Let this serve as my confession: I am a complete glutton for cleanses. I love to think about them, I love to start them. I love a good long morning muse about how I can shake things up ‘in there.’ I may have tried every cleanse there is.
Cleansing is the New Hybrid Vehicle of 2019. A quick Google search will reveal a multitude of new and fascinating ways to cleanse your liver, your kidneys and your colon: lemonade cleanses, olive oil cleanses, apple cleanses and (in case you just can’t find satisfaction from the world of nature) the Ultimate Cleanse.
Why are we so kooky for cleanses?
It could be good old-fashioned competitive spirit. I used to go to parties and participate in bleary conversations about the intensity of everyone’s hangovers from the night before. This vein of discourse has now been replaced by an altogether stranger type:
“This new cleanse I’m doing is INTENSE.”
“Mine is harder.”
“I can’t eat for ten days.”
I recently bested all comers by recounting my most recent cleanse, a parasite purge that left me covered in itchy, swollen hives and managed to activate an allergy to one of my favorite vices, Trader Joe’s Black Licorice:
“And now you can’t eat licorice at all?”
“Not one lousy loop.”
Perhaps we cleanse because we feel out of control
Failed New Year’s resolutions, a bad week, a bad month, a bad moment; we are, in our own way, trying to predict the unpredictable by creating physical boundaries that protect us from “failing” again. We cleanse when our hearts hurt, we cleanse when someone is not who we thought they were. We cleanse when we feel harmed.
Like our bodies, our minds can become wrapped in the mess of our toxins, mistakes and histories that sometimes we wish we could fix or forget. Life is about trying to let go and not hold on, right? We could be washing our sorrows away, dancing on the tables at the Gold Rush.
What’s wrong with pounding a few psyllium husk tablets to correct the balance of things? Absolutely nothing, as long as we can remember that the balance might not need correcting.
Some of our greatest moments occur when we realize that all these events, big and small, will happen. Whether it is a broken heart, feeling under-appreciated, the loss of a loved one or the sinking feeling that 401 K’s are not as safe as we thought, we have to remember that it is all just part of our story.
Our enemies and our loved ones, our good times as well as our bad, have all taught us equally, and the lesson seems to be that we do not have any control over anything except our ability to enjoy the moment that we are in.
And our bodies are a big part of that experience. They tell us a similar thing: as much as we try to keep them perfectly clean and free from defect, they will occasionally behave in ways we do not expect. Our mission is to relax and enjoy them.
With all that being said…
I realize giving cleanses a hard time, and I still think there are many cleanses out there that are harmful. However, this is where Ayurveda really offers safe and healthy recipes and daily techniques that have worked over time.
One of my favorites is basically a mono diet. This means eating the same thing anywhere from 3 to 14 days until the imbalance clears up. Yes, you take out alcohol, coffee, and drugs. And yes, I would also recommend you take a break from the internet after you read all my articles…
Below I’m attaching a recipe for all the constitutions you can change things if you know you are allergic.
Kitchari is a stew type meal that is prepared from basmati rice and split mung dal. During a cleanse, appropriate vegetables provide texture, flavor, and an important source of fiber. It’s very easy to digest, which makes it a wonderful food for any cleansing regimen. It allows the digestive system to rest, allocating extra energy to the body’s natural detoxification processes. The quantities in this recipe provide a good starting point for a day’s supply of kitchari, but as you learn your preferences and habits, you are welcome to adjust the quantities to better fit your needs.
• 1 cup white basmati rice
• 1/2 cup yellow mung dal
• 2 tablespoons ghee
• Spices (or 1 tablespoon kitchari spice mix)
• 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander powder
• 1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
• 1 pinch (asafoetida)
• 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
• 1 teaspoon natural mineral salt
• 6 cups water
• 2 cups easily digestible vegetables (such as asparagus, carrots, celery, green beans, summer squash, sweet potato, or zucchini)
Soak the split mung dal overnight (or for at least four hours). Strain the soaking water, combine with the rice and rinse the mixture at least twice, or until the water runs clear, and set aside.
In a medium saucepan or soup pot, warm the ghee over medium heat. Add the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
Add the turmeric, coriander, fennel, hing, and fresh ginger. Stir briefly, until aromatic. Stir the rice and dal mixture into the spices and sauté for a few moments, stirring constantly.
Add the 6 cups of water, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. When the soup comes to a boil, stir in the salt, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about forty minutes. Meanwhile, cut your vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces. About halfway through the kitchari’s cooking process, stir in the vegetables and allow the stew to return to a boil.
Continue to simmer until the rice, dal, and vegetables are fully cooked. Remove from heat, cool, and serve. Note: some vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, might require more cooking time and may be added earlier, if necessary.
My final words on cleansing are those of my grandmother, Edith Fisher Bergs, a New York City society matron who never left her apartment without her high heels and dashing red lipstick: “This too shall pass.”
For more information about Yoga and an Ayurvedic Teacher Training Program contact Liz at email@example.com.