Spring Spiritual Detox and Lenten Practices

For years, I’ve been doing seasonal detoxes, and spring might be one of my favorites. The very first detox I ever followed was while I was taking a course in Weight Management for my Holistic Nutrition degree. When I got to the section on detox, I realized that I could actually study detox and follow one at the same time.

I also recognized that the perfect chance to do so was coming up. I was going to have the house to myself for a full week while my family was away, so I hurriedly gathered up the foods I needed and then devoted that week to following and studying the detox laid out in one of my textbooks.

I also felt that it was a fantastic opportunity to spend more time with God, so I pulled out some devotionals and a Bible. I bought relaxing bath salts, set up a massage, and turned all of my attention to myself that week–not just for pampering, but also for deep soul-searching. It’s not often that I can do that, and I had to seize the moment. It was the most amazing detox period I’ve ever had!

Now, years later as I write this post, I realize that I have the house to myself for a few days. I think I’ll take a short break and do a mini-detox. I’m planning to make miso soup for dinner. I bought unsweetened cranberry juice, a few detox-friendly vegetables, and I pulled out one of my favorite Lenten devotionals, A Clearing Season, by Susan Parsons (available on Amazon). What was looking like a gloomy and lonely day is now appearing to be delightful, with plans to soak in the tub with lavender bath salts while reading and relaxing.

When I decided to develop my own version of a detox, based on elements I had learned from my class and my experience detoxing, I chose to emphasize the importance of a holistic approach with each season, but especially during the spring which coincides with the Christian practice of Lent. Although I no longer hold group detoxes, I do help my clients with seasonal detoxes if they’re interested. Spring is one of the most popular times, if not THE most popular, for detoxing.

Detox is most often used to help with weight loss, and it’s a great tool for that. However, it can be so much more. If you’re able, carve out a little more daily quiet time than normal to detox your spirit. That might be 2 hours, 30 minutes, or 5 minutes. You may have your own plans for spiritual detox, but here’s what I like to do. You can start with step 1 the first day, then add step 2 the second day, and so on, or jump in and do them all right off the get-go!

  1. Sit quietly for 1 to 5 minutes to practice deep breathing. Inhale to a count of 5, hold your breath for 5, then exhale for 5. Make sure your diaphragm pushes your tummy out and in rather than lifting your shoulders. You want to have deep breaths that fill the lungs all the way to the bottom parts, not the shallow breaths associated with lifting and lowering the shoulders. This is how I teach deep breathing in my PraiseMoves classes (see my class details).
  2. Once you master deep breathing, you can add a scripture or other affirmation. For example, inhale and say to yourself, “This is the day the Lord has made,” then exhale and say, “I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
  3. If desired, continue deep breathing as you quietly speak (or murmur) the words of your chosen scripture or affirmation once or as many times as you want. This is a form of Christian meditation. In Hebrew, “haghah” is “to meditate” or “to murmur; to mutter; to sigh.”
  4. Read a scripture or devotional, then sit and contemplate what you’ve read as you breathe deeply. There are many wonderful Lenten devotionals online and probably at your church. Or, compile a list of your favorite verses. One of my favorite readings for Lent is from Isaiah 58:3-9 (see text below). I could read that one over and over every day of a detox or Lent. As you contemplate your readings, ask God to help you listen to his direction and then act!

You can build up your quiet time, starting with 5 minutes and going up to whatever works for you. As you work through these 4 steps, you might discover that the time goes by much more quickly than you thought. And somehow, God will structure your day in such a way that you still manage to get everything done.

Isaiah 58:3-9 New International Version (NIV)

‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

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