What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you reach for your phone and start checking the ever-important updates in your social media feeds that you missed during your sleep? Do you start thinking about all of the tasks you need to complete that day? For most of us, if we are being honest with ourselves, the answer is probably yes. But what if we made a commitment to spend the first few moments after we open our eyes to doing something beneficial for the body, mind, and soul?
Believe it or not, every morning (well, almost every morning) for the past 3 years, the minute my alarm clock goes off, I roll over and grab a jar of coconut oil on my dresser and practice oil pulling. So, what even is oil pulling? It’s the practice of swishing a teaspoon or two of coconut oil around your mouth for 10-20 minutes. For me, this started out as a health practice (I’ll discuss the health benefits below), but it has also become a meaningful, daily ritual and meditative practice.
How To Oil Pull
The best way to do this practice is first thing in the morning, prior to brushing your teeth, eating, or drinking. Why do it first thing? Overnight we gather a substantial amount of bacteria and other toxins in our mouths, and the oil binds to these toxins and removes them from the body.
First, put the coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for as long as you can. The ideal amount of time is 10-20 minutes, but if you are just starting out try doing 5 minutes and then working your way up once you get more comfortable with this practice. If you have never done this before, you might be thinking “I can’t swish something around in my mouth for that long!” or “Won’t I get bored during this time?” Hold those thoughts— this is where the spiritual aspect of oil pulling comes in.
Once you are done with the oil pulling, it is definitely advised to spit the oil in the trashcan and not down the sink drain– coconut oil may be good for your internal pipes but isn’t the best for your plumbing pipes, if you know what I mean.
Finally, and most importantly: DO NOT SWALLOW THE OIL! All of the toxins will be reabsorbed into your body, and it’s just plain nasty.
How To Make Oil Pulling a Spiritual Practice
As I mentioned, I have turned my daily health ritual into a meaningful and mindful practice. I very easily could be on my phone checking emails, Facebook, or Instagram to “pass the time” while oil pulling, but instead I use these 20 minutes to set my intentions for the day and to think about all that I am grateful for.
I typically focus on my breath and practice breathing deeply, usually placing one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly to really help me connect with my breath.
Once I engage this present-moment awareness, I become attentive to all of the sensations that are occurring: the feeling of the oil swishing around my mouth, and the accompanying sound that this makes. I find it very entrancing and meditative to listen to the rhythmic sound as the oil moves around–a very small detail that could easily be tuned out, but enhances my experience when I bring a curious awareness to it.
I encourage you to really listen and see how this brings a meditative quality to the practice. Turning oil pulling into a spiritual practice has become a precursor to my daily meditation practice, and sets the tone for how the rest of my day will unfold.
What Are the Health Benefits of Oil Pulling?
Aids in Oral Health: In addition to removing bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other toxins we’ve accumulated in our mouths overnight, oil pulling aids in oral health. Coconut oil contains natural antibiotic and antiviral properties that not only help to clean teeth, but help to keep them white too. It can help prevent tooth decay and eliminate bad breath and plaque. Since doing this practice, I do not have any plaque buildup and rarely floss!
Keeps Hormones Balanced: Coconut oil gets rid of built-up toxins and therefore reduces inflammation in the body. Our hormones are able to function properly when they’re not competing with foreign invaders.
Reduces Headaches: Headaches are often a symptom of toxin accumulation in the body. By eliminating bacteria and other toxins at their first point of entry (the mouth), you can reduce how often you experience headaches.
Helps Keep Skin Clear: Our skin oftentimes serves as an outlet for unwanted toxins. For the same reasons it reduces headaches, oil pulling can also drastically improve your skin and complexion.
Oil pulling packs a lot of punch– it doesn’t take much time to do, and it has tremendous benefits for both your body and soul. By dedicating the very first minutes of your morning to enhancing your physical and spiritual health, you are giving a simple yet important gift to yourself– and what better way to start each day than with a present?
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be medical advice, this is opinion based on experience and input from professional experts in the health and wellness industry.
Photo: Tender Care Dental