As we sink into this season of autumn many of us feel the natural turning of attention inward. The busyness of summer has calmed and we can now take the time to prepare for winter. Just like spring the autumn is a time of transition. In the autumn we move from the heights to the depths. Cleansing and fasting is a wonderful way to mark this time of transition and prepare our bodies and minds for winter. Cleansing has always been historically used as a healing remedy and used traditionally as a way to mark the transition of the seasons, clear stagnant emotions and physical issues, re-establish a healthier relationship to food, detoxify the body and mind of excess wastes, and used to prepare the self for spiritual practice.
In particular, the ritual of cleansing has been lost in the modern day western world. The body is constantly neutralizing, transforming and eliminating toxins but it can only handle a certain amount toxicity. Almost all westerners coming from the standard American diet need to detoxify and cleanse. But the question is...
How to Cleanse?
When we cleanse we trigger the body to naturally detox. The body is always using the gastrointestinal, urinary, respiratory, lymphatic and dermal systems to detox and cleansing kicks those systems into high gear.
Remember - quicker is not always better. Slow cleansing might actually foster a deeper change. If you've never done a cleansing program I usually suggest starting slow with a shorter less extreme cleanse. So start here:
Increase cleansing and alkaline foods and habits
Some foods are just more naturally cleansing then others. Generally vegetables and fruits are more cleansing then grains, beans, nuts and seeds which are more building. Increasing fresh organic vegetables in addition to eliminating harmful foods could be enough of a seasonal cleanse to bring a person who has a fairly healthy diet consisting of organic whole foods back into balance.
Increasing alkalinity in the body can be done by eating more fruit, vegetables, and cereal grasses like wheat grass. We can also increase alkalinity by soaking grains, chewing thoroughly, reducing stress, and exercising.
Eliminate harmful, stagnating, and acid forming foods
The second step when initiating a cleansing program is avoiding stagnating, acid and mucus forming foods. Acidity leads to inflammation which eventually can lead to disease. This includes avoiding processed food, sugar, intoxicants, dairy products and reducing coffee and meat. Dependent on your condition and personal sensitivities there may be further foods to eliminate such as soy, gluten and tropical fruit.
Cleanse for the season and your constitution
I generally suggest the Wild Rose cleanse which can be found at most health food stores to clients as a very structured way to begin cleansing. There are further modifications that can be made dependent on the season and your constitution.
- For the fall/winter and if you often feel cold: incorporate more "warming" food like lightly steamed vegetables, broth soups and warming herbs and spices.
- For the summer/spring and if you often feel warm or hot incorporate more "cooling" foods like raw vegetables and fruit, sprouts and cereal grasses.
Adjust your cleanse depending on your health and goals
There are many cleanses that help with specific issues. The above suggestions are a great place to start and a great regular program to rely on. Eventually after cleaning out the body and establishing healthy every day eating habits moderate cleansing is all that is needed.