Day 3: Gut and mind reset

Only the impossible is worth doing

On this last day of the monodiet of mung dal and rice, it’s worthwhile to consider, why did I do this? And did I achieve what I’d intended?

First, it’s important to note that eating along mung dal and rice (plus the banana and riced cauliflower I added today) is not about purification. While that may be one of the effects, it’s not the purpose. No, what I’m working on will have a far more universal outcome.

I’m preparing mind, body and soul for a revolution.

North Wind Woman leading march
Photo by Tyler Schank /

As I stated in my post for day 2, we have a lot of impossible to make possible in the next decade. This new year, 2020, we need a groundswell of people like you and me to join together and pull the rug out from under the power structure that systematically condones or promotes environmental and social injustice.

Life as we know it is in grave trouble. Here are headlines from today:

  • “Trump Rule Would Exclude Climate Change in Infrastructure Planning” (Translation for Minnesota: Free pass to Enbridge for the Line 3 pipeline)
  • “Millions of Australians Are Choking on Smoke From Wildfires” (This ground zero for climate catastrophe is a sneak preview of our future in the U.S.)

Homelessness is epidemic. More than 10,000 people are homeless on any given day in Minnesota, and last year, at least 100 people died while homeless in Minnesota.

Signs at the homeless memorial 2019

While some of us rely on faith to guide our way, hope is the common driver. In a recent sermon, Jered Weber-Johnson eased my despair when he shared this quote from the gifted writer Rebecca Solnit:

“I say all this because hope is not like a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. I say it because hope is an ax you break down doors with in an emergency; because hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal. Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.”

Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by so much change needed in this world, I highly recommend reading Hope in the Dark. Solnit’s thesis is that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable. She gives countless examples of how the acts of an individual (think Greta Thunberg) led to a much larger chain reaction and changes such as the right for women to vote, the end to slavery, environmental protections, gay marriage…the list goes on.

Stop Line 3
Photo credit: (

Buff Grace, an environmental activist and Episcopal priest who never fails to inspire me, posed a provocative question recently on Facebook: “What if history was a gambler, instead of a force in a laboratory experiment, and you his ace in the hole?”

I’m going with the assumption we are history’s ace in the hole. There’s too much at stake to underestimate our ability to create significant change. This is no time to sit on the sofa, clutching hope like a lottery ticket. Let’s wield hope like an ax and break down the doors of apathy. Let’s release love and act with compassion for all beings. Let’s be the change we want to see.

Are you in?

Day 2: Gut and mind reset

Day 2: Gut and mind reset

On this second day of eating only kitchari, 3 x per day, I’m settling in with more ease to this self-inflicted diet. It’s amazing how quickly the human body adjusts to a new norm. This works in our favor when we make healthy choices. Not so well when we don’t. Like attracts like, so when we’re imbalanced, we gravitate toward more of whatever is causing our imbalance.

In other words, we’re all addicts.

doughnut with pink icing

One reason my bowl of kitchari is more appealing today is that I remembered to sprinkle chopped cilantro on top of the mung dal and rice. Flavor really helps to brighten the day. On day 1, I must have been stuck in Puritan mode. I forgot all about the cilantro.

While the cilantro adds zest, my tastebuds are already adjusting, so the flavor of cardamom and ginger pop out more obviously. It turns out that kitchari isn’t so bland at all. 

I’m reminded of camping in a tent. That first night, sleeping on the ground, I toss and turn, searching in vain for the cushy comfort I’m accustomed to in my queen size bed. When the sun rises, I’m relieved to end the ordeal, but then have to contend with feeling tired and beat up. However, the aches dissipate with the joy of being outdoors, breathing clean air, listening to bird song, feeling the sun’s warmth on my face. The following nights I sleep much more soundly. I’ve adjusted to the new norm.

With such resistance to discomfort, it’s a wonder we humans achieve anything worthwhile. And it’s easy to see why we’ve made such a mess of things in this world. Why eat mung dal and rice when we can have tenderloin and tira misu? Why fill a glass with water instead of a hoppy pale ale? Why explore the unknown in our neighborhood when we can go to Bangkok? Why share walls with others when we can live in a five-level home on five acres? (No pointing fingers here – I’ve done all of those things fairly recently.)

When we consistently choose comfort over discomfort, there’s never enough. Something better is always just out of reach.

One of the unexpected rewards of eating simply is the realization that I can actually be happy with far less than I thought. The freedom that comes with simplicity is far more intoxicating than alcohol and longer lasting, with no hang over. It also feels more equal, more democratic. Having many choices may not be freedom but rather tyranny, in the way plenitude distorts our view of reality. The truth is, if all of us lived more simply, there would be plenty of resources for everyone on planet earth.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein wore the same clothes every day so he wouldn’t have to decide what to wear. Eating the same food every day means I spend no time or energy deciding what to eat and very little time cooking. Which frees up space to ponder far more interesting things, such as, what keeps us from experiencing prosperity?

The prosperity I’m referring to is not financial in nature, but rather an overall sense of thriving and flourishing. We don’t have to buy an amazing experience that enriches us. It could be as simple as a hug from child we love dearly. 

Akong Rinpoche

Paradoxically, on this second day of eating only mung dal and basmati rice, I’m feeling prosperous. The subtle flavors coming alive in my mouth open me to other subtleties, such as a refined connection to my soul. In this utter simplicity I feel vibrant. In this illuminated state anything seems possible. And, in the words of the Tibetan Buddhist Akong Rinpoche, “Only the impossible is worth doing.” There’s a lot of impossible to do in 2020.

I’ll write more about that on day 3.

Day 1: Gut and mind reset

The monodiet I started today is doing far more than resetting my digestive system. It’s also messing with my mindset.


A monodiet of kitchari– a combination of mung dal, white basmati rice, and spices – is an easily digestible food that helps to bring the digestive system back into balance. For the mind, however, it’s quite difficult to digest. At least it has been for me, both this time and the reset I did two months ago.

Ktichari on a dish

You might think that day 2 is more difficult than day 1, and day 3 more difficult than both combined. Each day presents its own challenges, in its own way. Which is what shifts this experience into spiritual practice: it invites an increased awareness as well as an objectivity in noticing the turmoil, then letting it go, and in the process, inching ever closer to one’s true self. Over and over and over again.

Day 1 is all about cravings. My culinary options are drastically limited, which is a significant departure from my middle class norm. When I’m hungry, I typically have the wherewithal to consider what, exactly, would taste good, and then pull it from the cupboard or refrigerator. On day 1 of the monodiet, I’m spending a considerable amount of time thinking about what I can’t eat and how dissatisfied I am with the mung dal and rice. Even with the spices, it’s fairly bland, compared to my usual flavorful diet.

It doesn’t take long to recognize how privileged I am. This monodiet is a choice I’ve made. I’m not in a refugee camp or a homeless shelter. I’m not living on the streets, grazing for food that’s been discarded by someone else as garbage. I don’t subsist on my own grown food, in an area where drought or flooding has ruined my crops. No, I live in the land of plenty, although plenty is available only for the privileged.

homeless person holding a sign asking for help
Photo by A McLin (

For some reason, my body responds poorly to gluten and cow dairy, which I’m usually successful in avoiding. Thanksgiving and Christmas upended my regimen – hence the need for a reset. I wonder how people who are homeless cope with food sensitivities or allergies – assuming they have them. Maybe a life of privilege predisposes us to reacting oddly to food; the inability to digest our own inauthentic thoughts may be the root cause. At any rate, those of us who don’t have access to a kitchen can’t be too picky about the food that miraculously comes our way. I recall the look of disgust on the face of a woman who had once been a vegetarian, but in the troubled circumstances of her life at that time, ate the ham sandwich offered to her at a community meal.

I’ll take the kitchari over a ham sandwich, easy peasy. But I’m working on letting go of my attachment to a banana. And negotiating whether or not it would be acceptable to add the banana to my monodiet on day 3. Just the banana! Not the dark chocolate or the granola bars or the….