My Detox Retreat Experience
The following is the experience of one of our clients during her Sura Detox retreat in October 2012. She had been on retreat with us before - three years ago, and so the deepening of her journey was inevitable. And she agreed to journal the process for us, and for you.
One woman’s journey to wellness through detox
Sometimes I do things because I need to. Sometimes I do things because I want to. But the reasons for my association with Sura detox lie on an entirely different plane, somewhere in the juncture between spirit and instinct. I saw the advertisement in a magazine and I just knew: This is for me! I believe that nothing in life is by chance. My first meeting with Sura Detox three years ago was meant to be. And it was a life-changing experience.
A bit about me: I am a ‘normal’ woman in her mid-fifties with all the bells and whistles: arthritis in my left thumb, thick where I used to be thin, and thin where I used to be thick, natural gravitation toward gym shoes (in every sense). You know, the usual. There is, however, one thing that sets me apart: I am the single mother of an eight-year old with special needs. So, aside from my vain attempts to grasp the last vestiges of my youth (long gone) and beauty (in the eyes of the beholder…) there is a real need to stay healthy and energetic as long as possible - for my little girl who will need me for many years to come.
So – here I am on the cusp of my second visit to Sura Detox. My first visit was preceded by naughty eating and coffee drinking until the bitter end. For this I paid a high price – my first three days at the retreat were ‘rough.’
This time I will be prepared. By the time the retreat starts I will have been coffee/caffeine-free for three weeks, off the sugar, baked goods and dairy products for two weeks and on a vegan cleanse diet for one week. This is no guarantee that things will go smoothly, but at least I won’t be blaming myself if they don’t.
I invite you to join me for the next two weeks on a journey to vibrant health and wellness. The following is a chronicle of my final week of preparation and my week-long detox experience. I will be as candid and honest as I can - on the days I have felt better and also the days I have never felt better!
All the best, a humble pilgrim on the road to wellness.
My Pre-Detox Prep Week Before the Retreat
Today is the final day of my self-imposed three-week pre-cleanse in preparation for the retreat. Tomorrow is day ONE.
Luckily, I got the hardest thing out of the way first: I weaned myself off the coffee right away. Dao gives a stern talk about the evils of coffee during the week – it might even stick with me this time.
My pre-cleanse might sound like a long, drawn-out affair but it has actually been (at times) quite fun.
I have been to a raw food event called ‘A Night of Conscious Eating’ with amazing raw food chef Pablo Castellanos and a raw food workshop with Pablo and his partner Rachel. These arrangements have given me inspiration and have strengthened my resolve to keep going, even when I was watching my child eating ice cream.
Detox Retreat Day One – Introduction and Settling In
I’m all in now.
After a long journey it was wonderful to pull into the driveway of Ham Farm again. I have a lovely room in a large apartment-like affair, with a kitchen, living room and several bedrooms.
I share a bathroom with another woman who has not arrived yet. Most of the participants are here though, I met them at our introduction this evening at 19:30. Looks like a good group.
Dao, Amida, Benita and Kate all gave a presentation of themselves and their areas of expertise. We had our first juice and supplements. We also signed up for our treatments – I am having one every day! A nurturing treat to help get me through.
Off to bed now – I’m pooped. Tomorrow the adventure begins!
- Urine pH: 6.75
- Body weight: 67 kgs
- Blood pressure: 106/71
Detox Retreat Day Two – Detox for Real
It seems strange to write that – sort of like a weird Bridget Jones’ Diary in reverse. I want to record my experience as fully as possible though, so there you are.
I slept quite poorly last night, but this is a common complaint the first few nights. It happened to me last time as well. Consequently I had to take two naps today, well three if you count the one I took during Dao’s talk. Actually it is quite amazing how much I managed to absorb and retain, even though I was on doze mode.
Today Dao talked about the fascinating bio-chemical transactions that take place between plants, animals (humans included), the sun and the air we breath to create energy for life. It is a real trade-off between plants and animals. Listening today gave me a real sense of my place in the scheme of things. I’m not the most important link on the food chain after all. Everything is interconnected in a profound way.
Dao also went quite deeply (well, deeper than I have ever been) into the digestive process. It is true what my mother always told me: ‘chew your food!’
Colonics: The first one went a bit wonky. Don’t know why – it didn’t happen like that last time I was here. Suffice it to say that I had to ask for clean towels. Afterwards I was knackered and had to lie down, so I missed yoga.
My afternoon colonic went much better though, so I have confidence that I have regained my technique. Kind of like riding a bicycle…
Anyway, right now I feel great! The fatigue and slight headache of earlier in the day has been replaced by a feeling of energetic well-being. My hunger is gone too. I just had a lovely aromatherapy massage so that helped a lot. I am now ready for the evening’s movie, my last round of supplements and bed. Ahhhh!
- Urine pH: 6.5
- Body weight: 66 kgs
- Blood pressure: 110/71
Detox Retreat Day Three – Getting to Know You (and Me)
OK – things are going in the right direction! My weight has gone down a whole kilo and my pH value shows more acid in the urine – a sign that my body is becoming more alkaline.
About the weight:
#1. Yiipppeeee! I lost a whole kilo! Even though I know its mainly water, it is still gratifying.
#2. My scales at home weighed me at 65 kgs before I left so something is obviously off with the scales here. Just so you know.
Anyway, I have now had the opportunity to get to know a few of the people here a bit more. This is one of the nicest bits about the Sura Detox experience. We are all in the same boat and more than willing to talk about it. I never in my wildest dreams thought that some day I would be in England discussing my poo with some English dude, but now it has happened. Life takes some strange turns.
But more importantly I am learning more about myself in the process. I can really see how I have changed since the first time I was at Sura Detox three years ago.
The first time I was here I had a throbbing, pounding headache for the first three days and was hungry almost all of the time until we broke the fast on Thursday afternoon.
This time the headache has only been mild and intermittent and when I have had a headache it has been relieved by the colonic. Also, I was only really hungry the first evening. Since then, when the hunger pangs have come I have easily pushed them away. This time I came prepared – I took the pre-fast instructions to heart.
That said, my first retreat was a wonderful experience and the start of my journey to wellness. For three years I have been on the road, making changes in my diet and lifestyle little by little. This time around is a measuring point to gauge how far I have come and encouragement to stay on my path.
Tonight on day three I have finished my second colonic of the day and I feel cleansed, relaxed and awake. I have been to morning meditation, yoga, yet another stimulating talk by Dao, a wonderful massage and an eye-opening counseling session with Kate, all interspersed with colonics, juice and supplements. I even managed to get in an hours nap. A full day of caring for myself – how wonderful!
- Urine pH: 6.5
- Body weight: 66 kgs
- Blood pressure: 116/82
Detox Retreat Day Four: A Challenge
Today has been the most challenging so far. Actually, it started yesterday with my coaching meeting with Kate. She is really good at getting to the heart of your issues and that happened quite quickly. Our conversation was very intense and I spent the entire night thinking about it instead of sleeping. Finally, quite late, I wrote her an email to tell her my concerns.
Nine o’clock on the dot she showed up at the ‘juice stand’ with a book and empathy. We talked again and it helped me to straighten things out. Kate has quite an extraordinary and amazing capacity for understanding. It was wonderful.
That did not help the fact that I had not slept all night however, so I have been feeling knackered and a bit queasy all day. The great thing though is it doesn’t matter. I am here on my own terms – if I need to rest I can. There is no pressure here to participate if you are not up to it. In any case, day four is often the most difficult, according to Dao.
But I did participate. I was at Amida’s movement and meditation at 08:00 (which I love), drank my juice, did my colonics, and a wonderful abdominal massage treatment and attended Dao’s talk (which I also love).
Today Dao talked about how we should be eating according to our morphology and why things have gone so horribly wrong. He introduced food combining as a way to get back to our roots, food-wise. Not too hard to do and satisfying, because with this method you can actually eat regular food and lots of it, without gaining weight. I was kind of on doze mode again today, but in a strange way I actually think I retain more information that way. Weird.
Going for my last juice now, then into bed with the book Kate gave me. This is the life!
- Urine pH: 6.25
- Body weight: 65 kgs
- Blood pressure: 125/76
Detox Retreat Day Five: The Magic of Movement
There are many ways to move your body here at Sura Detox in a gentle and nurturing fashion. Believe me, that is important during this week. Movement facilitates the detox process and brings calm and focus to the mind and body.
My ‘exercise’ of choice is Amida’s tai chi-inspired offering at 8 am and Nikki’s Dru yoga class at noon. The morning class touches on all the major muscle groups with a series of gentle movements, stretching and warming up my lethargic morning body. This is followed by a period of calming meditation. After this class I feel alive and awake, even though there is no food in my body at all.
Nikki’s Dru yoga is based on graceful, flowing movements that improve strength and flexibility while calming the mind. Nikki has geared her classes to suit our fasting bodies so it is just lovely and not too strenuous. The yoga is followed by a period of relaxation that is wonderful.
Aside from this there are ample opportunities for walks in the beautiful Devon countryside, a warm pool and sauna and a gym. I have not taken advantage of these this time however, this retreat seems to be geared toward rest and relaxation for me. I have slept a lot (but unfortunately not during the night) and generally taken it easy. My life at home is so hectic, I think my body just needs a break.
Otherwise I am happy to report that I feel much better today than yesterday, although I have some body aches. Dao says this is normal and I trust his word. If a were at home I would probably take an aspirin or something, but here I have simply stayed with these aches and accepted them as a part of this experience. That is a good thing – surrender and accept . Now that I know I can do it I will try to make this my motto when I go home to my everyday life.
- Urine pH: 6.25
- Body weight: 64 kgs
- Blood pressure: 102/67
Detox Retreat Day Six: Confessions of a Treatment Freak
I have just come from seeing a movie with some of the group. What a great bunch! I really like everyone, it has been great fun getting to know them. There are seven ‘repeaters’ here this time (one of them me), which is an indication of the quality of this retreat. One woman has been here about 10 times – she has lost count!
One of the main reasons so many of us come back time and time again is the staff. Everyone at Sura Detox is extremely knowledgeable, kind, supportive and professional. They make it a safe and nurturing place. The staff offer many fantastic services, but the what stands out for me as my favorite are the massage treatments.
I am a treatment freak. I have had every kind of treatment you can think of in every corner of the world, but the massage treatments here at Sura Detox are the best I have ever had. Anywhere.
As relaxing and decadent as these massages are, they are also extremely therapeutic and a big help in facilitating the detox process. Here you don’t have to worry about ordering in advance or not getting your choice due to full booking. The first evening head therapist Benita gives a detailed explanation of all the treatments and everyone fills out a list of their choices. Benita then, in some miraculous way, hand-crafts a perfect programme for each person on the retreat. Each therapist is hand-picked by Benita and more than excellent. It is almost supernatural how good they are.
The treatments I had this week were:
Two days of aromatherapy massage with Heather, who mixed a heady blend of wonderful smelling oils and deftly set to relaxing and preparing my body for the week to come. She quickly found my knotty spots and worked them with a firm yet caring hand. I have had chronic TMJ for years but after two sessions with her – no more jaw clicks!
Deep abdominal work and Shiatsu massage with Kirsty, that were nothing short of miraculous. The abdominal work was intense – it went right to the core of me. While she was massaging my legs started jerking around everywhere. Benita said it could be my body letting go of trauma. Whatever it was I felt 10 tons lighter afterwards.
When I came the next day for Shiatsu my back was aching due to excess toxins in my kidneys – a common occurrence around mid-week. I don’t really understand what she did, but when I left there my backache was gone and it never came back.
But the best was saved for last. Today I had the most amazing facial I have ever had. Benita used hot stones to massage my shoulders, back, neck and face. It was so relaxing! The products she uses are all-natural and smell sooo good. She also included a bit of reflexology in the deal. That must be what Nirvana is like.
Today was the last day of our fast and tomorrow is the BIG DAY – we get to eat! Last time I was here it was the best food I had ever tasted. Can’t wait!
- Urine pH: 6.2
- Body weight: 64 kgs
- Blood pressure: 109/70
Detox Retreat Day Seven: Break-Fast Day
This was the best day of all! We got to eat again! It was so exciting!
The day started out with the Sura Detox shop with all kinds of superfoods, powders, potions and goodies. I bought an obscene amount things to take back with me to Norway. Never mind, it is a good investment – in my health and well-being. They sell only the best products and the lowest prices, a much better deal than back home.
Next, we had a fabulous and inspiring raw food demonstration by Nikki. She made some delicious hummus with courgettes, served with crudités, out-of-this-world kale chips and a lovely salad with tahini dressing. Our fast was officially broken.
After the final amazing talk by Dao we again adjourned to the kitchen with Nikki for more tasting (a delicious raw granola cookie with nut milk and a choco-banana smoothie) and to make our dinner for the evening. On the menu was courgette ‘pasta’ with tomato-olive sauce, savoury pumpkin pie and salad with vinaigrette dressing. For desert: chocolate mousse with fresh berries.
And please make note: All of this was RAW! Nothing was cooked in the slightest and all made with the best raw, organic ingredients. The entire meal was awesomely delicious, proving that raw food is much, much more than just salads. This was food I would proudly serve to guests in my own home – raw food aficionados or not.
Winding down now. I have packed, said my good-byes and am lying in bed writing my last installment before leaving tomorrow morning. I feel relaxed and satisfied, happy and content. This has been a perfect ending to a sometimes difficult but always amazing week.
Coming to Sura Detox has again been an incredible experience and one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It is the people who make the place – both staff and participants alike. What a bunch of cool, awesome people!
I wish everyone could come here and learn, feel, see and yes, taste what I have this week.
The world would truly be a better place.
And one week after the detox retreat…
I have been back home in ‘the real world’ for about a week now. It has been an interesting week. There have been some ups and downs, but also some amazing, even seminal moments.
The first revelation happened at Heathrow on my way home. I was getting tired after a long train ride up to London, then several flight delays. I sat down on a bench in the middle of the Heathrow hubbub and looked up – the crowds parted to reveal an oasis… Starbucks! Almost on autopilot I got up, walked in and bought a coffee. Silly cow, you might be thinking – but wait! All experiences can be learned from…
I sat down with my coffee and proceeded to pour it into my freshly cleansed body. Pretty soon I noticed the girl behind me coughing without covering her mouth. How rude and irritating! Then a guy sat down across from me, screaming into his mobile phone. Then a woman with two hyper little kids plunked packages, brats and herself down, far too close to me. Suddenly I realized – I am so angry! What am I so mad about? Just a minute I was the queen of serene. Then I just knew – the coffee!
The coffee is making me angry! I contemplated this on the way home on the plane, thinking about all the times I had felt stressed out and short-tempered and the role coffee may have played. Next day my coffee maker moved down to the storage locker in the cellar, right beside a pair of my daughters old ice skates.
OK – the food. Well – I just could not wait to get home and try the recipes from Nikki’s food demonstration! I have already made the courgette pasta with pomodoro sauce, the kale crisps, the choco-banana smoothie, the granola biscuits slathered with raw chocolate, tomato crisps, the dream cream salad dressing and many rounds of nut milk, as well as several other recipes in the sura book and a few of my own, tried and true raw food favorites.
My dehydrator has been going almost non-stop. Then one evening we were invited to dinner and were served pasta. I though I was going to pass out after dinner! It knackered me!
Anyway – I love eating raw now! I feel so much better! It makes such a difference to my body and mood, it is really amazing. And there have been other wonderful benefits as well. I have lost one more kilo since returning home, my digestion is going great guns, I sleep deeper and awake refreshed (for the first time since the last time I was at Sura detox) and best of all – the arthritis in my left thumb is GONE! Yaaaahooooo! My feet feel better too – sometimes I even forget they are there.
Yes, I feel my body has been transformed. But more importantly, I feel transformed on a much deeper level. Listening to Dao’s talks has given me a sense of my place in the world, as a part of an amazing eco-system and no more or less important than any other living being, plant or animal. I have been educated about the incredible inner-workings of my body and inspired to take good care of it.
I feel a renewed reverence and respect, both for myself and the world around me. This retreat has given me so much more than a cleansed body – it has been a spiritual awakening. This is a special place – there is nowhere else like it!