Ahhhh. It’s that time of year again (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere). The snow has melted, the sun is starting to make a regular appearance, and each day its light illuminates the sky for a few extra minutes. Despite the fact that there is still a global virus circulating our world, spring brings with it a renewed sense of hope and aliveness. There is a fresh energy that hasn’t been felt in, well, about a year, and it is just what the doctor ordered.
This time of year is best known for fresh air, planting seeds (literally or figuratively), and — perhaps one of the most popular terms of the season — spring cleaning.
As a trained yoga instructor, I have spent years studying the Yoga Sutras and the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Through my multiple trips to India, I discovered firsthand that the physical practice makes up only a fraction of the full-fledged lifestyle that is yoga. All of these aspects make up the 8 Limbs, or parts of yoga. While the first limb, Yama, focuses primarily on ethical standards, the second limb, Niyama, is all about observances and self-disciplines. These practices describe ways that we can purify our minds and bodies in order to connect with our true, authentic selves. Saucha, or purity, is the first principle of this limb, and it most certainly speaks to us during this time of year.
In the book, Yamas and Niyamas, Deborah Adele writes that “cleansing strengthens the body and insulates the mind, preparing us for the awakening of the energy within us. Cleansing prepares us for the greatness of our spirit. [It] lightens us to experience more of the Divine mystery.”
In short, saucha invites us to clean out the sweaters that have been taking up residence in our closets for well over a decade, but it also means so much more. It suggests that we tidy up our bodily home, the vessel where our soul resides during its adventure here on Earth. Saucha is where we allow our bodies, our minds, our thoughts, our relationships, and our use of time to become pure so they can be used intentionally and for our highest good.
As a health coach who used to run a business primarily focused on intermittent fasting and bodily cleansing, the thought of fasting was downright daunting to most people. For the majority of my clients, the notion of going without solid food for more than a few hours sounded inhumane and torturous. While saucha does ask that we take inventory of what we are putting in our bodies, these new habits don’t have to be drastic or laborious right off the bat. Take things slow. Start with one or two of the items below to get started on your own purification journey.
5 Ways to Purify Your Mind, Body, and Spirit:
Clean up your diet. This one is a given, or at least it should be. There is no way to achieve purity in the mind if your body is a consistent dumping ground for processed foods, refined sugars, toxins, and chemicals. Perhaps by using a daily food log, start to notice how you feel after eating or drinking certain foods. Bottom line: if it doesn’t make you feel good after you consume it, it’s probably not helping you in your quest for purity.
2. Take care of yo’ damn self. Yes, that’s right, self-care and taking care of our appearance does affect how we feel on the inside. Take that Epsom salt bath, get a fresh haircut, or splurge on a new wardrobe item that makes you feel like a million bucks. We all know that true beauty comes from the inside, but cleansing the outer body does have its place in the purification process.
3. Get clear on your boundaries. This is a biggie and one I have struggled with for eons. Learn to say no to obligations, people, and demands on your time that are not in alignment with your highest good. Our time is our most valuable commodity, and how we spend it speaks dividends to how much –or how little — we value ourselves. It is not your job to be at everyone’s beck and call. Remember: you run your schedule, not the other way around.
4. Get your mind right. Start a daily meditation practice if you don’t already have one. Regular meditation is one of the most important things we can do to quiet the fluctuations and mental disturbances that seem to plague us on a daily basis. Meditation is not about trying to still the mind, but it is about realizing that you are the observer of your thoughts; you are not your thoughts. Also, making a conscious effort to direct our thoughts towards ones of positivity can have an immediate impact on our mental state.
5. Clear your space. Here is what we normally think of when it comes to spring cleaning, and yes, it’s an important part of purification. Our external world often resembles our inner world, so if what we see is dirty, disorganized, and cluttered, chances are high that it’s correlated to a chaotic inner state. It’s remarkable how shifting the outer world can have such a profound impact on us mentally and emotionally. So if you have been putting off detailing your car, organizing the garage, or donating that bag of clothes to the women’s shelter, now is the time. Your mind will thank you for it.
Through the practices related to saucha, we remember how pure and holy we actually are. It invites us to embrace all parts of who we are — even the unclean or dark parts — so we can blossom into the best versions of ourselves possible. In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “No mud…no lotus.” And the same is true about our beautiful, messy selves.
Let’s love our mud first. Then wash it off in a warm bubble bath lit with candles.
Melissa is an experienced yoga instructor, life coach, and somatic energy practitioner. For collaborations or private virtual healing sessions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to her free YouTube channel by clicking here.