Meditation could look like crocheting a sweater
5 important points to know before embarking on a detox at home
It’s my favourite time of the year right now. The year-end means I can resign myself to the misgivings of the months gone by and be a little optimistic about the upcoming new year with more realistic resolutions. More so, because of the confluence of festivities taking place right now.
We rode the high wave of Diwali with shimmering diyas, new clothes, gifts and mum’s homemade kaju katli. Coming down into the revelry of weddings, eggnog and plates of plum pudding at Christmas.
People prepare in different ways to get festive ready. For some, it’s home cleaning and getting the Vastu right. Others start budgeting how much to spend on what and where to save, and some strategise about what to do with all the leftovers (if there even are any, to be honest).
After last year’s low-key affair indoors, I knew this year people would want to compensate and go all-out in their celebrations, while keeping safety in mind. Not only my body, but I also had to get mentally ready to re-enter society and socialise.
The Urban Wellness Clinic (UWC) by Atmantan Wellness Centre and Four Seasons, Mumbai, came at just the right time before the festive season kicked off. It was to be a 3-day cleanse and detox programme guided by their team of trained experts, wellness consultants and chefs.
I prepared myself for some pampering, not really registering the ‘detox and cleanse’ part of it all. I’ve always had a bias against anything with the word ‘detox’ attached to it, thanks to years of companies indulging in false marketing of pills, teas and miscellaneous drinks, trying to make a buck off people’s insecurities and lack of information.
But the Atmantan’s bootcamp did expand my understanding of the concept, introducing me to some healthier habits and teaching me a thing or two about doing another mini detox at home.
5 tips for safely starting your detox at home
The best detox goes beyond the physical
On my first night at UWC, Dr Manoj Kutteri, the wellness director at Atmantan Wellness Centre, made me drop the chip on my shoulder about detoxes. Kuterri’s approach is holistic – sipping on a weight loss tea or trying Katrina Kaif’s exercise routine isn’t going to change my body and mind. He explains that any good detox at home or in a clinic has to take into consideration all aspects of our being – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.
An emotional detox would be trying to expel from the body the negative thoughts, fears and worries that we’ve been holding onto.
Kutteri suggested journaling. It could mean physically writing in a book or your phone’s notes app, or mentally pouring out your deepest fears and the vile thoughts you’ve been holding onto but felt too ashamed to say out loud. Uncork that bottle of emotions you’ve had in storage in your brain. Let it all out, and then throw it away.
Putting your thoughts to paper, so to speak, has its benefits for mental health when it comes to prioritising and sorting through your feelings. Seeing it all laid out helps unclutter your mind, enabling you to better process it all and let go of what’s been holding you back.
Consider a day without solid foods
After years of catering to a very fussy eater, I could sense a hint of schadenfreude in my mother’s voice when I told her about my tryst with yoghurt-based smoothies at UWC. I was aware of the strict diet after the first day’s consult with Dr Shraddha from Atmantan. What I wasn’t expecting was a liquids-only day.
My sister laughed for a solid 5 minutes. “The universe is punishing you on someone’s behalf.” There is plenty I need to seek forgiveness for, but whose Tupperware did I steal to deserve a day of no solid food and bowls of roasted vegetables and lauki soap.
I’ve never been a fan of soups, maybe only broths – like, do I chew you or just drink and swallow? But you’re also so thick? I’d heard of the pains of a juice cleanse so I went to bed after filling my stomach with a secret stash of peanuts to stave of any hunger migraines. An early morning ‘breakfast’ was a smoothie with nuts and berries. At noon, we were given some orange juice, lunch was soup, the evening was snack juice and for dinner, two bowls of soup. To my surprise, I was unexpectedly full.
I was expecting hunger from the ‘fast’, but this is called a tapering diet, according to Kutteri. “A juice diet, if done under proper guidance, supports our body’s natural cleansing process by providing complete rest to the vital organs. It helps the body reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.”
I realised that I didn’t need to eat a lot to feel full, just eat the right things. Even though it was ‘just soup’, it was packed with nutrients that kept me full and energised through the day. These weren’t store-bought or out of a package, but freshly made, incorporating easily available ingredients and spices that hit all the right food groups.
Nutritionist Paritosh Sahai says that a soup/juice diet isn’t sustainable, or even really healthy for a long period of time. But one, or a maximum of two, soup-only days in the week can give people a break from the carb-heavy, fat-rich meals they may be accustomed to.
“It lightens the load on the digestive system. It can be a good option for people who struggle to meet their daily requirement of vegetable intake. But more than a day or two of such a diet could deprive you of whole grains, fruits and promote a dangerously low-calorie intake.”
Sahai adds that if you are interested in doing a soups/juice-only day during your detox at home, go for simple homemade soups instead of packaged or store-bought because those can be very high on sodium. Consult a medical professional if you have any pre-existing conditions that require a specific kind of diet.
Making yourself a very early morning person
My days at UWC began at 6.30 AM. The last time I woke up that early was for school. I’m more of a functional-at-noon person. I have seen more sunrises before hitting the bed rather than waking up to them. But this is what I came here for after all, a reboot to my system.
Sticking to the natural circadian rhythm also gives you more sunlight exposure. Studies have found a link between rising early and a lower risk of depression.
The 6.30 AM wake-up rounds featured Triphala water and other detox shots. I presented them with a horrid scene of dishevelled hair, dried drool and morning grumpy face. Not to mention the super delicious breakfast smoothie I had to look forward to… But by around lunchtime, it hit me that I had accomplished more in the those 5 hours than I do on most working days.
My late nights are mostly for revenge procrastination. I find myself staring at the screen for no reason. Though I claim to do my best writing at night, it also means that if I need feedback or additional inputs, I have to wait until the next day, inevitably creating a delay in my own work.
Waking up earlier also meant being able to get through the liquid diet with more ease. Filling the day with things to do meant there wasn’t even time to think about possibly feeling hungry. And my previous plan of sneakily snacking on peanuts after dinner was a flop, considering I passed out at 10.00 pm.
It made me think about all the times, at night mostly, that I’ve ended up ordering a late-night snack, dessert or pizza out of sheer boredom.
You wash your body and hair, now how about your eyes?
The only ‘eye wash’ I’d ever done was when I accidentally did one too many squeezes of the eyedrops bottle. Jal neti, a cleansing technique performed by circulating warm salty water through the nasal passage, was the only yogic kriya I was really familiar with. But the few times I’d tried it in the past, it felt more like waterboarding.
At UWC, I’d start the morning with a supervised jal neti and a triphala eye wash. You have to immerse your eyeballs into little glass cups and wiggle them around underwater. At first, it feels slightly uncomfortable, but then, it feels cool and almost calming. I worried about possible burning and vision loss, but it felt like a spa trip for my eyes.
This is incredibly soothing if you’re also someone who spends the entire day and most of the night in front of the computer or phone screen.
You will love this
The cups are easy to find online if you’re interested in trying it out during your detox at home. Triphala itself is safe to use as an eyewash, unless, of course, you have some kind of allergy, injury or overly sensitised eyes. Remove any eye make-up and lenses before doing this practice. Avoid screen time for 30 minutes and let your eyes rest afterwards.
Atmantan’s team gave me a handy guide to follow the eyewash kriya for your detox at home.
- Soak a pinch of triphala powder in 200ml of water overnight or at least two hours before doing the wash
- Strain the water through tissue or thin cloth to ensure no particles are left behind
- Bend forward slightly from the hips and place the filled eyecups over your closed eyes before you open them underwater.
- Blink your eyes 30-40 times rapidly underwater.
- Look up and down 5-8 times, followed by side to side 5-8 times.
- Rotate your eyes clockwise and anti-clockwise 5 times each.
- Blink rapidly 30-40 times underwater.
Close your eyes before you remove the eyecups and gently pat your eyes dry, avoid rubbing them. The eyewash. can be performed once, even twice a day depending on your needs. If you are prone to eye infections and irritation, please consult your doctor beforehand.
There’s more than one way to meditate
I’ve been trying to meditate for a few years now, on and off. I gave myself a challenge and managed to do it well for a month even, reaping the many benefits that people talk about. But I’ve never been able to sustain it longer than that as an active practice when trying to detox at home.
I desire stillness, but sitting in one place hasn’t worked out well. It could be my anxiety or poor posture acting up that somehow always distracts me. But one thing that Dr Shraddha said to me in our consult really stuck. Anything can be a meditative practice.
If you can manage sitting in place for 30 minutes and practising mindfulness, that’s fantastic. But what I found amazing was Tai Chi. Something I’ve seen many times in films and been curious about, but never had a chance to do before this.
Fitness trainer and choreographer Prashant Sarsar calls Tai Chi moving meditation. The slow movements make you empty your mind and focus on nothing else except controlling your limbs. And I finally managed to meditate without worrying about anything else.
To my surprise, Dr Shraddha explained that I had been practising meditation in a way already, except it was in the form of crochet. Meditation can be any act or practice that brings stillness and peace to your mind while helping you destress. Like watching the crochet needle weave through the yarn, my hands moving with muscle memory.
She stressed the importance of hobbies for adults. As a break from the rut and many stresses of life. This is a moment of peace to indulge in something that makes you focus on nothing else but that. For me, it’s crochet, for you it could be painting, or drawing cartoons, repotting plants or pottery.
Not only do hobbies serve as a meditative practice, but they end with a positive result. An item that you’ve nurtured or created by hand, giving you a new sense of fulfilment and accomplishment for a boost of happy hormones too.
A note of caution: This story contains personal experiences and inputs from trained professionals. Please consult your healthcare provider to ensure any drastic changes in your diet and lifestyle are suited to your body’s needs.