Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fall into Winter

By Nina Curtis via Les Nouvelles Esthetiques

Cleanse the body, mind and spirit

We often think of "cleansing" as something that is done during the spring and summer months.

But when you stop and think about it, the transition from the fall to the winter season is a great time to cleanse the body, mind and spirit before venturing into the new year. Why wait until spring to decide to give your body a needed break, lose weight or get rid of old habits and addictions that no longer serve you—or are beginning to manifest themselves into your daily life in unhealthy ways?
Do something to truly honor yourself before the end of the year. It can be so liberating—and possibly right on time!
When we speak about "cleansing" in alternative medicine, there are three main areas in our lives that we need to address: the body, the mind and the spirit. Let's consider each.

Honor thy temple

Cleansing the body is done to keep the physical temple in optimum health. We are born into bodies with physical limitations, and the aging process begins the day we are born. If we can learn to use our body's own healing mechanisms, we can begin to bring about positive change by slowing down the aging process through cell regeneration and rejuvenation. There are many ways to bring about awareness and change.
Detoxifying the body is the process of releasing accumulated toxins and waste products that build up throughout our system. Internally, our organs release waste products that accumulate in our cells and tissues. Imbalanced emotions also play a part in polluting our system with excess chemicals, such as free radicals homocysteine and cortisol.
"Detoxifying" is, in many ways, a natural process. Much of our bodies' detoxification process occurs through urination, elimination and perspiration. As our bodies age and our immune systems weaken from poor diet, addictive substances, environmental pollution and illness, we sometimes need to give our system extra help, and that is why conscious detoxification is a great way back to optimum health.
One of the best ways to start your detoxification is with the skin. A "detox" program strengthens the organs involved in detoxification and releases stored toxins, expelling them through the organs of elimination: the skin, intestines, liver, lungs, kidneys and lymphatic system.
This complete detoxification process should be done four times a year. Using the seasons as a guide allows us to work with the "rhythm of nature," and to change our focus as our bodies change.

Skin detoxification enhancers

Dry skin brushing is very useful in aiding the detoxification process of the body, as it stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system, helping to speed the removal of waste. It is a great way to "wake up" your system in the morning—and you won't even miss the coffee!
Use a natural dry bristle brush before your morning shower. Begin by brushing from the toes and continue all the way up to the head using long, light sweeping strokes that start at the bottom of your feet and move upward, from the hands toward the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction. Use light pressure in areas where the skin is thin, and harder pressure on places like the soles of the feet.
Dry skin brushing should be done once a day, preferably first thing in the morning. A thorough skin brushing takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but any time spent brushing prior to your morning shower or bath will benefit the body. If you are feeling ill, increasing the treatments to twice a day is good. You can also dry brush areas of cellulite for five to ten minutes twice a day to stimulate stagnant circulation and help to diminish cellulite, but this technique needs to be done consistently for a minimum of five months, depending on the cause and severity of the condition.
Avoid sensitive areas, and any area of the skin that is broken, such as rashes, wounds, cuts and infections.
Finish your shower with three hot and cold cycles. This means turning the water up as hot as you can stand it (without burning yourself) for several seconds, then as cold as you can handle it, then hot, then cold for a total of three cycles. End with either a cold or tepid water temperature. This will further invigorate the skin and stimulate blood circulation, bringing more blood to the outer layers of the skin to tone and tighten.
After getting out of the shower, pat dry and massage your skin with cold pressed organic plant oils such as olive, avocado, apricot, almond, sesame, coconut or cocoa butter.
Clean your skin brush after each use with soap and water. After rinsing, leave the brush out to dry in an open, sunny area to prevent mildew.
It will take about 30 days to see and experience the results of any well designed program. Please be patient and keep up the program! For a thorough lymphatic cleansing, perform skin brushing daily for a minimum of three months. You must be diligent!

Benefits of dry skin brushing

1. Stimulates the lymphatic system
2. Improves circulation
3. Strengthens the immune system
4. Helps with digestion
5. Tones the muscles
6. Tightens the skin, preventing premature aging
7. Removes dead skin cell build up

Try unwinding with the following detoxification bath in the evening.

Detox bath

2 cups sea salt
2 cups magnesium flakes
1 cup baking soda
4 tbsp. ginger powder
Place all ingredients in a warm or hot bath (never so hot that you could burn yourself) and bathe
for 20 minutes. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while you are in the tub. This bath pulls
impurities from your body and helps you to feel better. Enjoy this bath two to three times a week
or as needed.

Healthful tips for detoxifying the body

It is important not just to drink during a cleanse, but also to eat whole foods. If you don't chew your food, you are more likely to retain fluid and hold in waste, rather than excrete it.
A good cleanse should keep glucose levels low, because insulin levels are sensitive to change during a time of detoxification. It's better to have an apple in your salad for a bit of sweetness than to bring simple sugars into your system.
1. Eat a diet that focuses on fresh vegetables and fruits.
2. Incorporate whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds into your regular diet (avoid these during the actual days of your cleanse).
3. Take "whole food" and herbal supplements to protect and enhance liver function.
4. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
5. Go on a juice and water fast for one day each month.
6. Scheduling a cleanse at the change of the seasons is a good rule to remember.
An effective cleanse should only take two to three days to help rid the body of toxins, and brighten up your mood and complexion. You can detox easily and effectively while you continue to eat, as long as you are cutting out substances that interfere with the detoxification process. You can eat as much as you like, it is really what you put into your body that matters.

Remember these rules:

1. No meat, fish, chicken or animal protein of any kind (no dairy or eggs).
2. No caffeine.
3. No soy products.
4. Drink plenty of water—
always stay hydrated.
5. Practice deep breathing.
6. The skin gets rid of many toxins, so it is important to do gentle exercise to promote sweat.
7. Make sure you eat whole, organic foods, which have the best chance of containing all the nutrients needed for liver and general detoxification.
Start every morning with a glass of tepid water with one to two tablespoons of organic lemon juice. This is a great way to jumpstart your digestive system for the day, and it assists in the easy elimination of waste from the body.

Green energy drink

Juice the following ingredients together:
1 cucumber
½ bunch kale or chard
1 pear
1/4 bunch of parsley
1 squeeze of lemon
a slice of ginger
a pinch of cayenne pepper (helpful for the liver as a natural disinfectant)

Green salad

Combine a mix of greens (romaine lettuce, arugula, baby spinach, baby kale, collard greens), plus half a tomato, cucumber, basil and half an avocado. Mix a ½ tsp each of olive oil and orange juice, and drizzle on top.

Steamed greens

Simply steam greens (kale, spinach or collard greens), and squeeze a bit of lime juice on top. Drink the water from the steamer like a broth. Lightly steaming greens creates a mineral-rich broth that supports the body during detoxification.

Green soup

Simmer the following ingredients:
Asparagus (great for cleansing the kidneys)
Swiss chard
½ red onion
1 clove of garlic
½ bunch parsley
1 medium sized, peeled red potato in 1 cup of water

Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are fairly tender. Put in a blender and purée until smooth. Sprinkle a pinch of celery salt on top and drink slowly.
In addition to trying the recipes above, enjoy an apple, pear or persimmon as a snack once a day.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle, including a regular exercise routine. Physical exercise is as important to detoxification as diet. Besides keeping you fit, exercise helps to burn off some of the stress chemicals that tension produces. Therefore, a tired muscle is a relaxed muscle, and relaxed muscles contribute to a relaxed mind. Aerobic exercise is very important for increasing circulation, cleansing the skin by boosting oxygen intake and ridding the body of toxins.
Excretion through sweating releases fat soluble toxins and heavy metals like lead. Cleansing the skin's pores and enabling the rejuvenation process are two of the great benefits of detoxification through regular exercise.

Honor thy mind

Cleansing the mind brings awareness to everything that causes us limitations in our thinking. Overthinking, which is rooted in fear and deters us from living wholeheartedly, can be one of our biggest detriments. However we can learn to free our minds from limitations, and create a focused and well balanced mindset.
The desire to understand the power of our minds continues to intrigue all of us who wish to grow. Cleansing the mind entails simply listening to how your heart speaks to your mind. This language is called intuition. Children are extremely intuitive, and utilize this intuition on a daily basis. As we grow older, it seems that we tend to not trust these feelings, images or concepts from our mind's eye. They almost seem odd, irrational or just hard to believe. The art of tapping into the super-sensory powers of our subconscious is just another way of paying attention! The following steps are vital to this cleansing of the mind.

1. Maintain an open mind. Accept that there are some things you may not understand. Acknowledge that there are two sides to every story.
2. Forgiving is the ultimate step in acceptance of both yourself and of others. It directs a path to our true selves, smoothing away the bumps in the road.
3. Practice the art of listening to your hunches. Act upon them. If they are right, look at what seems to be the reason behind them. Allow mistakes to happen.
4. Allow yourself to be playful. When we tap into our childlike curiosity, we are less conscious of what others think, and are more in tandem with our free mind.

Techniques can be used to calm and clear the mind, thereby achieving clearer perception. Include some of the following:
1. Meditation is a time-honored technique that can take you into infinite dimensions of consciousness. It is a simple effort that becomes easier the more we do it. One major principle of meditation is the ability to completely quiet your mind.
2. Prayer is an intention or affirmation through a conversation with the Divine. It is dialogue with a higher power. Tuning into the Divine really requires the ability to listen to our higher self. Prayer brings awareness to any situation before us.
3. Music therapy is a magical medium and a very powerful tool. Music can delight all the senses and inspire every fiber of our being. Music has the power to soothe, relax and embrace us with comfort and joy! Music subtly bypasses the intellectual stimulus in the brain and moves directly to our subconscious.
4. Visualization involves the power of guided imagery, and is one of our most powerful gifts! A healing tool we all have within us is the "power of the mind!"

Honor thy spirit

To recognize a power that is greater than our own is to recognize our spirituality.
Spiritual health is often considered a condition marked by a diminished sense of fear, and the daily experience of unconditional love, joy and gratitude, as well as an inner awareness of an infinite source of power and compassion.
Spiritual cleansing allows us to surrender to our higher power, so that our spirit can orchestrate the infinite correlation necessary for the manifestation of our desires.
Spirituality is a state of mind. It is an experience that brings us closer to the realization of life's truths. It can be found when facing fear, enjoying simplicity or through contemplation.
A cleanse of the body, mind and spirit is a great way to move into the new year.
Keep a journal as you travel on this journey.

Nina Curtis is principal of Curtis Communications, Nina Curtis & Associates and the Nile Institute. Curtis received her MBA from Pepperdine University and consults for leading companies in the personal care industry. With more than 20 years of experience, she holds certifications in aromatherapy, reflexology, acupressure and color light therapy. Curtis has been instrumental in the development of training programs for salons and spas nationwide.
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