In Ancient to Modern Times, We Yearn to Be Clean
War causes a dirty planet. So does consumption-based commerce, but toxins build up in our bodies whether we are living in a utopian paradise or the modern day world. The Chinese used herbs as far back as 2700 BC to relieve our bodies of toxins, and Indian gurus have recommended Saucha, the Sanskrit word for cleanliness, since the time of Vedic society, possibly more than 15000 years ago and at least as early as the 11th century BCE.
As a collective, we have utilized colon hydrotherapy, herbal remedies, Krichara and Chandrayana Vratas, the yogic practices of cleansing which involve fasting and other methods which were described in ancient Shastras. The use of dry-heat saunas have been used since at least the year 1112, and hot and cool baths, of the Greco-Roman era have been used since the dawn of man. Ancient Sufis, used the at-tariq (the Pathway) as a method of self-purification.
There are Japanese Shinto purification rituals and the ancient Hawaiian Kumu, specifically the Kapu Kai, who used sea water for many purifying practices, including the ritual sea bath. Baptism has been used by Jews and Christians, not only to purify the soul, but likely as a means to purify the body. “Washing away sins” really meant washing away ignorance – at least to the Gnostics.
The Aboriginal tribes in Australia have taken mud and sand baths from neck to feet, often planting themselves in the earth like a vegetable root for many hours or even days to remove toxins, and Native American Indians have used sweat lodges and herbal cleansing remedies for centuries.
The Toxins of a Modern Mayhem
“Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development…” – 1992 Rio Declaration
There is a reason our ancestors were obsessed with purifying the body, but let us divine the most pressing need to purify all seven channels of the body, now: the liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes, blood, bowels, and skin. While some argue that more than 60% of environmental toxins in the body are caused by diet and the habit of smoking cigarettes, there is no denying that our world has become carcinogenic, and toxic due to the gears of war.
There is no end to the toxins that are dumped into our environment when war begins, and even after it ends. From the 17-fold increase in birth defects in Iraq city due to coalition bombing to the nuclear fallout from events like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, war spoils the air, water, and soil. Our bodies, as well as the bodies of other living things, from plants to animals, are also compromised with toxins. During the 20th and 21st centuries, we have been bombarded by weapons applications, the destruction of oil fields, chemical spraying and military transport pollution, which has rendered our planet a veritable wasteland.
From soldiers who were exposed to the millions of gallons of Agent Orange sprayed on vegetation during the Vietnam War, to the improper storage of nuclear waste, and namely, the US and other government’s refusal to use thorium, instead of uranium to create nuclear energy (when thorium is used, the byproduct is not nuclear weapons viable) we have been exposed to untold environmental toxins.
Modern Agricultural Practices and Consumer-Based Industry Muddy the Water
Add to the equation, an interesting mix of thousands of chemical and environmental toxins from the makers of GMO corn, soy and other food crops, as well as the toxins used in every day products like shampoo and soap (ironic, isn’t it), as well as those that are created inadvertently through the processes of modern technological and mechanical processes, and there are more than enough reasons to make sure we support all seven organs of detoxification in whatever ways we can. Following is just a partial list of the toxins we need to cleanse in our bodies:
- Pesticides – The EPA (an organization which does not have a good track record for disclosing the truth about toxicity levels, so this is probably a very moderate estimation) states that at least 60 percent of herbicides, 90 percent of fungicides and 30 percent of insecticides are carcinogenic. Companies like Bayer, and Monsanto use these cancer-causing agents on our food crops every day.
- PCBs (also called polychlorinated biphenyls) – these have been used for decades, even though they are known to cause cancer. There are over 209 different types of PCBS and they cause every thing from nerve damage, to immune and hormone system depletion. One common PCB is dioxin. It is caused by industrial practices involving combustion.
- Fungal Toxins like mold (also called Mycotoxins) can cause upper respiratory stress as well as all sorts other health issues, including cancer, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.
- Phthalates, or phthalate esthers found in perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, and almost every plastic product imaginable in order to make them last longer and be more flexible (including plastic wrap and food containers) can cause radical damage to the endocrine system, and mimic hormones causing estrogen excess. Phthalates can cause women to deliver babies prematurely and inhibit proper growth in children and infants.
- Asbestos – this material was used to insulate buildings (primarily in carpets, ceiling ducts, paint, and roofing) starting in the 1950s, and was used well into the 1970s. It is still present in many buildings even though the government requested an asbestos clean up of many older structures in order to cut down on air-borne fibers that contaminate the air when asbestos becomes old and crumbly. Asbestos can cause everything from cancer to scarring of the lung tissues.
- Aluminum, Mercury, Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and other Heavy Metals are very toxic to the body. They accumulate in the tissues causing havoc in almost every single system. Heavy metal build up can impair the immune system, damage cognitive functioning and destroy the central nervous system over time. They can also cause cancer.
- VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are found in all sorts of household products, from cosmetics to deodorants, varnishes and air fresheners, but they make indoor air so toxic, it is often worse for you than the polluted air of a city street. VOCs cause ozone depletion and cause everything from headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, cognitive dissonance (memory loss) and cancer.
- Chlorine is one of the most commonly used chemical agents in modern society. It is highly toxic, however, and causes certain types of asthma, skin irritations, fluid or pain in the lungs, wheezing and narrowing of the bronchial airways, and skin irritations.
- Chloroform is formed when chlorine is added to water. It is colorless and has a slightly sweet taste, but it is toxic, nonetheless. It can cause everything from birth defects to cancer, and milder symptoms of toxicity from chloroform include fatigue, headache and dizziness. It also can cause reproductive problems and liver and kidney damage.
This is only a partial list of environmental toxins that we must expel from the body in order to experience heightened health and freedom from disease, and these are just the toxins which we ingest, in hale or consume. We have not yet even discussed metabolic toxins, which are naturally created by the body when it breaks down food into usable energy. When we become stressed, metabolic toxins become more pronounced, and our bodies have an even harder time getting rid of internally created waste as well as environmental toxins.
True health is absent of toxicity in the body, and enlightened health absolutely must begin with a purified body. This is why so many cultures focus on purifying the body, since a clean body can lead to a more focused and peaceful brain.
Bodily Cleanliness Is the First Step to Mental and Spiritual Enlightenment
Tribal elders, shaman, and gurus taught people to cure themselves from disease using bathing, fasting and other techniques, but this only became a necessity, in part, due to the living conditions of human beings on the planet when they started to become ‘civilized.’ We people began to live in close quarters, namely in cities, the trash, excrement, and waste of a human life started to cause disease. Where once, the waste products of a human life could seamlessly be dealt with by mother nature in a harmless, and even healthy manner, population density began to stress the natural environment which could normally absorb human waste with ease, and without causing disease.
People began contaminating their own drinking water by throwing their urine and feces into the streets. Having livestock and household pets in a home only exacerbated the problem. Soon, cities were not a mecca, but were instead a breeding ground for disease and even depression.
Some of the first cleansing rituals were performed as a means to purify the body from these unsavory conditions, and healers from all corners of the earth learned to heal the body by purifying it through the skin, the liver, the blood, bowels, kidneys, the lungs, and the lymph nodes.
Just eating organic food is great, but it would be like dumping crystal clear water into a cess pool, and expecting it to remain pure. We must cleanse the body of its toxic environment first, before we put too much stress on eating non GMO and organic foods, though this is an important step in overall health. Modern society has strained our bodily systems to the hilt, but fortunately there is an ancient tradition of cleansing impurities to help restore us.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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