“I’ve always believed that if people are given a healthy choice, they will choose it, and if they choose it often enough it will soon be their only choice.” ~ Terces Engelhart
Sadly, our world is full of toxins that are impacting all beings (human and other than human). Part of our current life simplification process involves trying to consciously remove ourselves from as many of these toxins as possible. Removing ourselves from toxic environments, whether it’s exposure to physical toxins (air pollution, strong chemical scents, construction fumes, etc.) or emotional toxins (our own negative patterns or those of friends and colleagues) is key to good mind/body/spirit health. Of course, a concurrent part of the process is envisioning what environment we do want to be a part of and helping to create and hold that vision so it can manifest into reality.
We tend to see intentional healthy living as a day-to-day choice rather than looking to detoxify through an isolated intensive period of time with specific activities or products, as often seems to be the case when referring to detoxifying via our diets. The word “detox” itself naturally conjures up “going without.” We’d like to reframe the process as one that can be nourishing and exciting. Certainly, one way to do this is in choosing to eat nutrient rich, delicious foods and forgoing refined, sugary, processed ones.
That said, here are some ideas that are significant to us as we continue to work towards detoxing ourselves and the world:
- Be kind to your liver – it’s possibly the most overworked organ in our bodies due to
its function as a filtering system for removing all toxins that enter through air, food, cleaning and beautifying products, and even water. You can help it out by changes you make in these areas, as well as by reducing or eliminating gluten, milk products, alcohol and refined sugars, caffeine, bad fats – AND processed foods! Eat more foods that your liver likes (fruits & veggies, gluten-free grains, seeds, legumes, and good fats). Initially bitter greens such as dandelion, endive, and arugula may be a good support. Some of these you can easily add to a smoothie or fresh juice if you find them hard to eat alone. Simply taking a minute or two to add skin brushing to your daily routine improves circulation and lymphatic flow and is yet another way to assist your body in eliminating toxins.
- Cultivate a sense of gratitude for your food and your life. Each time we remember to slow down, take a breath, and eat with awareness, we can return to a place of inner peace. This allows for better and more complete digestion and absorption of the elements present in our food. [See http://www.uthealthleader.org/index/article.htm?id=ded18a1a-5b53-461a-a1fa-fb7d97883f6b for an overview of research on the physical and psychological benefits of gratitude, and Café Gratitude (http://cafegratitude.com/about-our-practice/) for a unique take on how to view food in our lives from a perspective of gratitude.] The foods we choose to eat, the ways in which we prepare them, and our approach to eating and drinking are all crucial to a balanced healthy body/mind/spirit.
- Limit your ingestion of non-food related toxins – Sadly, the world we currently live in in North America is full of unhealthy stimuli. Cultivate a practice where you nourish yourself with silence, turning down the outside noise. Declutter your home and other aspects of your life. Cleaning up in the outer world helps to clean up the inner one. Try to commit to not “ingesting” items that contain toxic messages such as certain movies, TV programs, magazines, books, or other media, as well as gossip-like conversations.
- Act in ways that contribute to a healthier world by trying to shift the energy of
toxic environments. Rather than criticizing or condemning, or speaking in ways that cause division or discord, commit to speaking truthfully, with joy and hope. Take time daily to be outside in the sun and rain and connect to the earth. Plan for regular exercise and relaxation. All of these actions contribute to a more wholesome interior and exterior environment.
- Find community – Spend time with people who are positive and support your journey, helping each other continue to walk along your intersecting paths. Choose healthy indulgences such as a getting together with friends and creating a multi-course raw foods meal with people you love. Together, you can celebrate successes, no matter how large or small.
How do you know that you are in need of a detox, anyway? Are you feeling a lack of energy? Do you find yourself always reaching for caffeine and sugar laden snack foods instead of nutritious ones? Is your digestion sluggish or are you constipated? Do you seem to catch all the little bugs that go around? At this point all this may just feel normal to you. We build up toxins over time so that we gradually adjust to these symptoms and just see them as normal. We’re kind of like the story of the frog that doesn’t notice that it is being boiled because the water is getting hot gradually. Our bodies are designed to keep trying to bring us back into balance or homeostasis and they are good at it! It’s often not until we get really sick that we start to pay attention. In a world designed to distract us and support unhealthy choices we need to become personal and social alchemists – creating and supporting a toxic free inner and outer world.
Remember to start where you are. It can be as simple as starting your day off with a glass of lemon water or as complex as offering a Raw Food Challenge to your community.