Kitchari Cleanse Day 2

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Discipline and Suffering

Where is the freaking pizza?

January 10, 2019

Look, I went to Catholic school. I know a little bit about discipline. ;) But being disciplined by another person is different than being disciplined with yourself. Buckle up. Here I go:

In my blog post yesterday, I mentioned that partaking in a kitchari cleanse requires discipline. Yogis often refer to discipline as tapas (though I could totally eat some tapas now, I don’t mean the Spanish small plates). The closest translation for tapas in English is “to burn.” Tapas is heat. Sutra 2.34 of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali states, “kayendriya siddhirasuddhiksayat tapasah” or “By austerity, impurities of body and senses are destroyed and occult powers gained.” I’ll let someone else discuss their experiences with gaining yogi superpowers. Though the ancient yogi (and maybe some modern ones) claimed to have experienced supernatural powers, I have not. But considering the modern lives we live, to be in touch with breath, to witness the thoughts, and feel the body, well, that seems pretty powerful to me.

In any case, to be disciplined is to build heat. Sri Swami Satchitananda’s commentary in The Yoga Sutras mentions, “By the physical tapas of fasting, we burn our excess fat away along with the toxins our bodies have accumulated. By mental tapas, we burn all our old impressions. By verbal tapas, observing silence we control speech. When we burn, we feel some heat and pain. We undergo suffering. So, tapas, also means to accept suffering (emphasis added).

Now, let's sit crooked and talk straight. I am hardly suffering over here. Yes, I have been sluggish today. Yes, I have been cranky. But on the richter scale of suffering, my experiences don’t even register on the meter. Let’s be real though, had I done this in my in former life (pre-yoga-Becky), I would have certainly thought I was deeply suffering. Still, currently, my body and mind are going through a detoxification period that has created some level of mild discomfort.

Mostly, today, I have felt tired and sad. It is not abnormal to feel either during a cleanse, especially an Ayurvedic one. Ayurvedic cleanses are designed to cleanse the mind, body, and emotions. They move accumulation and stagnancy out of our being. For me, I am certain the sadness and my chronic chest infection are related. Though I am happy to report my cough is much better.

The lungs are connected to the heart space or fourth chakra. It’s where we hold emotion, especially sadness or the pain that others have inflicted upon us. Like anyone else, I’ve had my fair share of life’s drama, so there is certainly accumulation of emotion there. And as my body begins to expel that accumulation, up comes the sadness (and mucus. Gross, but true). Up and out it goes. Up and out doesn’t mean gone though. It just means it is time to confront and accept the issues at hand.

Sri Swami Satchitananda writes, “We never lose by accepting pain. The more the pain, the more the gain—and no pain, no gain. We should never run from it.” This is not to suggest that we must endure mistreatment or abuse. Rather, this is internal work. When we have the opportunity to witness what we are holding on to, we have the chance to let it go. In turn, we can grow into our Being with clarity, having cleansed our hold habits, patterns, and emotions.

In the context of kitchari cleansing, there are many habits that lead to accumulation or ama. that we can detoxify or digest through tapas. Banyan Botanticals (my favorite Ayurvedic site) has a lengthy list of patterns that lead to accumulation and stagnancy:

  • Overeating or emotional eating

    1. Improper food combinations

    2. Especially heavy food

    3. Fried food

    4. Excess amounts of cold or raw foods

    5. Highly processed or sugary foods

    6. An excess of the sweet, sour, or salty tastes

  • A detrimental lifestyle (e.g. high stress, excess or inadequate sleep, lack of routine, excessive or inadequate exercise, etc.)

  • Irregular eating habits

  • Sleeping or eating before food is digested

  • Sleeping during the day (for some constitutions)

  • Lack of exercise

  • Repressed or unresolved emotions

By the physical, mental, emotional tapas of kitchari cleansing, we are more able to witness these patterns and how they affect our lives. The build up that we find is called ama, which means “uncooked.” Thus, the only way we can clear the clutter is with tapas.

Unlike what we see on Instagram, yogic and Ayurvedic practices aren’t all green juice-peace-and-blessings-in-Alo-Yoga-pants. Before you get too wound up: I like green juice. I like peace. I like blessings. I have Alo pants. But to practice yoga, to cleanse the body, to clear the mind—it’s damn hard work. It takes discipline. It needs fire.

Who would have know all this would have come forth from a few bowls of grains and lentils.