‘I’m going on a detox!’
We’ve all said it, but do we really understand what it means?
Detoxification has been under a lot of scrutiny by the press in recent months, which is strange considering that it is a natural phenomenon our bodies are constantly undertaking… every second of every minute of every day! The body is neutralising and transforming unwanted toxins and materials all the time. Our organs work like road sweepers cleaning the sidewalk 24/7, removing the garbage, so we can stroll down the street of life free and easy. When we talk about detoxifying, what we mean is simply helping our body do the best job it can, stress-free and happy.
We all take showers right? And we tend to feel a little paranoid if we haven’t, aware that our fragrance may not be the most appealing! A detox is like a shower, washing our physical, mental and emotional body from the inside out, so our inner fragrance can smell just as good as our outer one.
But what are these ghastly toxins that we need to get rid of so badly? And how do we avoid them? Well, to an extent, we can’t. Toxins are a natural part of life, and some are even created by the body itself, such as lactic acid. There are the obvious culprits; chemicals and hormones in food, exhaust fumes, solvents etc… but there are hidden toxins too, such as those created when we are under stress emotionally. Negative emotions can also be seen as toxic. Think about how you feel after an argument, or after you engage in gossiping about a friend. Not good right? These feelings certainly don’t help our inner fragrance smell its best!
Toxins are, quite simply, things that effect our body in a negative way. Sneaky little critters that find their way into our engines, and slowly clog up our filters. So we need to maintain those filters! Just like the $200,000 Porsche sitting in my driveway (yeah, right), I need a service and the occasional oil change.
Detoxing is not a magic cure though. Same as my invisible Porsche, I need regular, daily upkeep too. We can’t go through life at 100 miles and hour, foot on the gas, filling the engine with dirty oil… and then expect a 3-day layover of healthy eating and relaxation to fix it all before we head back to the track and get back in the race. That’s not sustainable. We need to integrate some practices, such as healthy eating and regular sleep, into our every day life as well. Detoxing is something we can use periodically as a kind of bonus.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will look at different practices and therapies that can be used to detoxify the body… physically, emotionally and mentally. But to start, here is one very simple practice you can do anywhere at anytime, or even right now. It’s called Breathing. A form of detoxification that we do constantly. Oxygenating the body is a quick way to alkalise the system and help alleviate symptoms of acidosis (high acid levels in the blood) and hypoxia (oxygen deprivation). When done properly, this exercise is also great for digestion, as it expands and contracts the diaphragm, giving our organs a kind of internal massage.
Wherever you are, check in with yourself and your breath. How is it? Is it balanced and full? Where is it coming from… your stomach, your chest, your shoulders even? Sit tall and relaxed, imagine someone is pulling you from the top of your head by a long string. Let your shoulders drop and your lower back relax. Find the area about 3 fingers distance below your navel, and place your hands here, one over the other. This area is known as your Lower Dantian, and in Chinese medicine it is seen as your energy centre, a very important place!
With your hands on your Lower Dantian, start breathing. Imagine your breath is coming from, and returning to this place below your navel. As you inhale, you should feel your hands push outwards, and as you exhale, they should move inwards. Aim to breathe deeply and with a balanced rhythm. Your out-breath should match your in-breath. Start to quicken the pace of your breaths slightly, still keeping them deep and full. Aim to do this 108 times. You should start to feel the effects of more oxygen in your system. Some people may feel a little dizzy or high, lighter maybe. At 108, take one last, deep inhalation. Holding the breath, stretch forward, imagining you are filling the back of your lungs even more. Still holding, stretch back, filling the front of the lungs with another sip of breath. And then, still holding, stretch to the left and right, again trying to fill every inch of your lungs with the in-breath. Return to your central line and….. Exhaaaaale.
Feels good right?!
That’s just the beginning.
Detox programs (from 3 – 14 day) are available at Wandering Dao all year round.