I could sense a shift in my body the first week of March. I was feeling lazy and a bit foggy. Not my usual. The excessive heat that lives in my neck and right side of my back was really warming up, along with cracking joints, both typical signs to sleep more, stress less, and clean up my foods.
I glanced at my calendar to set aside 1 or 2 weeks to dive into a spring cleanse. The transition from spring to winter is a rhythmic time to align with what nature is already doing. Clearing out to spring up! I created space to press the pause button for my mind, body, spirit and senses to naturally boost the effectiveness of my digestive system. I've done different types of cleanses over the last 10 years and each time I embrace a new life-long habit and I learn how to be more kind to myself.
Some doubt the effectiveness and safety of cleanses and in some cases, I agree! I typically see and hear people jumping too quickly into a harsh detox, like a 3 day juice cleanse on a random weekend, with no preparation or support.
In sharing my cleanse, it is not my hope that you follow my exact steps but consider for yourself what you would want out of a cleanse and why. Each person's experience and how they get there should be different because our bodies and needs are different.
Ok, here's a run down of my experience.
Dinner by 5pm, bed by 9:30pm, and oil self-massage followed by cold shower. Less technology and exercise; a chill schedule.
Same as above plus kitchari for breakfast and lunch with a grain, veggie soup or smoothie for dinner.
Same as day 1-3 plus more warm, liquid foods and drinks. (I did this for 1.5 days then added back in whole foods)
Slowly removing my cleanse guidelines and eagerly listening to lessons learned or new habits to integrate into daily life. Journalling more to document my experience and insights.
"Am I pushing or enjoying?" I would often ask myself this when my choices caused ripples like, "Do I need to keep doing projects around the house with my "extra time" or should I lay down and simply rest, this won't last forever, you know."
My mental health is just as important as my physical health, and it is just as effected by toxins. Supporting my mind during a cleanse looked like choosing a positive, light and happy attitude. It looked like calling a friend when my negative self-talk was getting out of hand. It looked like setting up my kitchen in a way so I would be less tempted to grab sugar and more likely to make a healthy choice. It looked like taking a social media break during days 8-10 to respect my experience and fully feel into it.
I always had clear in my mind - and written down - what I wanted out the cleanse and why it was important to me.
The objective for the body was to create an environment where the digestive system was not over burdened and would only need to process simple foods. But oh, to be comfortable with hunger. I wonder if that's what truly stops people from cleansing? It's hard to control hunger pains.
I've developed a curiosity about hunger and why we emotionally react so intensely to its sting. Food in your belly means safety, comfort and pleasure. When I was 2 hours from going to bed but had desire to have a snack, I shifted my attention with a glass of water, a step outside, and then cozy up on the couch to read. I'd realize after the sensation passed that I wasn't actually hungry, I was bored.
I changed up my movement to lighter cardio and lifting to more stretching, walking and dancing. It was a challenge to do less but once I felt into my fatigue (that's the body cleansing) it was easy for me to relax.
My favorite was always self-massaging my body with oil. It sounds a bit nutty if you've never heard or done it before but it's just as luxurious as it sounds. Afterwards, I'd head out to the shower have a cold rinse and stare up at the stars.
My spirit is continually revived by going outside, even to just stand on the deck and look around at that sky. I knew I was going to need more activities to do because I was in the kitchen less preparing food. I decided to try coloring because it was channel my creativity and focus, just like cooking would.
So I went for a walk downtown after work one day and bought an adult coloring book (jungle edition) with 36 "seriously fine" markers. This snowballed into a concept of treating myself to one small gesture to be kind to myself. Later I was in town again to pick up a juice, another day I got my hair cut and styled (I know, styled), and two days ago I started planning my spring break bikepacking trip.
It was also helpful to minimize intense conversations, conflicts, or having to make big decisions.
My eyes, nose, ears, taste and sense of touch had a chance to take a break. Driving in the car I listened to soft music or nothing at all. I kept my essential oil roller in my bag to focus on one thing at a time. I watched less shows and movies on my computer and instead I sank into a pile of pillows and kept reading my book (that actually talks about "wintering" as a verb - a chance to rest and relax).
The best way I could recharge my senses everyday was going to bed early. I planned to finish my work day early and embrace the fatigue. Now, 12 days later, my energy is going back up with a renewed vibrancy.
One of the biggest lessons I was reminded of is how sensitive my entire self is to overeating. Even if it's "healthy food." I can sense how it blurs my mind and fogs my channels.
It feels good to be on the other side on the cleanse and I'm thankful for the space and opportunity to have done so.