Are You Ready For A Spring Cleanse?

I’ve just broken a 10 day juice cleanse and my body feels like a million bucks! The orange I ate for “breakfast” was an eagerly anticipated explosion of virgin, citrus flavours and texture; a pleasure beyond description when compared to the simplicity of 10 days consumption of organic apple juice that has been part of my cleansing regimen process.

I’m not new to cleanses, I’ve been practicing the science of detoxification on and off for the last 20 years; part of an ingrained, early training and philosophy I adopted with the intent to enhance and elevate the vitality of my body/mind wellness.

This particular cleanse is the longest I’ve done so far; a progression from my early days of weekly, one day dry fasts, where no food or liquid was consumed, to a later progression of a few runs of three and six day juice fast/cleanses spread out over the years.

In many cases including my most recent, those juice cleanses were used in conjunction with other more exotic detoxifying ingredients like Psylium husks, Bentonite (clay), Epsom salts, Olive oil and fresh squeezed Grapefruit juice.

My imagined bucket list in life includes the dream of heading to Karala India, for a 30 day Panchakarma treatment: a body/mind/Soul immersion, where you are escorted through a progressive detoxification and rejuvenation process according to the ancient wisdom and science of Ayurveda – customized to your specific body type.

That said, I don’t have the money or time to participate in such lavish adventures right now, and I’m not really interested in one of those sometimes expensive “kits” that purport miracle cleansing while you maintain your regular lifestyle/diet regimen.

When given the right environment, circumstance and prompts, the body has a unique, effortless and natural tendency to bring enhanced levels of homeostasis or well-being to its experience; some would call it healing. In a western medical model where the main focus of wellness is based on allopathic treatments and intervention (medication and surgery), the ancient wisdom teachings such as Ayurveda from India provide an abundance of perfect knowledge for the framework and understanding needed to maintain and enhance your experience of wellness.

Juice cleansing is a simple but profound process that can easily enhance your present state of wellbeing. As part of my ongoing learning, and the intention of this particular blog post, the web offers an infinite number of opportunities to engage information that might inspire you to introduce simple practices to improve the quality of your life.

If you’ve never cleansed before, my suggestion is to consult with a Doctor, who has been exposed too, and educated in the art of natural cleansing and detoxification process. A simple visit to a naturopath office might provide some valuable information with regards to the uniqueness of your present wellness situation and the goals you may have for that path.

Your adventure should include the mandatory surf of the web based resources, if only for entertainment; it might also end up being an invaluable opportunity and support for you as you expose yourself to viewpoints and perspectives you might normally not come cross.

The premise of a juice fast/detox is based on the idea that the body naturally accumulates toxins over a period of time which are present in the food and liquids we consume and includes the very breath we breathe. A deeper layer to this science suggests that while the body is uniquely designed to eliminate toxins that may build up naturally within the blood and tissues, it needs to be regularly cleansed for maximum performance and function.

On the subtlest level those toxins include, but are not limited to, stresses of any kind; our definition of toxins as a necessity, must also include the stresses of everyday life such as toxic, unresolved, undigested, thinking, emotion and feeling. Just as you would regularly change the oil in your car or calibrate your carburettor, we must take care and time to cleanse and calibrate the vehicle of our body, so consciousness as energy, may enliven the body/mind system for maximum benefit.

The abstention from a regular diet while instead relying solely on a mono-diet of a single food substance like rice or Kitcherie, or the consumption of natural juice liquids such as organic apple juice, allows the body to rest from the complexity and stress of normal dietary habits. When given this opportunity the body will release stored stress and toxins that have built up in the physiology.

Instead of “uploading” into the blood and tissues of our physiology, the body “downloads” those toxins and stress that have been stored over periods of weeks, months and years into the gastro intestinal tract for their natural elimination.

Unless you have experienced a cleanse first hand, it is unlikely you will realize the value of a simple two or three day juice fast and the impact it can have on your overall well-being. While the idea of not eating might be troubling for most, you will be amazed how a little intention and willpower can radically change the way you perceive and experience your life experience on multiple levels.

The natural sugars present in juice and the nutrients that can be metabolized by the body on a more limited mono diet are more than enough to sustain a reasonably healthy person, who has no existing contraindications prior to the step of engaging your first cleanse.

I remember my first 2 or 3 day juice cleanse at around the age of thirty or so. Newer to the holistic wellness practices, I woke up the first morning of “the next day”, with a tong coated in a white mucous substance (which I discovered much later on was called “ama” or toxic residue). My eyelids were also sticking together because the body had excreted some “unknown” residue [ama] overnight. Needless to say I was a bit freaked out at not only what was happening, but also with what was coming out itself. I have never really indulged in what one could say is an overly toxic lifestyle or dietary habits, and I’ve been an ovo-lacto vegetarian since I was around 27.

I think it’s important not to minimize the simplicity and power of a simple juice cleanse/mono diet/fast. It’s also critical not to underestimate the degree of toxicity that may presently exist within your own physiology. You yourself will have some frame of reference to understand the degree of toxicity that might possibly exist in your system.

Prevailing conditions such as: age, dietary habits and medication used, combined with what could be described as “self-destructive” behaviours such as smoking, recreational drug use or excessive drinking, can all influence the degree of toxicity and cleansing that may be required in order to rejuvenate your body to more natural levels. Your present health condition determines to a large degree, how you might navigate the framework of a series of planned cleanses.

The irony here is that one can never clearly state the ultimate impacts of cleansing. I cannot say for certain I appear to be healthy because of a simple few cleanses. I cannot say for certain that the absence of disease such as cancer, arthritis, liver, heart and kidney disease is the result of being a vegetarian or participating in a juice cleanse every once in a while. And I cannot say that practicing these alternative approaches to living life will guarantee anything what-so-ever, in terms of a radical shift and realization of increased health and wellbeing.

What I can say is that my body feels like a million bucks after a cleanse! What I can say is that I have noticed that the sometimes predictable winter cold and frequency of headaches appear to vanish for a period of time, and are becoming more infrequent if at all. When I take the time look after my body in more mindful ways, what I can say is that allergy like symptoms seem to be minimized, compared to when I do not participate in a regular cleansing routine.

I love coffee, I don’t do drugs, and my alcohol consumption is minimal. There is no judgment implied here, just observation. I do believe there is a direct correlation and reduction to the level of health and wellbeing that one can experience in their circumstance when one does engage in those riskier lifestyle choices.

The first day of my cleanse is usually the most difficult in terms of body discomfort. I had a brutal headache on day one of my recent ten day apple juice cleanse. At one point I almost felt like puking, although I didn’t. It was a little surprising for me in terms of intensity, but it was expected since I typically do consume at least one latte and a cup of tea per day.

Fasting or cleansing of any kind can be an amazing way to get in touch with your body and with your mind. I would use the word intimate and grounding to describe the experience it provides for me when I think about my body based experience. As a result of attention not being caught up in the day to day distractions and drama that occur in most people’s lives you have a lot of free time when you do a cleanse. You have a lot of free time to begin to notice things you might not regularly notice about the way you live your life.

With the absence of regular eating habits the blood stream is able to “pull” toxic substances like caffeine out of the tissues and organs, to be eliminated naturally into the gastro intestinal tract. The headache you might experience every morning prior to your daily caffeine fix is the body naturally stepping into a detoxification/withdrawal process. After the initial intensity of first day “withdrawals”, I felt an unbelievable level of relaxation in my brain for about six days; it was if my brain was under some sort of natural sedation; it was quiet and still.

As I progressed through the main segment [day two through nine] of my juice cleanse, my entire body also began to progressively settle into a level of relaxation that was beyond my normal every day experience. My breathing and sinuses opened up and my muscles became very subtle, adding a level of flexibility and flow that was noticeable in my movement. In fact, all senses of my body seemed to become more acutely refined; they seemed to come alive. I could hear, see, and noticeably feel things more so in my body; smells and tastes seemed to be amplified tenfold.

The length of this particular cleanse appeared to also stir up more psychological material than normal, especially around the concept of eating itself. I realized to a much greater degree, how the experience eating was tied to an association of pleasure; I realized how much eating had become routine in my life, to the point it was experienced as a task and activity often used to fill time.

Most of these insights simply floated into my awareness during and after the cleanse was over. I was not so much interested in psycho analyzing the content of those thoughts, but more so, simply wanting to be more aware of them as they arose. This I would say is one of the side benefits of a cleansing experience; you become more aware. You become more aware of your body and you become more aware of your mind. You become more conscious of behaviours that run your life and you get in touch with the thoughts that are woven into them.

As I mentioned before the entire digestive process and body begins to settle down, once you have past the initial phase(s) of “being hungry” and the shock of withdrawal from things like caffeine. This leaves the way for a gentler purification process to continue in your body. More often or not, I notice at some point a surprising increase in energy; a feeling of simply being present to the moment. It’s quite delicious and understandable considering the amount of energy it takes to digest food in general, and the fact that we spend significant amounts of time in the digestive process itself. Depending on what you eat, some foods like meats take hours to progress through the different stages of the digestive process.

If you have the opportunity to take time off work I suggest highly you do so, this simply adds another level of self-care and awareness to your experience. It’s a chance to dive more deeply into the process without the need or distraction of a regular daily routine. It’s an opportunity to stay in the process whatever that may be for you. If you have the funds, I also encourage one or more bodywork sessions; a juicy addition of pleasure to cultivate and enjoy the overall experience on multiple levels!

Breaking a cleanse and the return to regular eating habits is also a big part of the joy of abstention and the celebration of your achievement. I often fantasize during a cleanse of what foods I will indulge in once I return to regular eating patterns. This can be a lesson in itself with regards to how we can so easily jump out of the present to focus on the chaos of the past or the pleasure of an imagined future.

One “shift” I noticed this time around was the urge and impulse to not so quickly return to my regular eating habits. I love my Wavy Lays, gelato ice cream, and chocolate fixes. This time around I took an extended and staggered approach as I journeyed back into my favourite comfort foods in life.

A cleanse can often be an opportune moment to introduce or begin new ways of being in your life. After even a few days of cleansing you start to spontaneously activate your own inner healer; the part of yourself that when given the chance, values the opportunity to develop and pursue new habits that contribute to overall wellbeing. You become more conscious of being conscious, and you become more conscious about what you want or don’t want to put into your body.

If your desire is to break or add specific habits like reducing dairy or eating more greens, it can be much easier to establish those strategies just after a cleanse. If you’ve cleanse been unsuccessful with breaking the smoking habit, a juice cleanse is an excellent way to go cold turkey, as the body will pull nicotine directly out of your tissues over the period of your cleanse, reducing the experience of withdrawal effects. By the time you’re done, you likely won’t want to smoke because your body has rid itself of the physiological aspects to your addiction, and elevated the overall health of your body.

I would be remised if I did not comment on the weight loss that can occur during a longer cleanse, although it may not be what you want to hear, if you are thinking that this is a quick solution to weight concerns. During my ten day cleanse I dropped around thirteen pounds; I’ve gained all of it back after about two weeks!

The body will go into a degree of hibernation on longer cleanses; during a two or three day cleanse you will likely only lose water weight. On a longer cleanse it’s possible to burn some extra calories, although it will most likely not be from the areas you really would prefer to lose it from.

As your body metabolism slows down during a cleanse it is also quite common to continue for a period of time at a slower rate, once you have returned to your regular eating habits. This contributes to quick weight gain after you start eating regular foods. No surprises; your most healthy choice for weight loss is to go to the gym when considering this type of goal.

As I’ve alluded to, I personally combine a number of different elements to my own juice cleanse process. The intention and effect here is to elevate the cleansing capacity; to multi task a number of approaches with the hope it might maximize the detoxification process of my body.

I want to once again suggest that this is approach is not necessary, the simplicity of a simple juice cleanse will in itself, provide a world of benefit without the additional procedures. I will present “the basic procedure” next; including a number of different options, in case you feel guided or inspired to follow them.

Plan to begin your juice cleanse by eating very lightly the day before; prior to your formal “juice only” focus. Fruit, light salads or small portions of cooked vegetables are favoured as they will not “sit” in your digestive tract during the transition to juicing. Likewise when you break your fast start with some small portions of fruit and make your way back into the food chain with light salads, cooked greens or small portions of rice.

The key here is to move in and out of your cleanse gently. With longer cleanses it will sometimes take days for the digestive system to kick back into motion. Stay away from heavy processed foods and meats, both before and after your cleanse; allow your body to adjust appropriately, naturally and effortlessly to this process.

In theory you can use juice of any kind; fresh squeezed and organic is preferred for purity reasons. If you don’t have access to organic, anything not made from a concentrate will suffice. I prefer organic apple juice for cost reasons as well as enjoying the flavour.

One other benefit to apple juice is that it is an alkaline food source. Some suggest that disease can only occur in an acidic environment and that by maintaining and elevating an alkaline environment though a dietary focus; one can reduce the possibility for disease to manifest.

My gut feeling and experience recognizes the inherent wisdom within this approach. As I mentioned before I seem to escape any regular cold cycles that seem to statistically stalk the average North American. To date I have gratefully, never experienced the intensity of flu like symptoms.


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