When we say “getting clean,” it may not mean what you’re thinking. And if you’ve followed us over the past few months, this won’t come as any surprise.
We’ve spent ample time exploring the complexities and deeper meanings of the five yamas that make up the first branch of yoga. These are the ethical precepts that suggest what we ought not do if we want to live a righteous life.
Our previous post began shedding light onto the niyamas – the personal observances that create the second limb of yoga. We will dive even deeper into the niyamas here by discussing saucha, which loosely translates to cleanliness.
Of course, it goes much deeper than that.
What Is Saucha?
In addition to cleanliness, saucha has also been translated as purity and clearness. So while on the surface this may sound like a reminder to bathe yourself regularly – which it is, on some level – it advises more than that.
Saucha is a reminder to not only keep the body clean, but to work toward clearness and purity of the mind. It encourages a clean home and work space, a healthy diet, self-care, and clearing ourselves of bad habits that we’ve picked up in our lives but that no longer serve us.
So yeah, it’s similar to getting clean when you choose to commit to recovery from an addiction. It helps us recognize the harm of old patterns and behaviors so we can free ourselves of them. And just as in recovery, it requires some lifestyle changes.
But here’s an interesting twist:
Obsessing Over Getting Clean Is Not Saucha
As with any of the yamas and niyamas, it’s easy to get on the self-righteous train and ride it right off the rails. Cleanliness doesn’t imply that you need to obsess over your body or how you appear. It does mean you shouldn’t feel too ashamed to have people over if you haven’t wiped down every surface or left a few items out on the counter. A pair of shoes on the floor is not the end of the world.
It does ask though that you take a look at areas in your life where maybe things have gotten away from you. What’s happening around and outside of you could be symbolic of what’s happening in your head.
Messy Home, Messy Mind
Some dust, a pair of shoes, a few dishes in the sink is one thing. But if your living space is perpetually messy, disorganized, and worthy of an appearance on Hoarders, it may be representing a rather messy state of mind too.
Keeping the spaces you occupy clean and organized not only clear space in your brain, but it requires you to practice being mindful with possessions. What do you need versus what do you merely want?
A simple way to start practicing saucha in your home setting is to start by making the bed each morning. It will set a tone for the day. From there, you may be surprised to find yourself organizing items and casting aside objects you no longer need.
Getting Clean Means Embracing a Healthy Diet
Consider the age-old notion, you are what you eat. What does that look like for you?
Similar to the clean house, saucha makes no demand that you insist upon a macrobiotic diet with a weekly juice cleanse and detox. But it does ask you to consider what you put into your body and how it will impact your energy and your health.
You can start small by swapping out one processed food meal per day with organic and unprocessed proteins, greens, and vegetables. Your body will not have to work as hard to digest this “cleaner” food free of toxins and pesticides. You’re likely to notice that, over time, you feel better when you eat this way.
Once again though, moderation in everything. A clean diet doesn’t mean you have to stick to it 100% of the time. The occasional cheat day will not destroy you. In fact, your healthier body will easily forgive you.
What Do You Feed Your Mind?
While focusing some attention on what you put into your mouth, consider what you’re putting into your brain as well. A steady diet of television and social media is the brain’s version of donuts and junk food.
Also, notice the company you keep. Sometimes there are people you simply can’t avoid. But if your current chosen friends leave you feeling worse than being alone, it’s time to reevaluate. Purifying your mind through saucha is difficult if it’s dirtied by negativity, hurtful words, and gossip.
Starting a meditation practice can help you to cultivate purer thoughts. Or try affirmations or writing in a gratitude journal to replace the clutter in your brain with good intentions.
Love Your Imperfections
This one is tricky. But once you grasp it, it’s of tremendous value.
Once again, to practice saucha does not imply that you are looking to purify every physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual component of your being. That would be impossible.
There’s a chance though that some of the clutter or distraction has been in an effort to hide from or even discard the things you don’t like about yourself. It’s okay! Most of us have been there.
Try instead to make a list of all of these things and see if you can be with them and examine them. They may provide answers for why you struggle to find awakening in certain areas of your life.
Over time, you may find the value of these old pieces of yourself and welcome them back. And that’s about as pure as it gets.
Finding the Balance
The truth is, we’re all constantly working to strike a balance.
Whether it’s between effort and ease, work and play, rest and wakefulness, etc., getting clean through saucha simply asks you to look at where the purity of your inner life is impacted by a messy and unclean outer life.
Yoga or other mindfulness practices can help you discover some of these areas. And if you feel you don’t have time to seek them out, we can bring these practices right to your place of business, school, or organization.
Contact us today to find out how! And discover the many benefits of a clean body and a pure mind.