Spring - time to let go

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“The secret to happiness is freedom…

And the secret to freedom is courage.”

~Thucydides

Passover, the Jewish holiday dedicated to freedom, will be celebrated on the full moon of Friday, March 30th. In the Jewish tradition, Passover is one of the most important holidays. Preparations for the celebration starts weeks before the actual holiday arrives. One of the most important commandments of Passover is the eradication of any leavened food from the diet for the eight days of the holiday. Somehow, this tradition has evolved into a frenzy of removing all flour products from the house, which has resulted in a huge spring cleaning. It starts with the kitchen, cleaning every corner of the cabinets, stove, and refrigerator and continues to the entire house. As a child, I remember cleaning my desk and bookshelves, pulling out all my clothes from the closet, going through everything that I own and sorting out what I will keep and what will be bagged and donated or thrown out.

On Passover evening, every Jewish family sits around the table and reads the “Haggadah,” the story of the Israelite tribes as they evolved from slavery to a free people.  Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that: “letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free.” I think that all the preparations for Passover are an exercise in letting go. We let go of our material belongings as an exercise for letting go of our mental and emotional baggage.

“What is stress?

Its the gap between our expectation & reality.

More the gap, more the stress.

So expect nothing and accept everything.”

~Buddha’s teachings

As farmers, our plans for the season has solidified. We now know what we will grow in the 2018 season. The seeds have arrived. The planning of our seeding, transplanting and harvesting calendar is ready and my event calendar is updated. The map of the garden is updated too so we know what will grow where. We have a very clear picture of the garden in this coming season. Now is the time to let this picture go and await what will come towards us.

As a foodie and an herbalist, I appreciate my body’s need to let go of physical toxins, mental and emotional poisons. Living with the cycle of the season, I find spring as the most suitable time to let go of all that was accumulated during the winter - and one or two pounds, too.

The liver and pancreas are the main detox organ. The skin function as a detox organ too, although less efficiently than the liver. The skin is the largest organ in the body, followed by the liver; this indicates how much the body prioritizes its cleanliness. Eczema and psoriasis that are often treated as skin issues in conventional medicine often stem from allergies or weak liver. They are the body’s attempt at eliminating what is experienced as poison.

A spring detox is also a fine opportunity to change your food habits. It does not make sense to detox if you are not planning to keep your body clean. Here are some guidelines to consider as a foundation for a detox:

   • Eat meals cooked from scratch. Use only ingredients whose origin you recognize. Avoid processed food.

   • Eat a simple diet made of vegetables, proteins, and grains in small amounts. As a rule of thumb, the longer you need to cook a dish, the harder it is for you to digest it. For example, beans are much harder to digest than fruits or vegetables that are eaten raw. It does not mean that you need to avoid beans, just adjust their amount in your diet.

   • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Although the liver screens the blood and removes toxins from it, kidneys also eliminate many toxins. Foods that help stimulate the kidney and thus help the body get rid of toxins include celery, parsley, nettle, and dandelion leaf. These are best prepared as a tea or shake, as the kidney has an affinity to the fluid element.

   • The bitter taste is recognized by the liver as poisonous, so it stimulates the liver to produce enzymes that cleanse the blood. Many of the strong hepatic herbs, if consumed in large amounts, will produce a strong response from the body including nausea, vomiting, and cramps. If taken in small amounts, then these herbs stimulate the breakdown of toxins all the way from the mouth to the liver. Some of the bitter foods that you want to add to your daily diet are dark green leaves such as lettuce, arugula, dandelion leaves, chicory and Asian greens. Bitter herbs are best taken as a tincture half an hour before the meal to prepare the liver. Among these are dandelion root, burdock root, milk thistle seed, and blessed thistle leaves. Bea Fields Detox extract is made with these four herbs.

   • Movement stimulates blood flow to the entire body, thus promoting digestion and the removal of toxins. Find the type of exercise that will keep you engage a couple of times a week and commit to it.

“There is a striking contrast between the way humans hold on to fear and the way animals freely let go of it. In the wild, when a tiger tries to feast on a gazelle but just misses his catch, the spared gazelle does not dwell on his near fatal experience for weeks. He does not run to all his gazelle friend and recount the story, and he doesn’t stop going to the watering hole for fear of another attack. He simply shakes his whole body, literally moving the experience through his physical form, and goes about his life”

~Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij

The hardest part is letting go of our mental and emotional baggage. How do we do that if half the time we are not aware of what we are carrying on our back? In everyday life, our stream of consciousness either dwells upon the past, particularly what was done to us and how we could have reacted better or plans for the future. Letting go of both the past and the future requires hard work. But as they say “no pain no gain.” Here are some of the ways I detox my mental being:

   • Journal: When you write your stream of consciousness with honesty you project yourself on the paper. That releases some of the pent-up energy that is associated with challenging people and experiences that are put in your way. Observing your reactions to the events of your life will teach you about yourself and the baggage that you carry. Getting to know your baggage is the first step to releasing it.

   •Meditate. Meditation does not need to take a long time or be an elaborate practice. You can attune to your breath, listen to a taped guided meditation or use a verse. The idea is that in that short period of time you take hold of your stream of thoughts and not let your emotions run the show.

   • Movement: I can not say enough about the importance of movement for our overall well being. Stress, feelings and even thought move around the body and get trapped in our muscles and joints. My best insights about problems that I was dealing with came not when I was contemplating them but when I was either walking out in nature or practicing yoga.

When my family sits around the table in Passover, we no longer read the traditional “Haggadah.” We do ask that each one of us will reflect on his or her life and think about from what they would like to free themselves. While many people make resolutions around the new year I find it too hard to make new commitments when it is cold and dark outside. Spring always brings new energy and hope. Springing into a new me is an act of faith. It takes a lot of courage to let go of old patterns and embrace true freedom.

 

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