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Detoxify Your Noggin

March 15, 2006 | Sara Thyr, N.D.

We are constantly barraged in our country by news of the latest terror act, violence in our television programming, and ever-increasing access to immediate “breaking” bad news. The toll on our subconscious is a strong sense of helplessness, depression and anxiety.

As a naturopathic doctor, I have led group detox workshops for several years. I always tell people that they need to give up sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and bread products, which for me seems like quite a lot. I also think that itís a good time to clear out the clutter and craziness that goes on inside our heads, so I ask that they give up the newspaper, TV news, and even the beloved NPR in the car. Every one of us has our little idol — the thing that we believe above all else makes our day enjoyable. But it amazes me that so many people have such difficulty with this request. Itís not the mid-afternoon chocolate treat that they believe they will miss. It’s the morning newspaper or their program on the drive home.

Itís actually just as important to work on clearing your mind as it is your body. The mind is the most powerful organ, and it sets the tone and course for everything that happens to us. How we think and what we believe charts our course.

Studies from major medical centers confirm the power of the mind. Itís not just a pleasant sounding phrase: the power of positive thinking. It is by far one of the most productive uses of your time — to clear out the clutter of the brain. Studies that show the impressive shift in health from altering consciousness have been repeated enough to now be seen as a medical truth. The people who meditated before and after surgery had shorter recovery times. Those who suffer from pain syndromes participating in meditation circles report decreased severity of pain.

With all of the benefits of meditation and changing thought patterns, youíd think people would be more excited about it. I ask that you not take in any more bad news, and that you spend 15minutes/day meditating in some manner, and eyes full of terror great me. “What? Sit and be still and find inner peace? In this culture of too much and too fast? Itís just not possible!”

Well, the good news is that it is possible. And the better news is that it actually feels quite good. Not even after a couple of weeks. It feels good immediately. Meditation is one of my favorite parts of a detox. During a detox we are more focused on all of the things that we know are good for us. And that is one that I always have good intentions of continuing, but am not always successful at. Meditating almost immediately gives a feeling of happiness and peace. Deeper breathing patterns emerge that fill the hidden and stuck places of the body with oxygen, stimulating both energy and relaxation at the same time.

As an example, I put on some of the music that I use to meditate while I am writing. Very soon my posture changed and I was sitting erect yet relaxed. No longer slouching in my chair, I could breath deeply as I typed. I found myself filling my lungs in a deeper, slower manor. My shoulders, always tight from my tension holding and recent swimming, feel that they have dropped from their perch beside my ears.

One remarkable aspect of meditation and relaxing the mind that I always find astonishing is that staying stressed and uptight isn’t what makes us more efficient, fluid workers. Relaxing, while not promoted often in our type A society, is actually beneficial to your productivity. When your mind is free of clutter and negativity, you can move through the tasks of the day with better concentration and clarity..

If youíd like to attempt a neuronal detoxification, here is a plan that I use often in my workshops.

  • Avoid allowing any news to fill your head. This includes newspapers, TV news, and radio. Because the news is often interspersed with other programming, I recommend that you take complete control and not watch any TV or listen to the radio. Playing things from your own music collection is fine. I recommend that you lean towards classical or meditative types of music, such as instrumentals or nature recordings.
  • Take time each day to let it all out. For some exercise is the key to release. For others writing or journaling is more effective. Whatever your method, have a time and place set aside where you are consciously eliminating the negative stuff that has accumulated over the past days or weeks. If you are writing, let there be a free flow without judgment of your complaints.
  • Spend 20 minutes daily in silent meditation. I can hear the objections flying at this one. “I canít stop my mind from running…” I understand. I have a lot going on also. But that is why itís so beneficial to try. Finding some chanting or meditative music might help you. I love “Om Sai” as a chant for meditation. Deep breathing practices can also be very helpful. Your local bookseller may even have guided meditation tapes or CDs.
  • Be grateful. Having appreciation and love for people in your life helps to give the heart peace. Looking out the window and smiling at the sunshine or your favorite tree, or the little buds coming out in the spring releases endorphins into your bloodstream

In whatever way you decide, know that the benefits of taking some of the toxins out of your head will have great rewards.

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