Back in 2007, I wrote a series of articles about the ‘emptying’ of body, mind and spirit. It was well received, so I decided to update the first article.
Well, it's 2009, and things, many things, are "in the tanker." The world's economy is teetering, and my clients are concerned about their lives, their health, and their prospects.
Most of them, (and you, too?) take themselves for granted. They rush hither and thither, and have no time for exercise, sound eating, relaxation, or "personal time." In short, due to self-imposed pressure, they are ignoring body, mind, and spirit.
Some carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, and others, feeling empty, load up on empty calories —a full belly serves as a substitute for a full and meaningful life.
I just knew I should have brought my power fork!
Food Addictions and Mental Health
Let's start with the basics—with your body and how you can work toward eliminating the toxins that lead to ill health. Much of our normal diet is either bad for us, or contains toxins that affect not only our immune systems, but also our digestion, our weight, and our mental health. As Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The UltraMind Solution tells us, (regarding the US of A)
- Psychiatric disorders affect 26 percent of our adult population
- Forty percent or 12 million children have some type of psychiatric disorder
- Forty million people have anxiety
- Twenty million people have depression.
- One in ten Americans takes an anti-depressant
- One in ten children or (8 million) take stimulant medications like Ritalin
- Autism rates have increased to 1 in 166 children
We’re going to begin by grounding and balancing your body
I have a decidedly Eastern approach to therapy, to living, and to "how things work." I combine this with Western understandings of psychotherapy and human development.
What I’m writing about are systems of thought regarding the body, I’m not making any of these theories ‘right.’
I’m saying “Here is holistic way to look at physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
As we go along, you’ll see that establishing a strong, healthy body, firmly grounded and energetically alive, is the ‘base’ upon which mind and spirit practices are built. However, notice the word ‘practices.’ There is no such thing as a ‘non-physical’ practice. So, as we clear and clean our bodies, minds and spirits, we make the space for new, different, clearer practices – which of course are carried out by our bodies.
Darbella and I have always attempted to lead a healthy lifestyle. We're now in our mid to late 50s, and are beginning to show signs of "wear and tear," despite somewhat healthy eating habits, and doing yoga, tai chi, and chi gong, among other things.
We both have some weight to lose, and are following the UltraMind Diet I mentioned above. Frankly, we got a bit scared, having read the book. So, for six weeks,we're eliminating the ‘usual suspects." This means getting rid of foods that stimulate inflammation, or mess with easy and thorough digestion.. The list includes white flour and sugar products, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, additives, preservatives, pesticides, hormones, alcohol, caffeine, fast and fried foods — and major allergens dairy and gluten.
We also highly recommend "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle," By Tom Venuto. Tom Venuto, a respected fat loss expert, natural bodybuilder, and personal trainer, has not just pumped out yet another "diet program" into an already over-saturated market. Tom's Burn the Fat can be more accurately described as a "Fat Loss Bible." It is quite simply one of the most complete, detailed, and precise guides to fat loss you will ever read.
Finally, we think that the product from Fat-Loss 4 Idiots is also dead on regarding taking the time necessary to reset our bodies, to begin to "burn fat." They write:
"Your body always "attempts" to burn the exact number of calories that you eat each day (this makes weight loss nearly impossible for many people).
However, through careful testing we've made a discovery about the human body.
We've discovered that the human body takes several days to "sense" any change in calories -- so if you SHIFT your calories (in a VERY special way) then your body gets "confused" and begins burning extra fat tissue (but only if you follow our carefully tested eating pattern).
That's the "TRICK" which allows our diet to force SUPER FAST weight loss to happen....and that's why our diet works so much faster than other diets."
I want to talk a little about the digestive tract, from an Eastern and Western perspective. Both shed light on how this aspect of our bodies contribute to our well-being or lack thereof.
In Chinese medicine, the Metal Meridian pair are of interest. Both the large Intestine and the Lungs are responsible for the elimination of toxins.The purpose of the pair is to get the crap out of our lives. When the pair is clear, the ‘feeling’ is open and non-attached. When blocked, the ‘feeling’ is anxiety, grief, sorrow, and anguish. Grasping and clinging are elements of blockage in the pair.
From a Western perspective, the blockage is noted when there any disruption of the elimination process. This includes constipation, diarrhea, and bowel conditions like colitis.
Let’s remember, just as a reminder, that ‘normal’ is TWO soft bowel movements, minimum, per day. For most, this is not the norm. Pressure from work, environment, and toxins present in food and our air, all combine with the pervasive sense of helplessness that’s endemic. All of this leads to a disruption in the way the body eliminates waste.
Eastern Cleanse Meets Western Herbals
It’s quite common in Indian (Ayurvedic) Medicine to suggest cleanses on a ‘seasonal cycle.’ Just like ’spring cleaning’ the house is a great idea, so is spring cleaning our digestive tract.
A first, great, and simple step, which is taken from Panchakarma treatment (Indian week-long cleanse, see below) is to buy a “Fleet enema,” dump the contents, go to a health food store and buy unfiltered, unprocessed, raw sesame oil. Warm it to skin temperature (use the baby formula wrist temp. check), and fill the fleet tube. Lie on your left side, and get some kind soul to insert the tip and slowly squeeze in the oil. Hold it for 15 minutes, while the same kind soul massages your belly. (For an intro to belly and back massage, check out our downloadable product.) Expel the oil. This is a good way to begin the usage of a “dietary cleanse product.”
Most of us do not have a week or so to head off to the local Ayurvedic Clinic, so I'd like to make a couple of suggestions. First of all, cleanse kits are available. You can also spend a bit of time with your local Helth Food Store proprietor, and ask them for products they recommend.
No matter which option you choose, a cleanse combined with a change of diet is key.
Allow Your Stomach to have a Break
When it comes to cleaning out our blockages, calming and resting the stomach is essential.
Naturally, there’s an Ayurvedic food that’s perfect for creating this rested stomach state.
It’s called Kitchari.
We start our Spring Regimen with a cleansing routine, which includes weaning ourselves off of caffeine, and all of the other nasties—white flour and sugar products, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, additives, preservatives, pesticides, hormones, alcohol, fast and fried foods — and, for the first week at least, red meat, too. We also eliminate dairy and gluten.
We then make a fresh, daily batch of Kitchari, which is a mung bean and rice porridge. Here is my favourite recipe:
Get Yourself Touched
Massage is essential to help with the ‘flow’ of toxins from your body. It’s a good idea to find a massage person who works quite deeply. Our Zen Bodywork style is perfect for helping with this kind of cleanse, as it’s deep, thorough, and aimed at ‘getting the gunk out,‘ both emotionally and physically. If you’re nearby, give us a call and we can talk.
If you are nowhere near us, look in your phone book or Google massage therapists, and look for mentions of ‘deep tissue work.’
Emotions are There for a reason, and Need Release
Clients continue to report maladies, illnesses, emotional upset, and lack of focus. The last two friends I talked with both said, “I need Bodywork to get rid of the guck inside.” This guck, I think, is both physical and mental.
Emotions will thus need cleansing—and you may find that this work leads to physical reactions—flu-like sensations, headaches, moodiness. This happens as the toxins leave your body. A good therapist is in order at this time, and of course, we recommend our style of Zen Bodywork Psychotherapy. You can read our Bodywork section for ideas, and buy our Bodywork CD-R to learn how to do simple Bodywork on others.
“Panchakarma (the five actions or modalities) is a collection of purification techniques that Ayurveda prescribes for some diseases and for periodic cleansing. A course of Panchakarma typically includes a short-term dietary prescription, massage, herbs, and may include purgatives, sweat baths, medicated enemas, and nasal cleansing.
Ayurvedic massage is a form of treatment for various age related and other common disorders. Some of the advantages which can be cited are pain relief, improved circulation, stress relief, better sleep, flexibility, athletic performance and emotional benefits. Massage therapy can soothe pain, relax stiff muscles, and reduce the swelling that accompanies arthritis. Advocates claim that, with Ayurvedic massage, deep-seated toxins in the joints and tissues are loosened and released into the system for elimination through natural toxin-release processes.
Link to Wikipedia“