill house in a secluded forest clearing. With everything already so perfect, I’m excited to be getting this retreat off the ground. This year I thought I’d share the week-long experience here on www.waterfasting.org. Every day I’ll be adding fresh posts, as everyone goes deeper into their …