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Purification of the Heart & Mind

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When we practice cleansing our physical level for spiritual purposes we begin a process of eliminating impurities that accumulated from past unhealthy habits. By fasting and eating a natural diet of whole foods, we enable the body to clean itself. For even deeper cleaning, Yoga practice also includes kriyas, specific techniques that have a purifying effect on the entire system.

In this way, we reawaken our instinctive ability to discriminate between that which is clean and suitable for consumption, and extreme substances that cause imbalance. We redevelop a natural disinclination for things like alcohol, smoking, sugar and caffeine. Physical cleansing lays a foundation for working with the more subtle levels of being, the purification of the heart and mind.

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2016-10-15T01:44:24+00:00 September 15th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Purification of the Heart & Mind

Simplify

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Sri Swami Satchidananda seemed to move in a parallel universe even though he was right here among us in solid form. The ambience around him was pristine, very pure and sacred. He could walk through a muddy field and not soil the hem of his robe. He served the sacred in everything, even the hem of his robe. Nothing was insignificant to him and in his world, everything was in order.

Our efforts to live up to his standards fell flat. But one principle finally emerged, which has been so helpful. It is easier to keep things in order and clean if you have fewer of them!

One of the practices of Saucha is to identify clutter, and detach from it. Simplify. To simply reduce our office, bedroom, closet to the items which are currently useful is enough. Suddenly Saucha becomes possible – even enjoyable!

Swami Divyananda

2016-10-15T01:44:24+00:00 September 12th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Simplify

Saucha: Cleanliness as a Spiritual Practice

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The tradition of Yoga includes various practices that clean the body and mind, making us more sensitive to the subtler aspects of our being. Then we can begin to control those subtle energies, like the movement of prana, and gradually master the mind.

Saucha is one these practices that is presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and is often translated as purity or cleanliness. It refers to cleaning both the physical and mental levels and if correctly practiced, has a profound effect on our physical well-being and mental clarity.

Saucha is practiced on the physical level by fasting to purge the body of accumulated toxins, by eating pure, vegetarian foods, and by practicing Yoga asanas and pranayama, which also have a cleansing effect on the mental level. We further clean the mind by refraining from sensory stimuli that disturb the mind, such as violent movies, or provocative images.

Sri Swami Satchidananda suggested that our all our sensory organs should be equipped with immigration officers to examine anything that we might allow to enter our country, via the ears, eyes, nose or mouth. He pointed out that while the ears have no covering, the mouth has two protective gates to prevent inappropriate things from coming in and from coming out.

An even more refined purity of mind comes from a regular meditation practice to calm all the restless and scattered thought forms, and a daily effort to shift our thinking from selfish thoughts to ones that consider the well-being of everyone. Notice how healing it is for the heart when we serve/give freely to others, as well as take care of ourselves.

I recommend practicing Saucha in small ways but in numerous areas of life. Try fasting once a month on the full moon day, or simply skipping the evening meal once a week to let the digestive system cleanse itself. Spend a little time daily keeping your room and/or desk neat, and see how good that feels. Carefully notice the effect of what you eat, watch in movies, and read.

Try taking a compassion walk during which you see everyone, regardless of their behavior, as doing the best they can in that moment. Instead of judging others, try assuming they are struggling in the same ways you have, and send a silent prayer for them to suffer less, to have opportunities to learn and grow.

All of these approaches feed both body and mind in healthy ways, and if practiced regularly, gradually replace the old unhealthy patterns embedded in the subconscious mind. As we purify ourselves, we make room for the radiant health, light and wisdom that is our birthright to emerge and illuminate our lives.

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2016-10-15T01:44:24+00:00 September 6th, 2016|Tags: , |Comments Off on Saucha: Cleanliness as a Spiritual Practice

September Teaching: Cleanliness as a Spiritual Practice

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Guest Blogger, Swami Divyananda

The mind affects the environment and the environment affects the mind. A messy bedroom or disorganized office puts us out of sorts and our stress barometer goes up. On the other side of it, when we are upset we create chaos around us. We’re hasty and careless, inattentive.

Saucha is is one of the great yoga gateways into peace and our practice for the month of September. If I’m depressed my first order of business is to clean my bedroom. Life looks manageable when my personal space is neat and tidy. If I’m overwhelmed, I put my papers in order and make a priority list. That is Saucha too.

Sri Swami Satchidananda was borderline fanatic about Saucha “Cleanliness is not ‘next to Godliness’ – it IS godliness.” His purpose is to awaken our consciousness. It takes a constant awareness to keep our environs clean, to stay present, alert to the effects of our presence as we move through space.

Eventually this evolves into awareness of the thought forms we spew out around us as well.

Saucha is the only principle in the Yoga Sutras which warrants two sutras. In the second one, the rewards are given: “Fitness for God-realization.” A worthy pursuit!

Ommm Shanti,
Swami Divyananda

2016-10-15T01:44:24+00:00 September 1st, 2016|Tags: , , |Comments Off on September Teaching: Cleanliness as a Spiritual Practice