The ancient yogis put together a system of living a good life. Their system is outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the 8 Limbed Path of Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga (Ashta-Eight and Anga-Limb). The first two limbs of this path are the way we interact with the world, Yama, and the way we function with ourselves, Niyama. Both of these first two limbs are broken down into five precepts. The first of the five Niyama is Saucha, or purity. It is a method of purifying our outer world and our inner self.
Purity keeps things in order. There is less mess and chaos in our lives when we have our world put together. Think about how you feel sitting in your car or your living room when everything is disheveled and a total disaster. You may be able to ignore it and not worry about it, true. But, what if you think how you feel when you give it a good cleaning? You sit down and everything around you is tidy and clean. It is a different feeling. It feels better to have things neat and pure around you. This doesn’t mean that you have to go crazy cleaning your house or your car. We don’t need to be OCD about purifying our living space. However, we all have room to improve this principle in our lives.
Perhaps you are a neat freak and everything in your outer world is in perfect order. Saucha asks you to look a little deeper. What does your inner world look like? Is your mind a mess, constantly worrying, telling yourself you suck and you aren’t good enough, letting anxiety and or depression take hold? Perhaps you are replaying a recent event in your head over and over thinking about what you could have done better or a snappier comeback. Our minds are a mess and it is time to have some discipline in cleaning them up. It is your mind. You are the only one who can change what is in your mind. Don’t let it or the ego feel like they are in charge. The part of you that sees the mind thinking – that is the real you and that is who we can connect to more deeply with the practice of Saucha.
If your body could use a little purifying look at the way you interact with it. What do you put into your body through food, drink, drugs or alcohol? Is there a type of food that doesn’t serve you like wheat or dairy that could be removed? A cleanse is a great way to purify the body and Spring is a lovely time of year to do it. You can also see how you care for the body with exercise and self care rituals. Be sure to get enough exercise, take a yoga class, get a massage, sit in a steam room. Do something good for your body this week to help it detox and purify.
Lets go in just a little deeper to the Spirit. How do you purify the spirit? I find it best to purify the spirit by clearing away anything that gets in the way between you and your true self. This is a part of the above practices that has a calming effect on your entire system. Clear out the self-doubt, heal the old wounds of the past (both physical and emotional), release the resistance of letting go and forgiving. Anything that gets in the way of you being you is something that can be purified. Study yourself and learn what doesn’t serve you anymore. Once you know those things make a concerted effort to grow beyond them. You do not need it any more so let it go. Sit in the peaceful energy of a clean life. You may be surprised by how good it feels to tidy up.
Founder of Maitri Yoga Center