Lent. Ramadan. Spring cleansing. There seems to be something to this season that inspires us to slough off the heaviness of winter and lighten up for spring.
This is a fine time to consider a cleanse. Everything is in your favor. The weather is getting warmer, the blood is quickening and it’s still too cold for ice cream. The sap is running and there’s a natural internal desire to move more.
Here are three reasons I cleanse every spring. And why you might consider doing it too.
We live in an age of epidemics: obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, Alzheimers. Given the statistics, we should all be thinking and doing something to prevent cancer, whether it’s in our family or not. We must act on keeping our brains healthy, considering 1 in 8 of our elder population is being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Why are we seeing so much disease? One simple answer is that our bodies are overloaded.
Whether we like to think about it or not, most, if not all, of us have a higher than ideal toxic burden. Pollutants are in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breath. These toxins may be heavy metals such as mercury (dental fillings being a prime culprit), lead, cadmium, aluminum, and arsenic or they may be from something as basic as chlorine which enters the body through the skin and is inhaled while we shower or bathe.
We also accumulate metabolic waste in our cells and tissues from prescription drugs, eating sugar and refined foods, or even simply using antiperspirants (which contain aluminum and may be a contributor to Alzheimer's). Drinking and smoking contribute even more to one's toxic load, whether you still do it or not.
The body has a normal detox process that takes place primarily through the liver and kidney (and the lungs and colon). It would cyclically detoxify on its own if we were living a more well-adjusted life. But many of us work 10 - 12 hours a day sitting indoors at a desk under artificial light. We grab food whenever we can, we don’t move enough and yet we rarely slow down. The body’s own ability to cleanse itself through proper elimination pathways is inhibited when you're under chronic low-grade stress.
This translates into more colds, flus, sinus infections, acne, immune issues and general fatigue - just to name a few of the illnesses that are associated with toxic overload.
Cleansing is my way to make sure I am optimizing elimination through all pathways, cleaning house and getting into the junk drawers of the house. Taking a break from the rather laborious process of digestion for a short while helps free up lots of energy for regeneration & repair. My skin improves, my eyes shine and my whole physiology feels like its radiant & vital. Which leads me #2.....
Spring cleansing is hands down one of the best practices I have found for renewing vitality. It takes a couple of days to breakthrough but by Day 3 of a juice cleanse I'm clearer in all ways. My brain function improves, my sense of smell improves, my awareness & perception improves. As a previous cleanse participant said 'Its like someone has cleaned the glasses on every sense organ I have!" This feeling can be sustained with a proper reintroduction of foods after the juice cleanse ends.
3) A Spiritual Experience
The first few days of any cleanse are often the most difficult, as the body begins to cleanse. Headaches, sluggishness, hot and cold sensations are common. I can have a hard time staying warm, in which case I'll often add a warm vegetable broth or herbal teas. However, as I continue with the cleanse, I begin to feel a deep sense of calm. I breath more deeply, my thoughts naturally turn towards awe and wonder.
All that energy spent wondering what I want for dinner is now freed up to do much more important work. Meditations are deeper, I notice an ease slipping into a state of stillness that usually takes a lot more time. This is also the feedback I have gotten from participants I've lead over the years. Subtle energy patterns and shifts are MUCH more noticeable when you cleanse.
In summary: I recommend cleansing for most people - as well as intermittent fasting which I'll cover in another post. If you are interested in learning more, click here to contact me.
From Paramhansa Yogananda
'Make new determinations as to what you are going to do and what you are going to be in this next year. Set a program for yourself; carry it through, and you will find how much happier you will be. Failure to keep to your schedule of improvement means you have paralyzed your will. You have no greater friend and no greater enemy than yourself. If you befriend yourself, you will find accomplishment. There is no law of God preventing you from being what you want to be and accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Nothing detrimental that happens can affect you unless you sanction it.'
Extra Bonus: Here are my cardinal rules for cleansing
1) Fasting must be voluntary
2) Avoid telling people you are fasting or cleansing unless you need to (takes care of all those doubters and nay-sayers)
3) You must follow the guidelines given in any trusted program you follow; eat and drink the amounts specified to properly clean intestines, flush the kidneys and keep blood sugar up.
4) Elimination Elimination Elimination! Make sure you are pooping and peeing out all the metabolic waste you're mobilizing when you cleanse!
5) When possible, buy organic produce and juices
6) Don’t mix fruits and vegetables in the same meal, either as salad or juice (causes gas)
7) You must go into and come out of a cleanse slowly, or else the cleanse will be less helpful, even harmful. Eat lightly coming out. Take a few days after the fast to reintroduce grains, dairy, and meats. This is often the hardest part!
8) If you must come out of the fast early, do so slowly, don’t binge.
9) Don’t take supplements or vitamins during the fast; though taking probiotics, magnesium powder or Vitamin C is optional and may even be helpful depending on your constitution.
10) You may have discharges of the lungs, nose, or intestines. This is normal and a good sign. You may also have skin eruptions as your body detoxifies.
11) Of course – NO coffee, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes, or other drugs.
12) Check your tongue, eyes, skin color, and hair texture and shine throughout your cleanse.
13) Don’t take on too much when you are cleansing, try to use the time to cleanse physically, emotionally and spiritually. This includes cleansing yourself of negative thoughts, media, people, activities, etc. You may even want to hang a “gone fishing” sign on your head.
14) Feel proud of yourself for doing such a great thing for your body and mind.