Devon Barrow


February 24, 2023

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February 24, 2023

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Humans are multidimensional beings, but in the grind of daily life, that’s easy to forget. We are more than a body and more than a mind, so we also have a spirit that calls for just as much attention and care. We shower to cleanse our bodies, book a therapist to cleanse our minds—but how do we cleanse our spirits, and what does that actually mean?


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What is spiritual cleansing? 

According to Yashoda Devi Ma, an expert in Vedic meditation and Himalayan yogic practices, spiritual cleansing encompasses, “Rituals, practices, and actions performed to create harmony and connection between mind, body, soul and spirit.” She classifies a spiritual cleanse as anything that causes purification or removal of anything toxic.

And in spiritual context, toxicity is a much broader term. “What we observe we become,” says Yashoda Devi Ma. “If our attention is always absorbed in stress, negativity, loss, drama, gossip, lack, comparison, competition, past, future, or ego, then our energy becomes low and weighs us down mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.” From her perspective, if we don’t do our daily spiritual practices, energy can become stuck, stagnate, or absorb whatever our attention dwells in, affecting our entire life.

Naturopathic doctor, nurse practitioner, and Reiki master Erica Matluck sees spiritual cleansing in a similar light: “I define ‘spiritual cleansing’ as an intentional cleansing of the energetic field,” she explains, adding, “Just as the organs of detoxification (such as the liver and the lymphatic system) work around the clock to cleanse the physical body, the spirit is always moving energy.”

And sometimes, when our energy grows old and stagnant or we take on the energy of others, it creates undesirable behaviors and patterns, according to Matluck. That’s where a spiritual cleanse comes in—so how do we do it? 

14 spiritual cleansing methods and rituals:

According to Yashoda Devi Ma, meditation is the most effective way to spiritually cleanse, as it purifies our physical body, mind, and energy (prana), and helps clear out negativity, imbalances, and toxicity. “Meditation uplifts our mind/body system, enhances and relaxes our brain, regulates our nervous system, boosts our immune system, enhances our life force, and connects us to our soul, essence, and blissful nature,” she says.


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Whether it’s with crystal bowls, tuning forks, gongs, or any other sound healing instrument—this method cleanses through frequency. According to sound therapy practitioner, Nate Martinez, “By using rhythm and frequency, we can entrain our brainwaves.” Entrainment is the phenomenon whereby sound provides a stable frequency for our brain waves to attach to.

“It then becomes possible to down-shift our normal beta state1 (normal waking consciousness) to alpha (relaxed consciousness), and even reach theta (meditative state) and delta (sleep; where internal healing can occur),” says Martinez.

Crystal expert Heather Askinosie reminds us that “crystals come from the earth, so when we work with them, they can connect us to the planet’s healing and grounding energy.” And some crystals are better suited for cleansing than others: 

  • Selenite:Selenite crystals are thought to absorb negative energy and they are commonly used for protection,” according to Askinosie.
  • Smoky quartz: This stone is known for its cleansing properties of electromagnetic and negative energy. Askinosie suggests meditating with smoky quartz to help identify and release stale stories and beliefs.
  • Lepidolite: For those who need extra help cleansing their mind of cyclical and negative thoughts, lepidolite is the go-to gem.

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A spiritual cleansing bath can help us purify on both physical and subtle levels. A healing soak soothes sore muscles by relieving lactic acid, but also sets an overarching tone of deep relaxation. “I find epsom salt with different aromatherapies to be relaxing for our nervous system and calming for the mind,” shares Yashoda Devi Ma.

And if you want to further elevate your bath ritual, “Ayurveda has many types of cleansing baths with different herbs to help detoxify our system depending on our doshas—which can be very balancing,” she adds.

Mantras have been used for thousands of years to overcome obstacles and expand consciousness. Research2 shows that traditional mantras (those made of sacred sounds and/or Sanskrit) have a positive impact on mental and emotional well-being, which we can harness through practices like Vedic meditation (or japa).

Our modern understanding of mantras is more accurately a practice of positive affirmations, which help train our thoughts in a more positive direction. Try adopting any of the following affirmations as a regular cleansing ritual:

  • I cleanse my spirit of all negativity.
  • I release all energies that do not serve the greater good.
  • I live in harmony of mind, body, and spirit.


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Yoga poses (asana) were created to cleanse and purify the body, mind, and energy in preparation for meditation. This practice creates internal heat through breath and postures, like a metaphorical fire burning through what no longer serves us. Plus, excess negative energy often stores as tension in the body (hello, half pigeon). Yoga poses are an opportunity to release tension and the congested energy at its root.


Spiritual cleansing prayer

Cleansing prayer can be very powerful for the soul,” says Yashoda Devi Ma. To her, prayer is something that comes from the purity of the heart, or sacred sounds of creative intelligence that encourage evolution (read: mantra). “[Cleansing prayer] helps develop one’s mental power and strength, eases us of stress, and has the potential to take us to higher states of consciousness. It is a beautiful way to connect to the divine/sacred,” she explains.


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Working with essential oils helps us shift into a more positive energetic frequency by kindling a calm and relaxed state via our olfactory system. “The connection between scent and emotion is lightning-fast, which is why aromatherapy can be such a powerful tool,” says natural skin care expert and founder of Osmia, Sarah Villafranco, M.D.

For cleansing purposes, you can work with lavender and Roman chamomile to create a calm state. And for spiritual purposes? Sandalwood has been used for centuries in spiritual ceremonies and meditation. 

Whether it’s the Mayan rituals of temazcal still practiced in Mexico and Central America, or the smoke sauna traditional to Finland, humans spanning cultures and timelines seem to agree on the cleansing properties of sweat. Studies have even found heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and mercury in our sweat, which implicate its detoxifying nature. But stepping out of the sauna, we don’t just feel physically lighter—we feel mentally, emotionally, and spiritually reinvigorated too.


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Spiritual cleansing with sage

Sage might be the most well-known sacred smoke, but Yashoda Devi Ma shares that copal and sandalwood also have a deeply purifying effect on us and the environment. “Most cultures that use sacred smoke are preparing and setting the tone of the environment for a meditative, deep, relaxed experience,” she tells mindbodygreen, adding, “These sacred smokes purify, clear, and uplift the energy within our mind/body and our space.”

Both Yashoda Devi Ma and Matluck point to breathwork as one of the most potent forms of spiritual cleansing. “Conscious breathing strengthens the connection between our body and mind,” Yashoda Devi Ma explains, adding, “It stabilizes the mind, relaxes the brain, creates brain coherence, and supports multiple aspects of physical health—including lung function, blood pressure and brain function.”

Spending time in nature is one of the most powerful and accessible forms of spiritual cleansing. “Going into nature connects us to our soul and the oneness of everything around us,” Yashoda Devi Ma notes. “Forest bathing is a simple method of allowing ourselves to be calm and quiet, to connect to the trees, listen to the birds, and observe nature while consciously breathing deeply. It’s an easy way to destress and enhance our wellbeing,” she adds.

As Matluck says, “Different cultures and traditions prefer different [cleansing] techniques for various reasons.” A leading example is Ayurveda, one of the oldest traditional systems of medicines, founded in India. Ayurveda (or, the science of life) offers an entire system of cleansing, with common techniques including: 

  • Seasonal Ayurvedic cleanse: Ayurveda considers the transitions between seasons an optimal time to cleanse the physical, mental, and emotional toxicities we have taken on.
  • Abhyanga self-massage: This massage technique entails rubbing the entire body, head to toe, with a specific oil to improve circulation, cultivate self-love, and balance energy.
  • Panchakarma: A longer-term, intensive treatment program designed to cleanse and purify the body, mind, and consciousness, according to Ayurvedic principles.

Journaling is associated with decreased mental distress and increased well-being3, with research4 finding that when we put our feelings into words, we activate the part of our brain that processes emotions. Just by putting pen to paper, we allow emotional energy to move through us more effectively. It doesn’t matter whether your journal is full of confessions, poems, or scribbles—it’s the practice that makes it powerful. 

5 signs you’re in need of a spiritual cleanse.

How do you know when you’re due for a spiritual cleanse? Because spiritual cleansing is energetic work, you can probably feel it. But if any of these signs are ringing true, it’s time to push the spiritual reset button:

  1. You feel weighed down and exhausted, no matter how much rest you get.
  2. You’re subject to emotional extremes—from numbness to oversensitivity.
  3. You’re stuck in a cycle of negativity—both seeking it out and creating it.
  4. You’ve strayed from your spiritual practices and personal growth work.
  5. You feel like life is happening to you, instead of for you.


What does spiritual cleansing mean?

Spiritual cleansing means engaging in the rituals and practices that remove toxicity and impurities from your energetic field. Humans are energetic beings, and over time we can take on energy that is negative or doesn’t belong to us. Spiritual cleansing is a way to remove that energy, leaving us feeling lighter and more alive.

What is a spiritual bath?

There are many different ways to do a spiritual bath. What makes a bath “spiritual” is the intention we bring to the ritual. Spiritual bathing is cleansing our physical body with the intention of releasing the toxicity and energetic blockages that are holding us back.

What is sage used for in spiritual cleansing?

Using sage for spiritual cleansing is more formally known as smudging. Sage is a space clearer, and has a purifying effect on our body and the environment. Using sage to this effect is a ritual native to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and should be practiced with reverence and care.

The takeaway.

As we navigate this world and this lifetime, we can do our best to keep our energy clean and our spirit light, but taking on negative energy is just as much a part of the human experience. In fact, the things that hold us back are often catalysts for greater growth.

When you know it’s time to let go of limiting obstacles, patterns, and beliefs, a spiritual cleanse can be your spark. As Yashoda Devi Ma says, spiritual cleanses should uplift us and create wholeness—and who couldn’t use more of that?