Listening time: 15 minutes
Are You Ready to Grow this Spring?
Our bodies naturally seek balance, healing, and wholeness. The hard part is quieting the mind down enough and filtering out impressions from the external world to let the body do it's thing.
Your body is always giving you signals.
It will tell you when it's time to change your diet, your workouts, and even your relationships or career.
When I speak of cleansing and rejuvenation I am not just speaking about the physical body. Our mind, emotions, and spirits need cleansing and rejuvenation, too. Often times symptoms that pop up in the physical body are deeply rooted in the mind and emotions first and eventually make their up to the surface.
Here are some ways the mind/body tries to get your attention and tell you it's trying to cleanse, recalibrate, and heal itself:
- Constant fatigue
- Breakouts and rashes
- Dullness and sense of heaviness
- Fast weight gain or weight loss
- Frequent colds and viruses
How to Rejuvenate Mind, Body, and Spirit
1. Align Yourself with Natural Cycles and Rhythms
If we look to the natural cycles and rhythms of Mother Nature we see that winter is a slower time. The leaves fall away from the trees, the flowers are not in bloom, the bears hibernate. But, by Springtime nature is blossoming!
We too, rely on cycles and rhythms. Unfortunately, modern humans do not "cycle" well. We are in go mode 24/7.
Luckily, our bodies demand us to incorporate a healthy cycle of activity and recovery during sleep. The key to good sleep (much like everything) is consistency.
2. Drink More Water and Less Caffeine
If you are constantly waking up fatigued and sluggish do not reach for a cup of coffee/caffeine. Acknowledge the fatigue. That's the first step. When you drink caffeine or eat high sugar foods you feel fired up for a short time. This is what I call "false fire." It makes you feel like and believe you are fired up and ready to tackle the day or a workout, but in reality it's overriding your body's natural signals of fatigue. Continue with this for long enough and you will eventually burnout.
The key is to have and enjoy caffeine if you like it, but not to rely on it.
I have seen this over and over again with athletes and the ultra busy person. In my own experience I have been there too. As an athlete we would drink coffee, energy drinks, take simple sugars and freaky supplements that turned neon blue when mixed with water before training or practice, blare some heart pumping music, train hard, and then crash mid-day. Then, you reach for more caffeine to get through the rest of day. Sleep is compromised and it becomes a vicious cycle that leaves no space for recovery as the sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive.
You do not get stronger during the workout. You get stronger with recovery when the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest mode) gets a chance to be in charge, heal, and prepare your body to endure a greater load of stress.
Start your day with drinking a big glass of water. Preferably warm water to warm up the digestive system. You can also add fresh squeezed lemon and ginger as well for the alkaline and anti-inflammatory properties.
To assist your liver in it's function of detoxification you can take lemon water with a punch of astringent apple cider vinegar.
3. Move Energy + FLOW
Albert Einstein said it simply, "Everything is energy, and that's all there is to it..."
I have always been a kinesthetic learner and physical person I believe that this is mainly because I love to MOVE energy. Thoughts, emotions, impressions we take in from the external world accumulate and stick to us and float around unless we filter it and move it out.
Think of your body like a body of water (we are over 70% water after all). Then think of your mind like a filtration system. Unfortunately garbage gets dumped into the body of water, toxins, and chemicals flow from within as a result of internal stress, and the water gets murky. The filtration system (the mind) can get clogged...hello brain fog...or you get hot headed, overheated and dried out. Either way, the result is STAGNATION.
Don't let your body become a swamp. Keep the energy flowing freely. Here are a few ways to do so...
1. Dry Brush: Dry brushing is an excellent way to keep the lymphatic system healthy. The lymphatic system helps move toxins in the interstitial fluid out of the body. You can purchase a dry brush at a holistic health store or online. When dry brushing use long sweeping strokes moving towards your heart.
2. Cold Water Therapy: After dry brushing jump in the shower for a cold rinse. Switching from cold to hot water constricts and then opens the blood vessels and improves circulation to get energy flowing and aids in recovery of tissues as it accelerates blood, oxygen, and nutrient flow throughout the body.
3. Massage + Self-Myofascial Release
Like dry brushing, massage and self-myofascial release helps stimulate the lymphatic system and improves circulation, but the main benefit is it works on the fascia. Fascia is like a gigantic cobweb material that encases each individual muscle and wraps around your frame as a whole.
One time, I woke up in the middle of the night with the word TENSEGRITY on my mind. I didn't know what it meant, but when I researched it I found it to be the perfect way to explain the fascial system.
"Tensegrity or tensional integrity also known as floating compression is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension."
So when we think of the fascial system think of it like a tensegrity structure. Compression or a "knot" in one place will cause tension throughout the entire system. Often times in the training world we talk about "muscle imbalances" it may not be the muscles are imbalanced, but instead that there is a knot in the fascial system that is causing the body to be out of alignment.
I see self-myofascial release as both a mindfulness practice and physical therapeutic practice. It brings awareness to where you hold tension and makes one more cognizant to stay relaxed and not grip those areas under times of stress. By holding pressure on the tight knot you activate the mechanoreceptors within the tissue and tell it to release.
4. Breathe Fully and Deeply
The breath is our bodies main detoxification system. Every time we take a breath we massage the inner organs and deliver fresh oxygen, blood, and nutrients to assist those organs in performing their function. Often times energy becomes stuck and stagnant when we cannot access a part of the body with our breath. If tissues lack oxygen, awareness, and energy the cells die and the tissue becomes dull, dry, and lack neurological drive. Keep the energy and electricity flowing throughout your body.
5. Sweat, Tears + Salt Water
Bring a glow to your skin by heating up from within. Move, sweat, burn calories, even eat spicy food to get stagnant energy up and out when feeling dull and sluggish.
Springtime is a great time to get moving with some elemental core and cardio workouts. Perform core work like planks, bridges, isometric holds to get the fire revved up and shining brightly. But, don't forget to lubricate the joints and get primed with mobility first.
Then head outdoors to walk, run, bike, swim.
Tears: Let's talk about cleansing the emotions. Now, I have found that this topic may make some people feel uncomfortable, but mental/emotional health is just as important as physical health and it's all interconnected. Crying is as natural as sweating, breathing, swallowing, and blinking.
Sometimes stress builds up and it just wants out...
I think of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum when they are in need of nap. Or a rabbit shaking and quivering fear out of it's nervous system after escaping from a hungry fox. As adults we are conditioned to hold back these primal urges. We stuff down our emotions. Eat them or let them burn within us until they come out in a fit of rage long after we forgot the initial infraction which is the root of the combustion.
A few years back a little while after my breaking free movement began all the heartache, stress, and anxiety I tried to stuff down and ignore regarding that situation came to the surface every single morning around 4-6AM. I was going through A Course in Miracles at the time and during the meditations I would cry not even knowing why I was crying.
Looking back, I see it was just suppressed emotions. No story is needed for why we feel the way we do, because it is purely stored up energy that needs to be moved out to create space for lightness of being and present moment awareness so we can move forward with grace and ease.
These days I like to the keep the tear ducts well maintained and not let energy well up against an internal dam so if I have not been on point with maintaining balance in my life I feel it, stretch with some long holds, and get very still to feel. Then I may lay down and just let myself cry out the stress. Just like a wave in the ocean the energy builds, peaks, and then releases. Then, not thinking anything about it or judging it I smile and go about my day. Normally, I have to shift the energy with some upbeat music and joyful movement. It is one of the most liberating practices I have ever done.
Salt water: Sticking with the theme of emotional cleansing; salt water is extremely healing. Placing your feet in the ocean, a body of water, or even a tub with warm water and sea salts can wash away toxic thoughts and emotions when performed with intention.
Ionic foot baths claim to literally pull toxins out of the body, but studies have shown this to be false...
But, the power of mind is immensely powerful so think of the water washing away anything that no longer serves you.
6. Fasting and Clean Eating
"The best of all medicines is resting and fasting." - Benjamin Franklin
I remember when I first started implementing fasting. I had just started seeing a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Santa Monica, California. My healing regimen consisted of yoga everyday, meditation for an hour per day, fasting once per week drinking just water for 36 hours, and chanting Om mani padme hum daily.
I hated fasting, because I didn't have energy to do all the things I wanted to do. I think that was the greatest benefit received. I learned how to rest and that everything I wanted to do like save the world didn't have to be accomplished in a single day.
Fasting allows the digestive system to rest. The cells clean themselves out with a process called autophagy when we go about 12-14 hours without food, and the emotional body gets a deep cleanse as you let go of to-dos and outdated belief systems.
Keep in mind, a 24-36 hour water fast is not right for everyone all the time. But, it's right for some people some of the time. ;-)
Other options are intermittent fasting. Closing the eating window to about 8 hours or so and fasting the rest of the day. Skipping breakfast is a popular form of intermittent fasting- only eating between 1PM-8PM or the like. I prefer the Buddhist monk and nun way of intermittent fasting though- not eating after the noon meal. At Vipasssana meditation, a 10 day silent meditation retreat, we eat a simple breakfast of oats and prunes at 6:30AM and robust lunch at 11:30AM and fast for the rest of the day. I find this form of intermittent more sustainable for me, but each person has to access their lifestyle, goals, and needs as intermittent fasting can be a lifestyle or done for a short period of time to facilitate cleansing.
Fasting is an opportune time to reset eating habits and plan a healthy menu for the coming weeks.
One of the best ways to cleanse your Spirit and every cell in your body is through meditation. Our brains filter input all day long. Meditation not only gives your brain a chance to recoup and process, but also realigns your energy with the power of God.
8. Step into the Unknown, Shake Things Up, and Trust the Process
If you're like me, you love to make plans. But, sometimes the best thing we can do is release control, step into the unknown, do something out of character, and let things unfold.
If you are someone who loves rituals and routines, maybe book a weekend trip and just go with the flow planning your itinerary moment to moment. If you are someone who is always taking care of others treats yourself to a spa day and let yourself be pampered for a change.
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How am I blooming this Spring? How do I choose to grow? What do I need to let go of in order to grow? What actions do I need to take and what support do I need to move into this next season of personal growth?