Maybe it’s shopping for champagne and indulging on butter-rich hors d’oeuvres that makes everyone start talking about cleanses this time of year.

In the past, I’d be doing the same: Looking up cocktail recipes one day while searching for purging herbs the other. Not this year.

It’s not that I’m forgoing the cleanse altogether, just that I’m giving it a makeover. This year, instead of focusing on detoxifying my body, I’m going to work on making room for goodness in my mind, my life, and my relationships.

The Psychological Detox

I’ve called my plan the CREAM cleanse—not only because that’s the acronym, but also because it represents rising to the top. And that’s just what I hope to do this year: To be even healthier and happier by continuously and gently cleansing my emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Here’s my 5-step plan:

Capitulate. To capitulate is to surrender. During a week-long detoxification retreat I attended several years ago at the Deepak Chopra Center in Carlsbad, Calif., I was taught the art of capitulation. The idea is that at the end of the day before you go to sleep, you recall your activities, the people you interacted with, and how you felt. It’s supposed to be a fairly quick process—the philosophy being that when you capitulate, you are better able to let go of anything negative that may have happened and pause to celebrate the good things. You can then surrender into the night with the vision of starting fresh in the morning. The act of surrender can be very cleansing.

Remediate. This concept comes from my good friend and coauthor Dr. Lise Alschuler and is a part of the Rejuvenation section of our Five to Thrive Plan. To remediate is to make right, correct, or remedy a situation or relationship. Remediation works best when it is combined with authenticity, compassion, and kindness toward yourself and others. You can remediate small things like the number of hours you work each day or big things like confronting a loved one or friend. You can remediate monthly, daily, or in any moment it is needed. The process of remediation can be very cleansing if you are clearing out toxic feelings, actions, and even relationships.

Exuberate. Lise’s favorite way of describing her late, beloved father is to say that he lived his life exuberantly. To exuberate is to express great joy. There is nothing more cleansing to one’s mind, body, and spirit than the feeling of joy. In her wonderful book Awakening Loving Kindness, Pema Chödrön writes, “Joy is like a soft spring rain that allows us to lighten up, to enjoy ourselves, and therefore it’s a whole new way of looking at suffering.” Joy can also be a whole new way of looking at cleansing our soul and nurturing our spirit.

Affirm. I enjoy this action the most. My good friend and best-selling author Dr. Michael Murray explains that affirmations are statements that can make an imprint on the subconscious mind to create a healthy positive self-image. He suggests making these statements using present tense while imagining yourself really experiencing what you are affirming. To transform negative thoughts and words into positive statements can be truly cleansing. Anytime we can enhance our self-image, we are renewing our spirit and opening our hearts to experiencing more joy and happiness.

Meditate. This action may conjure images of crossing the legs, shutting the eyes, and chanting “om.” While this is a great way for some people to meditate, it certainly isn’t the only way. In Buddhist tradition, to meditate is to empty the mind. Meditation is a form a prayer and reflection. Because of this, it is extremely individualized and can be performed in many different ways. Taking a few deep breaths after a stressful meeting can be a form of meditation. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed the many health-promoting benefits of meditation, both emotionally and physically. Meditation can be a great way to cleanse the mind while quieting the spirit.

The main takeaway this year is to realize that cleansing does not have equal deprivation. Rather than thinking of it as ridding yourself of something negative, you can think of it as clearing space to make room for the positive. This type of daily cleanse can be an integral part of any health and healing program.

Added bonus? It comes without the caffeine-withdrawal headache I had come to dread as part of my annual cleanse!

About the Author

Karolyn A. Gazella

Karolyn A. Gazella, a natural health writer since 1992, is the publisher of Natural Medicine Journal and co-author of Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan.

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