Within yoga's rich tapestry of philosophy and psychology there lies a practical and relevant process of inner exploration, which was systematized by the great sage Patanjali over 2,500 years ago.
In the second limb of Patanjali's eight limb path for cultivating sustained joy he invites us to build a positive and healthy relationship with ourselves; to look within with kindness, compassion and a sincere willingness to change what we can and find peace with what we can't.
The first of these practices is purity (sanskrit word is sauca).
Sauca is very often translated as "cleanliness" which might conjure up images of good physical hygiene or a clean house. It's true that the way we treat, arrange and place our body and environment matters. However, the teaching of purity goes way beyond the physical and invites us into a deep and gentle examination of our mental and emotional patterns.
The habits we pick up throughout our life may or may not serve us. Sauca, in part, is the process of becoming aware of and purifying mental and emotional baggage. You deserve your own love and compassion.
When facing a challenge, fear or let-down ask yourself these questions... Do I:
- Engage in critical talk toward myself or others?
- Shut down?
- Become small?
- Lash out?
- Blame myself or others?
- Compare myself to others?
- Keep a secret that cuts me off from others?
- Worry or ruminate about the problem?
- Allow fear to stop me from making a change I want to make?
- Cling to an old idea or belief that no longer serves me?
- Crave a change that needs to be made but find myself making excuses why I can't do it?
- Stuck in an image of myself that is holding you back?
- The list could go on...
Where our attention goes, our energy flows. So we have to find a way to direct our attention in a more positive way if we are to overcome impure or limiting patterns. When you find yourself engaging in any of these mental and emotional habits try this:
- Kindly acknowledge the pattern you are in. Being kind and compassionate is a vital key to sustained change.
- Accept that this is a habitual way you relate to yourself and the world. A habit doesn't make it true.
- Talk to yourself and offer some positive advice as if you were talking to a child you love or a dear friend.
- Do something that distracts you and makes you happy. Call a friend, take a walk, meditate, exercise, dance, anything at all to direct your energy in a more positive way.
Our brains and bodies are like computers. What we put in, comes out. What we think about is expressed. So think and act wisely and courageously.
Joy Stone is Personal Development Life Coach, Speaker, Writer and Yoga Teacher.
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