For years I’ve had the fantasy of disappearing for a few days, to a remote location where I can experience a Monastic lifestyle to meditate, fast from food, practice yoga asana and chant. This concept comes with its own challenges when you’re married, have a full-time job and generally live in the real world.
But what the mind wants, the mind gets. A few days opened up, due to real life, and so there I was hundreds of miles from nowhere, under the big skies of Sutherland writing a blog, in my pseudo monastic lifestyle with my Mac Book.
I decided to head to Sutherland, as I’ve always wanted to visit the SALT telescope and view the night skies from the clearest place in Southern Africa. Added to this I had a new film concept I needed to write, and this seemed like the ideal location for my monastic office.
Next on this journey, I decided it was time to face my fear. My fear of 'no solid food' and juicing instead. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve juiced before and I even have a Horum juicer to make my morning juices. I’ve even made it through a full day on a juice cleanse. But this was going to be different. I was going for four days. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if it would even be possible. I made the mental commitment to give it a try. So I headed to the best juicery in Cape Town and got my 24 juices from Orchard on Long. I loaded the old ‘bokdrol' MINI Cooper, affectionately named due to its brown paint job and matching interior, and headed for the Hooglands of the Karoo, with harmonium, yoga mat and the bare necessities, in tow.
Day 1. (Cue, Dun dun sound reminiscent of Law & Order)
Driving along to the sounds of podcasts to heavy metal all the way through to MC YOGI and East Forest, the juices were a welcoming ally. Normally I’d snack on some form of nut or chip, with the inevitable bloating. But not this time. The trip was steady and joyful, with tastes of a Dr Oz Lemonade, then a date and smoothy style juice followed by a trustee old green juice.
After a scenic 4hr30 drive, I reached Blesfontein, just in time for a sunset yoga practice followed by setting up the trustee ol’ telescope to view a bright Jupiter.
I must admit, once I got settled to view the night skies, I started craving some form of habitual snack or drink. But I soldiered through the last two of the six juices for the day and made myself a cuppa ginger rooibos tea and sent myself to bed at a brisk 8.55pm
Day 2. (Dun. Dun)
After a solid 11hrs of sleep, I awoke with a slight stomach grumble for nosh. But after a stern talking to, I headed to the kitchen, to make a warm lemon tea and prepare for the next day’s fast.
Throughout the day I never thought about another solid meal again. I was feeling light, alert and super energetic. At 2pm I decided to do an hour yoga practice just before my 3pm juice and the chatawronga’s were feeling chataright’a. <mic drop>
Day 3. (Dun. Dun)
I got another solid 11hrs sleep, and this time no grumbling stomach when I awoke. My dream state was also heightened, which as another plus because this was exactly what I was here to figure out for my next film, Sleep Dreams.
Side note. Ok, so at this point I guess I should address the daily ablution situation? Having been vegan for the past 7 years of my life, the morning ablutions remained pretty much the same. Meaning very regular. So if you’re lacking in this area perhaps juicing or a plant based diet is for you! Just a thought.
By the afternoon of day 3, I was still feeling fantastic and not a sign of hunger or h'angryness, which I do get in my daily life on a solid 3 meals a day. Hmmm. Interesting.
Closing off day 3 and having meditated for 2 hrs, yoga for 2hrs, filming, walking, reading and creative writing, I can safely say this was another full and productive day on juice alone.
Now although I was leading a semi monastic life for a mere 4 days, in the Karoo, I still had some obligations back in the real world. So each day, I would walk up to the main house to check in using the lodge’s wifi. The hostess came out to say hi and enquire about my health and well being, as I had mentioned to her that I was juicing.
The juicing had came up in conversation the day before when I gracefully declined her invitation for a karoo lamb chop and aardappels. So in disbelief, she was checking in to see if I was okay. After a short laugh and discussion about what exactly a vegan eats, she mentioned to me that there would be nobody on the farm that night and I’d be all alone.
Dun. Dun…! "I’d be like the last man on earth?" Fascinating, I thought. I wished her well and bid her adieu, until her return in 2 days time.
After a moment of panic that I was perhaps going to be the only human being in a 25km radius, I looked up and was calmed by the shining night sky, the thought of the animal friends I was surrounded by and deep silence of nature.
To be in utter solitude is a must. The ringing stillness of AUM permeates through the air and calms you. It's really unfathomable until you experience it for yourself. That sound of the universe, the unstruck sound. Not once did I feel alone from that point onwards, even though the physicality of it, said otherwise.
Day 4 (Dun. Dun)
Again another fantastic night's sleep. The energy levels from the day before were still prevalent. I set about to make my morning lemon tea, 'one more day until coffee’, I thought, but quickly I erased that thought and enjoyed my lemon tea thingy, with the book I’d been reading titled: The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu.
Throughout the day I was calm, active and never ever hungry. I couldn’t believe it. By this stage my concerned mother called me to see if this "juice fasting thing was a good idea and wasn’t I hungry yet?” I assured her all was well.
After another steady and joyful yoga asana practice, I got stuck into my 3rd last juice of the 4 day cleanse. I assessed how I was feeling all round. I can definitely report that I have never felt better. "This juicing thing really works!” was the main thought that kept mind the entire time.
As I reminisce on the past week, whilst writing this blog post, I’m reminded of a beautiful line in this book about joy. The author asks the Dalai Lama how people reading this book may experience true joy in the face of so much hatred, pain and suffering in the world. Paraphrasing, the the Dalai Lama replies, “I experience joy by knowing that I’m never alone. Although I may be alone right now, there are 7 Billion people on this planet, doing their very best, each and every day. I think about them and that brings me joy, knowing I am never alone in whatever pain and sorrow I may be feeling."