16 Nov Saucha (cleanliness)
This piece was originally published in the OWY newsletter in November of 2013.
Previously I touched on the last yama, aparigraha (non-greed). As a quick review the 8 limbs of yoga are:
- Yamas (external restraints)
- Niyamas (internal observances)
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breath control)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (absorption)
The second limb, Niyamas, include:
- Saucha (cleanliness)
- Santosha (contentment, modesty, acceptance)
- Tapas (purification, discipline)
- Svadhyaya (self-study, witness consciousness, who am I?)
- Ishvara Pranidhana (yield to Ultimate Reality, non-attachmeng to the benefits of our actions)
I’m a pretty clean character. I bathe every day, put my smell good stuff on, and generally am a tidy person. Of course saucha goes deeper than that.
We can seek cleanliness in our spaces like our home or office, hygienically, by what we put into our body, and what we put into our mind. I know that for me there’s a certain level of physical clutter that gets ridiculous and begins to have an effect on my mental state. It seems every time I clean my office I feel better. Not only did I accomplish something but not having piles of things taking up all available table space just feels more free.
I think I do well with what I take into myself through my ears and eyes (I don’t watch much TV, I don’t listen to depressing or angry music often), but my diet certainly could improve. I love chocolate and ice cream (this will probably be mentioned regularly).
The big one for me, that is sometimes extremely difficult, is what I let bounce around between my ears. A simple post on Facebook can get under my skin and I will spend the following 24 hours arguing with someone in my head. I don’t put it to words because not only am I trying to getting my possible word salad in order, but deep down I usually know my speaking up won’t do much. Actions are louder than words as they say.
So what is cleanliness to you? How deep can you take it? Mentally, physically, emotionally, how cluttered is any particular aspect of your life? What do you allow in to your being and how are you responding to those things? I can’t think of a more free state of being than a clean mind, body, and environment. Like running through clean clothes hanging on the line when I was a kid.
Continue with Santosha.