May 19, 2010
Saucha: Practicing Cleanliness
Saucha is purity that operates on many levels. We aspire to cleanliness for our bodies by washing ourselves, maintaining clean and orderly homes, eating healthy food and drinking clean water. We aspire to cleanliness in our minds and speech by not polluting our minds or speech with negativity or grasping after emotionally and physically charged obsessions. In other words, we find a balance that gives us a way to feel ourselves as clean and clear. As are the other yamas and niyamas, saucha is a pre-condition for experiencing the fullness of yoga and attaining enlightenment.
Cleanliness and order, reinforce our knowledge that we are worthy of good experiences, and improve our personalities so we can experience balanced self-awareness. When we feel pure and clean, we can be clear about our intentions, unencumbered by gross and subtle imbalances.
Here are some other ways to practice saucha, besides our daily routine cleansing of the body: mindfulness walks in nature (yes, even in winter), singing, chanting mantras, ringing of bells, smudging with sweetgrass and incense, blessings with water, rituals with fire, anointment with oil, use of the neti pot (to cleanse the nostrils), tongue cleansing, fasting from food, mona (refraining from talking for a day), abstaining from television, clearing out clutter and excess from our lives, recycling, surrounding ourselves with a bath of white light and even laughter.
Physicists say that 99% of matter in the universe is energy and space, invisible to the human eye. Those who practice saucha are more attuned to these subtle energies and often can discern the need for a brief ritual cleansing after experiencing negative energies. Using simple ways to clear our energies each day helps eliminate obstacles we cannot see. Practicing saucha is a way to increase our consciousness and spiritualize our everyday lives.
The reverence we bring to our daily lives and the cleanliness we practice alone and in community reinforces our sense of sacredness. Our individual purification and the freedom it brings is possible by the combination of our independent action with our recognition of interdependence with nature, other beings and the connection to divinity.
Adapted statements from Swami Shraddhananda