My 7-Day Fasting Experience at Tao Gardens in Thailand
After reading an amazing book about Tao - ancient Chinese medicine - I wanted to do a 7-day fast. Tao Gardens in Chiang Mai, Thailand has a really good reputation (and was recommended to me by a friend), so I was excited to see that option there.
According to Tao Gardens (and the book I read), fasting can benefit a number of chronic and acute disease conditions including:
- Digestive problems
- Chronic fatigue
- Autoimmune diseases
- Weight loss
- Skin disorders
- Lower back pain
- Halitosis (bad breath)
Unfortunately, as I was about to begin my fasting program, I returned sick from India. I knew I had to be healthy to withstand the fast, so I contacted them and they let me start my fast a week or so later and still keep the reduced off-season priced room I signed up for.
I don’t think this was enough time for me to completely heal, but I really wanted to do it, so I started the program as late as they would allow me.
First, I cannot say enough about how amazing the Tao Gardens resort is:
Everything is green and pretty and there are gorgeous lanterns hanging everyhwere!
But my favorite part was walking over to the lotus lake to see the sunrise every morning. It’s like the leaves were greeting the sun!
The air is fresh, it is quiet, and there was plenty of reverse-osmosis healthy water to drink. I don’t usually swim due to chlorine, but their pool was saltwater!
Did I mention there was an herbal steam room by the pool?
The environment was set for relaxation and healing!
On the first full day of your treatment, they do evaluations of your condition. Things like testing your aura, lung capacity, stress response, and blood.
Given that I was sick for a while before my treatment, and I had some personal stress issues, I was not surprised to find that my aura was weak… I was surprised to learn that my lung capacity was horrible! I was inhaling a lot of oxygen, but not exhaling enough CO2…
I got really upset during my lung test as I could not do it properly, so I left the tests and got the rest rescheduled for later in the day. The point is - you might not like what the tests tell you. Be prepared! It is super scary to find out about your true body condition!
Later on during my stay, I figured out that I was simply breathing wrong! That’s right, I was so stressed, I forgot how to breathe! I then practiced the basic breathing technique outlined in a pamphlet they gave, and I’m now fine.
I know a 7-day fast sounds terrifying, but you’re not fully fasting… That is, they give you a fresh juice or tea every hour. So you are on a liquid diet. Here are some of the ingredients in the drinks that were served every day (they had cool names, but I asked for the ingredients specifically):
Basically, while you are technically fasting, you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. So hunger is psychological if you feel any. I personally did not feel hungry, and was actually annoyed at having to go get a drink every single hour - it seemed a little overkill and left little free time for me to do work or read or relax.
Unfortunately, after 3 days of these juices, my body started producing A LOT of gas. I was feeling nauseous and I wanted to throw up after drinking even just water. I couldn’t drink many of the juices that day.
I told them about this in the evening, and they told me to eat some normal food. I was feeling so horrible and nauseous, it felt like a necessity, not a failure.
On Day 4, I tried to fast again, but the nausea continued and my body couldn’t handle drinking any more juices, so I gave up completely.
But the food at the resort is super healthy - all sourced locally and in-season, so I didn’t mind continuing by eating just super healthy food through Day 7.
The big issue was that they failed to do a small check-in on you every single day to see how you’re doing. The 7-day fasting program is not for everyone. It can bring dormant toxins into your bloodstream - ones which you might not be equipped to handle at the moment, so it is not some nice safe treatment. It is a treatment that requires help from a doctor. Maybe my fasting could have been adjusted somewhat if they did that and learned about my nausea.
In addition to the juices for the fasting, you get many treatments - at least one per day. The treatments include the signature Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Massage. There are also four “F Scan” treatments - meant to zap parasites, bacteria, and other bad stuff from your body, as well as improve your immune system.
When I got the intake tests done on me, they recommended additional treatments, such as the Life Force Massage and Vitamin C intake. The one upsetting thing was that these recommended treatments weren’t worked into an individualized treatment plan (to replace other generic treatments that were part of the cost). Instead, you learned how your body is weak, and you had to choose to pay them extra to treat that part of you, which didn’t seem like a holistic approach to healing an individual…
The guy who runs this resort - Master Chia - is a Qigong master. So as part of your stay at the resort, you get an optional free morning Qigong lesson almost every day.
I’ve never heard of Qigong, so I had no idea what to expect when I showed up to the lesson on my first morning. The closest I’ve done was Tai Chi.
Unfortunately, the Qigong that they taught at the resort was way too much for me. Instead of just following movements, we were asked to make crazy animal sounds and shapes, and do other things that takes you out of your normal group comfort zone. I’m an introvert, so after the first day, which included pretending to be a tiger, I stopped coming for a few days. I couldn’t mentally deal with it.
Qigong is just not for me.
The other big perk of staying at the resort was a night meditation practice. I was excited about this aspect, but the resort got super dark at night and there was a pack of dogs roaming around sometimes. As darkness fell, I didn’t feel comfortable walking alone to the meditation hall location.
I asked them to send someone to walk me, but they didn’t. They told me that they couldn’t deal with the pack of dogs either…
I did attend the meditation once. I also took two private meditation lessons. Unfortunately, the meditation technique that they teach is wayyyy too complicated.
There’s a mix of six healing sounds:
And emotions creation cycle… Take in the positive emotions:
And get rid of the negative:
After I did the meditation, especially the private session ones, I felt amazing! But I never felt empowered to do it on my own. I even tried! But I couldn’t remember which organ goes with what sound. And sometimes I got confused about which side the organ was on!
I tried to get the meditation teacher to give me “homework” - to give me something that I can practice for myself, but he just kept asking me to book another session (and pay more of course) to go deeper. I gave up after it became clear that the meditation he led was not something I could have repeated on my own.
Instead, I decided to go to a Vipassana Meditation Course after this and actually focus on learning a meditation technique.
I guess my expectations were too high. After going to the Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resort in India earlier this year, I expected a similar holistic treatment from the Tao Gardens. Unfortunately, Tao Gardens is more focused on making money vs truly caring about each individual who joins a program.
That means that you have to be extra careful. Some programs that they offer might be harmful for you. But since they don’t closely monitor you (like they do at Manaltheeram Ayurveda Resort), you have to really listen to your body. I was ok with not finishing my fast - I knew my body couldn’t handle it. But others might suffer through it despite warnings from their own body just to finish, harming themselves in the process.
Overall, however, Tao Gardnes is definitely not a bad place to spend a week or more. The air is fresh, the food is healthy, the water is super healthy, the pool is chlorine-free, and the treatments are nice. Of course, healing is a long-term thing. So while I still didn’t feel my best while leaving, another week in Pai, a small town in the forest with clean air and plenty of vegan restaurants finally did prepare me for a more intense return to India. This time, I did not get sick.