I am writing this blog on Day 28 of a 30-day cleanse that has been one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. The cleanse, prescribed to me by none other than beloved TDL founder, Mastin Kipp, has involved a strict alkaline diet consisting of no caffeine, no dairy, no wheat, no sugar, no alcohol and approximately 80% of every meal consisting of green vegetables. It has also included something that Mastin calls a “love cleanse”, which means no engaging with the opposite sex (i.e. no sex, no dating, no flirting and no communication with exes). Lastly, after ten years of being a smoker, I also quit smoking five days before the beginning of the cleanse.
Before the cleanse, I was pretty loose about my diet and there is no question that I was highly addicted to sugar and nicotine. I’ve also spent my fair share of time and energy partying, drinking, smoking, chasing women, all of it.
Knowing all of this, you may find it interesting that I chose the word ‘spiritual’ to describe the experience of the past 28 days. I have learned a tremendous amount about myself during this time but the single most important lesson I’ve learned is that it is by honoring your body that you can truly set your spirit free.
The idea of honoring your body may sound obvious or even cliché but the fact is, it is something that I have completely overlooked for a long time. Perhaps this is easy to do because in many ways, our body doesn’t immediately reveal to us the true impact of our choices. Only sometimes, when we really abuse our body, like when we drink to excess or overeat, it lets us know we’ve gone too far. Also, working on the mind and spirit promises the greatest rewards and can lead us to skip the all-important step of readying ourselves to receive the gifts of our practice.
This is an accurate description of my experience to date. I have spent the last 9 years investing my energy in reading self-helps books, practicing meditation and prayer, journaling, attending personal development workshops, trying yoga and healing treatments, going to church, you name it. I have developed a pretty well-rounded spiritual practice but have always felt as though something was missing. Deep down inside, in my heart of hearts, I knew what it was.
I wasn’t honoring my body. I wasn’t honoring the gift of life that I’ve been given. As a result, I wasn’t really getting the true benefit from my spiritual practices. I now see that my body is a true gift and the vessel through which I experience life. In order to get the most out of that experience, it’s crucial to take care of that vessel, love it and nurture it. Another way of looking at it is that life is like a beautiful song and we are the instruments. If our instruments are not well kept and in tune, the music won’t come out sounding the way it is meant to.
So what’s the point of all of this? Well, it’s simple. When we don’t honor our body, we don’t get to experience the joys of life to the fullest. The Uni-verse has so much it wants to give us but we need to be ready to receive it. Our dreams are waiting to be realized but if we keep our spirit bound by addictions and unhealthy habits, we will not have the energy or the focus to bring them to life and we will not be able to take flight.
For me, I know that the completion of this cleanse is far from the end. It is a new beginning. It will take commitment to keep it going but I now have a deeper incentive to do that. During these past few weeks, I have gotten a glimpse of what’s possible if I live a life that honors my body as my instrument, as sacred. I have been more spiritually connected than ever, more focused on my goals, more inspired and have had more energy to take whatever life has thrown at me in stride. And of course, physically, I have felt better than I have in years. It’s been nothing short of amazing.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. There have been rough days and going forward, I know there will be many more challenges to come. I will fall and get back up again, probably many times. Nonetheless, I am thankful for the lesson that I’ve learned and for a glimpse into what I’ve been missing all this time.
If you’re reading this and feeling overwhelmed, take comfort in knowing that wherever you are is a great place to start from and that the solution happens one small step at a time. So today, do something loving for your body and honor the gift of life that you’ve been given. Drink some more water, go to a yoga class, do some push-ups, have one cookie instead of two for dessert, skip that cigarette or that drink that you don’t really want. The more you do these things and tune in to the gift that is your body and the beautiful music of your life, the more ready you will be to accept the greater gifts of peace, love, joy and creativity.
May the force be with you!
Written for The Daily Love (Aug. 6th, 2011)