When you have a toxic emotion like anger or fear, the psychological aspect is felt immediately as the unwanted emotion fills your mind. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The toxic effect of a negative emotion reaches further than we ever knew in the past.
- Toxic emotions change brain chemistry. If the emotion is chronic, it even changes pathways in the brain.
- Events in the brain are communicated to every cell in the body, spreading toxicity invisibly to areas we might not even think about. One such area is the intestines, which respond keenly to negative emotions. Besides the familiar tight sensation in the stomach or gut that is caused by tension, the huge bacterial colony that resides in our intestines—technically called the microbiome—shifts dramatically when exposed to any kind of toxicity.
- Because experience is stored in memory, the above influences can persist for a long time, which is why our bodies continue to pay a price for traumas as far back as childhood.
Here are the basic steps for cleansing and detoxifying your life when viewed holistically.
PhysicalThe importance of clean air, food, and water is obvious to most people by now. It's important to pay attention to foods with chemical additives, including red meat, chicken, and eggs. Organic sources without adulterants are best.
Simple sanitation such as washing your hands several times a day, can protect you significantly from communicable diseases, especially if your work involves contact with many other people or travel on mass transit.
An Ayurvedic cleansing routine works on subtler physical toxins, known as Ama in Sanskrit. This ancient tradition has been gaining scientific credibility, and countless people feel benefited by it. Check out the Chopra Center’s Perfect Health program to learn about a complete Ayurvedic cleansing and healing immersion.
Nothing is more purifying than regularly going out into nature, and nourishing yourself with its beauty and freshness.
MentalThe mind is a powerful source of negativity and positivity. Experiences that originate in the mind then affect and alter the brain. Therefore, look upon your daily experience as input that is either toxic (negative) or purifying (positive). Take steps to make sure that the balance of your day is spent favoring positive input and minimizing negative.
The most powerful single step you can take is to adopt a regular meditation routine.
EmotionalThe two main areas where people run into emotional and psychological toxicity are self-esteem and relationships. These are significant areas of our lives, yet they are often the last we look to when we want to detoxify. In reality, if you have low self-esteem or persist in a toxic relationship, these obstacles deserve priority ahead of diet, exercise, and other conventional advice about finding well-being.
EnvironmentalThis term covers external stress. For most people, acute stress such as losing a job grabs their attention, while chronic, low-level stress is tolerated or ignored. In reality, acute stress is relatively rare, while chronic stress is probably the larger threat to most people's well-being. Being under pressure, losing sleep, rushing to meet deadlines, over-scheduling, ignoring down time, and multi-tasking have all become accepted stresses in life. Yet these things wreak biological havoc in our bodies. You should take steps to address each one if you expect to benefit from a detox routine.
I've gone into some detail here because too often it's only the physical side, such as taking a dietary cleanse twice a year, that gets attended to. Various cleanses can be useful and are highly recommended when they are supported by the wisdom of an ancient tradition like Ayurveda. But the true Ayurveda, which means "science of life," is holistic. It includes all the areas we've just discussed. I hope this knowledge guides you to a state of well-being that is fulfilling and blissful. No other project is more worthwhile.