The Experience: My First Time, The Colonic Chronicles
One day. Two colonics. Two very different experiences...
Nothing about my first colonic experience was what I expected. I was given a glowing recommendation to check out Gravity in the East Village by enough people that I decided to give it a try. It’s one of those secret, hole-in-the-wall-that-all-the-celebs-use type of place that NYC is known best for, with a community of people running it who know what they’re doing. I knew nothing of colonics other than the fact that I had encountered people over the years that swore by them: fitness instructors, naturopaths, juicers (people obsessed with juicing, not the machines), models, and dear friends. All with glowing skin. I didn’t really understand what a colonic was, but thought I generally understood the idea: remove junk from the body. And remove it did. I prepped for the procedure by eating healthy for 3 days in advance as instructed. Fortunately for me, my Sakara diet was right up its alley: no dairy, no gluten, no processed sugar, no soy. The only things I had to make an effort to avoid were beans, wine, and tortilla chips (my after-work weakness). I even decided to go the extra mile by supplementing with a handful of green juices beforehand. I was feeling ambitious. I showed up for my 9 am appointment with an empty stomach and a good amount of nervous anticipation. Gravity is an intimate, welcoming, homey spot. Nothing fancy, shiny, or frilly to distract you from what is about to happen. The women who work there are all extremely friendly, passionate about their jobs, and happen to look like they had been picked straight off of a vegan farm upstate in the 60s – which I loved. Donna Perrone, the owner, brought me into the room where all the magic happens. Technically a bathroom, there was a toilet and sink on one side, a table and the “gravity machine” on the other side. As Donna explained everything to me in great, patient, kind detail I tried my very best to silence my inner germophobe and focus on the words coming out of her mouth. I took off my bottom half of clothing, emptied my bladder in the conveniently located toilet, laid on the table, in the fetal position, facing the wall, and waited. Using some relaxing essential oils and deep, soothing breaths, Donna inserted the child-sized speculum into my butt and secured the gravity tubes. To be honest, not too bad! To be a little too honest, I’ve had more painful things in my butt. Then we began. Over the next hour and fifteen minutes, several gallons of pure, alkaline water was flushed through my colon in order to clear out any backed up shit (literally). As the water was going in, the waste (along with plenty of water) was coming out. Donna would periodically use more relaxing essential oils, manipulate the tube to mimic my peristalsis (natural movement of the intestines to move waste along), and massage my tummy. And then there were the holds. A hold would occur when we weren’t getting anywhere, nothing good was coming out, and we needed a jolt. Donna would instruct me when it was time, I took a deep, calming breath, and she would kink the “release” tube. The water would flush into me with nowhere to go. While it didn’t exactly hurt, it didn’t feel great. Donna reiterated many times that we would go as long as I could, where there was no good or bad amount of time – anything was okay. But my inner warrior, competitive I’m-here-so-let’s-get-this-shit-out freak, wasn’t buying what she was selling. As the water flushed my system I deepened my breath and felt it creeping its way up into my body. Then the cramps would start rolling in, until I was forced to utter the magic word. Donna would un-kink the tube, and we’d excitedly wait the results. As uncomfortable as the holds were, they were always worth it. Sometimes, we'd high five. Donna was fantastic – there’s no one in the world I’d rather spend over an hour with, deep in my rectum, and, therefore, deep into my soul. While we were breathing, flushing, and releasing, she was also explaining everything to me about colonics, from the history to the science to her glory stories. She explained digestion, elimination, and the things that get in the way from people having a good relationship with both. She taught me why my tummy gets bloated after certain meals and the science behind food combining. Best of all, she looked at what was coming out of me and told me how proud she was of how much I hydrate, how I could probably afford to lighten up on the sugar (still not sold), and that on a scale of 1-10 I am probably an 8 when it comes to chewing! It was a cleansing, therapy session, and nutritional counseling all in one – albeit uncomfortable – hour! After too many squirmy holds and an hour of feeling like I just needed to go to the damn bathroom, Donna released me from her loving possession and gave me privacy while I finally, finally, finally got to let it all go. So would I ever do it again? Absolutely. Don’t think I’ll be a regular, but a couple times a year would love a reset.
It was like waking up on Christmas morning. An excited nervousness reserved for school girls and puppy dogs. This was the day I had been waiting for. Today was ‘P’ day.
For me, colonics were like an unobtainable and glamorous myth. Like Bergdorfs or Paris Fashion Week. They were reserved for the extremists of high society, the daredevils of the beauty and fashion worlds, the ones who dabbled in plastic surgery and the 7 day Master Cleanse. Pictures of a luxurious spa filled with fancy women in terry cloth robes and head wraps filled my mind. I was on my way. As I hopped in my Uber, I felt ready. I texted the Favorites in my iPhone promising a play-by-play with pictures and detailed notes. However, as I arrived to my destination in the East Village (is this right?), there was no luxurious spa, no fancy terry-clothed women and definitely no head wraps. Boy, was I in for a rude ahem awakening. Now don’t get me wrong, Gravity is a very lovely, little, unassuming place (literally, there is no signage), but more homey(opathic) than say Park Avenue haven. As I entered, I was greeted with open arms by Donna, the owner, who was warm, welcoming and extremely enthusiastic about what was about to happen. After I signed my life away, or shall we say bowels, Donna led me to my irrigation room. There are two as Gravity has been turned from duplex apartment into a hydrotherapy hideaway for those who want to be most discreet. Now, was I prepared both mentally and physically for what was about to happen? I’m going to give a big N-O. However, Donna did promise me we were in this together and that this ‘journey' would be one we shared. I guess I understood what she meant after she inserted a lubed up speculum into my butt. What happened next was sort of a bad stomach ache blur. Whatever knowledgable information Donna was excitedly feeding me was sort of muffled by my Lamaze-like breathing and self-deprecating thoughts. Without going into all the dirty details, here are some words to best describe my colonic experience: Filling Pulsating Whooshing Cramping Clenching Bubbling Releasing Relieving And then repeated about 10 more times... Did it all feel worth it? Yea, I guess so but this was a voluntary act I placed on myself more in hopes of a flat tummy (sorry, I’m vain) than the holistic removal of toxic juju that was plaguing my intestinal and digestive tracks. What I got out of the whole experience was that I learned I have a very hydrated colon and that I have been chewing my food completely and properly, which, for someone that loves to scarf came as a complete surprise. I will say though, that Donna is a total pro who is super passionate about what she does and I knew throughout that I was in good hands. When she could feel my utter cramping discomfort she quickly reached into her essential oils pouch for some DiGize that was rubbed on my tummy for fast cramping relief. Where had this been my whole life?! Would I ever try a colonic again? At this particular time, I would say I’d rather tackle the Master Cleanse than have another person irrigate my colon but I am a glutton for punishment (hello, full body laser hair removal) so I’ll never say never. Plus, I’m just not that into anal… The Quick & Dirty Details How does a colonic work? There are two types of colonics in this world: those administered with a pressurized machine, and those that utilize the Gravity method. "Gravity colonics generates a simultaneous in-flow and out-flow of water, facilitating an effective and thorough cleansing of the colon, says Donna. This system helps, "replenish the body by increasing circulation and oxygen in the blood,", in addition to boosting immunity and calming the nervous system. When it comes down to it, colonics help remove deep-rooted toxins and, "the entire body can benefit when there is a level of improved cleanliness to the system due to the removal of waste, toxins, gases, impurities, excessive mucus and unwanted microbes". Ain't that the truth. Who is a colonic great for? Anyone who struggles with digestion or going to the bathroom. Anyone who feels sluggish or heavy, or needs a reset with their eating habits. Anyone who has a butt, really. What results do people have?
According to Donna, "most people feel cleaner, lighter, more empty then ever in their life and very peaceful after a session," (check, check, check, and ehhh maybe check). Results are everything from more ease going to the bathroom, less gas/bloat, and a better working digestive system. Then there are the more "surface-level" results:
"Many people experience clear glowing skin and an aura that lights up a room!...Colonics can help wipe the slate clean and allow for a new start to better eating. Many people also report weight loss".
How often should you get one? Very much depends person to person. Donna puts people who have issues going to the bathroom on a weekly program. For maintenance, she generally recommends 1x/month. What’s the best part? The flat tummy just in time for 4th of July weekend. And all of the advice and information fed during the session was definitely an added bonus. What’s the worst part? The holds. The cramping. The time towards the end of the session when okay, we get it, enough is enough. Does it hurt? No, but it is definitely uncomfortable. Clearly everyone's experience is very different. Is there poop everywhere? Nowhere! The waste is super contained in the tube. It doesn’t even smell. Will you freakishly, unexpectedly, and mortifyingly leak afterwards onto the floor of Forever21? This may have happened to one of us.