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Time to detox the mind, the body and the soul

| | in Agenda
Time to detox the mind, the body and the soul

As more and more people get infected with toxic qualities, mental detoxification, every day or may be every week, is the ideal way to cleanse the body and mind... even the soul

Detoxification is defined as the removal of toxic substances — poisons — or toxic qualities. Most people have heard of it in medical terms as ‘detox’, the process that a drug or alcohol-dependent person undergoes by abstaining from drink or drugs until the body is free of toxins. People use different methods to remove toxins from the body. While some people whip up cleansing concoctions of seaweed, broccoli and other beneficial foods and consume these to cleanse the body; others make use of saunas to sweat out toxins, or fast for days to clear their systems. But there is another part of humans that needs to detox now and then — our minds.

We live in an increasingly busy world that is full of distractions and stimuli. Our cell phones, laptops, tablets and other devices bleep, blip and vibrate constantly. Our mail is now mainly electronic; we are bombarded with links, ads, notifications and sounds as we read a single message. Television has become a barrage of noise, sounds and images — news channels run banners with the latest headlines even as we’re hearing and viewing images of current news stories.

And that’s just the electronica bombarding us day and night. In addition, most people live in urban areas and noisy places, where car engines, whirring of heat or AC, the clank of elevators, the drone of household appliances and the hum of the copy machine at work creates more noise and distractions.

It’s exhausting. Our minds are overwhelmed, our stress levels rise and every day we get up and face the same flood of stimuli. So, what’s a person to do? Practice brain detoxification, every day if possible, or at least several times every week.

Meditation is to our brains what a good cleanse is to the body. Finding a quiet place away from electronic devices helps us reconnect with our brains and body to find out how we’re really doing. Using a candle or another silent focal point helps the mind to quiet down and have a rest. By not responding to a stimulus, the mind rests and is allowed to wander, a sort of play time for the brain. It also allows us to focus on aggravations and problems and conflicts that we haven’t really spent time on — toxins to the brain — so we can find solutions or just let them go.

Another good brain detox strategy is to travel to a new place. This might mean going on a vacation to experience a new culture or just taking a different route when you take the dog out for a stroll or when one is on the way home from work. Seeing new people and places gets the brain out of the rut of repetition, another potential toxin. Another strategy to break monotony is to rearrange furniture at home that can provide the mind a domestic perspective.

Turn off all electronica and get a pad of paper and a pen and write. Don’t try to write anything specific; just doodle or write down whatever thoughts come into your head, no matter how strange they seem. Not having a purpose or goal is a good thing and allows your brain to play and relax. Another thing you can do is to write down things or people that make you angry; just let go and write it all down; then take a look and think about what you can change, what doesn’t matter and what you can let go.

Focus on the little things. Just look out of the window for a while or sit on a park bench without doing anything else. Close your eyes and listen to your heart beat and feel your body’s energy.

Any of these simple habits can help your mind unwind and detox. Be sure that you do all of the above with all electronic devices off. Although we need to be connected for work and family reasons, find a time every day or at least several times every week to turn off all devices for a specific amount of time (the longer, the better) and do something you enjoy, like reading or coloring (there are adult coloring books now, after all) or write a journal.

Remember, the key to a healthy life is a healthy mind. Give your brain a break and detox your mind as often as possible. The rewards will be great.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many war veterans in my private practice. When they returned from battle, they thought that they were okay because they had survived, and that the events were now behind them. When they were in combat, their minds were in ‘war mode’, they fought and did what they needed. Now that they were home, all of a sudden they’d break down. It was a sign that it was time to heal, unless they turned to addictions to shut off the feelings that surfaced.

However, sometimes, the best way to get out of a rut is by committing to a deep brain detox to recharge your innovation battery.

I just got back from a lovely beach in sunny Thailand, the land of smiles, where I underwent such a detox. It was a four-week getaway, just as they do in Europe. Two weeks in paradise is nowhere near enough time to renew yourself at your core. Western Europeans have learned how to adjust their work schedules to mitigate the impact of four week vacations — half the company takes off July, the other half August.

Anyway, I spent a week undergoing a traditional detox, during which I fasted, resulting in me dropping a dozen pounds and flushing out toxins. I felt much lighter afterward, and my energy level increased. I was told that the boost was due to my now being able to extract energy from food more efficiently. Afterwards, I spent two weeks traveling with a dozen friends who joined me, all likeminded in our pursuit of renewal. We not only visited Wats and other Buddhist temples, but lit Chinese lanterns for our New Year’s wishes, rode elephants and handled snakes. We partied into a night life paradise so wild and robust that it puts Las Vegas to shame.

Most important were the quiet moments: The two-hour Thai massages (accepted with gratitude and a deep bow), swimming in the ocean and drying off in the sun like a lazy cat, and enjoying delicious but simple dinners of barbecued fish made in local fashion.


In the muggy heat on a remote South Thailand island, I finally found the time to read a cheap novel — a satisfying murder mystery that had languished at my bedside for over two years. I finally found the time to relearn the tai chi set I’d mastered and forgotten; it all came back to me like an amnesiac’s memory recovered. After my friends, who could only stay two weeks departed, I spent my last week in a beach hut on a remote island, blissfully alone and with absolutely nothing to do.

And then something wonderful occurred — my brain finally reset; it was as if the brain finally kicked in and began to process the detox and cleanse itself, like the rest of my body had been doing. I suddenly found myself letting go of worries and patterns of thinking, and experienced renewed creative energy, enough to pull out the laptop and in a single day, finish revising some creative writing that had been nagging me for over a year. After this, a flood of fresh new ideas magically emerged that improved a major patent my company was filing, requiring a last minute rewrite of the application with some new thinking.

And now that I’m home, I can look at what used to be persistent problems with a new perspective — generating new solutions that weren’t obvious when immersed in the soup of ‘same same’.

The sad reality is that life in America, especially the high-tech world, is profoundly exhausting. The daily grind of meetings and bureaucratic overhead is enough to slow anyone down. A friend, who is a health professional, tells me that many of his clients suffer from a myriad of illnesses that are rooted in one cause — high-tech overload and overwork. As a result of this vicious cycle of burn out and catch up, few of us ever find the time to indulge in a truly effective vacation — one that renews, revitalizes and re-creates you — a true mental cleansing to accompany the physical one. Plus, it takes courage to detach yourself from the phone, laptop and iPad.

(The writer is Chief Executive Officer, Sovreign Health)




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