One of my all-time favourite sayings is, “I add so much to my life when I subtract so much from it.” This thought came to me one night as I sat on the floor in my apartment during my final year of college. When people think of college – partying, hooking up, studying, term papers & final exams are what usually come to mind. But college was the time that I truly found myself; discovered who I am, what I could & couldn’t handle and ultimately, what I had to let go in order to live my best life. Most of my young life was focused on being a people pleaser. I did everything I could to make my parents proud & to appease my extended family and friends. By the time I turned 18, I was everything to everyone: the go-to girl when you needed something done because you knew she was a pushover who couldn’t say ‘no’. While my desire to be nice and helpful had a positive effect on others, it was a detriment to me physically, emotionally & spiritually. I gave so much of myself to others, I barely had anything left for me. What that did was build up a resentment of the very people who meant the most to me, while creating an onslaught of intense struggles with exhaustion, anxiety and depression. How could I break free of this? The only answer was to start at the very beginning, at the root of who I was and to figure out how I declined to the present state of my sad life. I determined to examine every aspect of my life and to discard every thing in my life that did not benefit me. In other words, it was detox time.
During the spring of 2009, I embarked on a 21-day Raw Vegan challenge which was to be the physically cleansing aspect of my detox. If you are unfamiliar with the raw vegan lifestyle, it requires the consumption of only raw vegetables, fruit, nuts & seeds. For 21 days, I ate nothing cooked or processed. Meals made from raw whole fruit, veggies & nuts, green smoothies, huge salads and water were the only things allowed into my body (temple). Excess weight melted off, my skin and eyes cleared but so did my mind. My thoughts were less cloudy, I was able to focus more in class and I slept better at night. My issues with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), pre-diabetes and sluggishness vanished. The physical detox via the 21 day Vegan challenge (which I thoroughly recommend) was a home run…but there was way more to address. Once I’d conquered the physical detox, I gained the courage I needed to enter an emotional/spiritual detox.
In my formative years, I read loads of self-help books, said lots of prayers & watched countless hours of the Oprah Winfrey show (HA) but nothing helped. I still felt burdened and scarred inside. What made the difference was meditation, specifically the Korean practice of Maum meditation, which was introduced to me by a dear college friend who wanted to start a meditation club. I thought meditation was only about stillness, silence and a connection with one’s inner self but these sessions touched on much more than that. I was taught to see outside of myself, my surroundings, my world; to picture absolute nothingness and to throw away everything in my life into that nothingness – the bad times, the depressing times, the tough times as well as the great times, the happy moments, the achievements…ALL of it, GONE. What a release! Practicing releasing every moment of my past, present and future to God, to the Universe, to a power greater than myself was amazing! What it taught me was that in the ‘grand scheme of things’ what we humans dwell on & what we allow to pressure us & consume our time, emotions & life have little to no meaning. People’s opinions of me, the deadlines, expectations, the competitive rat race, etc. hold zero value and are fleeting. Over time, I felt the depression lift off of me, as if it was a heavy weight removed from my shoulders. The stronghold of anxiety was broken. I was light and free. I was fully detoxed (inside and out) and fully healed. It couldn’t have come at a better time. No one knew that from 2006, I was struggling internally or that I went to bed with suicidal thoughts. I played the role of a person content with life while I suffered in silence. If I did end up taking my life years ago, it would have blindsided my family & all of my friends, both at home and in college. My ‘mask’ was that good. I’d perfected the art of pretending I was okay rather than actually being okay. Time was running out.
I truly believe that detoxing saved my life. If you are ever in a rut in your life, I encourage you to ‘take the garbage out’. Release all negative influences, thoughts, people and actions. Throw out the masks too. You will never be truly okay if you just keep pretending you’re okay. Detox from without and from within. Detox often. It is only when all areas of your life are conquered (mastery of self) that you can truly master success.