I don’t know about you, but as I cycle through months and seasons I notice myself enjoying a little too much of “the good life.” Even as someone who is committed to nourishing daily self care rituals I can get swept into indulging in things that give temporary satisfaction. In doing so I get pulled away from what make me feel radiant.
For me, the things that can throw me off balance are fresh-baked cookies, a late night glass of wine, or gatherings with extended family. Most of these small indulgences are no big deal when they are occasional, say – once per month. It is when we begin to use the cookie or wine as an escape, having it weekly or even daily, that it can develop into a hard to shake bad habit.
How Indulgences Becomes Sticky Goo
When our actions don’t support our true nature we accumulate Ama. Ama is the sticky, gooey sludge that is leftover from anything undigested – be it too much food or too much conversation or too much sun. Think of ama as metabolic waste. It takes hold in our fatty tissue and our joint spaces, which is why we may be 10 pounds heavier after winter or experiencing more aches and pains in our body after summer.
So, what do you do when you notice your over-indulgences emerging too often? What do you do when you realize those ama-building bad habits are beginning to produce the symptoms of disease?
Try Seasonal Cleanses
Try seasonal cleanses! Seasonal cleansing is an ancient tried-and-true practice that you ideally commit to on a biannual basis. By cleansing in the spring and fall we clear our body’s channels of ama, strengthen our digestion, and break up both poor habits and the negative impact they have on our body. When we cleanse we hit the reset button, thereby tapping into our true and natural rhythms.
Align with Your Natural Rhythms
In regard to our life and wellbeing the word “rhythm” means the natural cycles that are present in nature and how our daily rituals either support those natural rhythms or go against them. Consider winter, snow blankets the environment and lends its inherent qualities (cold, insular, quiet) to the hibernation of the natural world. Even living in Atlanta, without any snow, I observe trees and animals in a time of dormancy. During this seasonal rhythm we, too, are meant to turn inward, sleep longer, and nourish our bodies with warm food. We can even break it down even more to the 24-hour cycle of the day. When the noonday sun rises highest in the sky, it aligns with our body’s bile production, which also reaches its peak at noon. When we go against these rhythms by eating our largest meal at the end of the day, when the moon is up, instead of the sun, we create dis-ease.
Our body desires to keep us aligned with nature, in sync with both daily and seasonal rhythm. This is how we are designed to experience well-rested and radiant longevity. Seasonal cleanses give your body the opportunity to slow down and create space so that it can resolve the harmful effects of those poor habits, so that it can dissolve the ama collected in your fat tissue, your joints, and even your mind.
Cleansing is the ultimate renewal. Just as you feel the urge to “spring clean” your home or to rake the decaying leaves of fall, if you listen to what your body is trying to tell you going into the spring and fall seasons you will feel the urge to clean your internal space.
Listen to Your Body
What exactly are we supposed to do to cleanse? Allow me to dispel the myth that seasonal cleansing has to be hard on the body. I like to think of my seasonal cleansing as lovely opportunities to re-connect. We are so frequently swept up in life we forget to truly listen to our body. We begin to use the brain to make decisions about everything. “What will I do today? What pace will I force my body to keep because of work, family, church, or other external commitments? What food will I put in my pie-hole to solve my feelings of boredom, sadness, anxiety, or joy? What music, tv, and electronic stimulation do I choose even when I’m tired?” You see, it is SO simple to develop bad habits when we are using the brain to override the needs of the body. Detoxing allows us to listen to what our body needs.
As seasons change and we feel the natural urges to lighten up, clean up and try new things, it is completely natural to also lighten up, clean up and try new things in the body. When we do so, we fine tune the body’s listening skills. We have the chance to renew the natural intelligence and rhythm of the body and give it a chance to speak, to override the loud voice of the mind, to break bad habits and, most importantly, to heal.
My top five tips for a seasonal cleanse
Design a cleanse for you and only you! You can design your cleanse to go as deep or as subtle as you like. The main goal of a cleanse should be to attune the body’s rhythm to that of nature, to create space for healing and to fine tune your ability to listen to your internal voice.
Take a break from electronics by setting a defined time to go screen free. Give friends and family a heads up that you will be social media free during this cycle and limit computer use to only what is necessary in your business day. Free your mind from these stimulating distractions and use the time to tap into nature, connect with family, or sit in silence.
Let go of excess social engagements. It is important to get quiet during cleanse, and it’s hard to do that when you are focused on meeting the needs of others or when you are stuck in loud or over-stimulating social settings. You may look ahead at your calendar and block a period of time in which you will say “no” to outside engagements.
Make nourishing practices like self-massage and warm baths a priority. You may feel anxious about what to do with the new found space and time. Let your mind know that the body is in charge with practices that send the clear signal “Don’t worry, ‘mind,’ I’ve got this!”
Create a plan and ask for specific support. Meal plan! Include the what, how and when of the meals you will eat on your cleanse. The planning will ease your stress around the process of cleansing and stave off cravings. It is also very helpful to tell your friends and family what you will be doing and how that will affect your availability to their needs. Set expectations and give specific ways in which friends and family can help you to be successful with your cleansing process. You may wish to follow a book or join a group detox.
Be easy on yourself. Even the best laid plans sometimes must change. Being an experienced seasonal detoxer, there have been times when I have planned a deep cleanse only to encounter an emergency that required me to take a lighter approach. Or the opposite – when I plan to take only an electronic device detox, but end up following my body’s desire into a more deep cleanse. All is well. Just use the opportunity to explore, be curious, slow down, and be at ease with what arises. That is what seasonal cleanses are all about.
If joining a group cleanse sounds intriguing to you, I’ll be offering that opportunity every April and October beginning in 2018!