My Natural Detox Retreat at Bahay Kalipay: The Deep Nature Cleanse – Part 2
By Amberly Rose Young
When I saw the food we would be eating, I imagined myself getting seconds even before the food on my plate was cleared. A pesky thought, stuck in my head on repeat. Why not just enjoy what is currently on your plate rather than plan to add more in the future?
I’m always beating myself up about food, whether I’m eating too much or not enough. If I eat too much I’m a fat worthless pig, who needs a tummy tuck, who needs to exercise for 6 hours to compensate for the 5 chocolate chip cookies I just shoved into my bottomless pit of a stomach. If I eat too little I’ll be hungry in a few hours. Better just to skip a meal, or hate myself a little more.
After trying my first few raw food meals, I realized that afterwards I actually felt satisfied. This food is filling, I thought as I took a bite of the raw chocolate pudding we had for our 4pm snack.
Here is our daily eating schedule:
9am, breakfast. Papaya, mango, banana sliced up in a bowl, topped with nuts, dried coconut, and chocolate milk. A very sweet, rich, delicious start to the day.
11am, smoothie. Green smoothie, 80% fruit and 20% greens. Wait no, reverse that. Get your greens, people!
1:30, lunch. Sushi and salad, or cucumber stuffed with cashew cheese and carrot raisin salad. Infinite options here, they are constantly bringing out recently imagined creations.
4pm, snack. Usually something sweet, like fudge or bliss balls or mocha cheesecake
6:30pm, dinner. Always varied and delicious. My favorites are italian night, which is cucumber pesto pasta and lasagna with olives, sun dried tomatos, and cashew cheese. I love the spirulina soup (and I alway have seconds) which comes with one of the hundreds of varieties of salads, which usually contain shredded carrots, jicama, and cucumber topped with some kind of dressing, from olive oil to bell pepper to tahini… yum.
Eating seconds or thirds is justifiable and even encouraged. This food is so nutritious, why not eat more of it?
It is pretty difficult to go hungry at Bahay Kalipay. Thanks to the staff for making this happen every single day. The organization and planning that goes into it boggles my mind.
Society yells a lot of things at me, especially as a girl. Unless you are isolated from magazines or tv, certain rules are pushed at us from a young age: you need to shave your legs. You need to be thin to be happy. Make up is essential for professionalism. When you cut your hair, you need to pay someone.
You aren’t pretty unless you look like a barbie doll. Go buy expensive brand name fashionable clothes. If you are from Asia, you need to have light skin, so wear gloves to protect yourself from the sun even in hot weather. And if you are white, you need to be dark, so lay in the sun and get yourself some skin cancer, or head to the tanning salon to darken up.
These are rules that I ignore, that almost never get me in trouble. (Only a few funny moments, such as a random Vietnamese man stroking my legs on a bus and asking: Is this real? Do you have a boyfriend? I replied: Yes, I’m actually married! My husband loves it.) Who cares if I have hairy legs? Very few. And if they do, what business is it of mine what other people think?
Here is a big revelation:
I DONT CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK.
This doesn’t mean I don’t respect others. I don’t fart in other peoples faces (unless they really deserve it) and generally try to keep quiet when there is a need to.
I am my own entity, complete in myself, and I don’t need other people liking my facebook statuses to complete me. Sure it feels good, it inflates my ego, but it has nothing to do with me or my soul.
Since I’ve been traveling, there has been a lot of death in my family. On day 3 of a 9 day hike in a remote island of New Zealand, my 35 year old cousin killed herself. I was last to hear as there was no reception on the island. Now that I think back, all the signs seem to align in my memory. The sky was dark, it was hailing a lot, nocturnal kiwi birds were coming out in the daytime. Nature was speaking to me.
A few months after that, my Grandpa Jim, Jeni’s dad, died. This was my cue to go home. Finally I had a good excuse to visit family, as I was debilitating homesick at the time. I apologize to James my travel buddy because I was probably so difficult to be with for those months, as I was constantly shutting down but not wanting to talk about it.
Finally, my Grandad got cancer and went through chemo as I was gallivanting across Malaysia and the Philippines. As I was settling into my spirituality, he was becoming more and more ill. Luckily I was here in a healing community, and many times I was able to talk to my new friends about how wonderful he is.
When we were younger, every summer my sister and I would live at Grandad’s house in Hollywood for a week to attend Grandad Camp, created especially for us. This special camp for spoiled girls included trips to toy stores, musicals at the Hollywood Bowl and the Pantages Theater – Lion King, Legally Blonde, and The Producers… I still remember them all!
At night he would make up stories about Mr. Beep Boop. An inventor, Mr. Beep Boop was the caretaker of orphan Sally, who rode around on a flying skateboard and had a pet dog who went along with her on adventures.
Fancy dinners and outings aside, Grandad instilled in me a sense of self worth. From a young age he told me I was special, and that I was good at things. You are a great artist, he would say, buying me books about cartooning and even drawing little smiling birthday cards for me. You are a fantastic writer, he said, buying me graphic novels, autobiographies, any book I wanted. He encouraged me to send him my writing so he could compliment me more.
Now that he is a bit sick, I’ve been having some crazy experiences. A few days ago I had a seizure. It suddenly attacked me as I was working on a laptop. I started shaking uncontrollably, my teeth chattering, my fists clenching. I could barely breathe or swallow, and I was so terrified I screamed out for help, calling out the names of my friends at the retreat: Marie! Sar! Kalayo! Selena!
Selena was upstairs so she came and calmed me down, stroked my hair and spoke to me softly. Then Kalayo came, massaged my forehead, said soothing words, and played some cleansing music around me.
Once I calmed down, I realized something had changed. A shift. If I closed my eyes I could rise up out of my body. What was this?
For the next few days I had a horrible fever, and had to ask for help to get up to go to the bathroom. Kalayo brought me water and massaged my forehead. I barely ate anything except a little fruit and lots and lots of water. Laurie brought me coconut water, the staff cleaned my room. Everyone seemed to contribute to my health.
When was the last time I allowed myself to be taken care of? Flashback to age 10, laying in bed with a red bucket next to me, my mother stroking my forehead.
Letter to Grandad
Every day here is filled with insight. Instead of feeling empty and meaningless, I’ve been feeling learned and powerful, yet humble and sometimes dead. At times I can fly, and at times I can die. At times I am so in my body, breathing deep into my heart to connect my upper and lower chakras, and sometimes I feel myself floating away into the clouds. Sometimes I can’t breathe at all.
One particular moment when I was floating I realized I could enter other peoples bodies. I did this effortlessly a few times, looking into the lives of my friends, until I found myself asking: Is this ethical?
I asked my friend Kalayo, a dreadlocked Philippine who spends most of his time in the 4th dimension. Often he tells me about his worldview: light as sound and the world as underwater. Sound and light just bounces as an echo, a ripple in the water.
Kalayo told me that as long as I ask for permission, I am allowed to enter into other peoples minds. It can be a big help, but I have to protect myself, he said. Take care of yourself, he says to me often, cryptically. It usually annoys me but I know he’s right.
So Grandad, I asked permission from you, and I didn’t hear a no, so gently I placed myself behind your eyelids, and opened your eyes. I looked around the room where you were lying. I saw your hands, and your legs, and the blanket. I saw my dad Kevin, he was sitting next to you holding your hand.
You seemed okay, which made me feel relieved. Although I want you to know that you are free to die at any time you wish. I love you unconditionally regardless of whether you are alive or dead. My thoughts about death are different now. Does anyone ever really die? What about reincarnation? What about past lives?
For example, there is a woman here named Marie, she is Filipino, and when I look at her I see Jeni Reiko. In the sarongs she wears, in the deep color of her skin, in her laugh, in her love of music, in her big hugs, in her cuddly and sweet demeanor. If I squint my eyes, I can literally see and feel Jeni’s presence. It is the same when I go to the ocean, I always say Hello, Jeni!
So Grandad, my main message to you is that what you are going through may be painful and embarrassing. Maybe you feel sad or frustrated to be relying on others for seemingly simple tasks. But there is beauty in what you are experiencing. With pain comes beauty. Asking for help is beautiful. In your life of giving and receiving, it is finally time to return to the early stages of receiving.
But you are not only receiving, you are also constantly giving, it is a flow. Your bonsai trees are giving out energy to the world. The books you wrote, the theories you realized, they are all contributing and giving and evolving. You are a giver, Grandad. You are infinite. You are God, or whatever you want to call it. Mother earth. Unlimited beauty. Light. Joy.
You are so much more than your body. Our mind, spirit, soul, essence is so much more than simply our body. When our body dies, which it inevitably will, we will still see you and talk to you and acknowledge you often. I can feel your energy even now from hundreds of miles away.
So when if you feel weak and small, remember this: You are not your body. You are so, so much more than that.
I love you, its infinite and ongoing, never ending. It circles the globe and the universe and comes in and out through our hands and chakras, through our inhales and exhales, in and out through our whole beings. Feel it, Grandad. Feel the love!
Stay strong, or weak. Don’t force it. Let the feelings happen to you without pushing them away. Remember that everything is spiritual if you want it to be, everything is a sign. The sounds of the geckos, the cats, the birds, they all express their agreement with whatever you are thinking or saying.
And remember I am there with you now, and remember that no matter what your body looks like, you are loved unconditionally by everything and everyone!
And so am I. And so are all of us. We are surrounded by endless love.
This is a never ending process of cleaning and recleaning, learning and unlearning, but it is beautiful and fulfilling. It is an infinite cycle, an 8. A circle. A loop. Infinity. And we are all here together.
About the Author:
Amberly Rose Young is a graduate from UC Santa Cruz in Creative Writing. After graduation, she got her TEFL Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate and booked a one way ticket to New Zealand, where she fulfilled childhood dreams such as milking a goat by hand and chopping firewood. With her 1 year working holiday visa she proudly completed several demanding multi-day hikes, worked in a kiwifruit packhouse but lasted less than a week, and volunteered on farms with hippies who taught her light therapy and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
Next: 6 months in Southeast Asia, where she toured the hills of northern Vietnam by wimpy motorscooter, stopping to embarrass herself by attempting to pick rice with the locals.
After a month teaching English to teenagers in Northern Bali, and getting a rash from the poisonous skin of the Cashew nut, Amber headed to Australia to do another working holiday visa, this time with real money. She timed it perfectly to be picking strawberries in the hail and playing ultimate frisbee in below freezing weather.
A few trains, hitchhikes, and couchsurfs later, she flew from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpur for a month around Malaysia eating too much. Finally she landed at Bahay Kalipay to cleanse. She lost herself and her insecurities along the way, and now she is free to do yoga on airplanes or in supermarkets! To give or receive any advice, feedback, or ideas, please contact her through her website whereisamber.com