Over the centuries humans have tried to find the perfect way to keep the body in tip top order. Many people have taken to exercising the body regularly, and watching what kinds of foods they eat. Others have joined health clubs or visited spas, where they’re put through their paces, massaged, mud-packed and steamed. It seems that most of us, at one time or another, have explored all kinds of means and methods to be well and stay well – including cleansing the body internally.
The thinking that surrounds bodily cleansing, or detoxification, is based on the Ancient Egyptian and Greek humoral theory of health. Although supported in the 19th century, it quickly fell out of favour by the early 20th century. Despite this, the concept remains popular today – even though mainstream medicine believes it to be unscientific theory.
Recently, I’ve noticed a number of advertisements around my town centre. Targeted at women, they offer products to detox the body and achieve better health. These posters set me thinking about another area of personal wellbeing – one that can also require cleansing and revitalization from time-to-time. What I’m referring to, is our thinking – in particular, the type and quality of thoughts we engage in.
While sipping my cup of morning decaf the other day, I reflected on how unhealthy emotions can adversely impact our health. These negative feelings, when unchecked, can build up to alarming levels of distress in thought. Without a good clean out, corrosive feelings such as resentment, can fester away, spoiling a person’s good nature, destroying someone’s peace of mind, and damaging their health.
An example of what destructive thinking can do to an individual, is highlighted in an ancient story. It recounts how a woman looked back in anger at an incident in her life. In so doing, she turned herself into a “pillar of salt” – she became embittered by what she perceived as the wrong done to her.
This tale of resentment and estrangement is a sad, but salutary lesson. It reminds me to avoid making the same mistake as this unhappy woman. In so doing, I’ve come up with a few practical steps to help my mind and body stay as healthy as possible.
● When showering, don’t just think about keeping externally clean. Look within. Exfoliate dead-end thinking. Cleanse away any build up of disappointment or resentment. Allow calming, comforting, reassuring, and peace-encouraging ideas to flow into thinking.
● While taking a bath, make a point to soak in happy, productive thinking. Reflect on good things that have taken place. Sitting in a bathtub of past insults or hurtful comments is not health-giving. If someone has personally said or done something mean, rather than rehearsing the unkindness, mentally pull the plug on it, and let the unpleasant memories flow down the drain – right out of thinking.
● If the desire to verbally or physically retaliate forces its way into thought, starve it of oxygen. Revenge requires feeding to flourish. Refuse to give it air, or breath. Use a mental-loofah to scrub such undesirable thinking away. Watch what thoughts are running through your mind. Hatred is toxic. Mercy, on the other hand, can be health-bringing and health-sustaining.
To help cleanse the mind of animosity, holding a grudge, or long term unhappiness, many people have found meditation helpful. Others have utilized prayer or religious practices to focus on wellbeing, and to improve or even sustain a healthy mind and body. Such thought-tools are proving beneficial. Studies are showing that spirituality leads to “a reduction of health-risk behaviours in church-goers,” and “to more elusive phenomena such as the distant effects of prayer on health and physiology.”
With such practices on hand, imagine how much better a person would feel if harsh or acidic feelings and attitudes were flushed from their mental state. Imagine being freed from unhappy thoughts about the past. Liberating your thought may require taking plenty of mentally constructive action, but think of the benefits. They could potentially be huge. Detoxing your thought could lead to good mental health and bodily wellbeing.
This article also appeared on The Wellness Wire - an Internet daily inspired to help forward lifestyles of health, happiness, and longevity, and a peaceful, just, sustainable world.