Letting Go of Mental Pollutants
Hugh Prather


Cleansing the body of toxins and releasing the muscle of tension are familiar procedures in holistic medicine.  The need for physical purification is so obvious that, as a concept, it has become a dominant goal in self-treatment practices and within conventional medicine as well.

For example, many brand-name vitamins and nutritional supplements found in chain drugstores now are advertised as purifying and cleansing agents.  Within alternative healing circles, numerous cleansing procedures such as fasting, high-fiber and raw-food diets, enemas and high colonics, saltwater baths, and numerous "therapies" such as heat, breath, Vitamin C, and water are recommended and trusted.  Within the body-mind-spirit movement, everything from exorcisms to the burning of sage is used to cleanse rooms, residences, and buildings of their negative forces.

In the mornings, we shower and brush our teeth.  During the day we wash our hands after each visit to the restroom.  We use special antibacterial products to cleanse "kitchen surfaces."  Our laundry detergents include disinfectants.  Our dishwashers super-heat the water.  Many homes and even some cars now have air filtering systems.  Tap water is out and purified water is in.  A growing number of people carry liquid "hand sanitizers" to cleanse their hands of germs after coming out of a store or restaurant.

It's curious that we are so preoccupied with cleansing our bodies and environment of everything that can harm our health, beauty, and energy, yet we feel no real need to cleanse our minds of what can sour our attitudes, block our intuition, tear apart our relationships, and undermine the very aim and purpose of our lives.

Yet what do those who are physically pristine gain if within their sparkling habitats they live in a downward spiral of darkness and misery?  What difference does it make if a body is always scrubbed, detoxified, and all its surfaces germ-free if no living thing the body encounters is comforted?

In our houses of worship, we pay lip service to the truth that our bodies are mortal but our internal spirit is everlasting.  We sing hymns and listen to words that denounce the outward and corruptible and praise the inner and eternal.  We even say that time will end and the world will pass away but that "within us" is the kingdom of heaven.

Yet in daily life, we obviously are not concerned in the least about what is within.  All we care about is getting the outside clean.  Each day we walk forth with clean clothes, clean hair, clean teeth, but with a mind stuffed with worthless anxieties, dull resentments, stale outlooks, toxic prejudices, and an endless array of shabby self-images.  We haven't even bothered to sweep out the mental junk we picked up yesterday, not to speak of the debris we have been hauling around for a lifetime.

Our mind is not some little unencumbered spirit free to traverse whatever airy realm it chooses.  But we would like to believe it is.  We see movies and read books about fantastic fantasies and unfettered thoughts.  We talk to children about the "power of the imagination."  We attend seminars that tell us our minds have immense reserves of untapped capacity.  All in all, we have done a superb job of kidding ourselves that in our roomy "attic" all is useful, worth keeping, and in good repair.  But if we observe our minds closely for just one hour, we see that instead of a boundless chamber of magic and wonder, our minds are more like stuffed and stodgy refrigerators that emit peculiar odors.  Pick any shelf and just one brief expedition reveals items in the back so old we don't even remember acquiring them.

Nor have these containers of leftover and ancient jars of condiments been sitting quietly in the corners where they were pushed.  They are now so thick with mold and mildew that they have taken on lives of their own.  Indeed, the back recesses of our refrigerator mind are in revolt and have set up sour and stinky kingdoms of their own.  It's so scary a sight that our impulse is to shove all the front-line items quickly back in place so that now sunny orange juice, freshly packed mangoes, and organic celery once again appear to be all that's in there.

It's not a small task to clean out our overstuffed minds.  It takes a little time and courage, and we have to brace ourselves for some unpleasant discoveries.  But when the shelves are once again clean and orderly, when only fresh edibles and true nourishment are on the horizon, and when soft aromas fill the air, we will know we have made a very small sacrifice for such bounty.

In this little book on mental cleansing, Prather uses personal stories as well as step-by-step exercises to help readers understand the rewards and the process of letting go. For example, in the section on letting go of guilt and hurtful actions, Prather suggests that for at least one day readers "rise from sleep and make your purpose only this: 'I will go through this day harmlessly. I will hurt no one in my thoughts or in my actions, including myself.'" Prather includes numerous similar kinds of assignments in all of his chapters, including how to let go of..."Mental Pollutants," "Misery," "Prediction and Control," and "Spiritual Specialness."


A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but
otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.

Paul Dudley White


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