In savoring the last few weeks (hopefully months) of practice in my three-season “treehouse”, I’m starting to notice the sights and especially the sounds of the changing season. The sound of dry leaves blowing down the tunnelled pathway along my house, the cooler breezes whistling through the opened treehouse window, the multi-colored effect of surrounding trees with changing leaves and ripening berries, all fill my senses. I’m sorry to say if the passing of summer sits heavy on your heart, but fall is just around the corner with the Equinox on Sept 22. I’ve always relished the fall with days cool enough to inspire wearing comfortable layers and warm enough so that any exposed skin still feels hummed by the sun. Another reason I love the end of summer-beginning-of-fall (and aside from the relief I feel due to the kids heading back to school) is the return of lifestyle rhythm and the resulting willpower I find to take on a cleanse.
Yes, end of summer is a brilliant time to cleanse; the changing of our external environment is well paired with changes to our internal environment. To be sure, entraining ourselves with our beautiful, and always on time Mother Earth, is a wise and simple way to stay well. Get outside and feel the difference in the wind, air and dwindling warmth of the sun, you can simply sense: IT IS TIME!
There is no absolute right way, or even best way to cleanse. Expert knowledge currently suggests that we should listen to our own guts, hearts and heads when feeling into choices surrounding our health. And I truly mean feel into your health. The wisdom lies in your own intuitive felt-sense as to what and when you’d body is asking for change. Of course, common snags are the confusing signals generated by unhelpful yet all-to-common addictions, such as sugar cravings. This is where the practice of wise discernment comes in, but that is a discussion for another blog.
The truth is, when it comes to our health, most of us have inherited the cultural practice of seeking expertise from outside of ourselves. This practice has cost us not only our intuition, but also our time and money, as we source knowledge from others on how to be well. The good news is that we can change this limiting pattern by simply turning the looking glass in on ourselves. When in need start by paying attention to how your body FEELS, and then LISTEN to your own thoughts about your sensations. Your answers are within, you’re smarter than you likely thought, the trick is making this your habitual and confident practice (wise discernment getting another mention here). Intuition, like all skill development, takes practice, so be patient, be persistent, and above all be kind to yourself while you retrain. Let renewing your capacity to self-reflect, self-respond, and self-honor be a joyful, patient and curious endeavor…who knows what you’ll discover you already know.
And of course, seeking help or advice from health experts is still useful, especially while retraining the art of intuitive living (I mean, it better be or I’ll be out of work!). But truly, health professionals nowadays are only really being of service when they not only impart their professional wisdom but also empower clients to reclaim their own inner knowing.
So, on that note, here is the number one expert advice I’m taking for my cleanse this fall:
Re-Train the Chew!
Proper chewing is better than taking digestive enzyme supplements, it prevents and relieves damp conditions in our bodies, and helps to ward off pathogen and parasite build up in our gut microflora! Who knew the chew was so important? Well, Paul Pitchford did, as it is his advice I am following.
Of course I’m only following this advice as a result of realizing, once paying attention, that I am really a poor chewer. What the heck! I totally value food, food prep, good ingredients and family time over dinner, but I do not thoroughly chew my food…at all!! Why is this? Well, once paying attention this is what I noticed:
I spend so much time being mindful of my kids’ meals (which is a nice way of saying “micro-managing them) that I am not adequately chewing my own food. Instead of adequately chewing and peacefully swallowing my food, meal times looked like: “How many veggies has he/she’s eaten”, “Wait a minute, did they even finish their lunch/afterschool snack before sitting up to have dinner?”, “No darling, we don’t play with toys at the supper table”, “Yes son dear you can have 30mins of screen time after dinner. No wait, have you finished your homework?” “Oh really, is that what happened at school today?”, “Son dear, don’t say that to your little sister, she’s only 3” “Could somebody please get your little sister a glass of water?” “Yes honey, I can cut your meat up for you”, “Should we have company over this weekend?”…and so on and so forth (I know many of you can relate).
Without a doubt, I have high expectations of my role as mother to help keep my three children healthy. I feel our modern times demand nearly a fulltime job out of sorting healthy from unhealthy-yet-culturally-the-norm practices. And although I believe it’s the good fight to take up this task, upon further reflection I can see that something at the dinner table needed to give. My boys are 13 and 12, and though my daughter is only three, she has more than just me to help keep her on track and provide healthy role-modeling. Micro-managing meal time practices are not leaving enough time for chewing presence; it is time to bring my focus back to myself and its going to start with the chew.
As mentioned above, the simple advice to chew thoroughly comes from Paul Pitchford and his book “Healing with Wholefoods”. Now, to be honest, some of Paul’s protocols are pretty intense, though always thorough. He is well experienced, trained and practiced, and I trust his advice. However, as I now tend further from extreme paths than I used to (being a mother requires I let a lot of air out of the tires) I didn’t feel inclined to strap myself in for one of his extensive cleansing protocols. Instead, it was whilst leisurely perusing his list of cleansing essentials that I struck feasible cleansing gold: “It is essential to avoid overeating, and to chew all food thoroughly. The most available and low-cost remedy is proper chewing.” (bold my own addition, page 659). The “proper chewing remedy” hit me square as: a) it’s affordable, b) it’s manageable and c) its a practice I’m proving poorly at.
So, aside from several other measures I have decided to practice for my 2016 Fall Cleanse, the one that I feel will be most impactful is retraining my chew. And, an interesting side-effect so far: less stressful meals. By redirecting my attentional focus back to my own chewing process I am resultantly butting out of my kids’ meal management. Mommy’s busy chewing, figure it out. And thus, I’m swallowing a little bit of my own previously mentioned advice: healthy change is affected by shifting attention away from outside back inward on one’s self. And assuming it’ll come full circle, my kids will thus hopefully learn to rely less on outside expertise (such as from their all wise and knowing Mother) and instead will listen to their own inner knowing.
So, Happy Chewing, Happy Cleansing (if you so choose) and Happy Fall!
With Love, Jenelle
Side note: of course, I am still ensuring only good, healthy options are available for mealtimes…it’s not all cake and French fries here.