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 down the oesophagus like velvet and into the stomach. And then again. And slowly again…
It all took place in natural silence, with everyone fully immersed in the first tastes after a full seven days of fasting. Once we had all finished drinking the juice, we very slowly continued by eating another orange in its original whole form, single slice by single slice. By the end of that, everyone was full. So we stayed sitting around the table, enjoying the sun and the warmth, talking of food, fasting and the re-feeding process which lay ahead.
A couple of hours later we were still sitting around the table 🙂 – at which point I prepared a green smoothie for everyone (see the next post here). After longer fasts, an ideal diet consists largely of green smoothies for the first couple of days, as they are easily digestible and provide large quantities of minerals, vitamins and natural salts.
And so we continued slowly eating and talking, and generally enjoying life. And before long it was time to say goodbye.
I know this was a retreat that everyone (myself included) will remember for a long, long time. No-one who attended the retreat had ever experienced a 7-day water fast before. I’m proud of the way that everyone was able to face their fears and uncertainties, step forward bravely, and instead trust in themselves and in their bodies to complete the fast. I’m also humbled by the way that everyone felt able to entrust themselves to me, in leading them through this journey. It’s been an honour and a privilege, and I look forward to the next time.