Friends, loved ones, Internet strangers, I’ve just come out on the other side of a detox.
I don’t share this with you for a round of applause, to evoke sympathy or to cajole you into doing one. On the contrary - detoxes are certainly not for everyone, nor do I think they are unequivocally appropriate for me. However, I do think there is value in taking stake of how all our systems are running – mind, body and spirit – and looking at what we’re fueling ourselves with.
Having dealt with anorexia, bulimia and then orthorexia, in the past I have had to be careful with the practices of cleansing and detoxing. I had to recognize when I was looking at the experience as a quick-fix to shed pounds or to maintain a weight, or as another control mechanism for my life and my diet. If you can relate, perhaps we can examine this in more detail together before you dive into detox-land. However, when the prospect of a Spring detox came up recently, I was actually keen on the idea of a good cleaning and clearing and felt no anxiety or pressure around it - a sign to me that my desire to do it was for my own well-being and not for the sake of an external standard or an internal control. And so through diet modification and herbal supplements, I went for it, thinking “I eat pretty healthily anyhow and don’t drink much coffee or alcohol, so this should be easy.”
...Cue my thoughts on day 4: “W.T.F. Why is my body not cooperating? Why don’t I have the energy to exercise? Why am I so emotional? Why is nature mocking my mood by reflecting it with dark clouds and rain? Why is everyone else killin’ the game of life right now?” Despite having training in how to create and support clients during detoxes and a general awareness about the physical body being just one layer of our makeup, I had somehow forgotten how much deeper these things go than just food. Detoxes can truly be a physical, emotional and spiritual renewal process. I found myself pushing and lost in a web of thoughts and negative self-talk; I was distracted and disconnected from my larger reason for doing the detox - to remove toxic thoughts, energies and substances. Once I recognized that distraction and disconnection, I remembered:
It’s never just about the food on our plate or the drink in our cup. We feed ourselves in many different ways: the media we consume, relationships, career, spirituality, physical activity, education, etc. And what we do choose to ingest or imbibe is oftentimes directly related to these other areas in our lives.
So there I was in the midst of a detox, doing just fine on the food and drink portion, but facing a riot of the inner-critic and the devil of comparison that had me on a social media junk food binge and a bit checked out. I did not want to deal with my emotional gunk. But I knew things were just going to get uglier if I didn’t check back in and honor where I was in process. I decided to stay off social media during the detox as well and to pay attention to what my entire system was unpacking. And to give my being what it was asking for.
Some days, that was rest. Some days that was tears. Some days it was laughter. Most days it was also meditation and some form of movement and breathing to get me out of my headspace. Some days I was ravenous. Some days my appetite for food was very slight.
The whole experience was very much about:
- Embodied presence
- Slowing the f down
- Remembering the different kinds of “food” in our life
The good news is, now that you know that, you don’t have to do a detox! Just kidding ;) If it feels appropriate for you, go for it. Otherwise, I invite you to explore what those takeaways mean to you and how you can apply them. If you feel you could use some support in any of those areas, I’m here. And remember, you’re stronger than you think.