SSE Week 08: Sauca
Introduction to Sauca
And welcome to the niyamas! Over the next several weeks, we will take a deeper look into the five aspects of personal self-care which comprise the second limb of the Eight Limbed Path. Just a quick review: Within Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Eight Limbed Path outlines core actions, practices, and ethics needed to live an all-encompassing yogic lifestyle. The first limb discusses the yamas, or ethical practices, and the second, the niyamas, personal self-care practices.
The first niyama is sauca, or cleanliness — of the body, the heart-mind, and the spaces within and around us. Nicolai Bachman, author of The Path of the Yoga Sutras, describes sauca as “Outer and inner cleanliness [which is] important for maintaining our health and sanity. Sauca leads to a heart-mind that is satvic, happy, focused, not distracted by sensory perceptions, and ready for experiencing the divine light within.”
Bachman highlights the more intellectual aspects of cleanliness as well:
Sauca involves allowing the creative process to happen while occasionally stepping back into a quiet space, regrouping our thoughts, updating our to-do list, and organizing our workspace in order to calm the heart-mind and reduce stress and anxiety [….] ‘Coming clean’ by admitting something that we have been holding in, in order to avoid potential embarrassment, is another form of sauca[, as is] expressing deep emotion in a nonviolent way[, which] purges the heart-mind of pent up feelings. Mourning the death or suffering of a loved one cleanses our heart-mind as well. Apologizing is extremely cathartic for the heart-mind, while it also weakens egotism[.]
Home Exercise: Sauca
This week, invite sauca into your home by tackling a “hot spot” in your house — you know, one of those areas that seem to attract the pile up of random stuff time and time again.
For me, one of my home’s “hot spots” is the console table in our little mudroom. It’s ALWAYS cluttered with unopened mail, random sets of keys, helmets, water bottles, clothing — you name it! And because it’s one of the first things I see when I enter my house, it really sets a tone which I then carry with me as I move through my day, physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually, and energetically. I know this because I feel happy and more at peace on the (rare) occasions that this space is actually tidy. Literally, you guys, I have smiled out loud seeing that clear console table first thing! This exercise can seriously highlight the connection between our surroundings and our mindsets — I hope you enjoy!
Choose something you can clear out and clean up completely within 15 minutes! This takes some practice, so start off with something quite small, like that packed basket of random electronic remotes and cables that lives under your coffee table (yup, got one of those too!), or one single shelf of a bookcase.
Set a kitchen timer or your phone, and get going! Stop when the time is up, even if you haven’t finished.
As you’re tidying, create piles: Keep, Toss, Donate, and don’t overthink which things belong where. Just put them in the piles, and as soon as possible, either put them away where they belong, or get them out of your house!
If you didn’t finish cleaning the intended space within 15 minutes, don’t worry about it! Take some deep breaths, release judgement, and step away for a while. You can always come back in a couple hours, set your timer, and finish up.
“Sauca involves allowing the creative process to happen while occasionally stepping back into a quiet space.”
– The Path of the Yoga Sutras