Spring Cleansing for Body, Mind, SoulKim Elkington April 29, 2015
This year I did not consciously decide to do my traditional spring cleanse. Instead, it seems that my body began the process on its own, while I was busy thinking about other things. You know that moment when you realize you must have invisible handlers who get you to the right place at the right time, over-riding your well intentioned but distracted working self? Well, I had that “aha” moment recently when I found myself describing both the ‘Virgin diet life-style’ I was embracing, and the Korean spa* in Toronto I had found myself at, where the saunas were made of crystals. I suddenly realized that I was definitely being cleansed, and I was thrilled to realize it all happened by remote control.
We have been on quite the journey this last while, letting go and purging our old beliefs, so what could be more natural than a spring cleanse as we face the world fresh and new? Besides, spring is the perfect time of year to initiate a cleanse that will wash away any congestion in our organs or blood, just like a spring rain.
Traditionally, my favourite way to cleanse is to drink sap during the maple sugar season. After maple sap has finished flowing in the trees, then the birch syrup starts to run, so there is still time in early May to access birch sap. My friend Steven and his family practically live off sap in the spring and talk about it in their latest blog: visit https://thesacredgardener.ca/honouring-springs-wild-food (Steven is a partner in my tea company.)
When I can’t get sap, another favourite is the lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup cleanse (The Miracle Cleanse). I never do this cleanse for longer than five days, easing back into food with broths. I love broth in the winter, and it is also works well as a transition into summer foods – fresh greens, fruit, and fish.
Like many people, I tend to gain three to five pounds heading into the winter, as my body prepares for the cold weather ahead; and I usually lose them again when I get back outside in the spring. But this year I am packing a bit more poundage; it was so cold all winter that, instead of getting out to ski and snow shoe every week, I stayed in front of the computer working, or zoned out in front of Netfliks while I packed tea in boxes. Sigh.
During one of those ‘work in front of the TV’ sessions I watched this gorgeous amazon woman on PBS (her last name is Virgin) describing an elimination diet that sounded totally appealing. The ‘Virgin’ diet apparently works for any illness that stems from congestion, such as diabetes and allergies. Here’s how it works. Seven potential trigger foods are removed from the diet and reintroduced later, so you can see how your body responds to them. The list of foods is at first daunting if you are eating all of them, but not a big deal if you are eating quite well. Sugars, dairy, gluten, corn, soy, peanuts and eggs are out. I don’t eat sugar, or so I like to think, but of course every time I go on a long car ride, or to a restaurant, or buy ready made hummus or other healthy items, I also might be getting something on that list, like sugar. I thought my issues were only with dairy and wheat (when I am tired or stressed I can’t have them without my eyes stinging and often I get stuffed up). But what amazed me was that at my mom’s 89th birthday I decided to have some of the gluten-free cake, and became congested immediately. It was the sugar. Very interesting. You do lose your winter weight on this diet plan, which I would never complain about, and I also feel much better.
Two weeks into my own ‘Virgin’ life-style, and just when my body needed help to get rid of the toxins/congestion that the diet was stirring up, I was treated to a session at a Korean family spa near Dufferin and Steeles. During my visit, I felt like I was on holiday in Korea. I got to choose from a number of saunas, all with windows, unique temperature, and walls made of either crystal or stone to cleanse the body. One was solid jade, another was solid amethyst; some floor tiles were orange Himalayan salt, others a creamy opal-like stone, and the hottest was an orange clay compound from Korea. And the sauna sessions were just $20. I personally recommend the body scrub as well ($40). I felt silly because I left about three pounds of dead skin behind, but the ladies who rubbed it off laughed – it’s completely normal and I was put at ease.
I’ve decided to visit the place every time I’m in Toronto, and to try to avoid those seven foods until the summer solstice. Then I’ll see who I am at the end of that dedicated cleanse, a cleanse that represents a literal ‘letting go’ of the old world, which is represented symbolically by all the processed, industrial foods that do not nourish us. When I reintroduce eggs again, for instance, they will always be eggs from producers I trust. If I don’t have access to local eggs one week, it won’t matter because I can wait until I do. That will be very new to me – to feel truly free of the ‘need’ to have things right now, regardless of their footprint – to walk my talk with a happy heart. Happy Spring!