When the season of Spring rolls around, we’re often confronted with the fact that Summer isn’t far away, and subsequently faced with articles about ‘detoxing’, ‘cleansing’, and getting a ‘Summer body’. FYI – a Summer body doesn’t mean anything. It’s just your body, in the Summer…..
It’s true that we feel a whole lot better when our insides and outsides are ‘clean’, but what truly matters is the clarity and purity we have in our own minds.
According to the system of Ayurveda – the ancient ‘science of life’, also known as Yoga’s ‘sister science’ – each season has a dosha or set of qualities linked to it. Spring has the qualities of Kapha, which represents watery, earthiness; starting wet and cold in late Winter and early Spring, and ending wet and warm in late Spring and early Summer. It’s a
time of abundance, growth, renewal, luscious-ness and a fantastic time for building ojas – the vital essence of life.
When we bring ourselves into balance with the natural cycles around us, we often find that we naturally feel good, and when we give the health of the mind just as much importance as the health of the body, that is when we feel what ‘healthy’ really means.
In order to know what needs changing (if anything), it’s important to first observe ourselves, and practice svadhyaya (the Sanskrit word for self-study or reflection). A useful practice is to make a list of 5-10 things that you’d like to change or alter, so that you can see these things physically written down, rather than ruminating about them. They could be extremely small things, or larger issues effecting life – whatever they are, we have to know what we want to change before we actually change it…..
When we think about ‘toxins’, it’s not just pollution, processed foods, alcohol, coffee and cigarettes that damage us; the toxins we can’t see also play a huge part in our health. We are coloured by the company we keep, which doesn’t just mean the friends and family we associate with; consider what company you surround yourself with every day – your thoughts, words, actions, environment, friends, potential stressors and lifestyle choices. Are any of these making you feel less than optimally happy and healthy? If so they could be considered a ‘toxin’.
Make The Decision
The hardest thing about changing is actually doing it. It’s likely that we’ve all had the urge to change something about ourselves or our lives at some point, but even if it’s something we really know we need to change, we become very good at procrastinating when it comes to actually carrying out the change that needs to happen….
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
We are often the ones who create obstacles and ‘clutter’ for ourselves, so we do indeed have the power to clean it up. Whether it’s physically detoxing your house or body, or giving your mind a Spring clean, it all begins with one action.
- Donate, recycle or give away one old piece of ‘clutter’ you’ve been holding on to. When we’re holding on to physical pieces of the past, this is often a sign that we’re emotionally holding on to the past too and resisting change.
- Swap one unhealthy, processed and ‘toxic’ meal for a fresh, whole, nourishing one that you can prepare for yourself from scratch. Cooking uses all of the senses, and getting involved in the preparing and cooking process of what we eat contributes hugely to the enjoyment of it.
- If you have a habit of diving into negative thinking easily, practice pratipaksha, the Sanskrit word for ‘opposite thought’. When a negative, judgemental or unnecessary and wasteful thought enters your mind, counter-act it with a positive, useful and productive one. Be a remover of obstacles and an embodiment of solutions.
- Tell someone you trust one of the things you’d like to change so they can help to support you through it. Often we’re more likely to actually follow through with an intention we make if we know someone else is supporting and watching us….
The first stage of creating change is to accept where we are right now. If you feel full of ‘toxins’, accept that this is the situation right now, and act from that place. It’s only when we become aware of and accepting of the situation as it is right now, that we can work to change it and ‘clean it up’. This may be a revelation – but we do not have to beat ourselves into submission when we decide to become healthy (mentally or physically). The whole ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude has left an indelible mark on our minds that says “if it doesn’t really hur’ me, it’s not working”. The fact is, as we begin to understand more about the importance of self-care and sustainability, it becomes very apparent that “you can love yourself better” as Shawn Stevenson said in this recent podcast on the importance of ‘sleeping smarter’.
Indeed, a time of detoxing is good for the body if we’ve been over burdening it with toxins for a long time. A tidy house really does contribute to a feeling of wellbeing; but no matter how clean and tidy our houses and bodies are, real health emerges when we clean out the mind.