Spring Cleanse – Why cleanse with the Seasons? Part 1

Traditionally, cultures in every corner of the planet have their chosen ways to cleanse and renew. Detoxing with plants that support cleansing and purification, alongside natural healing protocols using water, steam, smoke and fasting have stood the test of time for thousands of years. And people not only focused on cleansing the body, but also the mind to regain a sense of perspective and direction in life. There was an understanding of the cyclical nature of the seasons and the corresponding cycle of the people.

Traditionally in the Native American tradition, a women menstrual cycle was seen as her time of purification, cleansing and when she was most connected with the universal energies. The men, needing their own purification ceremonies sat together in Inipi lodges (Sweatlodges) where they sweated their prayers, as a way of cleansing and purifying. In the Catholic tradition, we have the Lenten period. The stretch of 40 days and 40 nights, representing Jesus time in the desert where he went to fast, cleanse and purify. And the examples can go on and on. Traditionally much of the cleansing and purification had spiritual drives which may seem obsolete in our current society unless your spiritually driven. However, from the perspective of being human and living in a natural world, the role of periodic cleansing  to support our health and vitality is as relevant as ever.

From a natural healing perspective, the three traditions I like to draw from are the Traditional Chinese Medicine system, the Ayurvedic System and our own Traditional Western Herbalism. All three systems, though differing in styles share the understanding of the fundamental need to cleanse and purify periodically. They also share an understanding of the need for this to be on a physical, mental & emotional level, body-mind. So this is a combined tradition of many thousands of years of knowledge and the truth is that although technology and society has evolved over these thousands of years, humans are pretty much the same. In fact our need for periodic cleansing, rejuvenation and refocusing are greater than with the environmental challenges, societal demands and general madness of living the life in this society and world we have created. Ancient wisdom for modern times!!!

But how do we do it without having to go into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights? Maybe you don’t fancy heading for the nearest Inipi (Sweatlodge) Ceremony. And I know, I know ….. life is busy, soooo busy. Well the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that hard! You don’t have to take time off work, remove yourself from humanity, run naked through the forest or starve, purge or flagellate yourself ( Although the first 3 of these options are highly recommended optional extras!)

The idea of cleansing, detoxing, purging has such negative connotations. The feelings of lack, deprivation, punishment and penance can accompany it. Often the well marketed, detoxes and cleanses focus on weight loss and body image. They play on the desire to be lean, clean, beautiful and green!! They leverage the human drive to expel toxins for survival, but manipulate this a little sometimes by pushing the idea that our natural, human, metabolic waste is unclean, “bad” and innately we are bad and dirty and need to be cleaned. YUCK!!!! All the old religious undertones that so many who have jumped onto this path are rejecting present in yet another form! Guilt, shame, rejection of natural processes. Isn’t it Ironic.

Thats not to say that more intense physical cleanses don’t have their place. I’ve done water fasts, juice fasts many different dietary protocols over the years. Some have been beneficial some have been crazy making! My experience has been that as a one-dimension approach any stand alone diet is limited in its effects. Because human beings are multi-dimensional. My experience is that any cleanse or detox routine undertaken with a rigid mindset and harshness are counterproductive and can compound and reenforce underlying states of guilt, shame and worthlessness. And no matter how many affirmations or law of attraction quotes you read in a day, if your energy and approach is re-inforcing these underlying beliefs, your not going to make any real, lasting or sustainable change in yourself, your health or your life.

So whats my approach then???

KINDNESS & GENTLENESS + DISIPLINE & CHALLANGE =
SUSTAINABLE ACTION & POSITIVE OUTCOME.
WORKING WITH THE MIND-BODY
PHYSICAL – MENTAL – EMOTIONAL – ENVIRONMENTAL

 

And try have a bit of a laugh along the way. Its not that serious!

Spring Cleanse

SPRING IS ON THE WAY, BUT SLOWLY, SLOWLY!!

It’s always a bit jarring when we come through the Christmas period, the heart of Winter, hot-toddies and log fires and cross over the New Years threshold into the stark reality of January, cold, grey and credit-card bills that you’d rather not open!!! The ambiguity of new starts, New Years resolutions, good intentions alongside the instinctive desire to prolong the slumber, lie low and slow and stay warm not making any major shifts at all yet. Certainly nowhere near ready for a Spring Cleanse!

Well the truth is our instincts are bang on. It’s the heart of winter, nature is still sleeping and we too if left to our natural rhythm should be doing the same. But most of us don’t have the luxury to hibernate for the winter. And after a couple couple of weeks off for the Christmas, its generally back to work and life as normal, with a good dollop of January deals on Gym memberships, dietary cleanses and slimming world passes, playing on the few extra pounds we’ve gained after the party season of eating and drinking!!

I personally love the feeling of New Years, new starts, goal setting, intentions. I love to reflect on the previous year and look forward to where I would like to be at the end of the next. But this is a mental stimulation, my mind loves it. My body and energy on the other hand, are not quite ready to spring into action and I’ve begun to listen to this more and more in recent years. It’s too dark, its too cold. I still want to rest while dreaming the year to come. And this is what I do.

Then inevitably one morning I wrap up warm and leave the house and I feel it. A stirring. It’s tangible. I sniff the cold air and feel the shift. But its still bloody freezing!!! Not long now. Soon after the light begins to lengthen. My children notice the shift. We peep out the window at the daffodils beginning to poke through the ground. Spring is arriving, slowly, slowly but she is on creeping in. But its still bloody freezing!!!

I still want warm foods, log fires, and rest but my energy is shifting. I’m beginning to look around the house thinking, lets clear the junk, how did we end up with so much stuff?? I want to wash the windows to let the light in, and I can feel the pull coming to throw them windows open and let the fresh air blow through the house. But not yet, its still bloody freezing!

And this is February, for me. I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to clear the clutter, shake off the cobwebs and move into the year fully now. But still slowly. And as the energy rises over the next month, I will be ready and will be doing one mother of a Spring Cleanse mind-body, inside-outside. What will I let go and what will I grow for the coming year? This is my mantra for Spring. A time to clear and a time to seed. A time to consciously create. This is the time to harness the energy of nature, to work with it not against it. And nature provides exactly what we need by way of the plants to support us in this process.

So if you missed the January rush to revamp yourself, got on that wagon only to find yourself falling off and back under a warm blanket by the fire, you have not missed the boat. Actually the boat is just beginning to pull in to the harbor. If your interested in cleansing with the seasons, your food, your mood, your body and your mind. Stay tuned. I will be sharing some unique, simple, supportive ways to use herbs and healing for just that this Spring. But slow and easy, as we wake from our Winter slumber. Not hardcore. There’s no need as we are about to step into the flow of natures energy rising. Let’s ride on the coat-tails!