My Natural Detox Retreat at Bahay Kalipay: The Deep Nature Cleanse
By Amberly Rose Young
Part 1: Settling In
When I arrived at Bahay Kalipay, I felt tired, wrinkled, saggy, and altogether a mess. My clothes spilled out every which way from the lice and flea infested corners of my backpack. When was the last time I cleaned that thing?
I was more than ready for a detox, to lose some weight, to learn some yoga, and ultimately begin to love myself again.
Ask me if I believe in God. My answer: “I’m supposed to be Jewish but I don’t really believe in God… ”
Ask me if I believe in myself. “Well sort of, sometimes… ok maybe not. ”
I’ve been feeling fat and worthless, is the honest answer. I had just broke up with my boyfriend 6 days ago and I’m fragile. Suicide had crossed my mind more than once recently, despite the facts: I’m 23 years old, I have plenty of energy to travel, yet I’m drained.
Emotionally, physically, spiritually, I feel empty, or just filled with negativity. I never spend money on myself despite the fact I desperately need a doctor’s check up for my nose infection. I need to lose weight, and I don’t know where to start.
Miraculously my one week detox program at Bahay Kalipay addressed most of these issues. From the very first moment I walked in I felt supported, in an unfamiliar way that also made me a bit nervous at first.
I was set to stay here for 10 days. The payment seemed expensive when I calculated it over and over again at the hostel computer.
“No I don’t deserve this, ” I argued with myself. This could pay for a family to eat for a year, and here I am spending it on myself. “How selfish, ” I thought. But I really wanted to go, and ultimately my intuition triumphed my ego.
“Here,” Tadea smiled, handing me a glass of fresh coconut water. “Let me show you around,” she said, taking my backpack.
For the next 20 minutes, she toured me around the small property, describing in beautiful simplicity what happens at each place.
“This is the dining room, where we eat all our meals together. All raw food is served at the sound of the gong,” Tadea said. “Try to come right away so we can hold hands for the prayer. ”
“There is where yoga classes are held every morning at 7:30, ” she explained. “You can go but you dont have to. ”
“Now I will take your things upstairs and give you some time to settle in, ” she said, “because in an hour there is a tantra yoga class you can go to if you want. ”
Part 2: Coconuts
My second day at Bahay Kalipay was a coconut silent day, which entails eating nothing but coconuts, not talking, no eye contact, and no communication with anyone but yourself. This means: no internet, no writing, no reading, no music… that’s a lot of No.
The first thing I did when I woke up in the morning was cry. How was I going to survive the day? I travel to talk to people, and if I can’t talk to other people, how can I learn anything? And if I can’t learn anything, how can I grow and develop? And if I can’t grow and develop, what’s the point of living? I might as well die.
(Does this sound like a healthy thought pattern to you.)
The next thing I did was write 3 letters. One to my sister, one to my best friend, and one to my ex boyfriend, complaining about my situation and lamenting about how I wanted to leave soon before my 10 days were up. Oh, how wrong was I! Looking back over those letters is like meeting a different person with a stick stuck up their rear end.
By the middle of the day I had consumed 2 coconuts and felt somewhat full.
Now this would have been much more difficult (and it was quite hard) but I had done a coconut cleanse once before in Vietnam after hearing about the concept at a retreat called Hariharalaya in Cambodia. (All these retreats I stumble across fluidly and spontaneously, which is why planning in advance, especially with plane tickets, sometimes fails me.)
In Vietnam, I splurged on my own room ($10 per night) and got to know the women at the market, who not only chased after me threatening to shave my legs, but also forced me to purchase massages and handmade dresses.
The one woman I liked, though, was the coconut lady. She would start opening my coconut as soon as she saw me. For three days I impressively ignored the myriad of delicious street food and only ate coconuts, bringing on a convenient cleanse of diarrhea right as I was supposed to fly to Ho Chi Minh City.
Back to the Philippines, though. By the late afternoon I was crying a lot about the death of my aunt Jeni Reiko, who died over a year ago, and lamenting the fact I had no one to talk to about it. I kept wishing someone would come and comfort me, only to realize I was completely alone. No one was coming.
By evening I was curled into a ball in my bed, ready to sleep and greet the next day where people would pay attention to me.
Did I learn anything from this? No, not really… just kidding, absolutely. I rely too much on other people for happiness. I need to love myself, thats what it always boils down to. I need (ok, I don’t NEED to do anything) I want to treat myself to a pedicure, to a new dress, to something girly. I want to travel alone and trust my intuition, rather than beat myself up about stupid little things. But hey, I’m still here…
Colon Cleanse: A Tube Up Your Where?
They are going to stick a tube up your rear and put water up it, someone told me. Maybe not in those words exactly, but thats what I remember.
“That sounds painful, ” I thought. “What if it doesn’t work for me? What if it all gets stuck? ”
I was washing my clothes by hand, pumping water on them and scrubbing them with a board and brush – the ladies who work here always laugh with me when I do this, because they are 10 times faster than me – when Marie approached me and reminded me my colon cleanse was today, in a few minutes.
WAIT. I’M NOT PREPARED. said my brain…
I went to get ready while my friend the sound healer Kalayo finished washing my laundry, what a nice guy.
Hopping into the back of a rickety jeepney with me was Eleri, an Estonian girl with long hair and no brush who has been traveling alone for a while.
“This will be fun! Who would have guessed I would have been doing something this weird in the Philippines,” she told me excitedly. I was nervous. How would our experiences compare?
At the Spring Valley Cleansing Center, we found a professional and experienced mother daughter team waiting to help us. They took our weight and gave us water, and assured us that if there was a problem they would help us. Then it was time, and the younger girl led me to the room.
The room had a hospital feel to it, clean and covered in plastic. Following her gentle instructions, I removed my underwear and laid down, my rear end aligned with the toilet.
“Okay, are you ready,” she asked calmly. NO NO NO.
“Okay, sure,” I said with a smile, like this was totally normal.
“Okay, you insert this now please,” she said, handing me a small metal torture device.
Trying to be brave, I gently inserted the metal rod into my rear. Then she turned on the water. I could feel it filling me up…. WHAT DO I DO NOW?
“Let it go,” she said, and after a ballooning century it came out, swwwwwiiisssshh, it spilled out of me as I exhaled. She left the room as I continued this pattern for the next half hour, trying to breathe and feel the gunky stuff going out of me.
I could flush the toilet with my toe, although she kept knocking and asking if she could flush it for me. There was a button next to my right hand just in case something went wrong, I would press it and she would appear.
After it was all done, I washed everything thoroughly and went to see how Eleri did.
“That was awesome, ” she said. We both started with the same weight and height, and I lost 2.2 pounds, and she 2.6. This was perhaps because of our diets – she ate a little more meat than I. They gave us spirulina and B12 tablets, and we relaxed for a while, feeling our new, lighter bodies.
At the time, I was proud to have lost some weight. The numbers were important to me. A few weeks later, though I would begin to realize that just like money, weight is something false, not real or tangible. We invented the concept to torture and judge ourselves, so we can exist in comparison to others. What a falsity!