Editor’s note: cleanses should not be used to lose weight. They should be employed carefully, as a tool for self-love, or maitri—not deprivation. ~ Waylon
Cleanses are all the rage these days. With good reason. There are a multitude of reasons to detoxify your body in the spring.
First, there are the reasons that are obvious to Westerners––weight loss, allergy relief, reduction of congestion and mucous. These are the physical reasons for cleansing. They are the most obvious and concrete reasons for cleansing. And they are all good reasons. But, the more we move into subtler reasons for cleansing, the more we get from the process.
The next reason is a bit less obvious. That is the emotional level of cleansing. This often comes as a surprise to first-time cleansers. Here, you are brought face to face with your habits and crutches. Coffee in the morning, a glass of wine (or several) in the evening, a bag of chips when your boss pisses you off, a bowl of ice cream because you’re bored.
Everyone has crutches, habits and addictions. (Maybe some people don’t, but I haven’t met any of them.) When those crutches are removed, we then have to deal with whatever emotions are arising, rather than stuff them down with our drug of choice. It is quite liberating, when, on day 10 of a cleanse, you realize that it’s 10 a.m. and you haven’t even thought about coffee, or it’s bedtime, and you didn’t miss your evening cocktail.
Then, we move into the even more subtle realms of cleansing. The next level is spiritual. If this sounds too out there, take a moment to think about the fact that almost all spiritual traditions have a history of cleansing or fasting.
Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days. The Buddha attained enlightenment after a prolonged fast. Fasting is a regular practice in many monastic traditions today. Obviously, there’s something more than weight-loss going on here. Modern Westerners probably aren’t going to achieve enlightenment by giving up coffee and cheese for a few weeks, but we can gain some spiritual perspective.
When we are not filling up our channels with food, we make space for consciousness to flow freely. This is why meditation is recommended by so many cleanse programs. When we are clear and spacious we have room to be closer to God, nature, our deeper selves or whatever makes us feel our fullest.
The most subtle reason for cleansing takes an evolutionary perspective. Both past and future evolution can be taken into account. Our evolutionary history is, in my opinion, one of the strongest arguments for cleansing. Until the twentieth century, humans always cleansed in the spring. We had no choice. Summer was the season of bounty, fall was the harvest. We stored food for the winter. By spring, most of it was gone.
We had a natural cycle of feast and famine. Now, we have all feast and no famine. We aren’t ever giving our digestive systems that much-needed break. This is only one of the many ways that our human bodies have not been able to catch up, evolutionarily, to the extreme changes in the western diet in the last century.
We can also look at cleansing from aTools going-forward evolutionary perspective. The more in touch with our bodies we become and the more able we are to really live in and with our bodies, the more human we become and the more we can connect to nature, which is source. When more people connect to their selves, nature or a higher power, they will be less inclined to eat unhealthily year-round. As our population becomes healthier, those promoting junk food and unsustainable farming practices will begin to lose power and environmental degradation will begin to reverse. People and the planet will become healthier and future generations will thrive.
Bet you never thought, that by doing a cleanse this spring, you’d be saving the future of humanity.
Editor: Lindsay Friedman
Alexandra Strickland lives in Alma, Colorado. She has a full-time career in the wine industry, and another full-time job as a mom and wife. She teaches yoga part time and is studying Ayurvedic medicine. With all the free time that leaves her, she pursues her passions of writing and promoting health for the world.