Day 2: 27th July 2013

Sunrise Agnihotra

It was too early to wake up on a weekend, but this was a rare opportunity, so I dragged myself out of bed at 6.30am so that I could join the sunrise agnihotra session. Cassandra wasn’t feeling well and decided to sleep in a little longer. Claudia and I went for the agnihotra session together.

It was a much smaller group that went for the second session, so we didn’t sit in a circle. Datuk Allan didn’t bring all his assistants as well. Some of the ladies who bought agnihotra sessions also wanted to try leading, and used their sets which they purchased from Datuk Allan to burn the agnihotra. We sat in rows facing the fires, and recited the sunrise chant while the leaders fed brown rice to the copper pyramid.

Participants sitting in rows facing the agnihotra fires for the sunrise agnihotra
Participants sitting in rows facing the agnihotra fires for the sunrise agnihotra

Yin Yoga

After our first cup of juice, we had an outdoor yoga session with Lily Cheong, at about 8am. We gathered at the carpark area which was a bricked area laid over the lawn. To be honest, the bricked area was rather uncomfortable, and it would have been better if we all laid our mats on the lawn. In fact, some of the participants had to move their mats to the lawn midway through the yoga session because the bricks were too painful on our knees and could be felt through our thin mats.

The yoga session wasn’t a full yoga session; it was an introduction to yin yoga.

I have never tried yin yoga myself, so it was new to me.

Yin yoga in the morning, led by Lily Cheong
Yin yoga in the morning, led by Lily Cheong

Yin yoga was more stretching of the internal parts of the body (muscle, nerves, bone) as opposed to the usual yoga we do, known as yang yoga, which stretches our skin and muscle.

Yin yoga involved a lot of stretching and pose-holding for up to three minutes. Lily focused on our hips and lower back. Some of the poses were quite tough for me, as I am not very flexible!

A light drizzle started shortly after we started but fortunately it didn’t last.

It was a new experience for me, doing yoga in the outdoors. However, because it was yin yoga and it was just an introduction, I barely sweated. Some of the participants stayed outside to continue stretching.

Free & Easy

After the Yin Yoga session, we had the rest of the morning to ourselves. It was quite a long break, as we had finished the session at 9am, and our next session was only at 1.30pm for a demo on juices by Jo. In between, we did meet at 10.30am and 1pm for juice. We also had some ginger tea to help expel some of the wind that may be in our stomachs. Sometimes a lot of air may be trapped in our stomachs when all we have had was juice. Part of the retreat was about relaxation, which was important in the detoxification process, which was why we had so much time to ourselves this morning.

Nice hot ginger tea
Nice hot ginger tea

Anyway, after the Yin Yoga session, I went to the river to get my feet wet. Many of the participants also went to the river. The river was very shallow, and the water very clean and cold. Wading out, the water came to just above my ankles. The stones under water were covered with moss and were slippery, and we had to be careful when walking in the river.

Getting my feet wet in Sungai Benus
Getting my feet wet in Sungai Benus

I also walked out exploring the area. It wasn’t much of a village outside D’Ark; most buildings near the river were chalets, although some of the chalets were in public-access areas and were not fenced up. I don’t know who managed those chalets as there were no signs.

Unfenced and unguarded chalets by the river. I don't know who manages these chalets.
Unfenced and unguarded chalets by the river. I don’t know who manages these chalets.
Some of the chalets I saw further in away from the river. They look pretty dingy. I'm glad we didn't stay there!
Some of the chalets I saw further in away from the river. They look pretty dingy. I’m glad we didn’t stay there!

I did see some private homes with their own huge grounds, but they were far and few in between. I didn’t walk out too far, as I had to walk all the way back to D’Ark.

Some of the private homes I saw on my walk
Some of the private homes I saw on my walk

After the mid-morning juice, I spent the rest of the morning enjoying a cup of forbidden Milo on the balcony of our room. It was so relaxing and lovely. I really wished I could have had this view and this balcony back home!

Sitting with a cuppa on the balcony with a green view
Sitting with a cuppa on the balcony with a green view

Here’s something I wrote while I was unwinding on the balcony:

Going on a juice fast is not as bad as I thought. I thought I’d be hungry and cranky, but surprisingly I’m fine. Of course, the occasional dreams of steak, and the fast food burger ads in the newspapers do haunt me, but I’m able to survive so far. I’m not tired or lethargic; in fact I’m quite awake.

I grabbed the opportunity to take a nap before lunchtime juice, as I had woken up early for the agnihotra session.

Juice Demonstration

The lunchtime juice was something that everyone was looking forward to. After all, it was Day 2 of the juice fast. As I was helping to pour out the juice, I could see that some ladies were purposely taking the cups that had just that little bit more. I don’t blame them though. I’d have done the same!

After the lunchtime juice, we gathered around while Jo shared with us several recipes for juicing. There were juices designed for athletes, for weight loss, for salads and pastas, and even for improving our immune system. Jo showed us a demonstration of some of the juices, and created samples for us to try.

Jo talking about some of the things we need to change in our lifestyle to be healthier
Jo talking about some of the things we need to change in our lifestyle to be healthier
Jo making some samples of the juices for us to try
Jo making some samples of the juices for us to try

As a non-lover of vegetables, there were some juices I would never make (like the salad juice – it was basically exactly like salad, except in juice form). But there were some juices that tasted really good to me. Those usually included fruits in the recipe. The salad dressing that Jo shared was delicious, and could be used even for pasta.

Jo had advised many of us to keep up the juice fast until Tuesday to reap the full benefits. Breaking fast in itself was a process; we mustn’t jump back into our old routine, which may cause the body to go into shock as well. She also shared some recipes that we could use during the breaking fast period.

For the rest of the day, three sessions with James were planned: Zen Thai massage at 2.30pm, energy healing at 6.30pm, and sound healing at 9pm. But James suggested that we combine the Zen Thai massage and energy healing session as they were related to each other, and to bring the sound healing session earlier so that we would finish the day earlier.

James found another place to use instead of the hall we used the day before. The hall we used wasn’t cleaned prior to our arrival, and according to James, wasn’t “clean”. Those who were sensitive said they could feel and/or see some presence in that hall.

So James looked around, and found an available room in one of the wooden buildings. It was actually a surau, and it had a warmer, more welcoming feel. With permission, we used this room for all the sessions with James today.

Energy Healing

We started with energy healing first instead of Zen Thai massage. James taught us how to visualize and focus our energies, and we worked on applying the energy healing on ourselves first using our hands, going through all seven chakras. I was quite surprised that I could actually feel warmth on the inside when I reached my second chakra. To be honest, I’m not sensitive when it comes to these kind of things, like energy and aura – not because I don’t believe in them, but I just am not able to feel them.

After that we partnered up, and James conducted a demonstration on how to apply energy healing on a volunteer. It was a very basic form of energy healing, by applying our “healing energy” on the seven chakras. Then we attempted to apply the energy healing on our partners, with James leading the demonstration on other volunteers.

James' demonstrating energy healing on a volunteer
James’ demonstrating energy healing on a volunteer

I partnered a lovely lady called Lai Mun, and I attempted the energy healing on her first. She told me that she actually felt warmth in her feet and her stomach area. We then switched, and I am not sure if I imagined it, but I felt warmth in my feet, my thighs and my throat.

Zen Thai Massage

James then went straight into the next session, which is what he called “Zen Thai Massage” which is similar to Thai massage,  but with his own twist. Because we were not experienced masseuses, James kept it simple and told us what we should do, in order to avoid injuring the person we were massaging. Focusing on pressure points and meridian lines, James conducted a complete demonstration on yet another volunteer. It was pretty long though, so when we practised on our partners, James whittled his demonstrations down to a shorter version.

Lai Mun and I practised on each other again. I must say, it was quite nice and relaxing, even though some of the poses were very yoga-like, it was a nice good stretch.

James' demonstrating Zen Thai massage on another volunteer
James’ demonstrating Zen Thai massage on another volunteer

Sound Healing

We took a break for a cup of juice, and then reconvened at the wooden hall again, this time for sound healing.

In the front of the hall, James laid out the few instruments that he had brought along on a bench. He had many more, of course, but he didn’t bring everything on this trip.

This time, James started with a more in-depth introduction to sound healing. He explained that sound healing was something that we are already familiar with, at a basic level; for example, babies respond to their mothers’ singing.

James played some sounds and music for us on his iPod, asking us to describe how each different piece made us feel. He also demonstrated a few of the musical instruments he had brought, including a flute, chimes, and even tuning forks. Interestingly, he told us that a study has suggested that listening to the “perfect fifth” (C and G notes) could help to cure cancer. How true this is, I don’t know.

James' playing the flute
James’ playing the flute
James' demonstrating his crystal singing bowl
James’ demonstrating his crystal singing bowl

James encouraged us to purchase our own musical instrument that resonates with us individually; for example a triangle, or Mongolian chimes, or even a crystal bowl. It would be something that we can play at home for ourselves, for our own sound healing. The are several ranges of the same type of musical instrument (like a tuning fork set of eight, each of which plays a different note), so it was important to find the instrument that plays that particular note that we resonate with.

After the theoretical introduction, James asked us to partner up for another sound healing test. This time I partnered a lady named Josephine. With both of us sitting down, one of us (A) would close her eyes and raise her right arm straight in front of her up to shoulder level, while the other (B) would try to press the arm down gently. James started first by asking A to visualize unhappy thoughts (for example, “I’m so hungryyyyy!!!!”) and ask B to try to press the arm down. Most of us noticed that as A visualized unhappy thoughts, B found it quite easy to press the arm down. Then James started singing, and most of us would find suddenly A’s arm became stronger and harder to press down.

That was the one of the effects of sound healing – to strengthen a person.

Of course, we switched over so that B would try to press A’s arm down. (This was not a strength test, so it’s not A versus B arm-wrestling style!)

I said “most” in the above paragraph because not everyone experienced the same effect. I personally found that it worked, but it didn’t work for Josephine – possibly because she hadn’t been well throughout the trip.

After that, it was time for another sound healing session. We each got comfortable by lying down on our yoga mats, and closed our eyes.

James went through another session similar to the one the night before; he sung notes accompanied by his crystal singing bowl, trying to generate frequencies that match our chakras.

To my disappointment, I didn’t feel anything again throughout the sound healing session. But as we sat up when the session ended, tears started flowing, much to my surprise. I could also feel physical warmth in one of my chakras. Lai Mun who was right next to me gave me a hug. She’s such a lovely, warm person.

To be honest, I don’t know why I was crying because I wasn’t feeling emotionally different. Evidently my body felt something though, and this was a reaction. This is probably the first step to resolving an issue that I have – which, to be even more honest, I am aware of but is still unresolved. I’m not going to say any more because it’s a little too personal, but I’m sharing the above so that you have an idea on how powerful sound healing can be.

Ten Grains Porridge

We had a small cup of ten grains porridge as our dinner to help fill up our stomach. It’s better than plain juice, but still doesn’t beat a real meal.

A close-up of my ten grain porridge
A close-up of my ten grain porridge

Gallstones Cleansing

The sessions ended earlier than expected, which was great because it meant we had the rest of the night off. Because they ended so early, Jo had to prepare this concoction earlier and she told us to take it back to our rooms.

What is this concoction? It’s part olive oil and part lemon juice.

The purpose of taking it was to ease the removal of — for want of a better word — “stones” from our digestive system. We don’t actually have stones in our intestines, but according to Jo, there are certain things our bodies don’t get rid of, even though we may have no problems with bowel movement. Some things may get stored even for years in our intestines. Because we have been on a juice fast, there will be little solids in our digestive system, which will make it easier to expel accumulated waste from our bodies. In order to help the body expel this waste (which is usually in solidified form, looking like “stones” or gallstones), taking this concoction of olive oil and lemon juice will help lubricate the movement of the gallstones.

Olive oil and lemon juice
Olive oil and lemon juice

Here is how we had to take it: sitting at about a sixty-degree angle in bed, we have to stir it really fast to make the two liquids mix, and then we drink it in one go. We stay at that angle for about 15-20 minutes, before flipping over to the right side (to help the mixture move to the gallbladder). During this time, we shouldn’t be moving, so no getting up to switch off the lights or go to the washroom or anything of the sort.

We were also given a cheap basket each which was supposed to be used as filters… meaning, when it’s time to pass motion, we put this basket into bowl. Because we had only had juice, there shouldn’t be any solids in our stomachs except from food that we have eaten prior to this retreat. Then what we do is we use a hose or bidet to clean out the waste, and only the “stones” would be left behind. The colour and the number of stones would indicate how badly clogged our system had been prior to the juice fast. Results will vary from person to person, of course. Jo said that some of us may pass motion quite soon after taking this concoction, some of us may have to wait for a few days.

The basket
The basket

Anyway back to the olive oil and lemon juice… the concoction sounds gross, but it didn’t really taste so bad. It went down quite easily actually – which was more than could be said about what happened when I woke up about two hours later. Jo had warned us that some of us may feel like throwing up in the middle of the night, and I can vouch for this. Two minutes before midnight, I suddenly woke up with an uncomfortable feeling. I didn’t feel nauseous, but I decided I should run to the bathroom. Just in the nick of time, too.

If I had to complain about anything during this trip, it was this moment. My throat hurt and my stomach was already barely empty – now even more so – and I’ve always hated the feeling of throwing up. Feeling miserable and sorry for myself, I took little sips of water and tried to go back to sleep, which I thankfully managed to do in less than half an hour.

One of my roommates, Cassandra, had it worse than I did though. She woke up about 3 or 4 in the morning, both puking and purging. The poor thing felt quite awful, but in the morning she felt better, and in her own words, “lighter”.

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