By Dhara Kelly
‘Detoxing’ is not as bad as it sounds. The implication can be that we are somehow toxic, and that as a result there is an urgency called for. I have traditionally used the term ‘cleansing’ which more accurately suggests that there is a rightful accumulation of wastes in the body which can, with gentle stimulation, be passed out easily and unhurriedly.
Starting a detox requires a little forethought. After a diet of heavy winter food it is typical for people to feel the need for an internal spring clean so as to move forward into the warmth of Spring and Summer with freshness and energy, hence the popularity of various detox programs around this time. Yet we must learn to treat the body with gentleness and respect and it is actually better for the body not to rush into a detox immediately after overindulgence, such as what happens around Christmas time. Allow some time to pass, where the body can slowly, at a more congenial pace, settle back into a more normal state, and then prepare for the detox with some sensible and manageable adjustments for the regime ahead. We can recognise that sometimes our life is characterised by swings between two extremes such as, for example, when we are for a time inactive and sluggish and then we swing to the other extreme of gruelling work-outs and high-energy activities. This can amount to a type of violence that we do to ourselves and probably, if we were to look at the whole picture of our lives, we would see that it prevails in other areas as well. The ‘work hard, play hard’ ethic gets a lot of outings these days.
Unless you are facing a health crisis, or are well used to detoxing, there is no need to consider a harsh or rigorous regime. Detoxing is a subtle, gentle and wide-ranging process. In fact it has very little to do with toxins, and a lot to do with energy. For a start, there is no way of observing the toxins leaving the body. Consequently there is no way of measuring completely the effectiveness of a regime. And unless we are at it for specific medical reasons, there is no need to really know these details. It needs to be remembered that our bodies have a built-in, highly effective detox mechanism, which is working all the time, 24/7. Elimination of waste from the body goes hand in hand with eating, drinking and breathing. It’s natural. So why, you may ask, should we do a detox program at all?
Quite simply, unless you do one, you will never know the answer. The benefits are neither quantifiable nor logical. Nor can they be verbalised easily. When we reach a new awareness of our bodies, when we experience a new clarity that has opened up, when we feel a new lightness in our step and a new ease with which we occupy our body we realise this is not a familiar language for us. When our body talks it doesn’t speak English. It speaks in sensations. The goal is to become familiar with this language and open up a world of wisdom, possibilities and mystery. The culture of this Information Age in which we live encourages us to look outside for answers, not to look within, primarily because there are no business possibilities within. Yet all the answers that we seek are within. Not only is the wisdom of our own body there, but the wisdom of our ancestors and our fellow creatures. It is learning a way to access that wisdom which has been taught by seers, gurus, masters, sages and avatars down through the millennia. Yet our own body is the portal to that wisdom. What has happened?
This is where ‘energy’ comes in. It is possible to re-frame the situation as follows: Our body is an energy event. Each one of us has a unique energy blueprint, and a pattern of expression of who we are, how we are, what we are, etc. This energy reality is like dough in the mixing bowl of life; it is shaped and reshaped constantly. Yet, through it all, the essence remains the same. Or so we hope. However, what happens when that reality becomes distorted? And how can that happen? Quite simply: by taking in energy distorting substances. We all know how reality can be distorted by alcohol, recreational drugs or prescription drugs. We all know how a simple cup of coffee distorts us energetically, or even tea. Comfort-eating also distorts, it distorts the reality of discomfort. Chocolate or any high-sugar food will do this too. Anything which sends adrenaline into the system will also distort, such as fear, anger and stress. Even watching the news on TV becomes distorting in a subtle way.
None of these things matter in themselves. Our reality is bigger than the passing ripple caused by these things. Distortion only becomes a problem when either the timing is wrong (driving, for example) or when we become dependant on it. If distortion is constantly in place we lose access to the reality within and consequently to all that wisdom as well. That wisdom tells us more than the simple things such as which food is good to eat, or when we’ve had enough, or when we are warm enough, or when we are in pain. It also tells us when our relationship is a good one, when we live in the right place, when our work is the right work, when we are safe, what’s going on for the people around us, when we are being respectful of people, the environment, the planet. If we have lost direct access to that inner wisdom, we start to look outside for the information. We all know that there are a lot of answers out there, and a lot of them directly contradict one another. In short, it becomes a very confusing place to try and find out the answers to the important stuff. So what has all this to do with detoxing?
This is where we come to realize that detoxing is more than clearing out junk from the system. It is about getting a little closer to the truth of who we really are.
How does detoxing do this? In order to understand this we need to refer back again to the body as an energy event. We can get a better understanding of this using the model of the body that we are given by the Chinese. They understand the body as being composed of energy meridians and points of access. They also understand that the energy centre of the body is in the abdomen, the general area of the intestinal tract. For the Chinese, stagnation in this area results in a reduction of the vitality of the whole system. With diminished vitality comes diminished sensitivity and responsiveness. When we in the West eat food that clogs up the intestinal tract (most of our typical food) we lose the dynamism of which that area is the centre. The longer the transit time of waste through our system, the more we slow down. Generally we don’t notice this equation. Until, that is, something goes wrong, or we clear out the system. Once the body comes back to its natural vitality our in-built navigation system steers us easily and enjoyably through the bazaar of life, and we make choices that adequately reflect the person we are and have come to know and like. We no longer feel lost, or caught in dilemmas, or vulnerable to marketers and advertisers, or compelled to please others… We have ENERGY!
This is the first, the most obvious and the most important way that detoxing benefits us. Of course we will benefit too from the freshness of our complexion, hair, nails etc, the brightness of our eyes, the better sense of taste and touch, the new optimism and feeling of empowerment.
The longest running detox regime in Ireland, to which people return time and again, is that which is run at the Cloona Health Retreat in Westport, County Mayo. Here the art of providing an effective detox with the minimum of deprivation and the maximum enjoyment has been perfected. Guests are encouraged to prepare for the program but, even without doing that, it is a gentle enough regime to not cause much discomfort by way of adjustment. Two programs are offered, a five-day, Monday to Friday program, and a three day, Thursday to Sunday program. Details may be had from firstname.lastname@example.org or from the website www.cloona.ie
Dhara Kelly has been running the Cloona Health Retreat, Westport, County Mayo, since 1985.