Spring Cleaning – Saucha


The new year is always a good time to clean, edit, organize. To that end I give you my “Spring Cleaning” post.

Last week I purchased some wonderful triple-milled French soap that was on sale. It makes the bathroom and shower smell great and it lasts twice as long as regular soap. On sale it is a good value and an affordable luxury.

This is the time of year when we may do some deep cleaning – both outside and within. The practice of saucha comes to mind. Traditionally, saucha is one of the niyamas or observances of the 8 Limbed Path of Yoga also known as Ashtanga Yoga. Saucha refers to the practice of cleanliness. Cleanliness of our bodies, our environment and our thoughts or mind.

The idea of the observance of saucha or cleanliness is not unique to Yoga. Ritual bathing and cleaning practices are prevalent in the Judaic (ritual bath, Kosher practice), Christian (baptism, foot washing) and Islamic (ritual washing and Hillel) religions. It is also readily found in many cultures including both Hindu and Japanese cultures or consider the Chinese practice of feng shui.

The practice of saucha keeps us healthy. Keeping our bodies and living spaces clean promotes health and releases life energy (prana) for healing, meditation and other activities. It is difficult to think clearly or accomplish something in a space that is cluttered, dirty or noisy.

Similarly, a lack of order that causes us to search for car keys every day steals time and energy. In our minds unwanted, intrusive thoughts or obsessions steal our time and mental energy. Practices of racism and discrimination distort our minds and defile our thinking. In our relationships, failure to maintain clear boundaries cause us to feel used, unappreciated or worse – violated. (To learn more, I strongly recommend reading Anne Katherine’s Where to Draw the Line and Boundaries.)

Saucha is the remedy for all these.



Saucha reminds me that the practice of cleanliness is a practice of maintaining physical health but also a spiritual practice. This is true whether it is making a bed, washing dishes or meditating to clear my mind. If I want to be a virtuous person I must become those virtues. This means that if I want to be kind I must practice kindness. If I want to be generous or honest I must practice both. This includes being with people who can embody what those virtues look like for me.

January and February are good months to clean house and maybe our lives. It’s constant work to remove relationships, food or activities that fail to leave my body, mind or life in better condition (eliminating junk food or TV – which is junk food for the mind – for example).

Keeping my surroundings ordered and clean promotes free-flowing energy. My home is not just for me. Everything I have is a gift. My resources must be well cared for and available for others too. This means extending myself with the practice of hospitality.

It is an ongoing challenge to seek out those with virtues I admire and spend time with them. Working with others to dismantle the legal and social structures of white privilege and racism is included here.  Attitudes are slow to change which is why unjust laws must be corrected first.

This is what the practice of saucha looks like in my life. Why practice suacha? Remember the airline’s directive: “Place the oxygen mask over your mouth first before helping others.” I can’t be a healing presence for others in the world unless I am healthy myself.

Do you make time for spring cleaning or saucha in your life? What are your spring cleaning and saucha practices?

Photo nrGreenFest.org

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Christmas Postcards From the Future

Photo: thelittlecorner.tumblr

Do we need Christmas postcards from the future? Maybe, because in order to see how things can be different we need a vision to move toward – to live into. What kind of future attracts us? What would attract you?

Christmas celebrates the incarnation of God (the good, joy, truth or beauty) in the world. This means that reality is fundamentally good and attractive to us – and we are a part of this reality. What about the world, then, attracts us?

This attracts me: a world that moves a bit slower, that is a little gentler, that watches out for each of us – no matter who we are.

Another attraction: a world rich in relationships that are mutually nourishing, deep, strong and transparent. This would be true for all kinds of relationships – with people, with institutions, with the environment.

I think postcards from the future arrive all the time – in our imaginations, in our dreams, in our interactions with others, in events in the world around us. But sometimes we aren’t paying attention, or have difficulty reading the postcard. The postcard is on the counter waiting for us, but we haven’t yet picked it up!

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Christmas Future

Photo: FunThingsToDo

Each year I select a word for the year – or perhaps it is actually more correct to say that a word selects me. Last year my word was “authentic” – one who authors or one who acts independently. And it was true – I did give voice to my own unique perspective in my dissertation work during this past year.

This year the word “joy” continually popped into my head. So “‘joy” will be my word for this year.

So what is “joy”? In my mind it is more than happiness – which relies too much on external events or relationships. To me “joy” is more of an interior state of being; the deep stillness below the waves, if you will. With joy, one has the ability to remain present, endure whatever comes, yet still feel delight and hope in reality.

Joy, as an interior state, allows one to view the world through different eyes or with a different mind. This means seeing beauty more readily, remembering wisdom, hearing love behind the words.

It also means seeing reality more clearly and envisioning what needs to change to make the world more beautiful, therefore more just.

Joy is a fitting word for Christmas – the incarnation or indwelling of God in the world – and for me for the coming year. Now I will have to wait and see what the year brings!

Photo: Pinmarklet.com

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Winter Solstice

Photo: Winter in the Mountains,fotki.yandex.ru

We are nearly at the winter solstice. Darkness yields to light. Sort of a seasonal new year for those of us in the northern hemisphere.

We light candles.  We rekindle nurturing friendships. We bring light of all kinds into our hearts, our minds, our lives.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Life of Pi

Yan Martel’s book – now movie, The Life of Pi is an exciting and entertaining story. But better still is the question proposed to the viewer at the end: which is the better story?

For belief in God, the viewer is encouraged to ask the same question – which life is the more exciting, intriguing, compelling life? The one with the viewpoint embracing belief in God or the random life, purposeless life without God? And it’s not simply intellectual assent to the existence of God that is being asked here. What is being asked is our willingness or capacity to trust, thereby flinging ourselves headlong into life itself – with all of its unknowns and all of its risks.

For myself, I couldn’t imagine returning to life directed my own vision or desires. That was too small, too gray, too safe, too hopeless. Life directed by existence or reality itself (God if you will) is far more exciting, colorful and bewitching than anything I could have dreamed up. Once you taste champagne and caviar . . .

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