The Whole-Being Detox
Sauca denotes purity of body and mind. It means “purity” or “cleanliness.” When this Niyama was first written around 15 centuries ago in ancient rural India, people used to “purify” their bodies with water, clay, cow pats, and cow urine. This is not applicable today for obvious reasons. So rather than commenting on the ancient ways, let’s take this understanding to a more contemporary setting so that we can truly cleanse our bodies, actions, and mind. Taking good care of the body is important, so this is where we will begin.
“To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”The Buddha
The Importance of Taking Good Care of the Body When we think about taking care of the body in our spiritual journey, one of the first things that comes to mind is food. The best diet in terms of spiritual purposes always depends on the individual. Generally, moderate consumption of vegetarian food (or plantbased), adequate and consistent sleep, and a mixture of stretching, aerobic (cardiovascular), and anaerobic (e.g., weightlifting) exercises will put you in the best possible physical condition. These, together with proper meditation (which promotes calmness and decreases stress), are the perfect combination. But, although we may already know this conceptually, it takes a powerful mindset to propel us to actually take consistent action. Upon reaching a deep level of purification, the mind matures into quietness and delicacy, and an innate intelligence emerges from within. It is this intelligence that dictates the most accurate type of food for the spiritual seeker.
The well-being of our body has an immediate influence on our nadis and on the flow of life-force through them. A healthier physical body serves as the basis for a powerful cultivation, preservation, circulation, and transmutation of energy. Rather than rejecting the body, we should embrace it as our vehicle of expression in this relative world. This acceptance prevents many conflicts or inner turmoil that may emerge during our path, and also saves us from many of the pitfalls associated with such rejection. A fragmented expression of being is not a proper instrument of the divine in this relative world; after all, the body is also the Self—it’s all one single Reality.
In spirituality, lots of seekers neglect their body and its health. “I’m not my body” or “I don’t care about what happens to the body” are sentences we frequently hear. Now, I’m not saying that these sentences are not true, but they more often than not come from an ego-based position. Being exceedingly attached to the body or not caring about it are not proper ways of treading our spiritual path. These kinds of extremes should be avoided. Both of them are a manifestation of imbalance. Forming an appropriate and well-adjusted relationship with our body is important because the body is our vehicle of expression in this physical world. Having it in good physical condition while maintaining proper health are requirements that assure your bodily system will be able to do whatever it is supposed to do in this world. Being too attached to it is a clear sign of ignorance because regardless of what lengths you go to take care of it (often becoming an obsession), eventually it will become sick and die. Wasting so much time taking care of and improving something that is temporary is an unconscious behavior driven by self-survival.
On the other hand, spiritual seekers in particular like to dwell in “spaced out” states not caring about their bodies at all, neglecting proper nutrition, exercise, and flexibility. With that being said, the majority of people are not overly attached to their body in the sense of being obsessive about its health and fitness; more of them fall into the category of unconsciously mistreating it. This means feeding it with unhealthy food, developing bad posture, smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, being weak, not exercising, or not having any kind of flexibility.
All of these unconscious behaviors and habits can be overcome through mindfulness and spiritual practice, although not without a fight. You have the power to take conscious control of all these unconscious aspects in your life, and can fine-tune them to be more in harmony and more predisposed to spiritual practice and to the overall spiritual journey.
Why not start today?
In today’s world, austerity is not the way. If you wreck your health, you will lack the endurance, energy, vitality, motivation, and self-control to go all
the way. On the other hand, indulgence is not the way either—that’s akin to destroying your mental discipline, stamina, and power of will. Despite what many may think, spirituality is not only about the mind or spirit—it is also a precious tool that promotes a wholesome relationship with the body. Meditation/spiritual practice has a soothing effect on the body, improving its health. Even the scientific community (which is based heavily in materialism) has embraced meditation, empirically claiming that those who practice it have less risk of heart attacks and strokes, lower blood pressure, reduced ADHD symptoms, less chronic pain, etc. Besides our body, the way we approach our interaction with others throughout our spiritual journey is also of utmost importance. That’s what we’ll tackle next.
Interaction With Others in our Spiritual Journey
As you progress on your spiritual journey, you may become more sensitive or vulnerable. As you open to your own inner being and begin to surrender your ego-self, hanging around unconscious people may be tough. You may have difficulty relating to them, similar to what might happen if a classical music fan mistakenly entered a heavy metal concert. This is not a suggestion to avoid, ignore or retreat from the physical world, or to avoid socializing, but rather a word of caution to help prevent your mind from being corrupted by spiritually immature people. The energy of unconscious and insensitive beings will probably cause you some trouble. My advice is to be as real and authentic as possible. By this I mean, don’t try to please others by saying things that they want to hear, don’t nod your head in agreement if you don’t agree with them, and don’t be afraid to mention how your point of view is different from theirs (and probably deeper). Don’t be fake, hollow, or have totally meaningless conversations. Otherwise, it will cause the mind-purification process you’ve been working on in your spiritual journey to significantly regress, and it will hinder your ability to practice what is shared in this book, especially considering that these practices require a still mind that is free of pollution and negative energy and harmful influences.
By staying real to yourself, you may be doing these people a great favor by elevating them into a level of awareness, knowledge, and lucidity that they have never experienced before. They may be perplexed or shocked by hearing your words. Wow! Perhaps they’ve never dreamed that behind your eyes lay something so deep or so profound. Or they may laugh at or ridicule you, and point out how wrong you are. It’s okay—you can’t show the color yellow to a blind person. Not everyone is meant to awaken; not everyone is ready to awaken; not everyone will awaken. You must use your discernment and listen to your heart, though. Don’t try to teach anyone or show how wrong they are; don’t behave like you’re the “wise one” and they are just “ignorant.” Never let the ego use what is written in this chapter to its benefit. Just be real to yourself and let the light from within shine to the best of your ability. This too is a great purification.
Before realizing your true inherent nature of bliss, or even before being able to awaken profound insight and direct experiences into the nature of the cosmos, your humor, mood, and lucidity level can quickly be disturbed by the world and by “ignorant,” “negative,” or “non-spiritual” people. When you interact with such beings, if they carry “low-quality” thoughts (which often end up translated into words), their low vibration and subtle energetic emanations may disrupt the clarity and mindfulness of your current “level” of consciousness, making you temporarily operate below it. This will happen if you haven’t fully stabilized and integrated this higher mode of functioning.
Nonetheless, it’s like olive oil entering into a glass of crystalline water— at first it will seem to have blended together (their energy affects you) but as soon as you get back on your feet (“recover” lucidity, or are more spiritually mature), you will see how both of your energies just cannot blend. Afterward, looking back, you will think, “Why did I react that way?”, or “How come I said so and so?” It’s okay. As soon as you resume your base level of consciousness, you will become aware of what happened, and thus you strengthen your level of clarity and mindfulness, thereby preventing it from happening again with such ease (or at all).
Once you are spiritually mature enough, you will no longer be affected by external influences from the dimension of ignorance. If someone is trying to stop smoking, they should not be hanging out with other smokers—that will just make the whole process harder (in addition to reaping terrible health repercussions by indirectly inhaling the smoke). But as soon as someone successfully quits smoking, then there’s no problem whatsoever hanging out with smokers and giving them their space to smoke in a way that the non-smoker doesn’t end up inhaling it. Perhaps, led by example, some will decide to stop smoking as well, following healthier footsteps! Leaving the smoky ignorance of Maya behind, they may use your footsteps as a lighthouse, illuminating the journey back to their original essence.
This Niyama of purity, however, goes way beyond the body and our relationships. It also concerns purity of mind. This inner purity requires an inner cleanse—it is a byproduct of our spiritual practices.
You must genuinely understand that solutions to inner problems are not found through external means. If somebody were to attack your physical body, you would defend yourself. If someone or some situation were to attack your “inner self” (i.e., your conceptual self, the idea you have about who you are, your identity), then how could you defend yourself? Certainly not in the same way. To combat this, you develop defense mechanisms that attempt to protect your “self” from further attacks/suffering, by hiding it behind masks and conditioning. But these defense mechanisms also prevent you from truly living life to its fullest, because they limit and shape the way you behave, think, speak, and live. Defense mechanisms come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they are deeply engrained in our personality structure, extending beyond the typical example of a person who is arrogant (or shy, timid, stubborn, etc.), but doesn’t know that such a personality-facet is just a mask to hide their profound sadness, fragility, and loneliness from themselves and others. For example, let’s suppose that a man named Oscar always had long and beautiful hair as a child and teenager. However, as he became older, he started losing some hair, and eventually he had to have a buzz cut. In truth, most people thought Oscar looked great with this new style, but he felt terrible.
When he was young, his father—who was bald—was slightly abusive and was constantly fighting with Oscar’s mother. Oscar often overheard his mother scream “I hate you” to his father, and he felt terribly sad. This made him subconsciously attribute his father’s look (bald) to sorrow and with something bad. This is why he was so proud of his beautiful long hair, because it was a statement that he was “different” from his father. Long hair was a defense mechanism used by Oscar to keep sorrow and pain away. Then, when Oscar became older and had to have a buzz cut, he became depressed. Not because he had no hair, but because it reminded him of his father, although this connection was not something that he was consciously aware of. As time went by, Oscar sought out new hair treatments including transplants, and toupees. Because he thought his problem was a physical one (lack of hair), he reasoned that the solution would also be a physical one (having the hair back). He ended up getting a hair transplant and he felt amazing again. But getting his hair back did not fix the underlying problem—it only masked and buried it. This was a defense mechanism that Oscar unconsciously created due to psychological trauma. And just like we cannot comb our hair in its mirror reflection, we cannot fix an internal issue by making an external correction—which is what Oscar did.
When Oscar practices deep meditation, he will be confronted with his past, sorrow, trauma, his clinging to his hair as a form of “sorrowprotection,” and so on. He then must realize that all of that is just a temporary facet of an ephemeral identity (“Oscar”), and not who he truly is (pure Consciousness with no trauma, sorrow, past, future, or any facets at all for that matter).
With this being said, I want you to identify some problem that you have deep down, some trauma or something that you aware of, but you pretend that you are not. You hide it or push it away every time it pops up, or you try not to think about it. It is something that, although it has roots deep down in the subconscious mind, there are always weeds surfacing every now and then. Try to identify it right now. Even if you can’t identify any specific issue at this moment, it will pop up sooner or later (keep the mental intention to become extremely alert once that issue pops up).
As soon as that problem that you’ve been ignoring surfaces, I want you to notice what is it that hurts. What kind of physical sensations are you experiencing? Why are they bad? Does your heart feel heavy? Does your mind rush with thoughts and imagery? When that happens, stop for a moment and do your best to impersonally watch these raw feelings, emotions, and thoughts. Notice that they are not bad in and of themselves; they are just sensations, interpretations, and concepts. Don’t back off. Stay with the rawness of the situation—witness it without letting yourself be enveloped by it. Dig deep down into the root of that trauma or issue and find out where it all started. Find the underlying causes. When you get to the source of something and are able to impersonally observe the raw emotions, feelings, and thoughts that occur, without identifying yourself with them, these issues lose their power. A higher state of consciousness emerges that allows you to comprehend them better and let them go; you experience a powerful emptiness that releases your attachment to those traumas.
If you keep resisting them, they shall persist, but once you comprehend them and allow them to be there without judging, just impersonally feeling their raw sensations (or whatever they bring up at that moment), they will lose their energy—which comes from you—and eventually disappear. This is really important, and it can help you overcome any stumbling block that you may experience in your sadhana. Through this simple yet deep process, which requires some maturity and discernment that only come with consistent meditation, you can purify your mind in a fashion similar to what happens during profound meditation, but more quickly. After all, such introspection is indeed already a profound meditation in itself.
The Pragmatic Extermination of Beliefs
Beliefs can be very powerful. Many people would be willing to die for what they believe, even though that doesn’t make those beliefs any truer. In spirituality, beliefs can be a plague—they will corrupt your discernment and perspective, and if you allow them to grow, they can take over your life. If you are on a genuine spiritual journey, dismantling all of your beliefs will sooner or later become critical. There is a difference between truly knowing something versus just believing it. The first comes from directly experiencing that “something,” while the second comes from second-hand knowledge (something you heard, read, etc.).
Let’s analyze your spiritual beliefs. This will work as a powerful “Sauca (purification) of mind.” You can begin by taking a piece of paper and writing them down (you can write on your computer or smartphone, but pen and paper are preferable because they create a more intimate experience). Then, look at each belief and ask yourself:
How do I know that? From reading and hearing, or from direct experience?
If it’s not from direct experience, discard that belief immediately. Your spiritual foundation must be based on the truth, not on lies—you want to have a clean slate.
This may not be easy to do, because your ego-mind may trick you into believing that you have no beliefs, or perhaps, it’s just that right now you can’t seem to recognize any spiritual beliefs that you might have. So, to go further into this matter, let’s take ten common spiritual dictums and break them down. This will help you assess whether you have some of these spiritual beliefs or not. Keep in mind that you should employ the same line of questioning that you did before.
Let’s start with:
- “I am pure Consciousness/God/Spirit/Self.”
How do you know that?
From reading, or from experience?
Is this sentence true for you? Be honest.
(repeat these questions to all the following sentences)
- “The whole Universe is in me.”
- “This world is but a dream.”
- “In essence, I am not my body.”
- “In essence, I am not my mind.”
- “I am not a separate self.”
- “Acquiring material wealth doesn’t provide lasting happiness an peace.”
- The chakras are as real as my body.”
- It is possible to end all suffering and misery.”
- My natural state is one of pure peace and bliss.”
Be real. If you’ve answered five or more of these questions from “direct experience,” then you are doing great. If below five, no problem, you’ll get
there eventually; just continue to put the required time and effort into your spiritual practice. If you’ve answered all ten in the positive, I congratulate you. Nonetheless, let’s explore what is real for everyone who has not yet realize their true nature. These are not beliefs, they are factual and will likely parallel your own current direct experience:
1) “Currently, I am not fully satisfied.”
2) “What I have done thus far in my life has not brought lasting
3) “I am seeking something.”
4) “I am seeking happiness, peace, and completeness.”
5) “I don’t know.”
These are very real. Rather than believing in something that you have not experienced, make sure that you take what’s real in your current direct experience and use it to grow your understanding and motivation to go further into realizing whether these previous ten spiritual dictums (or any others for that matter) are true or not. Let’s see:
1) “Currently, I am not fully satisfied.”
A fully satisfied being seeks nothing, desires nothing, wants nothing. He or she is at total peace, totally fulfilled. That human being just is. If one is not fully satisfied, one must look out for what is missing. What is missing? What would make you fully satisfied?
Which leads us into the second:
2) “What I have done thus far in my life has not brought lasting satisfaction.”
You may not know if a thing such as lasting satisfaction even exists. What most people have done in their life may bring some satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Why are you reading this book? You may have had a glimpse of the eternity of completeness—and you want more of that. The contentment of life is not found in the contents of life but in living life as Life with a capital L, which is another name for the true Self. It’s not in anything specific in life but when there are no boundaries between you and life—between you and whatever is happening.
People say that it’s the little moments in life that bring the most joy because in those very moments, they are present, out of their heads, in the now. When they are in the present moment, their limiting boundaries diminish, allowing them to enjoy the beautiful tapestry of life. This is a glimpse of living life as Life with a capital L.
When you witness greatness, for a short instant you become greatness. You and that greatness lose separation, and both are One. It’s freeing! In awe, you disappear. When the illusion of being a separate identity disappears, God flashes His nature of bliss.
You seek greatness! Greatness is when the ego is no more. Though greatness can present itself in many forms, its essence is one of no-mind unity. This is what spirituality brings to the table: the ultimate form of
Greatness. That’s what you seek, and what will finally bring ever-lasting satisfaction. Hence
3) & 4), “I am seeking something,” and “I am seeking happiness,
peace, and completeness.”
Which brings us to
5) “I don’t know.”
Realizing and admitting that you don’t know opens space in your mind to receive pointers and instructions that will show you the way in to the soul of Being. To leap beyond what is currently known (which is not sufficient, otherwise one would not be seeking enlightenment), one needs the humility and discernment to internally allow a “space of not-knowing.” This not knowing is not ignorance, but rather is the first step towards true knowledge.
Insight doesn’t “occur” when the mind is full—it occurs when the mind is empty. Beliefs are like clouds that prevent you from seeing the sunlight. Questioning and cleansing your mind of beliefs is akin to dissipating
those clouds and allowing the sun to shine through the empty sky! Oh, what a beautiful day that is.