The Art of Cleansing the Pukka Way
The art of cleansing
We are all familiar with feeling under par, usually after we’ve been overdoing it: eating too much, drinking too much, doing too much. In addition, our systems can become ‘clogged up’ with environmental pollutants, media overload or life in general. When this occurs we need to cleanse and refresh ourselves to feel balanced. We wash our hands and face every day and this helps us to feel revitalised: think how renewed you feel after a warm bath. Just as our skin needs regular cleansing, so do our insides. If we don’t, 'toxins' accumulate – known in Ayurveda as ama – and we get ill. The body routinely rids itself of waste matter: we normally urinate, excrete and sweat daily. But because we cannot scrub our inner body clean we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs as well as our mind - to learn how to help our body do what it does best.
The top ten toxins
- Industrial pollutants (dioxins, PCBs, phthalates, heavy metals such as mercury)
- Pharmaceutical drugs
- Agricultural pesticides and insecticides
- Recreational drugs
- Trans fats and poor-quality oils
- Intensively farmed meats
- Refined sugar
- Non-organic food
- Stress & anger
- Loneliness & depression
How do you become toxic?
We can easily become toxic depending on what we are exposed to and how we metabolise it. When your digestive fire (agni) is low, food might not be digested properly and what Ayurveda calls 'toxins' can be created; for example, we might have a dicky tummy, get a cold, have some aches and pains or just feel plain sluggish - think Boxing Day Vs how you feel after a few days holiday. As well as the challenge of our own digestion and eating habits, and in addition to poor-quality food and contaminated water in many parts of the world, we are increasingly exposed to high levels of environmental pollutants and pharmaceutical drugs, which can have a cumulatively toxic effect on the body by overloading or impeding our natural metabolic processes.
Because pollution in all its forms is so pervasive it is virtually impossible to not become overloaded unless you are very disciplined about what you expose yourself to or live somewhere very remote from our indistrial world. Unfortunately, once we have started on a toxin accumulating path, this can easily become a degenerative cycle. Because of the law that 'like increases like', poor digestion leads to further poor digestion. However, the opposite is also true: beneficial cycles of good digestion, healthy tissue creation and vital energy production all coalesce to improve the spring in your step and even your length of life. This is why it is essential to cleanse regularly.
Cleansing the Pukka way
We cleanse by helping our body–mind to metabolise wastes so that our whole system is kept in balance. We can start to feel symptoms of toxicity when our system is overloaded and our threshold is reached. Imagine your constitutional strength is contained within a vase. When we are born that vase is half full, but as we age and add various elements of diet, life and our environment into that vase, it can fill up with 'wastes' and undigested experiences. As it fills up we start to experience some minor symptoms, but when it completely fills up and overflows then real illness can start. If we can keep the levels below the top of the vase, as if it has a tap in the bottom to let wastes out, then we can stay in balance. This is our daily challenge and opportunity.
An occasional detoxification can put a bounce in your day and a sparkle in your eyes. It should leave you clear-headed and relaxed, so you sleep soundly and feel refreshed upon waking. The best times of year to detoxify are at the junctions of the seasons in the early spring and early autumn, in order to cleanse the accumulated sluggish-mucus from winter and the dry-heat from the summer. It will invigorate you so that you are ready to enjoy the wonders of each season with renewed health and enthusiasm.
Whilst detoxification cleanses your system, it is important also to rebalance, nourish and rejuvenate properly afterwards: there is no point in stripping your system and leaving it vulnerable. Remember that if you are very ill, pregnant or elderly, you should never do a cleansing without the guidance of a practitioner, if at all.
This article is an excerpt from Sebastian Pole’s book ‘A Pukka Life’.