The Sanctuary

Listening to the voice of my body

One of the things, that I struggled with when I returned from Thailand was the fact that I’d gone alone, and didn’t have anyone psychically to share the memories of my time there, with or reminisce with. I’d experienced many things on a far different level to that which I do in day-to-day life. Even the same things, such as yoga – they felt different – better!

Which is why when I learnt of Tim Shief’s recent water fast,  I began watching empathetically.

The following quote is taken from a recent YouTube video of Tim Shief’s. A part of a series of videos that he has recorded to document his 36-day water fast. And I’ve sensed a real familiarity within his words, particularly the video this is taken from: “Theory, Test, Results” – perhaps you will too?

“Doing yoga is like a laboratory. For what you eat…you get a real good reflection of the corners of your body.

I wanna be mobile, and light and strong and so when I’m eating a certain way and then going to yoga, (I can) that’s scientific for me, empirically, for how I feel.

So I’d go to yoga and I’d eat raw and go and eat and feel very different from when I ate cooked. Even when I’d eaten potatoes the day before I’d feel very differently. See for me this is my science. You do what you want, but this is my science, and the more I seem to follow what my beliefs were , aswell cus there’s other factors in it, it’s multi-dimensional, it’s multi-layered – there’s wrinkles to the whole thing…”

I was introduced to Tim Shief’s water fasting journey only a week or so ago, and since then I’ve been watching his transition physically, mentally and spiritually, feeling unequivocally inspired.

When I embarked on my own 7 day raw fast at The Sanctuary, in Thailand, just over 3 months ago, I felt my body go through many small transformations – I felt the most connected I had to it in the entire 30 years of my life. I discovered new aspects, new feelings, felt new emotions and really appreciated the taste and textures of the food I was fasting with while practicing yoga, breathing and meditation. That was all in just 7 days!

Thailand raw fast at The Sanctuary

Watching his journey over this past week has really brought those feelings back. And I’ve missed them.

Each day, our individual bodies really are science experiments and Tim is right. What might work for me, may not for you. And I personally have learnt since coming back and returning to a western plant based diet, my body is nowhere near as grounded, tranquil and strong as it felt when I journeyed through my raw fast. I had my theory, put my body through a test and I got results.


I got tempted, And I fell straight back into the same old habits – I don’t really like the fact I eat processed versions of “meat” and their substitutes, while they do fulfill a craving I often feel at vulnerable moments, they highlight for me, a weakness which I don’t like. A hold that food seems to have upon me – and that affects my mood, my depression, my anxieties. A weakness which I know I don’t want to feel but yet, the cycle ensues with food in that I self-medicate at times, with it, to make myself feel better. yet that feeling is temporary. Give it time to digest (even though it’s plant-based, vegan and kinds food) I still feel guilt.

I’ve also returned to drinking alcohol – something I tend to use to help me wind down after a hard week at work – but yet again this highlights a weakness which can probably be combated with something I enjoy more, maybe yoga, a run, a swim or even more of my kitchen experiments.

The fact is the above weaknesses become easier to fulfill, than the strength I gained when I was in Thailand, because these weaknesses are instilled in me from experiences, learned behaviours, habits – they’re a part of western culture – as Tim puts it, they’re “hooks”. Right now, a whole food, plant-based diet isn’t (it’s getting there slowly) and neither is fasting.

Before I went to Thailand, when I told people I was heading to a yoga retreat  and embarking on a raw fast, I was greeted with comments and judgement, not questions. Things like:

“You need to be careful, it’s  not good for your body just eating raw”

“Why do you need to do that, you’re slim?!”

“You’re already vegan, isn’t that enough.”

“Just be careful, make sure you know what you’re doing”

Even during the fast if I complained of moments of feeling tired (after doing 3 hours of yoga in a day in a hot country):

“You sure you’re eating enough?!”

“Have you lost weight?”

“Maybe you should stop now”

People are often afraid of what they don’t understand. I know I am at times. But the main things I learnt and have recollected through Tim’s journey are that:

  • Each of us, each of our bodies is individual – what may work for me may not work for you
  • It is about how I feel – not how others do
  • It is about how my body feels, not how it looks
  • My body and its functions are the most important voice of all, and it should shout the loudest above the noise of others

This might not make a huge amount of sense to some, but it helped me to write it out.

I’ll admit, I have a few very important and rather exciting social engagements coming up, but after that I am really looking forward to reconnecting with my body on such a deep level once because that time is coming, and my body feels as though it needs re-wiring just a little more and I plan to listen to it slowly.

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