Purification has thankfully become a bit of a buzz word in our modern world, and boy is it needed now more than ever! As we are all now sadly aware the quality of minerals and nutrients in our soil is much less than say 70 years ago, and this means the quality of food is no where near as good as it used to be. Our ecosystem has been affected by many things, namely poor soil regeneration practices, mass use of fertilisers, the thinning of the ozone layer, the lack of rain water in key agricultural areas around the planet, top soil erosion. It’s said that we are what we eat, the air we breath and the company we keep, and all of these factors have an impact on our physical wellbeing, and as a consequence our mental, psychological, energetic and spiritual layers of self too.
Purification goes way beyond eating clean food, which in turn cleanses our physical bodies. Purification as such and in its full potential involves also purifying our senses. This is possible by fine tuning them, refining our interaction with them, consciously choosing the right environment for each one to be cleansed from toxins. This is known as AMA in Sanskrit.
There is no better purification guidelines than the ones the ancient yogis have set before us as they cover each and every delicate layer of our being, so nothing gets left out.
To purify, we need to make space for the goodness and magic to come forth, therefore often times purification means the abstinence from food, certain activities, screens especially before bed, noise, sex, the city, go go go agendas, too much thinking, over-consumption, too much talking, certain relationships, etc.
Patanjali, also called Gonardiya or Gonikaputra, was a Hindu author, mystic and philosopher. who gathered tremendous knowledge assembling what we can refer to as the bible of Yoga AKA The Astanga Yoga path or the 8 limbs of yoga, where an aspirant of truth, a Rishi seeker if you will, could then follow the steps sequentially in order to attain enlightenment aka Moksha in Sanskit. This 8 limbs are nothing more than the best ways to purify mind, body and spirit in their most pristine ways.
And in going back to the senses, Patanjali describes the art of sense withdrawal, which he calls Pratyahara.
As a Yogi, I have witnessed and experienced the sublime and pivotal effects of ancient Vedic purification practices from the sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda, both of which can be practiced by any modern household due to their simplicity.
Integrating life changing tools and techniques to our daily routine has to become a habit, like brushing our teeth or having a daily shower / bath. Habits are an indispensable component not just for our general wellbeing but also in multiple aspects of our lives, including mental and physical health, productivity, relationships, and self-esteem. They can make or brake our chances of achieving and maintaining lifestyle goals such as sticking to an eating plan, exercising regularly, managing diabetes/other medical conditions, along with increasing the quality of life and promoting longevity. ( the latter being the prime goals in Ayurveda).
“Habits define you”
If we consciously would like to change habits, albeit it’s not easy, it is possible with some honest and serious perseverance.
Yoga Guru, “Yogi Bhajan” had an interesting approach relating to habits.
- If you practice a kriya a few times, you receive a wonderful benefit. But if you want to permanently change your habits, and realise the full effects of the kriya, this is what you can do:
40 Days: Practice every day for 40 days straight. This will break any negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through the kriya or mantra.
90 Days: Practice every day for 90 days straight. This will establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious minds based on the effect of the kriya or mantra. It will change you in a very deep way.
120 Days: Practice every day for 120 days straight. This will confirm the new habit of consciousness created by the kriya or mantra. The positive benefits of the kriya get integrated permanently into your psyche.
1000 Days: Practice every day for 1000 days straight. This will allow you to master the new habit of consciousness that the kriya or mantra has promised. No matter what the challenge, you can call on this new habit to serve you.
Ancient spiritual traditions have since centuries vowed down to the importance of purification rituals having a distinct connection to the ability to attain authentic true wisdom and reach MOKSHA / liberation. Yogis discovered that impurities in both our internal and external landscape stray us away from spiritual salvation.
Purification and cleanliness are so significant that they play a central role in many yogic techniques and is the first principle of Patanjali’s five observances. The Niyamas, AKA the observances.
The Niyamas although ancient, could be integral to the modern seeker if applied consistently and efficiently as such: observances, as most practices that require time and practice for maturity.
It is again, a daily endeavour.
Besides the Niyamas, other Yogic principles make up the 8th limb path which could on their own right also assist on the path towards purification of body, mind and elevation of the spirit, they are called Yamas, AKA moral disciplines:
As ancient principles, once considered mandatory for a yoga disciple (Sanyasi), the 8 limb path and the like, may be difficult to embrace in a secular society, however are incredible reflective tools for our modern society that empower us not just to deepen our self-awareness, but to actually understand it, to see beyond the masks and pretences, and in the process we are refining the art of perception.
All of this tools and practices are wonderful and powerful yet, potentially a challenging place to start, however the best place to start is by making conscious decision to do so.
Life can go one way or another and it is our own will power that grants access to making the right choice at the right time. Beyond that, it is of paramount importance that we consider above all, cleansing the clutter of the mind, which could otherwise obstruct perceptivity, proper discrimination and the value of prioritising.
And since where the mind goes energy follows.
All these tools can be exponentially magnified with the nobel practice of silence.
Silence could be applied to any or all of the mentioned practices with rigours vigilance, giving that space for the mind to reflect on the process taking place, even the most minute of shifts and positive changes happening internally, deserve to be celebrated.
In order to wrap our heads around starting our path with purification, the first step is to start with the physical body, our vessel and the dwelling space of spirit. The reason for that is that the mind is a little trickier. Therefore the Niyamas play a wonderful role as guides, however in that process, the mind, speech and body will all integrally get purified.
Laozi quoted in the ancient - Dao De Jing ´“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and therefore if one is truly and genuinely is interested on authentic purification, with all that embraces that truthful act, the only way to start is by integrating one principle at a time and allowing it to unfold in ones life as organically and naturally as possible. Not an easy feat however definitely possible.
START WITH EXTERNAL PURIFICATION
Hatha Yoga Kriya purification techniques
Shaucha is the easiest place to begin. Start by choosing something attainable, visible and obvious, such as starting the day with warm water and lemon to cleanse the digestive tract and initiate a bowel movement, or practice yoga every morning, keep your mat and home clean. Start small with the easiest areas of your life to maintain cleanliness. From there explore in the more challenging areas or places that you have not considered. Notice how the cleanliness of your environment affects your body, mind, and heart.
Examples of some Ayurvedic daily cleaning / purification techniques you can start to incorporate into your morning / daily / monthly / seasonly routine.
PRANAYAMA FOR THE MIND AND BODY
Yogic breathing techniques purify the mind and body through the balance cultivation of Sattvic / pure energy throughout our entire systems. Different pranayama techniques have different actions on the body / mind therefore different purification effects. There is heating, cooling, calming vs activating techniques that assist the process of purification through lowering stress levels and removing blockages in the nadir AKA energy channels. Explore different types of pranayama techniques preferably: Kapalabhati breath of fire, since we are in the process of cleansing or burning and/or Nadi Sodhana, alternate nostril breathing which aims at balancing both hemispheres of the brain.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL PURIFICATION
Mental purification can be one of the most challenging types of purification. These practices are primarily meditation based but can also involve the devotional techniques of Bhakti Yoga. The negative emotions of selfishness, anger, greed, jealousy, self-criticism, fear, arrogance and pride can all taint the heart and mind and mask the inner spirit with darkness. These type of emotions can also agitate Sattva and make it difficult to experience inner tranquility and equanimity.
PURIFYING YOUR SPEECH
How and what we communicate with others has a direct link to our inner world and state of being. Practicing mindful communication will assist in focusing the mind as a reminder to cultivate positive emotions, staying present and in the heart.
BURN UP IMPURITIES
The intensity and will power required for self- discipline is called tapas in Sanskrit. It purifies the mind through the burning up of the desires of the mind. Fundamentally, tapas is engaging the will to a specific action you do not want to do; or not doing some action you want to do. This in turn creates a conflict between our will and the desire of our mind producing an internal “fire” which illuminates and burns up our mental and physical impurities.
Here are several other ways to observe tapas in your practice and daily life:
Besides the Yogic guidelines above, below some practical ones to practice with patience, perseverance and plenty of self love.
Take it slow and one step at a time,
THE ART OF PURIFICATION 101
Purification is a sure way to begin to truly connect not just to your body but to your higher calling, Once the body is free from impurities and the mind can properly discern right from wrong, we start to align ourselves with our true purpose and to understand the reason why we are here.
Any queries or if you seek advice or guidance, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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