Welcome to the Cortisol Cleanse, dear ones!
We start our journey tomorrow, the day after the full moon, and we’ll conclude at the next full moon- on the other side of the Equinox- on March 28th. By that point, I expect you’ll experience some important shifts in your connection to yourself and to the Earth, your perspectives on wellness and, most importantly, the state of your nervous system!
As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s fine if you start late or miss some days here and there, but you will only get out of this program what you put into it. Show your body and your nervous system that they’re a priority and wonderful things will happen.
If you haven't already, please select one or more herbs from each of the two categories below. Making and drinking simple infusions on a daily basis is going to be an indispensable part of our work.
If you’ve already got your herbs, then your can start making and enjoying your infusions immediately. Stick to 'simples': just one plant per infusion. The instructions are below.
I have so much more to say, but there will be plenty of time to nerd out over the next month.
I'm so excited for what's ahead. Happy full moon!
1. selecting your herbs
**A note about Reishi- this dried mushroom very woody and needs to be decocted rather than just infused. I’ll tell you how later, but for now there are 19 other plants for you to start imbibing daily to transform your nervous system (and, by extension, your immune system)!
Finding your plant allies is an intuitive process- something that seems perfect on paper might not work for you in real life. If you can, get smaller portions of several that you feel drawn to. You will need around 30 Tbsp of nervine and 30 Tbsp of adaptogen for the month- I’m afraid I have no idea how much that is in terms of ounces.
Remember- since the water is going to be coaxing out all the components of the plant, it's VERY important to go organic here. I like to get my herbs from Wild Terra (wildterra.la), here in LA or Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon (mountainroseherbs.com), but nothing compares to homegrown, if that's an option for you.
If it isn't and you don't even have a local source, then, then Amazon does have some organic suppliers who can get you what you need quickly.
2. Making an Herbal Infusion
To make a nightly infusion in a quart jar, just drop in a large, 3-finger pinch of your chosen herb, add hot water, put a lid on it and go to bed.
In the morning, you can strain the whole thing, or just strain it as you pour it into your cup throughout the day. If the taste is too strong for you, dilute it with more water. If you still don't like it, then try a different plant.
To make a giant version in a gallon jar, I use closer to a small handful of plant matter. It will keep in the fridge for a few days- when it gets cloudy or starts to smell a little funky, it has become a nourishing treat for your houseplants or garden. Nothing wasted.
See #2 above
Welp, I was just informed that my post for our final day didn’t upload. Sorry folks! That was anti-climactic.
In those days, however, I happened to make a little tool that will be part of the ongoing program when it launches in April and I’m going to share it with you all today in addition to the original post! Here ya go:
This is a chart to show you the balance of your life. Using the dots, rate your satisfaction level in each category from low (closest to the center) to high (closest to the circumference). Feel free to add/ change categories or rating levels, if you feel the need.
What do you see when you connect the dots? Is it jagged? Is your circle tiny? Let this be a diagnostic tool to show you what in your life needs special attention.
I want all of us to have full, round circles. I’m offering 1 on 1 holistic support for personalized guidance in growing or smoothing out your circle using ancient sciences like herbalism, the Ayurvedic chakra system and the Chinese Yin/Yang. Reach out to me at email@example.com for a free 30 minute discovery call.
I hope all of you have found this past month fruitful, even if it’s just shown you what you need more of in your life. I’ve really, really appreciated having so many of you follow along and share your enthusiasm. I love supporting people in making commitments to themselves.
If this program has moved you, I would be incredibly grateful for a testimonial! Just a sentence or two is plenty. If you need some inspiration, you might use one or all of these questions as a starting point: What did you learn about yourself over the course of the Cortisol Cleanse? Would you recommend this to friends and if so, why? What are you taking away from this month? What changes did you experience from this program?
Additionally, I’d truly love to hear from you if you have suggestions for how this course could be improved.
To complete our circle, please take a look at the self-assessment you did on the first day and give yourself a little hug for all you did for yourself. Remember that changing and healing are slow, steady processes, not overnight transformations. If you want to see more change, you just have to keep going. Let your body guide lead the way!
Here are those self-assessment questions so you can go another round. And I’ll be in your in-box soon with more tips and offers- including an expanded, never-ending Cortisol Cleanse- to support you on your way!
1. The symptoms of excess stress I’m currently experiencing:
2. My reasons for wanting to learn new ways of tending to my stress:
3. The self-care I currently practice and the frequency of each:
4. How I envision my less-stressed future self:
5. The changes I’d like to see this month:
6. 2-3 changes I know would benefit me:
7. 1 small change I am committing to right now.
Thank you again for joining me on this trip!
We are back to the yang energies of the full moon and tomorrow is our last day! I'm going to tweak this program so that the cycle can be followed over and over again, reducing your stress and cortisol levels with every trip around the moon. Keep an eye out for my emails when that launches later in April (I was hoping to have it ready now, but technological setups always take much longer than I expect).
Today, we're coming back to where we started with the Heaven+Earth meditation for the Yang phase. Remember the first time you did this? How has your nervous system changed since then? How much more could it change by the next full moon if you continued these patterns.
Meditate on all that you've done for yourself and I'll see you back here tomorrow!
We’ve talked about macro- and micro-stressors and now we need to talk about omni-stressors. Another term for macro-stressors could be surface stressors, while micro- and omni-stressors are both more subterranean.
Omni-stressors are so big and so common that they’re almost impossible to recognize unless you’re able to experience living without them for a while. I was fortunate to live for over a decade on a dirt road, with the moon rising in my bedroom window, bare earth for my bare feet and wild plants and animals for my spirit. I loved that land and it loved me.
Since moving into a small apartment in a well-paved neighborhood a year ago, I can confirm that living without that accessible, constant connection to Earth is tangibly destabilizing. And I think that, whether you have that connection now or have had it before or don’t feel any particular longing for that connection, you are also affected by it’s lack. I believe this simply because we’re human and humans are animals and animals need the wild. This comes back to the root chakra and its issues of belonging and deserving.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that we need comfort and ease and sterility- and we do, in moderation- but we also need dirt and wind and weeds and communication with the land that feeds, nourishes and shelters us. Pavement is hard on our spirits.
It has been scientifically verified that there are microbes in the soil that cause happiness. That’s how much the Earth wants us to interact with her- she’s built positive reinforcement right in!
So today, find a way to get your hands into or onto the Earth. Make it a prayer, show the land your gratitude, your r e v e r e n c e.
The full moon is tomorrow and that brings us full circle back to where we started- except of course, we aren't exactly the same people. We all have a better sense now of the roots of our stress and the daily steps we can take to heal. You all have learned so much in such a short time and it's been lovely to hear the effect these teachings are having in your life already.
If you want to continue this healing trajectory with personalized support, and see exactly how the Yin/Yang and Nature's rhythms can be applied to your own resilient wellness, I'm launching a one-on-one program to do exactly that. Since working 1:1 is new for me, I'm offering a discounted rate only to my mailing list. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free 30 minute discovery call and begin healing from the root up.
Now, let's look at the last of our four happiness chemicals- dopamine.
Here’s how to increase the amount of it in your life:
set achievable daily goals and celebrate accomplishing them
get plenty of protein (the amino acids are used to produce dopamine)
work up a sweat regularly
get enough sleep
make space for pleasure: self-care, music, Nature, sex, food- anything that makes your eyes roll back in your head with bliss supports dopamine.
get lots of sunlight
Are you seeing the common themes in supporting serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins and dopamine? Exercise, sleep, outdoor time and pleasure are good for several, if not all.
These are the ‘biological imperatives’ that our bodies communicate- though somehow we created a society with very different imperatives. Our bodies will show us the way to a healthier, balanced future if only we’ll listen!
In a society as chronically unwell as ours, it’s baffling that we don’t talk more about the lymphatic system. Of course, that’s probably why we’re chronically unwell: we focus on curing acute conditions rather than avoiding them.
The lymphatic system is a crucial part of resilient wellness. These vessels, ducts and nodes are woven throughout the body to identify and filter out toxins and microbes that don’t belong. Some obstacles to healthy lymph circulation are chronic illness, dehydration, sedentary lifestyles and, of course, sustained stress.
In ancient sciences, lymph support is just part of a healthy lifestyle and I suggest we follow their lead. Here are some lifestyle habits that support a healthy lymphatic system:
Warm and warming foods encourage movement and circulation- cold and raw foods slow things down. Soup is always the best food medicine.
Since lymph doesn’t have a pump to keep things moving, as your circulatory system does, it needs your movement to keep things going. Work movement into every day and take movement breaks to stretch or get your heart pumping if you’ve been immobile for an hour.
Dry-brushing before a shower is great for lymph and for skin (but avoid areas with an open wound or with any acute skin conditions). I could describe the steps, but it might be clearer for you to find a video on YouTube. You can follow your dry-brushing with a vigorous warm oil self-massage all over your skin before getting into the shower for even more benefit . With both dry brushing and oil massage, the movement should be in the same direction as lymph flow- from the extremities toward the heart.
Stay hydrated, but stick to room temp or warm liquids.
The movement of the rib cage when breathing also stimulates lymph movement- breathe slowly and deeply.
Incorporate as many of these into your routine as you can to support your lymph and (by extension) immune systems and mitigate the effects of stress.
Heel drops are another incredibly simple, easy to incorporate exercise. They settle your Qi (life force; pronounced ‘chi’) and can complement your Qi Gong practice, help to further settle your nervous system after shaking (see yesterday), or be used on their own at intervals throughout the day. Some say this is also an effective way to reduce the effects of aging!
They can be done just about anywhere- you just need to be able to stand and be barefoot. Here’s the process:
Stand with feet about hip width apart for balance and call your energy back to your body. Center yourself.
Hold your body straight, but not rigidly.
Rise up on the balls of your feet.
Let gravity pull you down solidly on the balls of your feet. Feel the shake reverberate through your body.
Repeat 10 times and try to do several sets throughout the day.
Stress is supposed to go hand-in-hand with movement. That’s the natural order and the way it’s been for 99.99% of human history. You’re low on food or firewood so adrenaline and cortisol fire you up to go out and find what you need. You’re being chased or attacked, so your body amps up to run faster or fight harder.
It’s only in our modern age that stress has been combined with both 1. the physical constriction of emotional repression (we tighten our whole bodies to keep our feelings from leaking out) and 2. the sedentary habits of ‘comfortable’ lifestyles (at least our ancestors of the past 1,000 years had steady and diverse movement to temper their emotional repression).
Exercise can feel euphoric because we are releasing endorphins AND burning cortisol, but I think it also has to do simply with providing some of the movement our bodies are expecting to balance out all the stress. If we’re supposed to have a 1:1 ratio of stress to movement (that’s a guesstimate- I’m not sure how you’d even quantify that scientifically), but our current ratios are more like 10:1, then it’s going to feel amazing when we finally get that release!
One way we can keep this stress-movement imbalance in check between workouts is by shaking. This is actually something that animals who have a freeze response do to regulate after the danger has passed- they shake it out- and once you make this a habit it will feel natural and intuitive to you too.
There’s not much to describe: just shake! I start with my shoulders and knees or hips, but I imagine the cortisol running down my limbs and then shooting out of my hands and feet as the shaking gets to them. In some philosophies, they say that we store old memories in our legs and feet and this has always felt true to me.
At any rate, since I’ve started shaking I usually feel the need to do it at least a couple times a week. It’s too simple to not fold into your low-cortisol lifestyle!
kay, time for our 3rd of 4 happy chemicals- endorphins! (Dopamine next)
Prioritize these pleasure to promote more endorphins in your body:
moderate exercise for 30+ minutes, ideally in a group
enjoying a bit of wine or chocolate
aromatherapy- enjoy any scents that make you giddy
nourishing touch: massage or sex
sunshine and fresh air
laughing with others