Review: Whole Detox by Dr. Deanna Minich

 

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Whole Detox is a twenty-one-day detox program developed by Dr. Deanna Minich. She has a very sound, hard nutritional science background, but also found that, when working with her patients in a traditional medical way, she was drawn to working with the whole person, rather than just their lack of nutritional health. This program, then, addresses toxicity on a physiological, mental and emotional level. The most enjoyable, newly introduced aspect, for me, was working with color in this system. It was so interesting to watch the way my visual perception of my food and surroundings became so enhanced. I will address the components of the program in a minute.

I would like to reiterate something that Deanna has made very clear: this is not a weight loss diet plan. This is a plan that pulls out most of the major known dietary items that many people have found to cause allergies and inflammation in their bodies and, in doing so, allows the organs of the body a chance to rest and restore themselves to a quiet state of functioning, free from the dietary stressors that can overtax them and create a cycle of toxicity.

This is a very important point to emphasize in order to help prevent a bad bounce that many people can experience after “dieting.” Bounces generally lead to more weight gain than before and can get you right back into another toxic situation because your focus has been too narrow.

I just thought I would put down some reflections about the first time through this program for anyone who might be interested in doing it.

Food-Rainbow

OVERALL

My overall experience is extremely positive! As my friend, Leah, remarked after her first time through, it is the first detox I have ever done that I wasn’t clamoring for it to end. (Or just plain quit it after a few days.) In fact, as I sit here on the last day I do admit to a strange twinge of the “what next?’s” as my life has been so focused and guided for the past twenty-one days and I just want to keep going! Now, it’s up to me to put into practice all that I have discovered.

There are several components of each level (3 days) of the program:

  1. the diet,
  2. finding our limiting thought around the theme for the three days,
  3. working with an affirmation and visualization to begin to explore another way of thinking and feeling,
  4. a short meditation period of reflection,
  5. journaling,
  6. and a movement to try to incorporate a couple of times into your day.
  7. There is an online PDF workbook that provides the questionnaires and logs you will also be working with.

Does that sound like a lot? It might be for you, but this program is a very compassionate in its approach. Deanna states up front that you need to do what works for you.

I took her up on her suggestion and found that some of these things worked better for me on a daily basis, and some just didn’t. If I had done this during a vacation period I would have had more opportunity to participate in most of it, but, as it was, I did this while working full time. One of the weeks was my 4-10’s week, meaning I worked from 6AM – 5PM every day, Monday through Thursday. That week was a bit of a struggle, but, again, I did the things I felt were very important to do and let the rest fall away without guilt.

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Now, onto a short review of the components:

Diet

The easiest thing for me to follow was the diet. There are two dietary paths offered, with separate recipes for each. One is for omnivores, the other for vegans. There is no vegetarian path as dairy and eggs are not included here.

This program is extremely varied in its recipes and its daily caloric intake, so it made it very easy to get through the days. Nothing extreme here, everything is balanced and I felt only minor twinges of hunger here and there. I wasn’t crazy having to shop every three days, but, again, Deanna has simplified this process by providing in-depth shopping lists. It got easier by the fourth level’s shopping as I began to have several items already so only needed a few things. Also, since 85% of the diet is fruit and vegetable-based storing everything in my refrigerator was a little challenging. So, shopping every three days was a good idea.

Ninety-nine percent of the recipes were *superb!* I mean, really top quality. There were only a couple of them that left me scratching my head, and the heavy use of raw garlic and shallots at level three was a bit overpowering.  And…..berry sauce on fish. Now that was just too foodie for me. But, really….first class recipes that I will definitely be revisiting prior to my next detox.

I did find that it was a LOT of work for me. Mostly, again, because I was working full-time so lunches and some prep for the next day had to be made the night before. However, I will be curious to find how I will manage on my own without the regime of following something so strictly. I anticipate that it will flow a little better now that I have found a groove I am comfortable with.

Here is a list of the things that you will not be consuming on this detox:

Caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners, gluten-containing grains (inc.wheat, barley, spelt, and non-gluten free oats,) eggs, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, processed carbs, processed meats, shellfish, alcohol.

If you are interested in doing this detox gently begin to release a portion of any of those items from your daily diet before you begin. How much prior to doing this is up to you. You will cleanse deeply and it will be easier the cleaner your body is at the start, making it more likely that you will stick with the program. I was already 80-100% free from those items at the start of my detox. Caffeine was the biggest release for me and I had a low-grade, but a perceptible headache for the first week.

Here is a big caveat: if you are not someone familiar with consuming items like quinoa, amaranth, almond and coconut milks, seaweed, nut butters and things along this line, I would not recommend this path for you until you have tried those types of items and actually know that you will welcome eating them.

A quick note about medications and supplements: Deanna suggests that you continue to take all your meds while on this detox, however, she offers the option of stopping or continuing with the supplements you have been taking prior. She does encourage you to NOT begin adding supplements that you haven’t been taking. I continued taking my probiotics, potassium, magnesium and Omega-3’s, although, the thorough balancing of the foods in this program probably made them unnecessary. I did refrain from taking any pain medication for my headache as those meds do stress the liver and it seemed counterproductive!

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Additional components:

I really loved exploring my limiting thoughts and trying to find the affirmation to counter them. This was definitely easier on some levels than others. I had a number of “ah-ha!” moments along the way and that was worth the price of admission.

The meditations were always good to do. I found that doing them in the morning was best for me, right after I got out of bed and before I did my formal meditation periods. She gives a three minute time and that was just right. Sometimes I continued on with what came up in my normal meditation period. I tried to blog every day but ended up just keeping notations on my iPhone as they arose during the day. I will try to go back to the blogging and finish it with my notes later. That was what I considered journaling as it was more spontaneous.

As I mentioned, adding the color component to the diet and just as a daily reflection was really inspiring. I began to see whatever color I was working with everywhere! Colors became much more vibrant to my perception. Fun!

The movement component and filling in the daily emotion log were the least utilized. I just found doing my own gentle yoga stretches were best. The daily emotion log quickly got subsumed by my mind. I found my mind trying to “create” emotions because it was aware that I had this checklist to fill out at the end of the day and it wanted the check marks to all be looking a certain way! Nope. I just set that aside as it became a forced exercise and completely outside the purpose of the whole detox!

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My least favorite thing:

My least favorite part of the detox was the monetary outlay. It was expensive even though I had a number of things on hand initially. Additionally, I chose the omnivore path and bought everything organic, free range, no hormones or antibiotics, or wild caught. Ninety percent of all my produce was organic, as was my protein powder. That right there was a huge boost in the budget. It was worth it to me but you could always go with the standard items for a lot less. Next time I may do some days omnivore and others on the vegan track but worry that I would have too many food items left over that would spoil. However, since both tracks are always offered it’s completely up to you how you structure your meals.

My total for all three weeks was: $730. (Did I just hear you catch your breath?? 🙂 )

This is spendy but there are definitely a couple of things to consider: first, although I don’t go out to eat I certainly have been known to buy at least one or two coffee drinks a day, spending roughly $30-$50 a week on that alone! If I did take out or went out to eat at a restaurant every now and then, that’s even more money. I know that most people probably tend to spend more than that a week in the take out.

Second, I had very little produce left at the end of the detox due to two very important reasons: produce bought is quickly utilized across multiple days. Nothing lingered for long as it was readily incorporated into future recipes. Additionally, dinners were made with two meals in mind so there was half your lunch for the next day already prepared! I absolutely appreciated these features!

Here is a breakdown that might also help keep the cost of expenses in perspective:

$70 – There were some staples listed to purchase that would come up often in the recipes. These were things like the milks and staple oils, like coconut, sesame, olive and flaxseed oils. Garlic, ginger, lemons, balsamic and apple cider vinegar.

$201 – This was for all the meat and fish needed. I sat down with all the shopping lists and gathered up all the types and quantities for everything and did a single shopping. I then came home and weighed everything into portions, seal-a-mealed them, then put them right into the freezer. I will also say that I paid an unbelievably high price for that fresh, wild caught halibut! $44 for 1.75 pounds! But I love halibut dearly and felt I was worth the treat! To be honest, though, next time around I might just go with the cod all the way. One third the price and since I continued taking my Omegas I didn’t need the heavy dose of fish oil you get from halibut.

$60 – Protein powder. I chose to keep to the organic brand. One thing that was confusing to me was that Deanna suggests whey protein power for omnivores. Yet she has removed diary from the program. I decided to just stick with the alternative powder without the whey.

$400 – The remaining balance went to all the produce and incidentals needed for each specific level. For things like nuts, I looked ahead and determined which ones would be coming up most often and bought more quantities. But I also just bought what I knew was going to cover what was needed and then a bit more.

Here is a list of the items I have remaining at the end of the detox (these are just the items I specifically had to buy for the program as I did not have them before I started):

  • Modest amounts of all variety of raw nuts: cashews, walnuts, macadamia, almonds, pecans, pine
  • Chia seeds: 70% of the bag.
  • Sunflower seeds: 85%
  • Flaxseed meal: 60% of the bag
  • Tapioca flour: 98% of the bag
  • Br. Rice flour: 98% of the bag
  • Small jars of cashew, almond, sunflower butters and tahini: all about 90% full.
  • Coconut water: 25% of carton
  • Coconut milk: 40% of carton
  • Almond milk: 40% of carton
  • Various amounts and types of produce, but nothing outrageous and easily used.

I am going to guesstimate that all those items would ring up to at least $100 as most are specialty items. Luckily I will be able to find uses for the remainders of most, though NO idea who I will ever use up that much tapioca flour! Could have skipped that entirely and just used the brown rice flour.

Deanna also reminded me after reading this review that this detox program is not solely based on the dietary component. You can work through this program free of charge simply by incorporating the other components into your life while remaining on your own dietary path. I LOVE this perspective and might explore that further during the next six months!

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Going Forward:

This is one of my favorite parts of the plan – the after-plan. Deanna doesn’t just leave you to figure out how to strategize your way into re-introducing the foods eliminated back into your world. She gives you a very clear, step by step process. Since she advocates only doing this detox but once every six months, she makes sure you have an outline about how to use the six months in-between for further exploration of what works and doesn’t work for your particular body. Again, that is a very compassionate approach. I also recommend accessing her Facebook page for further support.

I hope this review has helped you determine whether or not this detox plan is for you. I am confident that will be a regular part of my overall health plan in the coming years as I can only see benefit from it.

A sante!

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Pre-Launch Anticipation

Tomorrow is the start of a rainbow journey! I am so excited!  I can barely wait to begin the 21 Day Whole Detox.

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It is one of the most innovative and compassionate detox programs that I have seen. The creator of this program is Deanna Minich and she is renowned in the field of functional medicine which approaches all levels of health and healing: body, mind, and spirit. The program will allow me to spend three days with each of the chakra centers exploring toxic patterns via food and thought patterns which may be creating wholistic blocks. She blends color, visualization, affirmation, meditation, movement, journaling and food to create a synergistic flow of exploration each day. My new friend, Leah, gave me one of the best reminders of approach for this – be curious. I can’t thank her enough for helping me to remember this as curiosity naturally leads to compassion for oneself during the physical, mental and emotional hard parts. It releases the mind from becoming rigid and creating (yet another) situation whereby I am hard on myself. That, in itself, is a toxic pattern and will not serve this path.

To all of you who have accepted the invitation to be my support team, I thank you and appreciate you more than I can say. Much love to you all.

A sante!

Food-Rainbow

 

Stacey Kozel’s Second-Second Life

I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.  ~Joseph Campbell

Way back in the dim dawn of the virtual world there was a phenomenon known as Second Life. A beautiful, interactive virtual world populated with avatars of real-time others from all over the globe. And I was absolutely obsessed with it.

In Second Life I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could look the way I wanted to look, dance like a ballerina, party like a rockstar til all hours with no ill effects, and get a little kinky with a hot looking avatar person. For a little bit of real-life dough, I could buy a stunning piece of property, build and furnish my own home in one day, totally landscape the heck out of it the next. There were real-life interactions aplenty, but they existed behind a world of my own choosing. My fantasy life felt oh so real at times, as it did to so many others who often ended up forsaking real-life marriages, jobs, friends and family relationships to a virtual world of their preference.

 

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Stacey Kozel

Last week some members of a Facebook group that I have been a part of; the PCT Class of 2017; became obsessed as well. We sliced open and spent hours dissecting the second-second life of Stacey Kozel. In Stacey’s first second life she claimed to have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (AT) last year. In her second- second life; the one that captured our group’s fascination and, sometimes, fury; she claimed to have hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) this year.

So, she took a hike, you might be thinking. What’s the point here?

The point is this: Stacey Kozel is paralyzed in both legs and has been since 2014. She can only walk with the aid of either stiff-legged braces (which do not bend at the knee,) or a set of electronic ones which she just received in December of 2015. One of her claims is that she soloed both trails, meaning that she did these trails absolutely alone, without anyone with her. At all. No one. (I emphasize this because it will be important later on.)

And she didn’t just claim to take a hike. She claimed to thru-hike two of the longest, most challenging thru-hikes you can traverse in this country, both over 2000 miles long.

Some of you might be scratching your heads here and thinking to yourselves, “Huh? Hike? Thru-hike? Is there a difference?” Well, by golly, there most certainly is!

The short answer to the question, “What is a thru-hike?” is: you hike with everything you need for your survival stuffed in a backpack. You hike day in and day out. For MONTHS!. Every few days you have the opportunity to get into a town or a hiker rest area (some may be at homes of those known as “trail angels”,) to re-supply on items that you need: food, shoes, gear. You might even get a shower and a nice bed to sleep in. And pizza! (Good lawd, let there be pizza!!) Then, you pack it all up in your pack, and you set off for a few more days. Up mountains, down mountains, around mountains. And sometimes miles and miles of desert. Over boulders, through rivers, across snowfields. In misty rain, drenching rain, whipping winds, scorching heat, life-sucking humidity. You spend about ten to twelve hours a day hiking, the rest is camp time: finding a “comfy” rock or log to sit on if you can…but mostly the ground. Crawling in and out and in and out of your tent. Re-hydrating something resembling food in your Ziploc baggie, although, if you are too exhausted you’ll just stuff a bunch of peanut butter into a tortilla, wolf it down and be done. You are constantly dealing with bugs you never knew existed and hoping you don’t meet up with the bear/cougars/snakes you absolutely know exist. Are we having fun yet?

So, back to Stacey and her claims of her completed thru-hikes.

 

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Stacey wearing her electronic C-braces

There are numerous videos showing her walking with the electronic pair of braces which she says she used to thru-hike the AT. You can find these videos online and watch her gait and pace for yourself. As you watch ask yourself: how can she climb boulders in those? Since these cannot get wet because they will short out, you may also ask yourself how she managed to make her way along the 2100+ miles of the wet and humid AT? Those questions are just for starters.

 

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Stacey wearing non-articulating (stiff-legged) braces

 

She claims to have hiked the PCT using stiff-legged braces, not her electronic ones. Now, remember, these do NOT have the ability to bend at the knee at all. One might now ask: how did she manage to get into her tent? How did she get across a river alone (remember…she claims she hiked with no one at all!) Oh! She also claims that a lot of her hiking was done in the dark of night, which requires that you just wear a single headlamp to illuminate the trail ahead. So, another question would be, how safe would that have been for someone barely able to walk who now is limited visually as to what is ahead on the trail?

Maybe you have never done more than a walk in the park yourself, but these questions stir some nigglings, don’t they?

So, last week up pops the question in the PCT Class of 2017 group asked by Donna Saufley, one of the most renowned trail angels from Hiker Heaven in California. The question is simple: Does anyone remember meeting Stacey Kozel on the trail this year?

(insert sounds of crickets chirping)

Within hours the group chatter and buzz has exploded as it becomes extremely clear that no one in this group who hiked this year saw her at any time, on or off the trail. Immediately many go to Stacey’s websites (she had three) to look for one of the most common items in almost every thru-hikers grab bag – the mountains of photos chronicling this monumental and life-changing time event. The only photos briefly available for viewing on her sites are the same ones from interviews posted on the web, and these photos show her in areas of both trails that anyone can reach with a car and a short walk. Hikers began to ask each other why she doesn’t have any photos from peaks of great import? Or selfies with other hikers or in camp?

Before the questions about her photos can continue, Stacey goes dark. Her websites all come down. She vanishes into the night. (Again…)

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So, our super sleuthy group begins a journey to examine and question every news article they can find on the internet. They sift and ponder and prod and poke.

And, as the hours fly past, still, there is not one single hiker who can attest to meeting her on the PCT this year. Not. A. One.

As evidence mounts up over the next couple of days; as reporters who did initial stories about Stacey, Enjoli Francis of ABC News and Sara Roth from station KGW in Portland,  join our group and write follow-up pieces; the consensus amongst the group is that Stacey Kozel never hiked a single mile of the PCT this year and, most likely, her claim of a full AT thru-hike is also false. (Links to the follow-up pieces: ABC report  Sara Roth’s article )

There did emerge one solid piece of actual hiking evidence. ESPN utilized the services of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Crag F. Walker, to follow Stacey as she attempted to summit Mt. Katahdin, the northern terminus for the AT. This article and the photo essay turned out to be the one piece of solid evidence AGAINST either of Stacey’s claims. The math of the distance hiked over time simply did not support anything that Stacey reported. (Links to both the article and photo essay:  ESPN article      Photo essay by Craig F. Walker

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I am going to take a moment to settle myself into my armchair here and throw out a thought for your consideration.

WebMD has a very clear and concise definition of a condition known as Munchausen Syndrome. It states: “Munchausen syndrome is a factitious disorder, a mental disorder in which a person repeatedly and deliberately acts as if he or she has a physical or mental illness when he or she is not really sick. Munchausen syndrome is considered a mental illness because it is associated with severe emotional difficulties.” A struggle which goes far beyond hypochondria.

I believe that what we may be witnessing with Stacey may be some form of “reverse Munchausen syndrome” such that, instead of her affliction being one of someone who is healthy and believes they are unwell, she is someone with a disability who believes she has none. I think that, in her mind, she can climb mountains, ford streams, battle severe weather and reach the highest summits with no limitations. Just the way you can in Second Life.

I will keep speculating and say that she wanted to believe this about herself because she was, at one time, a person who may have been able to do these very things. The Lupus did not show up until she was nineteen years old. Before that, we might posit that she was an active, healthy young woman. She has indicated that she was very involved with sports in high school. She has indicated that the progression of the Lupus to the point of becoming a paraplegic is actually fairly recent. I imagine that it may have been nothing short of soul-crushing and this may have mentally pushed her over an edge.

When she received those electronic C-braces she was given one thing that may have been dwindling for her – hope. When life has been filled with despair and you are suddenly offered hope you will grasp at anything. She may have believed that these new devices would, indeed, allow her to get out of her wheelchair and climb mountains. Was this a promise offered to her by the manufacturer? Did she just assume this on her own? Who knows. But it may have been what initially motivated her to try. And, in trying, she may have realized very quickly that her new found hope was dashed. She was less limited in mobility than when she had to spend all her time in a wheelchair, but not to the point of participating in something she claims to have once loved….climbing around forests and mountains.

For this reason, I offer up a great deal of empathy. The closest experience I have to anything like this was tearing my meniscus in two places in August of 2015 and having surgery in December of the same year. Struggling to get my hiking body back from this has been low and much slower than anticipated. I have experienced my own rounds of deflating depression as I seem to progress with making miles but suddenly find that I have back-stepped, often for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on.

So struggling against paralysis from a degenerative disease like Lupus is almost unfathomable to me. Where would I be mentally if this situation struck me down? What stories would I need to tell myself about my life to make it through, day after day? Would I find that sitting online, in my virtual second life; dancing, partying, and climbing mountains; would be the only way to feel “normal” again? And, when I was done, would saying to others, “Yes, today I climbed a mountain!” be a complete lie?

After thorough analysis within the group, it is clear that Stacey lied about her achievements.Not just once, but twice. Not just to herself and her friends and family, but nationally via the news media. She profited from speaking events as a representative of both the long distance hiking community and as a representative for those with Lupus and other disabilities who may have followed her story and believed that they, too, can now dream of doing the things they could not before. In the case of the latter, the false hope she offered up is unconscionable. As to the former, Stacey can bank on the fact that the hiking community will be watching every step she tries to take from here on out and will call her out every time.

She believed so deeply in her second-second life that her boundaries and distinctions between real and unreal, fact and fiction, simply disappeared. Now there are some real-life consequences that are raining down on her that she would never find in Second Life.

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The initial momentum and energy of this unfolding had me riveted. My emotions whirled around between shock, disbelief, amazement, and a protective anger fueled by my love of hiking and long-distance hikers. I had just spent a whole week prior in Packwood, WA driving 280 mile round trips helping as many PCTers as I could get from White Pass to Snoqualmie Pass because the trail was closed in-between. I cheered for them to complete their dream of getting to Canada. The PCT was brutal this year, with three known hikers having lost their lives. Many hikers I encountered were looking more beaten down and wearier than I had seen them look in years past. Stacey’s fairy tale not only dishonored the memory of those who lost their lives, but her lies cheapened the story of those who struggled unbelievably amidst this year of major obstacles.

The din within the group has dimmed a bit now. I still read through the postings but they aren’t as flurried and the truth has been revealed enough to satisfy most of us.

As the days since this firestorm has passed, I have often found myself lowering my eyes and looking at my own, two, basically healthy legs and can’t help wondering about Stacey’s inner workings and the feelings which comprise her deeply injured life.

And I am so grateful that within my own, common, basic real life I can find my mountains with my own two feet and pause along any trail long enough to “actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

I Am A Coward

Ani Kalden Wangmo (rt.) and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo taken in the Cave in the Snow, 2010

(This post is dedicated to my friend, Ani Kalden, who began her amazing solitary retreat this past Thursday, June 16th. Read on!)

Long ago I used to consider myself a rather brave and fearless person.  I had done things like:  move across an ocean with two small children to a place where I knew not one single soul-and started a new life;  blazed a trail for women in a neuropsych lab that was so male-dominated they brewed testosterone in the coffee maker each morning;  gave up a lucrative career, home, cats and everything else I owned for a monastery, a robe, and a bowl; left that monastery with the same nothing I entered it with and re-invented a whole new life.

Not bad.  But then there is the life of my good friend and Dharma sister, Kalden Wangmo and, when I look at what she is undertaking I realize the utter paucity of courage that any of those pieces of my life contain.

FLOWER JOY!!!

Kalden and I were monastics together, we were unsui – “wandering clouds.”  Kalden was Rev. Berenice at the time and she was my garden mentor.  Her love and passion for all things plant-related just spilled over with infectious good humor for “flower joy!”  Her laugh is doubly infectious and I always considered her such a bright spot of joy who always told it like it was.

We reconnected recently and I found that her life had gone in a wildly different direction from the days of Shasta, Abbatical tea ceremonies, and flower joy.  She had moved to India, dumped the Japanese robes for Tibetan ones, launched herself into following her teacher Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, and was making plans for a one-year solitary retreat in “Middle Of Freaking Nowhere” India….in a CAVE!!

Oh….and not just any cave but the very same (though rebuilt now) cave that her dear guru, Jetsunma, had lived in for 12 remarkable years!!

WOT????!!!!

When I heard this I could hardly wrap my mind around the concept.  I mean, I’d read Jetsunma’s book way back in my baby Buddhist days and it was astounding and inspiring.  I could barely imagine it then and Jetsunma (already a world-renowned Buddhist nun and teacher) was waaaaayyy up there on my list of incredible human beings.

Jetsunma’s account of her years in the cave

And then, hearing of Kalden’s plans I realized that I was now personally in touch with someone right on up there with Jetsunma.  Someone who was so dedicated to the Bodhisattva path that they were willing to place themselves in a barren and isolated location with no creature comforts in order to deeply explore the depths of their meditation and faith in the Buddhist path.

To give all of you a small glimpse into where my friend will be, here are some photos:

Photo of Jetsunma trying to dry out her few things which got soaked with a spring thaw

Photo of the cave, 2010.  Villagers from the small village below (which is a 3-hour walk up scree) have rebuilt it for Kalden’s stay.

Apparently, the villagers will be able to make it up (or Kalden make it down) the path for the first three months into September.  However, after that, and until the pass is clear again the following spring, there will be no way up or down due to 25 ft+ snows which make foot travel impossible.

Living in the Buddha’s palm

As to my cowardice?  Well, it certainly surrounds my attachment to my body and its comforts.  I am very fond of the HVAC system with its heating and cooling abilities, I love my bed, and I like my garden dirt when it’s in the garden-but do NOT want to have it mucking about in my house.  I adore the way indoor plumbing provides me with toilets, sinks, and showers. I would not fare well in a cave in the middle of nowhere with nought but a dirt floor to recommend itself.

Secondly, I am very attached to my body and its health and safety.  I would not do well in a place where critters can come in and sting/bite/slash/claw me in the middle of the day or night and I’m in a cave with 1″ band-aids and iodine if I’m lucky.  When I mentioned this possibility (along with diseases and other death producing options) Kalden said, “Hey!  I’ll be meditating every second and I’m living in the palm of the Buddha by being in India…What could be better than dying like that???”

Which brings me to the final point of my own cowardice: it is the realization that I do not have the courage and diligence and devotion and discipline within my own practice to do anything even remotely like this.  My faith is not that strong.  I remain a baby Buddhist, still clinging to the convenience of practising where I like, when I like, with conditions conducive to my comfort zones.

Dearest Ani Kalden, my friend, and sister, you inspire me beyond words.  May my own heart and mind and practice reach even 1/10th of yours in this lifetime.

And may you be safe and healthy as you take this journey.  May all sentient beings everywhere benefit from the merit of your extraordinary practice.

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