The wind in March sweeps away the residue of winter and prepares us for change. As the earth releases what is old, space is made for the new growth to come.
Last week I attended a class offered by my friend and Health Coach Ruth Seitz at the Cornerstone Coffeehouse. In keeping with the traditional notion of “spring cleaning,” Ruth’s class focused on “Lifestyle Practices that Cleanse the Body and Soul.”
In her presentation, Ruth discussed the many ways we might include cleansing practices in our life. For example, we may commit to drinking more water, eating organic, deep breathing, skin brushing, and including foods in the diet that are known to cleanse and purify. What especially grabbed my attention was her recommendation to “dispense with what does not serve you.” As she explained, things that don’t serve you or bring you joy dry your soul.
A metaphor I’ve heard talks of a cooking pot that is used day after day without scrubbing it clean. When we continue to use the pot without cleansing it, the dirty pot taints each new dish we prepare. When we allow things to accumulate around us, they can taint whatever new project we undertake. They impinge on our space, creating tension so our bodies and minds cannot relax. When a flower pushes through the earth only to be choked by weeds and other plants competing for space, water, and light, it cannot flourish. And, neither can we.
We can start our cleansing practice by looking at the physical space around us. Are there objects, papers, clothing, “stuff” we do not need? We can look at ourselves. Are there issues affecting our physical health that need attention? Are we doing so much that we feel anxious and exhausted from all our commitments? Are our activities keeping us from getting adequate rest or eating in a way that supports us? Are there relationships that leave us feeling depleted? Do we have habits that continue to cause us suffering?
Our practice of yoga always requires svadhyaya – self-observation. We set an intention to be observant so that we can see what we need to clean out in our lives. Then we can set the intention to let go of what no longer serves us with the knowledge that this release will give us the space to breathe and bring to life what is new. Like the cook cleaning the cooking bowl soiled with the remnants of many meals, we may require time and patience and scrubbing. But as we clean gradually and steadily, the shine will come through.
If you would like more information about the classes Ruth Seitz teaches, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 717-238-7878.