Beauty: Diaries of a Detox, by Kristen Ma

I recently did a castor oil cleanse to address excess vata in my body and improve circulation. (It’s also said to be excellent for clearing up skin conditions.) I tracked the changes in my body, but have also learned about the cleansing process itself.

I have realized that the cleansing process is a sacred one that must be done with more gentleness and preparedness than I have done it. I have often viewed cleanses as trials in discipline, and I have gotten a sense of accomplishment from their completion. But as the nausea and tummy grumbles of this detox affected me, in retrospect I think that cleansing cannot be something we fit into our weekly schedule – but rather undertake as a more conscious process.

So, as the cleanse canary I have anointed myself, I have the following tips for you:

1. Cancel all obligations – I felt really ill on this cleanse, and the last thing I wanted to do was execute planned activities. But, somehow I found myself running around as usual, which depleted my already taxed body. Even worse, was I felt ill and had to try to stick to my schedule, and while I was smart enough to know I should limit my cleanse to weekend days (and spread it out over four weeks), I still pushed myself by doing work at home, seeing friends, and running errands… so if you are going to cleanse, I say take time off work… I mean take time off all work (calling all work-a-holics). Not only did I do everything slower and with less focus, but my frustration probably caused internal inflammation.

2. Plan your meals – I was ill-prepared on the food front. With some cleanses I’ve needed to follow a strict diet, so meal planning is essential, but even with a cleanse like this, I neglected to be as vigilant. And believe me, prep would helpful – again it would place more focus on the cleanse, and less on chores. Also, when we cleanse, we want to eat foods that are light, gentle on our digestive systems and void of junk. For Ayurvedic Detoxification, it is recommended we eat kitchari as it is nourishing and easy on our bodies. Kitchari is a rice and mung bean dish which provides protein, moisture and digestive comfort. It’s also easy to make and has few ingredients making it a no-fuss option, which is perfect for when our constitutions are being exhausted by detox.

3. Rest – Lastly, it’s not only important to clear your schedule, but to make a point of relaxing and recouping. Again, according to Ayurvedic opinion on detox, cleansing is a time of rest, meditation and reflection so it we should try to put ourselves in a peaceful mind space. This way all of our body’s energy is completely devoted to detoxing. This concept came to me as I realized that I, myself, did not relax properly, and I don’t think I cleansed and well or as deeply because of it. It’s funny how awareness can slip by you when you are in the middle of your life. So, if we are going to go through the effort of doing a detox, we must remember that cleansing does more than clear the digestive tract and remove waste from our tissues. It is also about the elimination of ama (toxins) from the mind. Dr. Vasant Lad once said that cleansing emotional ama is just as important as physical ama.

Saying this, we need to make this experience also about grounding and releasing unresolved emotions and issues – making this cleanse truly holistic.

Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up.  She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India.  She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia.  Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company.  Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine.  She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine. She blogs regularly at Holistic Vanity.