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