Saucha lesson: Self-care is not selfish

Saucha lesson: Self-care is not selfish

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My new teacher trainees have to spend this week giving something up (bramacharya) and inviting something pure into their lives (saucha).

I thought it best if I did it with them. Wouldn’t be cool to have them practicing these disciplines and observing what comes up and I just sit on the sidelines munching anything I wanted and rooting them on.

So, I decided to give up meat (we’ll get back to that one in another post) and to invite a daily self-love practice for my saucha.

I’m busy with teacher trainings, trauma yoga for youths and the regular studio schedule. I’ve had some personal life turmoils lately.  In short, I have put myself at the back of the line and I know that won’t do. My asana practice and my tai chi forms are there but that’s about it.

So I thought I needed to put my self-care and self-love at the front of mind for this purity practice.

“Sauca is not about what we eat but about the cleanliness of our choices. When it comes to our thoughts, the entire practice of yoga is really concerned with this aspect of sauca. Sauca’s contribution is the practice of compassion. It is the observance of loving-kindness in thought.” Excerpt From: Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison. “Meditations from the Mat.” 

I envisioned a ritual of ablutions that bring me peace and tranquility – bathing intentionally, body brushing or loofahing, essential oils, lotioning or oiling my body. I love the practice of massaging each toe and caressing every curve and crevice lovingly with a natural moisturizer. Head to toe – the scalp practice, the jaw massage, the neck and throat.

Then there’s the neti pot and the oral hygiene as a practice that is mindful and loving.

I finish it up with a yummy piece of clothing to put on to close out my evening or go to bed.

Now, that was the vision.

What happened the first few times, was epic in terms of humor and sadness.

But it’s a practice not a perfect.

I found myself rationalizing why it wasn’t a good idea. Interesting to watch myself justify every point with myself. Sometimes EVEN OUT LOUD!

I go to the shower.

“I already showered today. This is a waste of a precious resource of water.”

“I shouldn’t use that nice new natural soap I have. I should save it for a special treat or give it as a gift.”

“I can’t use the new loofah. It’s new!”

OK, you’re starting to get the picture right?

I had to muster up the voice of the self-loving B.

“You bought the loofah to use, right? Not to be decoration in the bathroom?”

“Why can’t you have the nice soap instead of giving it away? You deserve nice soap too.”

Then I just yelled at myself, turned the water on and jumped into the shower.

“Ok, but a short shower.”

“No. Feel the water and enjoy it.”

“But…”

“Shhh…”

This went on back and forth until I thought to diffuse some lavender and peppermint. It calmed my Negative Nelly voice. And she got to breathe in the essence and just enjoy the water.

I started to feel the stress and strain diminish in my shoulders. I started to breathe with an ease.

Apparently I needed this.

After lotioning and enjoying the shower aftercare a new war ensued.

I treated myself to some lovely robes and lingerie from Curvaceous Lingerie recently for my birthday. But I was thinking I should put on some fluffy flannel. It’s just me at home.

Enter practical-rational-put-Belinda’s-desires-at-the-back-of-the-bus-voice again.

I start to rummage for some fleece flannel grandma stuff.

Then I stood up straight.

“Wait a minute! You deserve to look nice whenever you want to. You deserve to feel special and beautiful whenever you want to! And you didn’t spend that money for those things to sit in a drawer.”

“But… “

And I found myself saying something to myself that made me cringe.

“Those clothes are for someone else to see me in and think I’m beautiful.”

Hmm. Those clothes are for someone else?

Wrong answer.

That steeled my resolve that I really needed this practice and STAT.

I know I’m worth lovely things and loving things and to feel good with anyone else’s validation.

Fleece out. Sexy Japanese robe in.

Whew. Got that taken care of.

I look at the time and realize only about 40 minutes have elapsed. I could probably have a cup of tea and sit in my meditation room.

OK.

This is a good sign. Self-love care for the win.

I go grab some home-made chai in my favorite mug and I even treated myself to some mesquite honey I have.

I stroll into my meditation room and sit. I find myself starting my normal sparse practice. Open a prayer tablet. Sit. Start a mantra.

Wait a minute.

I have Himalayan sea salt lamps. Why don’t I turn them on? OK.

Then I really got in the swing of things and lit some special incense.

Then I went totally crazy and hung up a batik fabric I got from Jeremy Arndt with a print of Ganesha (instead of saving it to give to someone else). How appropriate.

I needed to invoke in the Remover of Obstacles.

My sit session was in reflection of my first foray of the week into self-love and care.

What do I believe I deserve or am worthy of?

Why do I get things and save them for others or just save them not to use?

Why did I feel guilty with my freshly moisturized and massaged body in my beautiful robe breathing in the aromas of pinon in the glow of the pink salt lamp?

I believe in service. I try to live my life in service. But I also know that self-care is not selfish. I know and teach that if we don’t find our self-care practices we are no good to anyone else. And no matter the turmoil in our lives or in the lives of the communities we live in, self-care cannot be pushed aside, ignored or postponed.

Saucha practice helps us find what’s pure and authentic and clean and clear.

I know some may feel what I’ve chosen is indulgent. But I know that how I’ve been treating myself lately hasn’t offered much of a relaxed pure space within me. These practices help me peel away the layers that cloud my pure light.

That evening showed me how gunked up I have gotten about myself and what I need.

The truth is when I allowed it, the practice was deeply relieving and peaceful. I felt rejuvenated and I let go of stressors of the day – promotions, students and their practices and how to help them, scheduling, lesson plans, laundry. I was more at ease to welcome sleep. I was more at ease to check in with my spirit and breath and heart.

I’m looking forward to this week of saucha practice and what I will discover about myself and the joys I can invite into my day-to-day in simple and healthy ways.

“As we practice yoga, we are to be aware of both aspects of sauca—the sauca we do on the mat and that which we do while off the mat. On the mat, begin to experience the asana and pranayama as purifying your body as well as strengthening it. Off the mat, cultivate consciousness and care around the choices you make concerning your mental and physical environment. Begin with your physical cleanliness, your grooming habits, the cleanliness of your clothes, and then work outward. How are your surroundings affecting you? Make your bed, clean the bathtub, and wash the dishes—then ask yourself the question again: How are my thoughts creating my emotional reality?”

Excerpt From: Rolf Gates & Katrina Kenison. “Meditations from the Mat.”

 

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