Lense – The End of a Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Community Cleanse

Print This Post Print This Post March 29, 2008 on 4:20 pm | In Emotional, Mental, Physical, Spiritual | Comments Off on Lense – The End of a Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Community Cleanse

Despite the notable absence of posts, the past two weeks have been very eventful.  Consequently I am going to try to do a little catching up over the next several days and get my blog back up to date.

Easter Sunday was the end of my Lense (51 days total) and this post will summarize the outcome the entire process, reviewing each of my commitments and what I learned during the course of this spiritual community cleanse.

MENTAL: Practice mindfulness and gratitude by silently praying and giving thanks before each meal.  This is hands down the most profound and transforming of the practices that I cultivated during the Lense period.  Not only has this practice given me a completely new perspective on the act of eating – and in particular the intimate, sacred aspects of this everyday activity – but it has also spilled into other areas of my life.  It is clear that I am at my best when I am fully present and engaged with the activity I am undertaking, regardless of what that activity may be: eating, cleaning, conversing, reading, writing, running, or even sleeping.  Note that although my awareness of the power of mindfulness in these many areas of my life has increased dramatically that does not mean that my ability to consistently applythis insight has – as subsequent posts shall reveal!  But this is not surprising nor is it a cause for criticizing myself – awareness must preceed application, and I happy to progress step by step along this path.

Indeed, the practice of mindfulness during my meals has made me keenly aware of just how seldom I actually am 100% present and focused on the activity I am undertaking.  My values and lifestyle for the past several decades have placed a premium on “efficiency” instead of effectiveness, and as a result my default behavior tends towards multi-tasking, working on autopilot, and looking forward to the next task rather than focusing on and engaging in the here and now.  It seems as though modern society’s preoccupation with and addiction to urgency, instantaneous communication, rapid travel, and the immediate gratification of desires permeates so many aspects of my life.  As such it is more than a little daunting to undertake the challenge to unlearn these habitual responses.  But the rewards are nothing short of miraculous, and the feeling of spaciousness, freedom, and choice more than compensate for the perceived “inefficiency” of the mindful approach to living.  What can be more important than being fully present with what is happening here and now?  And yet how easy it is to distract ourselves with our plans or expectations for the future or our concerns from the past!

One specific benefit of mindfulness as applied to the activity of eating is that it impacts not only my mental perspective, but also my physical manifestation as well.  It is compellingly clear that how I eat has a profound impact on the overall satisfaction I receive from eating, and also predisposes me towards healthier and more supportive choices in the types of food that I eat.  By really focusing on the sacredness of the act of eating and on the food that I consume I find that I am naturally attracted to fresher and more wholesome food.  I also find that highly processed foods or foods that are overcooked are extremely unappealing.  Moreover, by slowing down and truly savoring and appreciating the life that I am consuming, I also derive more nourishment from my food because I tend to chew it more thoroughly (thereby decreasing the particle size of the food while increasing the effective surface area and thus making it easier to assimilate) and more thoroughly mix it with saliva to initiate the digestive process. 

EMOTIONAL: Refrain from expressing overwhelm and replace this with a sense of excitement and gratitude for the abundance of opportunities that I have.  Although I have made significant progress in this area, the emotional response that I call “overwhelm” continues to be a challenge for me.  During the last week of Lense (as well as this past week) I have not been in a peak physical state due to recurring issues with muscle tension and back and neck pain.  As a result, I have not been as productive as I normally am and a lot of “stuff” has piled up – bills, correspondence, and general paperwork at home;  bids, project plans, and report follow up at work; and email both at home and at work!  Email probably deserves a post of its own at some point in the future, but there is little doubt that this innocuous seeming tool is a two-edged sword that can either increase productivity and decrease stress or decrease productivity and increase stress depending on how it is approached.

As a result of this “piling up” of tasks both at home and at work, maintaining an attitude of gratitude for the abundance of opportunities in my life has definitely been a challenge!  It has also been a challenge to keep from judging or criticizing myself due to my reduced level of activity and accomplishment – but I am making progress in this area.  There is still a long way to go with this practice, but I am doing my best to be patient with myself as I make incremental improvements in this area.

As my post on Obstacles discussed it is clear that God / Spirit / The Universe is helping me to manifest a number of opportunities to practice this skill.  And it is also clear that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as my next post will reveal!

PHYSICAL: Nature’s Secret digestive cleanse combined with a vegetarian + fish diet for the entire Lense period, plus one 3 day fast and one 7 day fast at some point during Lense.  Overall the dietary modifications and fasts went well, and there were some important learnings made along the way.  To be honest, I am not sure whether or not the Nature’s Secret digestive cleanse made much of a difference given the other dietary regimens I was pursuing. 

Fasting proved to be an important practice not only from the perspective of physical cleansing, but also for providing a setting for really honing my awareness of my relationship with food.  Indeed, many of the insights concerning the sacred dimensions of eating occurred either during or at the end of my various fasts.  I also learned that my current “limit” for water only fasting is about 3 days, after which I tend to become extremely lethargic and weak.  In contrast, liquid fasting (including fruit and vegetable smoothies, as well as “light” soups, in my diet) seems to really agree with me, and I found no problems following an initial 3 days of water fasting with an additional 4 days of liquid diet fasting.  Although I have not done so I may even attempt a longer liquid diet fast as there does not seem any reason from a nutritional perspective why I should not be able to maintain this for two or more weeks without adverse effects on my health.  I found the primary physical benefit of fasting to be an overall increase in my energy level (except at the end of my water only fasts, as noted above) as well as a feeling of “lightness” and peacefulness.

The vegetarian + fish diet that I undertook during Lense was very satisfying, although I did allow myself the luxury of meat on a few occasions.  Now that Lense is over I have re-introduced meat on a more regular (once or twice a week) basis without any problems, and at least for the time being that is how I intend to proceed going forward.  Indeed, rather than placing any specific dietary restrictions on myself my intent is to simply be fully present at each meal that I partake, and to let my inner wisdom guide my selection of food.  Not only is this simpler, but it gives a greater sense of freedom and choice – there is no feeling of “being on a diet”: just a commitment to provide yourself with the freshest, most nutritious and vibrant food possible!

Here are the various physical statistics that I tracked throughout the Lense period as measured at the beginning (February 1st) and end (March 23rd) of the cleanse:

  • Measured:         Beginning                End
  • Height:               6′ 0″                         6′ 0″
  • Weight:              180 pounds             170 pounds
  • Chest:                 40.5″                        40.0″
  • Waist:                 39″                            37″
  • Hips:                   40.5″                         39.5″
  • BMI:                   24.4                           23.1
  • Body fat:            25.8%                        23.4%

The measurements show good improvement in all areas (except height, that is!).  It is especially good to see my waistline reduction and my body fat percentage down into the “acceptable” range.  My longer term goal remains to get my body fat percentage down into at least the “fit” range, and preferably at the low end of that range or the high end of the “athletic” range (i.e., 10-15%).   I suspect the corresponding waistline measurement will be in the neighborhood of 32″ – something that I have not experienced since college and the “discovery” of beer!

Due to the back problems previously mentioned my ending statistics do not reflect the “best” measurements during Lense, as the following chart illustrates:

Weight - Lense

SPIRITUAL: Daily grounding/centering as well as daily energy cleanse.  As I noted in one of my previous updates, these practices form the foundation of my days and I tend to think of them as the “bookends” of my daily routine.  Committing to these practices on a (mostly) daily basis has made a big difference in my ability to tackle my emotional goal of experiencing gratitude rather than overwhelm.

My grounding practice has become substantially easier thanks to some work I did with my Spiritual Integrity Coach.  My previous grounding practice had been to go through a visualization process that involved visualizing growing roots in order to connect with the Earth and then sending a column of light upwards to connect with the Sky.  The root growing visualization tended to be a rather lengthy affair as my roots would spread outward as well as downward, such that the overall grounding process would take about 20 minutes.  This certainly not a “long” time by meditation or visualization standards, but I often found myself foregoing the practice altogether due to insufficient time.

My new grounding visualization involves sending a column of light downwards to the center of the Earth and then sending the same column of light upwards to connect with the Sky.  This is a much more direct and streamlined process for me, and as a result I can achieve a very satisfactory grounding in about 10 minutes, and a really fulfilling grounding in 15 minutes.  The visualization of sending a column of light that is aligned with my spine feels very natural and more direct than my previous root growing visualization, and the overall effect of connecting to more powerful energy sources (Earth and Sky) is identical as far as I can perceive.

As noted previously my energy cleansing practice has also evolved over the course of Lense (indeed, prior to Lense I did not engage in this practice at all).  My initial attempts at energy cleansing involved the use of a rattle to “shake up” and dissipate stagnant energy in my energy body.  This practice proved to be very disruptive to my family (who, as you have no doubt already surmised, have ample reason to question my stability without me adding fuel to the fire) and also was not something that I was particularly comfortable with.  I quickly modified this to a much less obtrusive practice of simply sweeping my entire body (using my hands with the fingers held loosely) as my preferred method of energy cleansing.  I find that sweeping my body in this fashion is very reinvigorating – I really do get a sense that I am breaking up and freeing stagnant energy.  Best of all, this type of energy cleanse is very quiet, and as such you can do it pretty much anytime and anywhere without drawing too much attention to yourself.  Indeed, you can even do it in public and explain it away by confessing to be a “neat freak” that can’t stand lint on your clothing!  I tend to do most of my energy cleansing in the evening before I go to bed – most often when I am taking a shower, thereby combining a physical cleanse with an energy cleanse.

 By starting my day with a grounding to “jump start” my energy body with a connection between Earth and Sky, and ending my day with an energy cleanse to keep my own energy flowing (and releasing “foreign” energy that I have taken on during the day) I have pretty much landed on a system of practice that feels right for me – at least for now.  My next big challenge will be to introduce a regular practice of recapitulation, but as always I need to remind myself to be patient and take things one step at a time.

Vacation – A Break from Blogging and Journaling

Print This Post Print This Post March 14, 2008 on 3:57 am | In Physical, Relationships | Comments Off on Vacation – A Break from Blogging and Journaling

Assuming my back cooperates (which is by no means a given at this juncture) I will be leaving on a one week vacation with my family this morning.  We will be traveling to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri for some well deserved rest and relaxation, which among other things will afford me an opportunity to get my back sorted out.  I will probably take a vacation from blogging as well, and devote some time to journaling and other writing that I have been working on over the past several weeks.

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