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.