At some point in our lives, mostly at the least opportune time, we come to a sudden recognition of ill health in the form of fatigue, lack of mental clarity, weight gain, lethargy, a sloppy inefficient liver, cholesterol and blood sugar levels creeping up, indigestion, or other annoying reminders that all is not well. This is a sign from the perspective of Ayurveda that it is time to clean house.
Ancient ayurvedists formulated a scientific system of cleansing the accumulated toxins that can hang on our insides. When these toxins accumulate, the body refuses to forgive our insults to wisdom. What begins as a mild disturbance becomes something in need of full-fledged medical attention. Since this accumulation is due to a host of physical, emotional and spiritual crimes against wisdom; a physical, emotional and spiritual detox is in order.
The body has natural means of elimination, including stools, urine, and sweat. Ayurveda uses these to naturally remove toxins from the body via a five-step process called panchkarma (the five acts of emesis, purgation, enema, nasal medication, and blood letting) done with proper preparation, process, post-detox rejuvenation and under the supervision of an ayurvedic practitioner.
Although the process may sound alarming, Ayurveda says that in our daily lives, there is nothing more beneficial to a body than to stop the intake of foods and emotions for a period of time, and indulge in a regulated fast. With the help of supplements, this practice can push toxins into the gut so they can get eliminated.
In other words, do nothing, just fast to the extent your body and mind will let you. For a simple home detox, there are procedures of internal and external oleation (oiling and massage), sweating, purgation and rejuvenation that can promote a sense of lightness, clarity, and increased energy flow. An overly simple detox can include fasting to the extent possible, supported by a minimal amount of food suitable for the ayurvedic constitution with herbs and supplements that support purging and rejuvenation. Since our very first breath, we are products of our conditioning. Family, friends, co-workers, relationships, advertising, society, religion, the news, anxiety about the future, and worries from the past haunt us and prevent us from keeping our consciousness awake and aware. We can lose focus, lose sleep, and lose our appetite for life’s experiences and end up living a life of reacting instead of charting our journey and following it with trust and wisdom.
Without real purpose, we learn to live as a direct response to how others make us feel: others become the mirrors to our wellbeing or disease. They make us feel brave or fearful; it’s our reaction to their response to our outer life. And it is a rich outer life! Full of drama, tensions, stress, expectations, and a search for something…but you may often ask yourself, does this being even have a purpose for living, a purpose for anything, except relating to others?
The support and challenges we face in the form of health and disease are essential for growth. An emotional detox clears past emotional baggage, gives clarity and purpose to move forward instead of rewinding old drama or stagnating in victimhood and resentment.
A simple component of an emotional detox could include unwinding past memories and seeing both sides of the drama. We often get caught up in what is labeled “bad” until we really go back with an open heart and find the blessing in the challenge, no matter how earth shattering it seemed then. Getting rid of toxic emotions of guilt and fear, victimhood, abandonment, is key to not only moving on, but essential to finding our own true purpose.
Living in a world shaped by conditioning, we realize we need to discover ourselves. Meditation is key in discovering the inner world. It is by far the easiest practice to access, and yet so elusive to most. Dancing, singing, walking, running, chanting, any action can be a source of meditation as long as the doer loses himself or herself. And we have often caught ourselves doing that. Only now it’s time to question who you are until you don’t just lose the mind but until the person asking is nowhere to be found.
Read original article in LA Yoga September 2013.