शौचात् स्वाङ्गजुगुप्सा परैरसंसर्गः I
As a result of purification (śaucāt), one (sva) establishes a detachment (jugupsā) from the body and is not influenced (asaṁsargaḥ) by others (paraiḥ).
PRACTICAL LIVING In this sūtra Patañjali begins to describe the results of working with the niyamas – lifestyle suggestions. śaucāt refers to purification of the body and the mind. Purification of the body means we take care of the body so that it can carry on serving the mind and soul as the vehicle for manifestation. It’s through the body that we act in the world. We use our hands to create, eyes to see, mouth to speak, ears to hear and any other body part necessary to keep us manifesting in the world. So we take care of it by eating healthy and appropriate amounts of food (not too much, not too little) and by moving it to keep it both strong and flexible.
Think about how much time you spend obsessing about how your body looks and what others are going to think about it. For many of us, that’s a lot of time and energy. Patañjali is telling us that one of the results of spiritual practice is to take care of the body, yet not obsess about it. Stop and think about how much importance we give to the number on the scale and the number on the tags in our clothes? Does it really matter that much? For some of us, our ‘happiness’ depends on those numbers…a little crazy right?
As we work with this concept of purifying the body in a sane way, we find a very peaceful relationship with it. We find balance between making sure it is being treated well, yet letting go of how it looks. We see it simply, as Ram Dass says, as a costume we are wearing in this carnival we call life.
Furthermore, the next time someone (or the media) tells you that you need anti-wrinkle cream, that you need to lose 10lbs in seven days or that your butt needs some toning, you are not affected by it. We experience a freedom from what others think and say.
IN THE YOGA WORLD We will all die one day. And yogis understand that this is just a fact of life. So we use the body to act in life, but recognize that the body’s deterioration is bound to happen. The skin will wrinkle, some body parts will sag, the hair will turn grey, our strength will decrease. Humans tend to see that as a catastrophe and we are grab onto youth as if our lives depended on it. Just so that you know: you will be okay if you allow your hair to grey, your boobs to sag, your wrinkles to deepen. When we master the art of śaucāt, we experience a letting go of those worries with the body. In addition to that, the opinions and influences of others (people and society) don’t affect is anymore.
The result is a deeper ‘seeing’ – one that allows us to see beyond the clothes, shapes and colors of the physical body. As we let go of the obsession with the external layer, we begin to see the light and the beauty of the internal layers of both ourselves and others.
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Elenita, my wise, beautiful and alive-in-the-world aunt comes to mind this week. This woman lives in nature and is in love with it. She bathes in any body of water she sees, she walks long distances every day, she naps, eats and has a drink to enjoy life. She uses snails as facial treatments, she cuts aloe for her skin. She rides horses and studies nature with so much fascination. She plants trees and knows everything you’d like to know about palm trees. She is funny yet committed. She is tender yet practical. Tia, I love your active participation in life. I learn a lot from observing you. Love you Lelenita!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and next week we will discuss the fruits of mastering internal purity!