Luke Armstrong | Nov 22, 2017
Our body is a conglomeration of biological factories. It mines food for everything it needs to maintain life and removes and disposes toxins which hinder life. Bodies are in a never ending process of detoxification. So no matter how zen and well-dieted they are, they will never be 100% toxin free. But there's a lot we can do to aid our bodies in natural detoxification which can improve our health and quality of life.
"Detoxing," as a health term, is a category that includes a variety of cleansing and purifying practices that originate from many cultural traditions from around the world.
Detoxing is not dieting. Food can be involved, but some detoxing involves doing without food or limiting it in some way. Some traditions and cultures approach detoxing as prayer to the divine.
Under some views, simply abstaining from music for a week is a form of sound detox.
Certain types of detoxes can easily be practiced individually or with a group of friends, while others should only be done under the supervision of a professional.
Shanka is a notorious yogic, entire body cleanse. Salt water is imbibed while exercises are performed in order to scrub the inner walls of the digestive tract. Which means, Montezuma's revenge is invoked, and while this might seem strange, the benefits of shanka are amazing.
WARNING- If this detox seems extreme, it's because it is (think detox adrenaline junkie extreme!). It should only be practiced once a year. It is recommended that you only practice shanka under the guidance of a teacher.
Since the whole digestive tract is "restored" in a very dramatic way during a shanka, post relaxation and diet is a crucial part of the practice.
The benefits of steam baths in rejuvenating the system has been well documented. Less demonstrated is the purifying effects for the mind during a Temazcal sweat lodge ceremony.
Properly performed by a selfless shaman, the ceremony can last three hours. It involves four phases of purging oneself of the things that keep us from living free and easy lives. An intention is set.
A resolve is made. Chants are recited to a drum. The body is put through healthy, but strenuous heat. You emerge reborn and cool off in a pool of water.
Where to go for a Temazcal Detox:
1. México (they abound in Chiapas, Oaxaca, and the Yucatán)
2. San Marco and San Pedro on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
3. Detox in a Hot Spring
Great for the skin and lovely for the soul, hot springs dot my trips like punctuation in a paragraph.
There's no bickering at hot spring. Just blissful soaking. It's a new year, so do yourself a lovely favor—stop being passive about hot springs and set your resolve. Hot springs are all over this lovely planet, so everywhere you go Google "hot springs in. . ." and see where you go.
There's nothing not utterly blissful about this plan!
I haven't felt ready yet to write about my own few experiences with silent meditation retreats. But believe me when I say that the benefits are vast—as life changing as college degree or a superpower.
Where to go for a silent meditation retreat:
You can find such retreats in many traditions throughout the world. Goenka meditation has centers across the globe.
5. Detox With A Coconut Water Fast
The health benefits of fasting have been well-documented. Numerous studies show that it can have powerful benefits on your body and brain.
Fasting isn't about dieting. It's about building will power and resetting many of the body's health dials. For more information in that, here are 10 health benefits of fasting.
One of the most interesting fasts I've stumbled upon was a coconut water fast. By giving your body many essential nutrients needed, a coconut fast is easier than a water fast. My five day coconut water fast at The Vagabond Temple in Cambodia left me feeling renewed and refreshed and cleared up chronic sinus congestion that had plagued me for months.
Where to go: The Vagabond Temple, Cambodia
A juice cleanse is generally three days minimum and is a great introduction to detoxing.
Eating is about much more than feeding hunger. Detoxes like juice cleanses help us understand the role of consumption as a source of comfort in our lives. It helps control appetite and cravings, while supplying the body with beneficial and healing nutrients.
Where to go: Basically anywhere! You can even stay at home. But my pick (yes of course it's on a beach) would be for you to do one at The Sanctuary in Thailand.
Livers do nothing but endless detoxing of blood. So when is it your liver's turn! Your liver is the janitor of organs, prevented most of us from dying from alcohol poisoning as undergraduates, and deserve some TLC!
Experts caution that most "liver detox" products don't work as advertised. Some can actually cause harm to your liver. So don't just google this cleanse and try it. Go with the professionals on this one.
Are you surprised that one great place to go for a liver detox is in the land of tequila, Mexico?
Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.
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