Introspective Yoga: Cleaning for Saucha

Can you believe February is almost over? That was fast...

I've been writing about yoga philosophy this year and I'm continuing! I've recently finished up the yamas, yoga ethical restraints. Start reading them here

I'm now going to go through the niyamas, yoga ethical observances. Whereas the yamas were the "don't dos" the niyamas are the "dos" for ethical living.

The first one up is saucha, purity or cleanliness. 

Eeeeek! I hate cleaning. I am not a naturally tidy person. Take a look at my room or car... I roll my eyes at the thought of being on top of my cleanliness even though I understand why it's important to take care of your things.

But the idea of saucha is much more than having a picture perfect space. It's about the inner space, more so than the outer space.

Ravi Ravindra says "Cleanliness or purity—of the heart and of the mind more than of the body—is clearly an important aim and practice. What we feel in our heart is closer to the spirit than what we do with our body. It is much more important to have freedom from anger and hatred in our heart than to be free of dirt."

Now, even though I griped about cleaning my physical space... I have to admit, cleaning out my inner space is even harder. It's really easy to think of it as "Well, OK, I'll just stop cursing at people and try to think nice thoughts or whatever." But even that in itself is a difficult practice.

One thing I like to consider when practicing this niyama, is by asking: What do I need to clean? What do I need to clear from my mind/heart/life? What is cluttering and in the way of my peace/happiness/purpose?

Then, I allow myself to work on that particular thing. This makes it less overwhelming than trying to think good thoughts, or vaguely become a better person. If there is hatred or anger inside of your heart, it means there's a story you need to explore -- not deny.

One of the most profound examples of clearing and saucha I've done is manage my envy and jealousy. Last year, I had an extremely unhealthy envy streak. I felt so much rage and resentment because there were people who had the things I didn't yet have. It killed my happiness. It made my thinking so ungrateful and overall, toxic. Yikes.

I knew I had to begin clearing out this heaviness inside of me. So I practiced a lot of mindfulness around it and reframed my thoughts to clear out that yucky heavy feeling of envy. I talked about it here. It has since given my more space to focus on getting the things I want and finding joy in my own life.

For me, that's the kind of saucha that's relevant. Cleaning out the thoughts and energy that don't serve you, in order to be freer and more you. You could do this by meditation, journaling, or any contemplative practice. 

Now, that's not to say I'm against clearing out my physical space. But it is something that doesn't come to me as naturally as cleaning out my mind. 

For instance, I've recently started looking at my money mindset (lots of clear out there) and the idea of attracting or manifesting more money into my life. I went into it thinking, "Alright, let's do this mind magic and learn how to get the big bucks." But actually, clearing out your physical space is recommended a lot! There's an energetic clearing that goes along with physical clearing as well.

And for some, being strict about what goes in and out of their body is another way of practicing saucha to ensure the energy is pure and clean. Many vegans attest to how not eating meat makes them feeling more energized and has improved their well-being.

There are lots of ways to look at practicing saucha. But I think focusing on what you could clear first is most important, whether it be on the inside or outside. I leave you with this quote by Rolf Gates, who spells saucha without the 'h'.

“Wherever you find yourself on the sauca continuum, sauca remains two things. First, it is a leap of faith, because we are often too tired, too sad, or too angry to believe that anything will really make a difference. And second, it is an everyday practice, because yesterday’s sauca serves only as a reminder of today’s potential.”

See you again soon for more of the niyamas.