Throughout my nutritional studies and holistic wellness journey, I have always been a devoted smoothie drinker and preferred the wholefood (and chuck anything in) benefits they offer us over cold-pressed juices that leave cellulose and fibre behind. But after weeks of joyous and impulsive indulgence leading up to and following the rollercoaster of marrying my beloved, I returned to London from Greece with a profound and persistent niggling that I needed to press reset both physically and spiritually and start this new part of my life in London as I mean to go on.
With all the challenges and benefits it brings to the body and mind, a juice cleanse is a rare and increasingly accessible opportunity to release the self of stagnant toxins, limitations and beliefs and embrace a new paradigm from a clean slate of purity and intention. A far cry from the means to achieving the skinny model bodies used to advertise them, cleanses can be – and in my experience should be – a meditative and spiritual journey where we release old habits on an energetic plain as well as a physical one. And so I thought for what it was worth I would share my experience here.
For me, when big events take over in life and routine goes out the window, so does my spiritual practise. Proper attention to meditation and yoga slides further and further down my list of priorities and it is never long until I feel the backlash, the constant din of the mind, the loss of the present moment, the division of the self, creep in. And so I knowingly watch myself tumble through the chaos until something deep inside calls me to stop, to look around and reset what I can. And since I can’t jump on a plane to a retreat all the time (working on that…) a cleanse is the best thing I could give myself within the framework of London life. I ordered a 3 day supply of juice from Raw Press and jumped in with an open mind and heart.
I know from working alongside cleansers that the experience comes with unforeseen emotional release and so it was important for me to create some time and space in which to go through this; at least for the first time. The experience was physically tough but essentially very healing and these are three things I learned that you don’t so often hear about when it comes to undergoing a cleanse.
1. Set an intention for your cleanse
The power of intention never ceases to astound me, and nowhere do I find it more fascinating than with regard to how we eat / don’t eat / choose to treat our bodies. Embarking on a cleanse is an amazing gift to your body: it gives the digestive system and liver a chance to release toxins and promote deeper healing without the burden of continuous food to break down, digest and recover from. The very act of committing to one is to pay huge respect to your physical self and it often happens at a point where we know intuitively that this is overdue. The power of that commitment and respect are huge and if we set an intention for them to fuel we can really dive in to a very meaningful and expansive experience. It can be as simple as: to listen wholeheartedly to the body, and what it is telling me, and to recognise that it is sacred and my ally, not some vehicle I simply put fuel in and drive. Setting this intention and staying mindful of it throughout the physical challenges that juice fasting throws up is so powerful: binding our commitments to a difficult process makes them all the stronger. Write down your intention and keep coming back to it: it is your mantra, your reason, the driving force behind this journey.
2. Create a supportive environment
To jump into any challenge both physical and emotional, environment is everything. For me it is vital to feel calm, safe and free in any meditative space, and creating the room to allow yourself to stretch out, do some yoga, shout, weep or just fall asleep is as important as brushing your teeth. Cleansing in a room full of clutter will not support the process and if you can get yourself into nature, the greatest teacher of all, you will be so thankful for the fresh air and altered perspective. Even a barefoot walk in the park will ground you. Be mindful of your environment as part of the respect you are paying to your body; it deserves a nice place to detox.
3. Accept what comes up with compassion and curiosity
The hardest thing in life, no? And the lesson we all have to try and live, day in and day out. This is really true on a cleanse, at least in my experience. Perhaps it’s from false advertising in this crazy wellness trend, or perhaps it’s just because nothing in life ever turns out the way you think it will – but most of us jump into cleanses and retreats thinking (in spite of knowing better) that we will find some glowing inner peace and beauty there and nirvana will be waiting. And how often is that not the case? How often do we feel just a bit crap and nothing-ish? Longing to jump for joy or sob with sorrow, we can be caught in the midst of a middle-ground experience, which doesn’t match up to our expectations…but these are equally as valuable. Whatever comes up for us is our teacher in that moment. So try to watch it and not judge it against your expectations. Rarely do we create the framework in which to do this for three days in a row, without the distraction of buying, preparing or eating food, and it is a great opportunity to witness the self. Through all the hunger and headaches, you might learn something new.
Of course, you must support your body physically too and there is a wealth of information out there on this which you should research – drink lots of water and herbal teas, go for a colonic irrigation or do an enema to clean the bowel in the absence of fibre, use a tongue scraper and epsom salts to support detoxification, and don’t jump into a cleanse if you are unwell or undergoing medical treatment.
And when it’s all over and you can eat the food you’ve been dreaming of, go slow – that intention doesn’t expire and nor should your commitment to it.