One of the peculiar aftereffects of The Master Cleanse is how MUCH of your yuck gets cleared away. And I’m not just talking about physical and intestinal yuck; I’m talking psychological yuck.

I’m now cruising into Day 5 of maple-lemonade-cayenne potion as my only sustenance. Before I started on Monday, I took a 2-day long juice fast over the weekend. So now I’m up to a solid week without solid food. My body is doing its predictable thing, getting skinny and flushing toxins.

Since I dont have my habitual caffeine/beer intake cycle, my mind has shaken off the cobwebs that latch on to the traditional stimulant/depressant roller coaster. Now, instead of dealing with managing my mood for the moment, I’m free to get introspective about my life.

I took myself to a yoga class yesterday, which is the optimal time for introspection. You breathe, you move luxuriously around on the mat, you stretch the joints and muscles out of their stiffness and stagnation.

Halfway through the class, I noticed the guy on the mat next to me, and more curiously, I noticed my reaction to him. He was young, and strong, dark and handsome. His eyes were intelligent and perceptive. His poses were in good form. My dislike of him surprised me.

The feeling registered so subtly that if I had not been free of all of the hormonal reactions that I accustom myself to, I might not have noticed it, consciously. But this dislike was a feeling that, in sudden retrospect, I register often with men like this. Men who are young, and strong, and dark and handsome, and talented in a way that I am talented.

I was jealous.

Up until this point, I had never thought of myself as a jealous person. But here I was, silently demeaning someone else in my own mind because they shared qualities that I possess.

Moving quietly through the poses, I pondered this. Jealousy is an emotion that has many detrimental aftereffects, and I may have unknowingly exposed myself to all of them over the last 30-odd years of my life. Why was I feeling this way?

The man next to me was a potential rival. See, I am used to being the best in the room at what I do; and since I am good at lots of things, I (apparently) feel threatened when another potentially exceptional man (especially one who is young, strong, dark and handsome, like me) has something of his own to shine with.

I remembered dozens of other men about whom I had this selfsame feeling; actors and scholars, athletes and charisma peddlers, writers and spiritual seekers. I can easily interact with women in these fields, and with men who do not fit into my category, because I do not see them as threats to my status.

But this self-perception of high status has been holding me back.

By believing myself to be the best, and threatened by anyone else who looks like me and could possibly make a claim to that title, I have cut myself off from enjoying the friendships of men who would likely prove to be a better match for me than anyone else.

I do not have very many close friends. I have hundreds of casual, social, and business-networking type friends. But of close friends I have very few, and it may be due to this mild jealousy I have always felt in the presence of similar men who are intellectually and charismatically closest to myself.

This is, in a word, stupid.

And while I pride myself on being intelligent, sometimes I marvel at the audacious stupidity that I am capable of displaying.

How many friendships have I lost because I felt haughty? How many connections have I severed because I feared that someone else could be better than me at something I feel good at? How much could I have learned from observing other masters of crafts that I study?

I have wasted innumerable opportunities because of this subtle jealousy.

Moreover, I have sabotaged myself. Due to my subconscious dislike of men who are young, strong, dark and handsome, I tend to see men like this (I now realize) as failures who are too full of themselves and their meager skills.

Now, I realize this attitude has been a reflection about myself.

When I see myself in a mirror, I see a young, strong, dark and handsome man, and that subconscious jealousy has pervaded my thoughts even about myself, so that I have quietly believed myself to be the same, without even knowing it. While believing myself the best at the various skills I practice, I have silently told myself that men of my type are just full of shit.

Thankfully, the Master Cleanse is purging my digestive tract of all the crap that has built up over who knows how long. Unexpectedly, my mind is doing the same, and I feel lighter and purer.

When I left the yoga class, I caught the eye of the man on the mat next to me. I nodded admiringly at him, silently applauding all of his virtues.

It felt better.