My name is D. R. I’m 32 years old. I live and work in Portugal as a research scientist. I’ve always been athletically inclined, enjoyed martial arts, tennis and mountain climbing. I am intrigued by life and have a healthy curiosity.

Prior to coming to the detox retreat in Sintra, I was a complete wreck on every level. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, spent my mornings with a bottle of alcohol and my afternoons running away from all responsibility. I was severely depressed and out of shape.

I had no energy and no will to take action to change my life. I was taking a mixture of anti-depressants and benzodiazepines to “help” me get through my days and nights. I was in a toxic relationship. My spirit was crushed and my will to enjoy life was absent.

I was simply existing, depressed to apathetic, eyes opened but seeing nothing but misery and negativity in everything around me. I was my biggest disappointment. My then fiancée had enough of me and my lack of love. I was ejected from the house and told to remove all my belongings.

After this, I felt I had hit rock bottom. This is when I decided to take action and make some changes. I googled “detox portugal” and I found the Ananda Marga detox retreat. I emailed. Then I emailed again. And again. I entered into a 7 day juice fast program that changed my life.

After the retreat, I felt renewed, recharged, transformed, healthy, happy, confident, clean and pure of mind, body and spirit. I felt and feel even more so now (after some weeks have passed) like such a better human being.

Since the retreat, I’ve undergone a full 180º transformation. I lost over 7kg of toxic waste in my body. I’ve reclaimed my healthy physique. I’ve become more conscientious than ever of what I put into my body. I feel light, full of energy, spiritually awakened and with an immense desire to be the best that I can be, not for myself but so I can be strong enough and good enough to serve those around me to the best of my ability.

Of great importance to me is that during the detox retreat, I had dumped all medications I brought with me down the toilet. No western mental health professionals would outrightly recommend that one stop taking anti-depressants or benzodiazepines without titrating off of them gradually over time. However, with the great healing power of juice fasting, my body was more than able to handle the abrupt discontinuation of benzodiazepines (2.5-5mg lorazepam) and anti-depressants (150mg bupropion, 100mg sertraline).

I dumped these poisons down the toilet and never looked back. During the detox program, I had zero negative side effects. The only bit that was slightly annoying was the initial insomnia. After two days this passed. Fast forward two weeks: I sleep like a baby and rise early to do yoga and meditation.

Fasting on juices for a week was a truly profound experience. Through this fasting experience I learned what it really means to be attuned to your body and the importance of nutrition. We are often so unaware of why our bodies feel so terrible. I had severe back aches, muscle aches and tension all throughout my body.

I was overweight. My blood pressure was high. My body mass index was grossly exaggerated. When I was polluting my body with unhealthy food (think heavy pasta dishes, meat products, sugary foods) on a daily basis, I became numb to what my body was trying to tell me. We are what we eat! My imbalanced diet led to an imbalanced mind.

The juice fast allowed my body to recover from years of abuse. During the fast, I was never hungry nor did I feel “starved”. Quite the contrary. I felt ENERGIZED by the incredible amount of nutrients my body was taking in. I was dedicated to the fast 100%. There was no desire for solid food. The fast started out simply enough on the first and second day. The third day is when I started to really feel the effects of the fast. I felt like my body was really working to get all toxic substances out of it. Perhaps this was even more pronounced for me, as I had resolved from day one of the retreat to not take my “medications”. There should definitely be more scientific research conducted in the area of enhanced elimination of toxins during a fast.

Also around the third day of the juice fast, those around me at the retreat center noticed the brilliance return to my eyes. They saw my posture change. They felt and observed the energy of my being return to a peaceful and happy state. The depressed and cigarette smoking alcoholic pill junkie had been replaced by a conscious and aware human being.

Two weeks after the juice fasting, I had my blood pressure, weight, and other such characteristics re-evaluated by health professionals. My blood pressure dropped into the low-normal range, my body mass index is ideal and my weight as well. After the fast and my continued maintenance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, my physique has returned to its optimal state of being light, yet strong. I want to USE my body. I want to climb rocks. I feel invigorated! All my colleagues at work noticed an incredible change in me. I feel great. I feel renewed. I am confident.

We are truly what we eat!

When I was informed that my first yoga class would start at 6:30 AM of my first morning at the retreat, I was slightly worried. I normally don’t wake up at 6AM. I was more of a 930-1000AM kind of person. In fact, I was 30 minutes late to my first yoga class — and it was held in my own apartment space at the retreat! Chalk it up to the residual effects of the benzodiazepines.

The first yoga class was very important for both the instructor and myself. It was a one on one experience where I was guided through various postures to evaluate my state of flexibility and strength. I was catered to personally. This is something that you simply do not receive in a gym setting. After this first session, I was never so happy to be awake at 6AM!. Needless to say, I was on time for every yoga class for the rest of the week and I woke up with joy and the happy sounds of everything around me.

The combination of yoga asanas (postures) and juice fasting is a powerful one. I believe this was critical in my detox process. The movement of my body in such a controlled manner with conscious breathing most assuredly contributed to my speedy recovery.

The juice fasting and yoga were two major components of the detox retreat. However, these two elements do not highlight the importance of the people I lived with for seven days. I was infused with positive energy every day. No matter who I saw, husband, wife or their two beautiful children, they all radiated with peaceful, positive and loving energy.

I was taken care of and catered to during the entire process by this family. I had a personal wake up call every morning. Not by telephone, but by cheerful knocking at my apartment door. I had wonderful massages and intense yoga sessions led by a talented instructor. I will never forget my experience there as the people there have become near and dear to my heart.

My experience with Dada was life changing. I had never before in my life spent so much time in the presence of someone truly dedicated to health, well being and spirituality. The first day that I arrived, I was stinking of cigarettes, my eyes were cloudy and my back hunched. I was shown to my room and around the property. During this time I was being evaluated by Dada, and was asked several questions about why I chose to come there, what I expected to get out of it. After our initial chat I was told to take a shower and scrub myself clean with a natural sponge. This marked the beginning of my cleansing period.

Dada has truly an inspiring presence. He is the kind of person that you want to do your best for because if you don’t you would certainly feel like you are cheating yourself and him. He is completely dedicated to others and I have never experienced the kind of healing connection with western psychiatrists or psychologists that I did with him. I carried guilt with me for years. Guilt over my father’s passing. Guilt because I wasn’t there during the final moments. Guilt that I could have done more. Guilt because of what I had been doing to myself. Guilt that I wasn’t being the best person that I could be. Through profound one on one coaching sessions during the retreat, I was able to shed this guilt — not by ignoring it, but by UNDERSTANDING it. This was a powerful experience. This was the experience that all mental health professions want to achieve with their patients, either through medication, therapy or a combination of both. The problem is, at least for me, is that this process of therapy and medication can be prolonged and one may never truly reach the profound understanding required to dissolve a deeply ingrained mental dilemma.

Dada’s wisdom and guidance in conjunction with the fasting and yoga and overall positive environment were absolutely critical in effecting this transformation within me. I will never be able to express my gratitude in words. Instead, I will do my best to live and lead by example for others so that they may be able to make similar discoveries and changes within themselves.

I would recommend not only my friends to come to the detox center, but also my enemies! :). On a more serious note, I heartily and verily recommend that EVERYONE go to a detox retreat. Even if you’re not in the same position I was in, meaning you’re not a smoker or an alcoholic or under the influence of pharmaceuticals in your daily life, give juice fasting a try. Let you system have a rest from solid food and receive the most natural cleanse it can get.

I can’t speak for other detox retreats in Portugal, but I can certainly attest to the immensely encouraging and loving environment at the Ananda Marga detox center. Do not underestimate the healing power of the 7 day juice fast!

Google it. Study it. Question it. Then try it.

You will not be disappointed.