Most Western-medicine doctors aren't high on colonics. Mine had described them using an unprintable word and assured me that if I ate plenty of fiber, my waste-eliminating organs could do a tip-top job all by themselves, in the privacy of my own home. But I'd committed to this detoxifying journey, and I wanted to follow the spa's protocol.

Pamela explains that I'll lie on my back on an exam table outfitted with a kind of bedpan/toilet seat; that's where the key end of me will rest. I'll impale myself on a small tube that leads to a larger tube, then pull a lever to release a stream of water into my colon, cleansing my digestive tract in what Pamela calls an "internal baptism." Even better, the tube is transparent, so I can witness the fantastic voyage. "Once the show starts," Pamela says, "you won't be able to take your eyes off it."

I haven't felt so physically vulnerable since childhood. "Don't make me do it", I silently beg. "It'll hurt." (So far, this entire spa experience is like returning to infancy: gummable foods, fluffy bootees, a caring authority figure who's obsessed with my poop.) But half an hour and some mild cramping later, I hop off the table feeling zesty and buoyant and, honestly, reborn.

There are times of overwhelming hunger. (Did you know that Thoreau once set fire to 300 acres of his beloved woods while trying to cook something to eat?) I fantasize about Mexico, not so far away, the land of enchiladas and discount pharmaceuticals. But like storms, the pangs pass. Without the organizing principle of eating, the hours seem infinitely expandable. Life is something that is constantly unfolding before me, not just a diversion to occupy the interstices between mealtimes. I'm in my body in a moment-by-moment way that makes the world almost psychedelic, the air so fresh it should be a controlled substance, the wild mushrooms so orange, the berries so very purple. "Why, hellooooo there, Mr. Wood Slug!" I feel an ethereal, Stevie Nicks sort of lightness.

When I'm not busy tripping in the forest, there are classes and consultations in yoga (delightful), aromatherapy (incredibly delightful), raw-food prep (pornographically delightful), and conscious language (in which I learn to make manifest my desires in the universe). I also have some soulful chats in the fasting lounge with my fellow travelers: One woman wants to kick a sugar addiction; another took charge of her health after doctors discovered benign tumors in her liver. Everyone is possessed of both Texan joie de vivre and the propensity to make statements like, "There's positive and negative in every thing. That's what moves the universe."

Next: So, is it all worth it?


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