September is waning, though with a forecast high of 95 degrees, it’s not feeling like fall just yet. We comfort ourselves by planning some upcoming trips: New York and Tucson in November, and Port Townsend, Washington, in December. The trip to Washington, scheduled for the week of my birthday, will give us an opportunity to explore the area with the intention of possibly moving there. It feels as though big changes are ahead.
As I’ve already mentioned, we’ve already begun the process of cleaning the house. Since this is a Major Life Change, I also think it’s a good time to clean out my body, mind, and heart. It’s time for a physical cleanse.
You may ask, what’s that?
Simply put, cleansing involves eating less and eliminating processed and allergenic foods in order to give the digestive system a chance to rest. We remove foods that tax the liver, pancreas, and other organs, and instead provide nourishment that quiets us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Why cleanse? We live in a toxic world. Processed or junk foods, pollutants, alcohol, etc., can drag us down, leaving us with low energy and health problems. Periodic cleansing can help us feel better. Doctors disagree as to how much we can actually detox in a few weeks, but most agree that a cleanse, at the very least, creates a “reset” for our system. Often after the cleanse ends, we continue with better food habits for a time, and the new habits we learn give us sustained health and well-being.
During a time of cleansing we may meditate or relax more, or even do some exercises to identify aspects of our life that we can release. Cleanses can provide profound opportunities for spiritual growth. I’ve included it in our “relax, renew and flow” September because it fits in well with the subject matter we’ve explored this month.
When is the best time to cleanse? Well, we’ve all heard about spring cleaning, but ideally, we spend some time at or near the change of seasons. We can also cleanse if we’re considering a Major Life Change, whether it’s moving, marriage, divorce, or career change. We can even do short cleanses of three days or so if we’re just feeling sluggish. If we cleanse in a safe manner, we can do something whenever the time is right.
How do we cleanse? Unfortunately, for some, cleansing involves a period of fasting. I do not recommend this, and I feel distressed when I see people with health issues doing unsupervised fasts. This can be dangerous! When I hear them say, “Wow, I’m really cleansing! I had a horrible headache today!” I want to say, “Duh! You’re blood sugar has dropped too low. Go eat something!”
Instead, I suggest opting for cleanses that involve eating light, non-allergenic food. We will eat less, but not skip eating altogether. For example, last summer I did the Colorado Cleanse. Dr. John Douillard, author of the book of the same name, is offering a two-week fall cleanse beginning October 11. The cleanse starts with a pre-cleanse diet, then moves into a period of time where we eat kitchari (rice, mung beans, and spices), and then move into a post-cleanse diet. Certain supplements are suggested to support the cleanse. I had to add whey protein powder to each meal to keep my blood sugar level, and occasionally an apple here and there.
This time I have opted for Yoga Journal’s Seven-Day Fall Detox. It includes porridge and kitchari in the diet, daily yoga sequences to support the cleanse, certain Ayurvedic herbs, and guided meditations. Since I’m starting on Thursday, I’ll report my results next week, but it appears safe and nourishing.
Another safe program is through Standard Process. The company prefers that you work with a health provider familiar with Standard Process, but it involves a special whey protein supplement and a gentle, healthful diet to keep you energized.
The main thing to remember when cleansing is to keep the blood sugar level. If you’re feeling hungry, cranky, or listless, add some protein or other non-allergenic food. Apples are great! Hunger, low energy, or any other suffering is an indication that your body needs more food. Ideally, a good cleanse brings a sense of delight, not deprivation.
As the body moves into the cleanse, we may feel emotions come to the surface, or remember dreams we had forgotten. We may get guidance or a sense of direction for our path. Keeping a journal, finding time to be quiet or in nature, or getting some pampering (a nice massage during a cleanse does wonders) can support new insights to bubble up.
I invite you to give cleansing a try!