I know when I need some mental cleansing by how high my laundry has piled! This may seem odd but, for some reason, if my laundry appears manageable my life feels easier. Now, don’t get me wrong, as I have three children and two dogs and we ALWAYS have laundry! Yet there is this level of clarity and steadiness within me that seems to somehow go along with my visual perception of this simple household task.
We all have external barometers that we use to assess our mental status. My Sainted Mother, Ruthie, used to say that if she was able to have “a strong mind and enough energy” to make her bed every day, then her life was “good enough.” Mind you, we lived through earthquakes and seven moves before I was in high school, deaths, births and all that can go along in-between, but Ruthie always....and I mean always, made her bed for most of her 95 years. Why are these simple markers so important for so many of us? Because we need both internal and external anchors or stabilizers. The simpler the better!
Ayurveda recognizes this idea. It is why you hear ayurveds talk about dinacharya, or daily routine, a good bit. Even larger external markers are the seasonal changes that occur every year and the practices that go along with those transitions. We call these practices rtucharya, or seasonal routine.
Ayurveda suggests we do a seasonal cleanse every spring. I call mine "The BIG Spring Cleanse" as it is not just to reset my digestion and to clean out the lymph system—springtime cleansing works on all the layers of the body/mind, or koshas. It is a time of year when I find that cleaning out my mental closet is of utmost importance to both my physical and mental health. Ayurveda reminds us that while our jathra agni, or digestive fire in the stomach, is key to all other digestive fires, disease begins as a thought wave in our mind. WHAT? Yep, Ayurveda is talking about the many highways, or patterns of thought, that accumulate in our mind.
I call this first phase of springtime cleansing the “cleaning out the closets” phase, which is intended to remove mental clutter and habituation and create space. Once we do this it becomes much easier to offer ourselves a fresh start; to realize our heart’s desire (spiritual heart, not about the guy on the mat next to you!) and live our dharma (life’s purpose). We need space in our mind to be able to create and have what is called vidya, or clear vision. This means the old stories that we wrap around ourselves must be revisited and adapted, or maybe put up into the mental attic, or even tossed out altogether. Some memories we want to preserve, and we can mindfully do that while we detach our day-to-day patterns from these memories or stories so we do not organize our lives around them any longer. This is where we really live that idea, “Change your thoughts and change your life.”
The good news is that with springtime cleansing, with diet and lifestyle changes that are focused for one to three weeks’ time, we can jump start this mental cleansing process. Remember the body has a finite amount of energy, and when a good deal of that energy is used to digest all types of foods, experiences, and feelings, there is very little energy left to clear the mind.
Give yourself some time to organize a BIG Spring Cleanse; you can try one with me or another Ayurvedic practitioner. Let yourself have a guide who has been down this road before. Let us support your ability to clean out the closets of your body with lymph and digestive track cleansing, while we support the necessary energy to mentally cleanse for the long-lasting results of clarity, self-acceptance, and living with a greater sense of meaning and contentment.