By Kerry Smith, Guest Contributor
It’s spring! A time for new beginnings and house cleaning! Traditionally this has been a time for cleansing the body as well, because it is what the body needs after a winter of longer nights, indoor, sedentary time, and rich, warming comfort foods. There are thousands of reasons for doing a cleanse. I’d like to highlight five, four of which are aspects of the first one.
1. Stop suffering with a cleanse. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking that a cleanse by definition is suffering, and yes, there are certain aspects of a cleanse that may cause some feelings of discomfort. However, one of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali lists four main causes of suffering, and a cleanse addresses them all, head on. What exactly is a Yoga Sutra of Patanjali you may ask? In brief the Yoga Sutras are a series of distillations of ancient yogic texts that wisely explain life, suffering and how to transcend the aspects of ourselves that keep us from expanding into our genius. They are attributed to a man named Patanjali. By doing a cleanse, you undermines the main causes of your suffering. When suffering decreases, bliss increases. Why else for millennia would people the world over subject themselves to this practice?
The bottom line, cleanses eliminate a lot more suffering than they cause.
2. By doing a cleanse you reverse and prevent adverse changes in your mental and physical health. The first cause of suffering is change. Change that adversely affects one’s circumstances creates suffering. Examples include: job loss, natural disasters, illness, loss of a loved one.
A cleanse means a change in the way one eats and does things, right? And even the thought of limiting or eliminating certain foods or drinks that we love often results in suffering. But by not doing a periodic cleanse the body begins to change in ways that may adversely affect you. Inflammation, sugar imbalances, hormonal imbalances, mood imbalances, weight imbalances begin to change the body for the worse, and lead to the "dis-eases" that currently are plaguing our society. A good cleanse keeps the body functioning as it was designed to.
3. Attachments and longings lose their power during a cleanse. Longing is the second cause of suffering according to the sutras. This is a desire for things to be other than they are. When we long for something that is currently unattainable,we suffer. Examples include longing for promotion, recognition, perfection, altered appearance, intelligence, youth, a Ferrari, more time, etc.
How does a cleanse remove longing? Toxins get stored in the fat when the liver and other systems become overwhelmed. According to Dr John Douillard, stored along with these toxins are molecules of emotion from traumas or intensely emotional times. Unprocessed negative emotions become the desires, longings, and attachments that cause us suffering. As the toxins clear out so do they, and suffering lessens. For more on that go here.
4. Change your habits by cleansing. Yes, the third Sutra reason for suffering is habit. We are habitual people and our habits lead to discomfort. For example: the habit of eating too fast may cause indigestion; staying up late may disrupt important cycles and physiological processes in the body, leaving us with low energy, stressed, and not functioning well; skipping lunch may cause blood sugar crashes that wreak havoc on oneself (not to mention those nearby); the perpetual use of coffee or caffeine as an external source of energy may deplete internal sources of energy, etc.
In a properly guided cleanse one is given a break from trigger foods while rebuilding a good intestinal environment. Good food habits that are supportive of proper physiological function can be established, allowing your energy to rise mentally and emotionally, and compromising habits can be more easily spotted and eliminated.
5. Bring the body, mind and spirit into balance with a cleanse. The fourth reason for suffering listed in the sutras is imbalance in three main energies that flow through the body and mind called the gunas. They often get referred to as the "Three Goons" by my yoga students. An imbalance in the gunas occurs when one has experienced this anytime you find yourself completely lethargic and unable to move or think, or conversely, when you can’t slow down in body or mind. For more on these energies go here.
The body is an amazing vehicle for the soul. It is designed to function magnificently, and it will if given a chance to rebalance itself. So much of our food today throws us out of balance on all levels. Even if we eat an all organic diet with no refined sugars or flours we still can be overpowered and unbalanced by the myriad of environmental toxins and stressors that modern life holds. A cleanse will help bring one into balance. A balanced body will achieve stable weight, strengthened immune function, and the muddled mind will clear while energy increases and suffering leaves.
Now is the time to cleanse. Put a halt to the cycle of adverse changes happening in your body, release painful attachments, replace detrimental habits, and bring yourself into balance so that suffering is replaced with bliss.
Do you have fears about cleansing? Have you had a positive experience to share? We'd love to hear from you!
Want to cleanse with a supportive (and fun) group? Join the Healing Earth Studio 30 Day Month of May Yoga and Juice Feast Challenge