“Cleansing” and “fasting” are popular health words these days. Teas, juices and various additives are increasingly being touted as a way to purify our bodies of toxins and impurities.
And, even though results of new studies are impelling researchers to debunk these methods, for many of us, the search for purity is commanding a good deal of our money, time and attention. Looking for guidance, we are fed promises of a happier, better self by uber-slim Hollywood movie stars who promote their own brands of purification products, along with a food industry that capitalizes on this trend by frequently using the word ‘pure’ in its advertising.
Taking it a step further, some travel abroad to special retreats and clinics for cleanses that offer mysterious and exotic sounding promises – and drugs – for a total purge and better health. It’s expensive; and, it can be dangerous.
But why are so many drawn to these expensive treatments? It can’t be only about a sales pitch. I asked a friend, Sarah Steele, a doula. In her experience – where her circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are mostly women – she’s come to the conclusion that it is usually about control. Many women, she says, are seeking better control over their bodies – whether for weight loss, or for more complicated reasons.
I understand this after watching the experience of a family friend many years ago who began to take fruit cleanses. Within a short time, she became increasingly obsessed with the practice. It eventually took over her life, and with tragic consequences. After thinking about her short life, I wondered if her sad and abusive childhood led her to believe she had lost her innocence and purity. Her cleansing obsession may have been her way of trying to regain control of her life and regain her purity and innocence.
But no amount of food or drink cleanses can deal with the root of a problem which really rests in how we see ourselves.
This desire to find a more stable, pure sense of who we are is not new. The life of Mary Baker Eddy stands out as an example of a woman, who, having experienced heartbreak, humiliation, ill-health, desertion and the indignity of homelessness, came to a different view of herself, and reversed her circumstances. She investigated all the popular health cures of her era, including diets and fasts. No system met her need, but she did not give up, either for herself or for humanity. She knew that everyone needs to feel a new, purer, more spiritual freedom from oppression and heartache.
What she finally discovered, through her Bible study, was that her wholeness and purity were permanently linked to her relationship with the Divine, and had actually always been there – within her. She wrote that “Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy.”
That kingdom, according to Jesus, is within all of us. If we think of that kingdom as the realm of the Divine, then the control we are seeking over our lives is found in this relationship with God. This knowledge not only restores our lost sense of but re-establishes our innate purity. This gives us spiritual self-confidence that is not influenced by past events or human relationships.
Maya Angelou, the indomitable American poet and writer, also had a challenging and difficult early life. Yet she understood the importance of accepting her innate spiritual nature in a way that deeply influenced her life. She saw herself as a child of God. She said “Listen to yourself, and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
When we can hear the voice of God, we find our innate purity. Then, the only thing we need to purge is anything that tempts us to believe we are less than a child of the Divine.