By Jenn Jessup & Judy Zehr
Guest Writers for Wake Up World
Are you struggling to create or live the life that you wish you had? Do you feel blocks in your creativity? Have you been longing to feel integrated, centered and whole again? Cleansing can be a powerful resource to help you balance, realign, let go and restore yourself.
We know about the value of periodic “detoxing” or “cleansing” of our bodies, especially from what we put into our mouths such as processed foods, sugar, caffeine and other stress and inflammation producing substances. Research suggests that periodic “detoxification” can be beneficial, especially if it helps you move to a lifestyle of eating whole, real foods, daily movement, time in nature and with loved ones, and an all over balanced and healthy lifestyle.
But to achieve this balanced and healthy lifestyle we are all seeking, in our dis-regulated, dis-eased and addiction-prone culture, it takes more than just periodic adjustments to your nutritional intake. It takes a “whole body, whole being” approach, meaning a cleansing of your body, mind and spirit.
The most compelling literature that convinced me that we need to do more than simply “tweak” our diet are the studies suggesting that HOW we eat is just as significant to our neurobiological processes as WHAT we eat. Yes, if we are eating apples and carrots but are obsessing about our weight, or worried about our kids, or angry about a relationship, chances are we are not going to get the satisfaction, the sense of nourishment, and the balanced joy we are seeking. Nope, it’s better to eat donuts in joy and calm connection than to eat salad in stress.
So when we think “detox” we really have to focus on more than just our food (and losing weight). By keeping the focus on food and our physical body we create a yo-yo or pendulum-swinging effect and mentality. This triggers black and white thinking and “striving for perfect” rather than therapeutic, nourishing and balanced mind-body-spirit.
In our “whole body, whole being” approach, therapeutic nutritionist Jenn Jessup and I (a mental health therapist) have been studying how to help people move through a complete cleanse process that will lift toxins not only from cellular structures but from “stuck” neural circuits and habits too, along with helping lift spiritual and energy blocks that impact our well-being. Here’s what we have found:
- It’s important to include nature—cleanse in harmony with the seasons; cleanse with the moon’s orbit in mind, cleanse with a felt sense of connection and gratitude to earth, air, water and the nutrients they provide.
- There are a few simple daily practices we can use to help shift our thinking and emotional patterns that perpetually weigh us down, lowering our energy and serving as obstacles to our growth. We are not our cravings and drives. We can learn tools to release these tendencies.
- We can create a “pattern of healing” as we focus on true, primary nourishment (love, creativity, relationship with nature, music/art, spiritual connection) and learn how to use food in appreciation and celebration of our true nourishment. This takes gentle practice and support, but the rewards are extraordinary in quality of life.
- Learning and practicing in community (groups, having buddies or support people) is a necessity. We are social mammals. We have limbic systems that vibrate in connection with the energy of life and each other. Connecting with others is like a banister on the stairway we’re climbing. We get to hold on to each other for balance, for support, to help lift us to the next level.
- Food can be our medicine and is an essential part of providing the nutrients, fuel and nourishment our bodies need in detoxifying and in everyday functions. We can create a relationship with food that is life affirming and helps us return to the re-enchantment of the sacred essence that nourishment is all about.
This is just a simple introduction to what we’ve discovered and our method to help shift our energy, lifestyle, focus and daily choices to best serve the wild, precious, living beings we are. We have to be warriors for the good in our current culture. And we are thrilled to be able to provide some hope and guidance as we all strengthen our skills and grow in, as Julia Cameron says, Good, Orderly, Direction.
Jenn Jessup and Judy Zehr
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About the Authors
Judy Zehr, LPC, MHRM is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon. She is a Certified EBT Master Trainer (trains other health professionals in the method) and past Director of Clinical Education at the Institute for Health Solutions, UCSF. See Judyzehr.com
Jenn Jessup, MNT, BS is a nutrition therapist practicing in Denver, Colorado at Innate Wisdom Health Center. Jenn emphasizes creating a positive relationship with food and using food as medicine to establish a foundation in the lifelong journey of health and happiness.