September 5, 2017
As I sat down to do a quick meditation, I had a profound realisation…..I am absolutely vicious to myself! I was trying to focus in on my breath…. Inhale: release, exhale: relax…..but these prickly little thoughts kept popping into my head. Irritation, guilt, criticism, all directed at myself and all flooding subconsciously in. It was not just the harsh words but it was also the disappointed tone that accompanied them. Completely brutal.
How can we be so cruel to ourselves?
In yoga there is something called Shaucha. It is the first of the five Niyamas, (Niyama being the second limb of the eightfold path of yoga). The practice of Niyama helps us gain inner-strength to progress along the path of yoga. Shaucha is the purification or cleanliness internally and externally for the purpose wisdom and spiritual liberation. I find that if I have a messy environment (i.e. hello dirty laundry pile slowly building in the corner) or unclean diet (…the whole bag of Percy pigs I demolished yesterday) that I am directly effected in my mind, my emotional state, and my yoga practice. It is exactly for that reason that Shaucha comes before the physical practice of asana, the third limb of yoga. If we came to the mat with a full tummy in a room messy room, there is no way we could achieve anything but aggression and frustration throughout our sadhana (practice).
This idea of cleanliness also pertains to our minds. We need to cleanse our minds from hurtful self criticism before stepping on our mat. It is inevitable that we will make mistakes and face challenges in life and on the mat, to expect anything else is unrealistic. How we mentally self reflect on our actions, thoughts, intentions can have a monumental effect on our perspective and our happiness. Yoga is a practice and so too is rewiring our brains to make space for self compassion (especially if negative talk has become habitual).
For me, actively practicing Shaucha will now be as much of my yoga practice as downward dog. For energy flows where concentration goes.
Until next Sunday…speak kindly to yourself!