Yoga and the issue of Detoxing… Break on through…

tantragoddess

Detox is such a buzzword these days isn’t it? Its a weird thing. In the West a hundred odd years ago there was all kinds of repression, social, sexual, political, which tends to no longer be an issue with most of us. Nothing is sacred now it seems. There are few taboos on the surface of things. Deep down though we are still trapped. And somehow we are made to feel consistently dirty. Look at any magazine on the shelf and you are more or less guaranteed to find some 3 day ‘Detox’ diet that promises miraculous results to rejuvenate your complexion, body, oh, and soul too- but that tends to be a afterthought, lets be honest. Go into any supermarket and you will be offered the stunning opportunity to spend fifteen quid on some Gillian McKeith invention or Gojii berries… We live in extreme times. Pretty much everyone binges on something and so the pendulum swings just as far the other way as we subconsciously seek to redress the balance…

We need to calm down. The body is pretty tough and quite capable of getting rid of toxins when needs be. I have in the past, succumbed to just about every detox regime going. Looking at it all now I think the detoxification process needs to start with the mind, not the body. One tends to follow the other but it is not black and white. I mean, if you start with something like a raw food diet it is not necessarily going to benefit you- we are all different, and extreme diets can result in disordered personalities. Orthorexia (an obsession with ‘healthy eating’) is an eating disorder just like anorexia or bulimia which can affect your spiritual development as well as your social life. Also, an extreme diet calls for extreme measures to implement it, a strict regime, and then you run the risk of identifying solely with this regime, and hey presto, you are suffering from the klesa of attachment that Patanjali warned us about in the Yoga Sutras… And over identification with the body…

I am not saying go out and binge drink or eat entire quiches or anything like that. Because in Yoga we are trying to create space. And in the space we create we can learn to listen to our bodies. There is a magic that occurs through practice, through asana, through space. The magic of learning to listen to the wisdom of our body. It is quite common for Yoga to reduce the appetite, for food to seem more flavoursome, satisfying and intense. Binge eating tends to reduce as the sensation of being over full becomes more uncomfortable over time. I cannot emphasize enough though that it is different for each and every one of us. Perhaps you don’t eat enough and you need that pizza and you need to not feel bad about it or bore everyone with how guilty you feel. Or perhaps there is a deeper reason for your weight problem and superficial glib answers to it are not there for the taking and you have to journey through it…

Broadly speaking, if you are inclined to one thing it is often the case that you need to cultivate the opposite. If you are an ascetic you should indulge- if you are a hedonist, reign it in, find balance. This obsession with detoxing/orthorexia, is not a new thing. The followers of the Left Hand Path of Tantra, the Kaula tradition, in medieval times came up with the Five ‘M’s Ritual- the indulging in 5 forbidden things- Maithuna (Sexual union), Mada (wine), Mamsa (meat), Matsya (fish) and Mudra (parched grains/money) for ascetics. To indulge in that which they eschewed broke boundaries and attachments- especially the attachment to purity. Because it is still attachment. Just one more facet of the disco ball of all that is non permanent.

In his book ‘Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses’ David Frawley writes ‘When the Vedic God Indra is lauded as eating three hundred buffaloes and drinking three lakes of wine, or when he is said to kill his own father, this is a dramatic symbolism. The meat and wine refer to the conquering of the senses, the father to be killed is the ego. When Buddhists are asked to kill the Buddha, it is a symbolic gesture, obviously not to be taken literally, meaning that we should break our attachment to the outer form of the teacher.’ Like the Jewish saying ‘Once the wine is drunk the jug can be broken’ all physical practices/ disciplines within spirituality are only useful up to a point…

My conclusion here is to relax. Be sensible. Listen to your body. Learn the difference between being a slave to your urges and occasional and conscious indulgence- being attached to alcohol for example, and the whole ritual of getting drunk, fun as it may be, is not going to bring you lasting happiness or help you on your path. It may not be evil and you may not be hurting anyone but you are not going to discover all that is ultimately out there when a large part of your energy is stuck in the alcohol groove, playing the same tune every weekend. And yes, going through the boredom, frustration and cravings that changing this habit will bring with it is all part of the process. Sometimes you have to go through these mundane things I’m afraid… Tip- getting out of your everyday environment as much as possible, and changing your everyday patterns and habits can help to ease the process… When you manage this you’ll have a whole heap of new resources…

And it may not be alcohol- it may be cigarettes, dope, food, soap operas or online poker that’s your weakness. Or it may be your raw food diet that’s sapping you. Or the person you are in a relationship with. Whats your poison? Think about it. What is that thing that seems to dictate to you how you live your life?

What do you really need to rid yourself of?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply