Yamas in the 21st Century. Yama # 6 Saucat – Cleanliness
Let me tell you I’ve never known the struggle to get clean like having a bathroom renovation go wrong and not having a shower or bathtub for almost 3 months. Luckily a shower at a yoga studio not far from the house meant we could remain clean. However having to make the trip every day, including Christmas morning, meant that getting clean was becoming a real pain in the ass. We have had a bath now for about a month and as of recently have a working shower too! Cleaning just got a heck of a lot easier again!
There are many ways we can look at the yama, Saucat, from the basic act of cleansing to something much more profound. We have actual act of the soap and water cleanse; with bathing, brushing our teeth and washing out hair. This is the physical clean done. With asana and other limbs of yoga we clear our energy and stiffness and then the pranayama used to free stale air and reinvigorate our energy, prana or chi. Ever thought about how efficient you are at cleaning? Do you always get right behind your ears or down to your ankles? When you practice your poses are you being sloppy or are you more focused on good and safe alignment and when you meditate or do breathing exercises how focused and present are you in the body and the mind?
If we want to clean out the mental clutter and mess we carry around in our minds and our hearts we also need to ensure that the space where we practice or meditate is free of distraction as well. I am really bad for this. I start to collect things, paper work, ideas for poses, different kinds of meditation and then all the sudden I’m surrounded by clutter and mess. I know this about myself and just need to make sure that I take the time weekly (perhaps it should be daily) to audit and tidy. What about the clutter of our mind and how this influences and affects us? We all carry around narratives about ourselves, our abilities, our worth and who we are. The problem with these narratives is that for the most part they aren’t true and we weren’t the authors of the words. The ‘I’m not smart enough for the job’ clutter, the ‘I’m not pretty enough’ clutter, the ‘I’ll never make enough money’ clutter and the ‘they’re more successful than me’ clutter. This is the real mess, the real saucat, that needs addressing. But how in the world do you clean something you can touch?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with 3 coaches over the last 2 years; Nicola Hobbs, Pandora Paloma and Paloma Neuman who have all helped me with my mental clutter. The first step is to be honest, look at the clutter and start to categorise it. Put it in big heaps and identify the exact messy shit you’ve got up there. Once you can see it and can identify it you can then really look into it. When did you establish this clutter? Who gave it to you? Is this clutter really yours or does it belong to someone else?
I then put this clutter or as I now like to call it my limiting beliefs into two categories
1. Yes this clutter is mine, I still believe it and there might be some truth behind it OR
2. This clutter is NOT mind, this has been put upon me and it is not true.
And then here is the fun bit take all of the clutter in category 2 and burn it, bin it have a ceremonial dance and bury it. I wrote all of my mental clutter, my limiting beliefs, down on paper, wrote when they started, who helped create the narrative and I burned each and every piece of paper and those silly little lies I had been carrying around.
1. A smaller pile of mess to deal with.
So what do we do with this mess? The first thing to do is own it, this is part of your make up, part of your narrative but it doesn’t all have to be negative. Look at the negative statement-the negative clutter and re-word it. How can you turn the negative statement into something positive? What are the silver linings of it? There is always balance remember! If you’re negative belief is ‘you are shy’ then change it to ‘I am a listener, I care what people say and I am interested in them.’ You now know the negative belief and you can still work on de-cluttering it but you don’t have to have it be so messy in your brain. Tidy it up, put it in a place and know where it is when you want to work on it.
This also comes into play with a messy mind in yoga. When you go to practice are you already thinking about this poses and postures you don’t want to do, the asana that you aren’t any good at, the teacher you assume doesn’t know what they are doing? Rather than being present and accepting each time you come to that mat as a new experience you are messing it all up with pre-conceived notions.
I have ALWAYS had this belief I am rubbish at back bends. Nope can’t do that, I can’t do a backbend. I could feel these messy thoughts stopping my progress, I wouldn’t try the poses or go to the teachers who I knew would teach them. This meant my clutter was holding me back. Our bodies are miraculous things and they adapt and change with each day and each hour. Can you try the next time you go to a yoga class to pretend it’s your first time practicing? Avoid doing the robotic movements assuming you know where the teacher is going and wait for the instruction? See how cleaning up your yoga practice can improve your ability to stay present and find new enjoyment of movement.
What about the food we eat? Now listen I am NOT about to tell you you all need to start #cleaneating. Nope I’m not doing it. I’ve spent too much time reading and having therapy around intuitive eating to go down a fad, restrictive eating regime broadcast. BUT intuitive eating doesn’t mean unhealthy eating. It is eating in a way that makes you feel good, feel healthy and feel neutral about food-no good or bad food and no diets. Eating a complete diet of doughnuts and pizza isn’t going to do that. It might feel fun and exciting for a day or two but then you’re going to crash and burn and the fun disappears.
No your tidy might not be the same as someone else’s. A pure minimalist might be very happy in a pure vegan or raw food diet. Someone else might like to be a vegetarian. And then you might have the person who is doing the best the can to stay tidy, avoiding the processed foods when they can, but on the busier days the mess piles up a little. That is O.K. Again it all comes back to intention. The intention behind trying to be clean and tidy, to eat well, to make the choices that work for you and also not beating yourself up if you ‘fail’ and shit gets a bit messy again. Set the intention for saucat and do your best. Day by day. One of my favourite quotes from Greed, Sex and Intention around eating, and one I wish everyone could remember when I diet comes knocking, is: ‘Be deeply skeptical of any diet that claims to cut things completely out, like an entire food group, and they claim this is a sensible idea. There is no one diet that fits all, AND there is a lot of bad science out there’
Balance is the key to saucat, as it is for almost all of the yamas. Balance in our activity, our yoga, our friends, our work and our food. Iyengar says ‘there is no one alignment for all’ and this is the same for every other aspect of our life. Be careful of cleanliness becoming obsession as this becomes an even messier version of clutter. Every body and every mind is different so try not to judge others for how they clean, or don’t, their lives as it might be working for them and that is their version of saucat.
Want to work on balance? Head to my videos and download and work on BREATHING FOCUS or join my mailing list to take part in the 10 DAY CHALLENGE : BREATHE THE STRESS AWAY and learn how breathe can help clear the mental clutter.
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