Like many young professionals right out of university, I upheld an image of myself as happy and free in a big exciting city.
Like many of us in the 21st century, I was in fact struggling internally, which manifested in my relationships, outward appearance and mental health.
A large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee washed down a hefty dose of Adderall twice a day to help me power through 14 hours in the cubicle.
An over the counter sleeping medication helped me squeeze in a dream or two before I did the entire thing over again in the morning.
My system was completely out of whack. Deep down, it felt wrong. Our bodies and our hearts have the intuition to tell us what’s right for us, but the mind gets in the way. So I let this lifestyle persist until one day, something took over and guided me back to the real me who I missed so much.
I began a process of detoxification with instant results and no price tag. I quit my 9-5, bought a one way ticket to India, ditched most of my material items, and gave myself permission to breathe, feel and experiment with life.
After this journey, I can confirm that there are many ways to detox that don’t require that we buy an expensive juice cleanse. In an age where we’re busier and more preoccupied with the external than ever, everyone’s looking for an instant fix for health problems. So we’re buying magical remedies and trying the newest treatments more than ever.
We’ve become so disconnected from our natural bodies, that we’ve forgotten the very basics of how to live a healthy life.
Before the workout routines, pharmaceutical companies and 7-day juice cleanse brands, there were a myriad of ways to detox the body for free, ready to deploy at any instant. I took advantage of these timeless, free detox methods to simplify, make space and let things be.
I started deeply breathing.
Until someone figures out a way to bottle up oxygen and sell it to us, we should take advantage of the opportunity to just breathe in the free medicine surrounding us. Many of the teachers and wellness professionals I’ve met in India have stressed the power of inhaling and exhaling through a three-part breath. First we fill the belly, then the ribcage and the upper chest, and exhale out the same way. When we look at babies, we see that they actually breathe like this, yet somehow it’s unlearned as we grow.
There’s a reason we’re told to take a few deep breaths when we get angry. When we breathe deeply we activate the vagus nerve, which works to counteract our sympathetic nervous system, responsible for stress inducing fight or flight responses. When we stimulate the vagus nerve our heart rate slows and our blood pressure drops. This proper breathing allows us to relax, gain flexibility and get back to our fundamental, happy state of being.
H2O is right up there with oxygen as one of the most overlooked tools for detoxification. When we have chapped lips or dry skin, we’re so conditioned to pick up the moisturizer that we don’t listen to our bodies and give it more water! The same goes with muscle stiffness, constipation, headaches, and so much more. Water can help solve nearly all of our problems. I remember how much it helped when my Mom used to tell me to “sit and drink some water” when I was upset.
And, I integrated green.
Green landscapes, green foods, and a green lifestyle in general helped me reconnect with my natural self. I learned from my sister (a biology nerd at her core) that a good hiking trail is the best therapist you’ll ever find. I strengthened my vegetarianism and treated the earth well. She reciprocated with grace.
I ditched my “stuff.”
After getting inspired by the Minimalists blog a while back, I felt compelled to get rid of a lot of the junk cluttering my physical and mental space. Finally, I let go of my excess clothing, trinkets, and other items in the “maybe I’ll use later” box which stood in the way of my clarity.
I made room for new relationships.
Just as I cleaned out the physical closets, I found it necessary to slim the quantity and reevaluate the quality of my relationships. Without support, detoxing can feel challenging. When we surround ourselves with positive people, they lift us up and give us tangible strength in achieving our goals.
I cried and I laughed.
I simply let it all go without judgment.
In one yoga class, we were instructed to skip savasana and instead run and jump around like little kids. Although all of this was incredible, I got the greatest benefit from simply giving myself permission to feel whatever came to me. Sometimes I didn’t know why I was laughing or crying, yet I didn’t need to explain or apologize to anyone for these feelings. Through yelling for no apparent reason, sitting in silence in a crowded room and crying on the arm of a stranger, I let go of all the toxic energy in my body.
I cleaned out and invited new things in.
My most profound finding, however, was that through the entire process from my bottom to now, I’ve come to know the unchanging nature and strength of my innermost self. Whatever occupies the space above, I know I have the tools to sweep it out and get well without any prescription medicines or overpriced juice packages. It’s incredible to know that we have the power to leverage the gifts of nature and our bodies, whether it’s breathing with intention or listening to our emotions. These timeless remedies worked for me, and can work for anyone reading this.
I’d say it’s good to have me back, but I now know that I never left.
Author: Shoshanna Delventhal
Assistant Editor: Ellie Cleary / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s own