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Let Go of It: Cleansing One's Life

throwing out trashOne of the major therapies in natural healing is the “cleanse.”  Detoxification is a major part of what many natural healers and therapists do. Most of the focus is on cleansing the body, but I have observed that what is happening on the physical level is often deeply connected to what is happening on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels of our being.

Our language is full of metaphorical references to these connections. Having an “anal retentive” personality is likely to contribute to physical constipation (and vice-versa). I have also observed that people who are “full of it” emotionally because they can't “let go” of past hurts and traumas are more likely to hang onto physical toxins than people who are able to release these experiences through forgiveness.

Life flows.  Health flows.  When we can't let go of things, they accumulate and disrupt the flow of life.  We can be constipated in our colon, but we can also be constipated in our homes and in our emotions.

As I look around and see the problems people are having with obesity and our cultural obsession with acquiring material possessions, I wonder if the two aren't somehow related. We are a society of accumulators, forever obsessed with having more and more.

Unable to find contentment in our hearts, we “consume” more than we need in every aspect of our lives. In a similar manner, the level of chemical pollution our society is creating in the environment parallels the pollution of our cultural hearts and minds.

The Energetics of Letting Go

According to the system of energetics I've been teaching for more than a decade, there are three primary forces at work in the universe—a force of expansion, which creates attraction, a force of contraction, which creates expulsion, and a force of rest, which creates equilibrium. We see these forces at work in the body. The heart expands as it draws in blood and contracts as it pushes blood throughout the body. The lungs expand as they draw in air and contract as we exhale. In between each beat of the heart and each breath we take there is a pause, a moment of equilibrium or rest.

3 basic energiesNotice that the pause occurs after the heart and lungs have contracted and expelled their contents. The pause does not occur when the heart and lungs are full; it occurs when they are empty. The emptying out allows the organ to rest and prepare for the next cycle of expansion.

There are some powerful lessons in this. First of all, the ability of tissues to draw in (or assimilate) nutrients is dependent on their ability to push out (or eliminate) toxins. Cleansing, or emptying out, opens up space in the tissues that allows them to rest, and prepares them to assimilate nutrition and produce energy. If the tissues are clogged with waste, they cannot rest and the nutrition can't get to the cells. Once the tissues are able to let go of the waste material, they can rest—and once they are rested they are able to take in nourishment again.

Long ago, I learned a very simple, but powerful, lesson that relates to this concept. That lesson is, don't eat when you aren't hungry. Practicing this has really helped my health. By the way, I'm not talking about mental hunger, I'm talking about physical hunger. Your stomach feels “empty” when you are hungry. If your stomach feels “full” you shouldn't eat, because the body hasn't been able to completely empty the digestive organs and rest so it can be ready for the next meal.

How can the digestive tract process and absorb the nutrients when it is bloated, stuffed, congested and constipated? It can't!  So, when I feel this way, I drink water or juice, take enzymes and cleansing herbs and stop eating until my system clears itself out.  I start eating again only when I feel “empty” to allow the digestive tract time to rest and prepare for the next meal.

This is also why so many people benefit from doing a cleanse at the beginning of a nutritional program. As they empty out the accumulation of waste material in the body, they create space which allows nutrition to enter.

Learning to "Let Go"

Deanna Hansen, the certified athletic therapist who co-authored the Love Your Body Beautiful program with me, told me that she works to open up “space” in tissue. Aging, she believes, is a function of tissue becoming dense and compacted so that it loses space. One has to “let go” of tension for muscles to relax.

As a practical application of this, Deanna taught me a secret that helped me breathe more deeply than I've ever been able to before.  I had loosened my diaphragm by working on my hiatal hernia so that I could breathe in and out for about the count of five.  In other words, I could count to five while breathing in, and I could again count to five while breathing out.  By the way, most people can't do this.

Deanna taught me to forceably exhale.  That is, to push as much air out of my lungs as I could during the exhale.  By completely emptying the lungs, you can draw in an even deeper breath on the next inhalation.  Within a short period of time I was able to easily breathe in and out I was able to double the length of time my breath and breathe in and out for 10 counts.  I can now do as many as 20 or more.  So, here is a practical  example of how allowing things to “empty out” improves life.

A related concept is found in the article Relax Your Way to Better Health.  You increase the amount of energy in your body by relaxing, which is another way of “letting go.”

Cleansing Is More Than Physical

clutter.jpgThe bottom line is that people don't just need to cleanse the body. They also need to cleanse on mental, emotional and spiritual levels. In general, we are afraid to “let go” of things because we perceive it as a loss. So, we constantly try to “fill up” our lives and achieve "fullness" in order to avoid feeling “empty.”  This occurs on multiple levels.

For example, one motivational writer, Bob Proctor (who appears on the popular DVD, The Secret) suggested that you aren't going to get something new into your life until you're willing to let go of the old. People will hang onto possessions and relationships that they don't like because they feel these things are all they have. It is easier for them to handle the idea of having “something,” even if it's something they don't want or like, than it is to deal with the emptiness of “letting go.”

But, if we don't learn to let go, we will never allow the space in our lives to draw in something new. People fill closets, basements, attics, garages, sheds, and even pay extra money to rent storage lockers so they can accumulate more and more things. As a teenager, I read Henry David Thoreau's book Walden Pond and was struck by his assertion that our possessions own us as much as we own them. The more stuff we have, the more stuff we have to take care of, and the less space there is in our lives.

The lesson is simple, if you want more prosperity in your life, look around you and get rid of everything you aren't really using.  It's something I've learned to do and it really works.  In fact, I originally wrote this article several years ago, and as I was revising it to post on my website I looked around my office and saw all the clutter and realized my business was constipated.  So, I've spent the past couple of days throwing out stuff I don't need anymore and organizing things.  It's amazing how much energy this frees up.

Oh, and Bob Proctor makes a very good recommendation here.  He suggests you don't “sell” your stuff.  The reason is that you've energetically received value for it by doing so.  Instead, he suggests you give it away.  This opens up the space for you to receive something new to replace it.

Letting Go of the Old Automatically Invites the New

In his essay on Compensation, Ralph Waldo Emerson eloquently explains how loss is impossible, since gain and loss are two sides of the same coin. Anything we gain has a loss associated with it, while anything we lose has a gain associated with it. He says that those who seek to gain the most while benefiting others the least wind up impoverished, while those who benefit others ultimately gain the most. 

Nature abhors a vacuum. When I give something away or let go of something, it creates a void that something must come in to fill. When one tries to gain things at the expense of others, there is a hidden debt that will be extracted from one's life sooner or later.

Understanding this, I recommend that everyone periodically do a “life cleanse” by going through their closets and other storage areas and “purging” themselves of unused possessions they no longer need.  This creates space in one's life for new things to appear. Most people try to hold onto what they have and don't want to let go of it until something better appears. The problem is that what you are holding on to doesn't allow space for the thing you want to appear. You have to get over your fear of “not having” and let go of what isn't serving you before you will make the space for what you really want in life.

Emotionally, we are afraid to let go because we fear the emptiness. Most people are afraid of silence, solitude, or quiet time. They want to constantly be occupied with something. This is especially true of today's youth. With all the electronic gadgets we have today (TV, video games, the internet, smart phones, MP3 players, CD players, etc.) many people seem to feel a need for constant stimulation to keep their minds and emotions occupied.  There is always “noise” in the background, and kids become easily “bored” if something isn't going on. Of course, many adults have this problem, too.  In reality, these things often get in the way of meeting more important needs.

Emotional Cleansingbreathing.jpg

We need moments of quiet, solitude and stillness. Inspiration comes when the mind is clear of excessive mental chatter, which is why our minds have to be emptied through contemplation or meditation to be open to new ideas. Creativity and inspiration come when I allow space and quiet in my life.

All these ways of letting go are valuable and healing on various levels of our being, but the biggest thing we need to learn to let go of is the past. For many years I've taught that one of the root causes of disease is unresolved mental and emotional stress. I emphasize the word unresolved because all of us have mental and emotional stress in our lives. We all experience difficulties with relationships, finances, health, accidents and the other assorted “woes” of life. It's those things we can't resolve that give us problems.

You can tell when something is unresolved because when the subject comes up, there is an emotional charge attached to it. So, the problem isn't that you got divorced or cheated or whatever, it's the fact that twenty years later you're still carrying an emotional charge about it. In my healing work I've learned that most people are carrying around a hidden burden of shame, fear, guilt, anger, resentment and/or sadness. I think that is part of the reason why people work so hard to stay constantly occupied—it keeps them from having to face their own unresolved emotions.

Yet, only when we create the space in our lives to face, acknowledge and resolve these issues and emotions are we able to let them go. Peace and joy can only come into our hearts when we forgive or otherwise release our emotional burdens. Only when we lose our fear of being empty can we allow ourselves to be filled.