My new life goal is to completely skip the entire month of February… or at least spend it vacating on a warm beach, somewhere far far away from blizzards (and adult life decision making.) I think of vacation as a refreshing re-set: a time for me to tune out in order to tune in. And, interestingly, it’s an important aspect of Yoga Philosophy; the personal practice of saucha is basically a mental vacation.
At its core, saucha (one of the five niyamas) is an invitation to clean out mental and physical clutter to get clear about what really matters. In English, it translates to “clarity, purity and purposeful self-care.”
Saucha asks us to take a step back from the chaotic lifestyle of information overload that we are accustomed to and the copious acquisition of more, more, more that our society promotes. It asks us to take a breather, organize our living space with care, clean our yoga mats with deliberate consideration and most importantly, limit interaction with information input that leads to chaotic thinking (hello, 24 hour news cycle).
In my previous post, I asked you to do your spring cleaning early. Cleaning house is just one expression of saucha.
This week, I challenge you to practice saucha in these ways:
- turn off your phone for 1 hour
- take a 24 hour break from news media
- take a week sabbatical from TV
- make your “to-do list” before you go to bed at night to mentally clear your mind for better sleep
- dedicate a Power Hour one day a week where you complete all the “5 minute tasks” that tend to build up (renew your license plates, finish the laundry, write that thank you note, plan your weekly work-outs)
- commit to 15 minutes of silent time daily for 1 week; try starting your silent time with the mantra “I tune out, to tune in. I am grateful for this mental space.”
Give yourself permission to take a mental vacation; notice how you feel after trying these saucha practices. Appreciate the rare and treasured moments of clarity that arise.
Happy mental cleaning,
More about saucha:
saucha: the one-minute rule of tidiness.
saucha and the cinnamon roll
cancel your cable tv.
you gotta clean your shower.
Practically every time a client arrives at my yoga studio in the middle of the day, the first sound they hear is my beloved 90’s-style Dustbuster buzzing away as I try desperately to keep our floors and windowsills clean from the crumbling brick and mortar that rains down with every gust of Midwest wind. Keeping a clean, organized practice space is important to me, and it’s important to yoga.
Spending hours a week cleaning my yoga studio is not about pride or morality, and it’s not about perfection. It’s about the conscious and deliberate practice of saucha, the first of the five niyamas of Yoga Philosophy. Saucha is about creating an orderly outward space which then extends to an orderly inward state. Rolf Gates writes that saucha is the personal practice of cultivating “consciousness and care around the choices you make concerning your mental and physical environment” in order to achieve a balanced and serene mental state.
Because our environment definitely affects our mood, spending time cleaning and organizing can intimately and positively affect your mental outlook.
Think about it: we all love that first FRESH breath of spring air, we love the clarity of a much-needed rainstorm, we love getting into a rental car that’s been newly detailed. We feel comforted by clean sheets, we feel freedom after cleaning out our closets, we feel ready to rest soundly when the dishes are put away and the house is put to bed. These acts of care and cleanliness matter to our mental state and mental clarity.
“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness, needed to realize the inner self, also arises.” -Yoga Sutras
Take a few minutes this week to practice small acts of saucha. Simply ask yourself: “How do I feel after completing this act with care and attention?”
- Cleaning out your car
- Filing the stack of papers on your desk
- Wiping your kitchen cabinets
- Making your bed
- Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salt and lavishly moisturizing your skin
- Sitting in meditation with a clean yoga mat, enjoying silence for 10 minutes
Enjoy the spontaneous sense of joy and ease that arises.