In my last post, I addressed the idea of a fast, or some sort of cleanse, in preparation for a spiritual celebration: Easter (Lent), Passover, Purim, Morouz. It’s traditionally part of celebrating the Spring Equinox, the return of the light.
What’s the best way to approach the WHEN and HOW to undertake a detox for YOU?
In North America, the native tradition is to start when the sap begins to rise in the trees. On a personal level, you need to feel it from within.
You’ll notice this in your body as a sudden surge in daily energy, as your own “sap” begins to rise with the increasing light. You feel that urge to stretch out of hibernation mode, move a little more, stay outside a little longer.
I tend to first notice a deep desire to spring clean; to declutter and wash all the stuff I’ve been able to ignore all winter. In some ways, it’s really just the light coming back that allows me to see the dust bunnies staging a mutiny in the corners. 😛
Last year, as the snow slowly melted, it was the pile-up of twigs & such in my yard that got me going. I derive so much satisfaction from raking, raking, raking and then gathering up what’s always a surprisingly large pile of debris. The movement of it, the practicality of it, and then the satisfaction of just standing back and seeing the space that’s been cleared can be so rejuvenating.
All I did was rake, but suddenly the front yard seemed larger, brighter – there was more room to breathe.
Same thing happens when you clear a room or a closet.
You sort through the clutter, discarding broken, unwanted & unnecessary objects; you put away clothes & toys & books that’ve migrated to the wrong room or the wrong shelf. You open the windows, let in fresh air. You wash the windows & let in the light!
Again, the result is more than just a tidy room, more than the satisfaction of what you’ve accomplished: there’s a sense of peace in a newly cleaned room, a calm that belies the lack of dust. It’s almost easier to sleep in a clean bedroom.
This is the sense that I attempt to recreate internally when I take on a dietary cleanse.
Whether it’s in the spring or fall, whether it’s one meal, one day, 3 days or 3 weeks. It’s that expansiveness & peace I’m attempting to bring to my cells.
Is there a certain protocol to follow during a seasonal cleanse?
There are so many ways to go about a digestive detox – or what I also call a digestive rest. (Google “spring detox”, you get 18 million results!) As with all nutritional help, there are so many individual points to take into consideration. Not the least of which are your general state of health, constitution and usual diet.
Two questions to consider when deciding which program to follow, and for how long:
- Quick full-on juice fast, or long, slow, gentle cleanse? Your constitution and experience play a role in what you choose.
- Are you the type of person who’s going to go whole hog on a strict diet for a week, then bounce back like a rubber band to eating like a pig? Or, are you the type to take that discipline as a jump-start to creating healthier habits? Do you perhaps need a gentler approach?
What’s good to eat/do during a spring detox?
a) The baby greens that sprout at this time of year are the logical choice in terms of local & seasonal. As is Mother Nature’s way, they also provide the bitterness needed to stimulate the heart, and prod the liver into spring-cleaning mode.
Leafy greens grow in response to the sun. They get their colour from sunshine reacting with oxygen and the magnesium in their cells. They produce vitamin C in response to the light, allowing their structure to stretch up strongly & hold its shape and colour.
When you eat leafy greens, you’re taking that spring sunshine into our cells – this is how you throw open your internal windows! (And dispel the dragging effects of S.A.D., to boot.)
Think: spring or “mesclun” mix, coriander and parsley. Throw them on the plate with every meal, add a handful to your smoothie, chew parsley to freshen your breath,…
Going back to the house for a minute: When you clean & clear through the junk, it’s important to gather up all the garbage and put it out to the curb for the truck to take away, or go drop it off at Goodwill. If you leave the bags sitting in the hallway, they just invite clutter and dust accumulation in a different part of the house.
b) Same for the body. It’s essential when detoxifying cells, tissue, organs, that the pathways of elimination are clear to get the debris out. (Remember my allusion to the NYC garbage strike a few weeks back?)
Lungs: Deep breathing changes the air, like you’ve done in the house.
Kidneys: Lots of water is a logical choice for cleaning both house and body. It ensures the kidneys are working to clear water-soluble toxins.
Think: clean, fresh water; Herbal Tea (incl. dandelion leaf, and other detox blends)
Colon: Bulking agents (fibre!) are crucial to ensuring that solid & fat-soluble wastes are picked up and sent to the curb for disposal.
Think: soluble fibre such as chia seeds, Psyllium husks or slippery elm bark – between meals & before bed.
Skin: Do some skin brushing before every shower. Just like me and my rake clearing the surface debris from the yard.
And, almost as importantly as what you eat/don’t eat:
c) Take a break from your usual activities for the duration.
When you sit quietly, take walks, engage in a quiet craft, you give yourself time & space to hear the emotional garbage that surfaces. Just like when you clean out your closet, and find old mementos from days gone by. Or that photo of a time you’d rather forget, you know, the one you’d stuffed to the deepest recesses – these things too need to be considered, dusted off and possibly thrown away.
It’s when you start allowing those moments to be detoxified that you begin to find a sense of peace. And with that peace comes the motivation to create new, healthy habits, rather than allowing old ones to unconsciously run your life.
What’s your favourite detoxifying food or drink? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
I’m feeling the need for a reboot – I think the warm weather helps and I like the connection to the things we feel like we should do (spring cleaning, etc) but I frequently forget to extend this to my body. What a great reminder, as I purge and declutter, think of one good way to apply this to my body each day.
Small daily steps – good plan, Christine!
Cleansing is a great way to get your mind and body in sync and rolling. Spring into a new season the right way. Thanks for sharing. Wonderful advice.
very timely for me, cathy, as APRIL 1 marked the beginning of “my month” and “my new year” ritual. i am planning a weekend away at a local hotel for a mini work retreat, and i am happily concocting new recipes in my early-birthday-gift-vitamix. i love all of your healthy ideas and will be implementing many of them – thank you!
Happy New April-Year! Have fun with the Vitamix.
Spring is the best time yo detox the home and body. Coming out of hibernation requires lots of cleansing around the home and inside the body. I am currently doing the ‘full-on juice cleans.’ Thanks for this post. It gives me other ideas on how I want to cleanse my emotional space.
My favorite detoxifiers are cilantro or parsley added to green smoothies. It gives the smoothies a fresh “kick”. I can’t wait to Spring Clean my body with them this week! I cleaned my house like a madwoman a few weeks ago, but my diet needs a bit of help at the moment. 😮 Love your analogies, Cathy!
Love this post! I get the spring cleaning bug once the clocks change. As I shed my ‘winter coat’ I can’t wait to move the actual winter coats out of sight!
Yes, Dana & Tania, for the time-being, the joy of cleaning my home is all that I can do – we’re still craving stews and warming foods here in Montreal. There are days when it feels like those coats will never get put away, Susie. For now, I focus on the changing sunlight and let that dispel some of the chilly shadows in my body.
Cathy I love the spring cleaning parallel..I spent today spring cleaning my home environment inviting in the new and shedding the stale winter buildup of energy. I notice my body naturally switches to wanting certain foods with the change of seasons too. This is a great nudge to create motion and renewal.
Cathy, I love the analogy of spring cleaning your home. I’m a neat freak, so any opportunity to purge, I will! I agree, our bodies deserve the same cleansing as well. I loved all your tips. Thank you! p.s. I’m writing this as I drink my green juice with dandelion 😉
Cathy, terrific post! The timing is perfect for me too, I love the idea of doing a detox during this time of year when spring cleaning is on the agenda. And thank you for the many ideas and flexibility you offer for the process. I’m motivated, in fact I just signed up for your webinar. 🙂
I’m in the clearing my energy phase in this moment… heavy into spiritual practice I do every year… clearing the body temple as we might say!!! Clearing all unnecessary accumulations! Great post. Interesting… what has risen to the top of your post for me… is deep breathing… clearing the lungs… like the house .. .fresh air.. never thought of it that way. I like it. 🙂
Spring always feels like a time of renewal for me. I generally trust the wisdom of my body to do its own spring cleaning as I watch what it craves and feed it the beautiful, fresh foods of the season. Pretty magical really. I’m with Pam, time to purge my office of the piles that accumulate there!
I love all your analogies Cathy. And of course I’m a big fan of cellular cleansing and the sweeping of light through the cells. So much great info here, and although we’re in autumn in Aussie, it’s always time for a cellular spring clean. Thanks for all these tips. My cells are in for a treat. X.
These are good reminders for internal AND external cleansing. I spied my body brush in a drawer yesterday. Such synchronicity that I would read your post today. I will definitely pull out my brush! Also, I’ve been drinking American Saffron tea as a liver detox. What are your thoughts about this particular tea?
I’m not familiar with that tea, Patti. You’ll have to let me know how you like it, and its effects. I tend to stick to sweetfern, dandelion, burdock. This year I’ll be trying a homeopathic detox for the first time.
I LOVE this in so many ways. I’m in a big transitional time aligned with a purging of my entire office – which holds many past energetic, symbolic and just old stuff. And, I’m feeling the need to align that with a spring cellular cleanse. I love the symbolism with the skin brushing and the yard raking too! I’m going to go get myself a big glass of water and meditate on my upcoming cleanse. Thanks for the great post.
There’s nothing like aligning your outer space with your inner energy – have fun going through it all!
I love this article! So timely, as I’m sitting surrounded by piles of junk on my desk (and have been meaning to clear it up for…. a while) and I literally yesterday said I wanted to do a bit of a detox! I think I’m a wholefoods detox kind of girl, and I love all your organ supporting suggestions.
I also really love the metaphor of the sap rising. That’s beautiful.
Synchronicity’s one of my favourite things!
Beautiful article, Cathy! I love the imagery of the sap in the trees. I love a good cleanse, both with regard to what I’m eating/drinking and my space. It’s what makes Spring such an anticipated season! I’m looking forward to using your tips on letting go of the emotional garbage this time around. Thank you for sharing!