Girl by River, Ukiyo-e
This winter felt like two winters. Even those of us with fast paced lives across which the weeks and seasons flicker noticed it. On the little mountain where I live the repetitive loop was a patience test--the snow would come down thick and then a few days later begin to melt and flow in streams of cold liquid. Then again. And again. Sometimes five minutes further down toward sea level, there was no snow at all. And I thought--what am I doing living all the way up here?
Perhaps it took a very long Kapha season (the heavy, wet, cold, melty period after Fall and early Winter) for me to be able to engage it. To make the most of the season I have been addressing my lymphatic system, undertaking gentle detoxification, and drawing hot baths; the reward could be a general reset to enhance health the rest of the year. Maybe it isn't for everyone, but here's what I've been doing to make the most of this season suitable for cleansing, and it has been so enjoyable--another way to feel full of life and look after the skin. The baths also support the liver and kidneys by helping to release toxins that are being pushed out through the skin.
1) I am dry brushing my body every day. Before my evening shower, upward strokes towards the heart--sometimes it feels a little uncomfortable, but no matter. This followed by a shower, followed by...
2) A very warm or hot bath, using 1lb of epsom salt or 1lb of sea salt with 1lb of baking soda. OR...2-3 cups of organic apple cider vinegar. Then 20 minutes of soaking to build up a big sweat. Depending on what I add to the bath, the quality of the water changes. When I use sea salt I love floating my whole body on the points of my elbows and heels. I also like to wear a clay and yogurt cleanser as a mask in the bath. It feels like I'm wearing soft perfection and the cleanser is well suited to the absorbing whatever toxins I release through my facial skin.
**I never used to do this because I thought I didn't have time. However whenever I have felt stress I've always dreamed of relaxing in therapeutic hot springs all over the world and thought: one day, that is what I will do. But now that I am doing it, I feel as if I'm always already arriving at the height of luxury. Less than a month of this practice has altered my anxiety level profoundly and given me a subtly different relationship to time. I'm still astounded that a mere bath that was always in reach has turned out to be so significant. (In the absence of a bath, a foot soak is the next best thing.)
3) A tepid rinse and a tall glass of cool water to drink. **Please remember to drink water. One evening I was so tired that I skipped it; I was slightly dehydrated and had a restless sleep filled with nightmares.
During the Day
1) 2-3 liters of water spiked with milk thistle and my standard gotu kola.
2) Warm, cooked foods with ghee, lots of nutmeg, turmeric, ginger, & cinnamon.
So, we'll see how this goes, and how the rest of the season plays out. So far it is win win, my skin is silkier and my mood is far lighter.